Thursday, December 10, 2009
Editor & Publisher closing after 108 years
NEW YORK — The Nielsen Co. is selling some of its most prominent trade journals — including The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard — and shutting down Editor & Publisher, which has chronicled the newspaper business for 108 years.
In all, Nielsen is selling eight titles to e5 Global Media LLC, a new company formed by private equity firm Pluribus Capital Management and Guggenheim Partners, a financial services company. James Finkelstein, who founded Pluribus this year with George Green and Matthew Doull, will serve as e5's chairman.
Thursday's closure of E&P "was a shock," said its editor, Greg Mitchell. "We knew that something big was happening but we didn't think the aftermath was that we wouldn't be sold and it would be folded."
Mitchell said Editor & Publisher appeared to have turned things around after struggling at the beginning of the decade. The magazine switched to a monthly format from weekly in 2003 and heightened its focus on the Web.
Nielsen said both the print and online operation will shut down immediately. But Mitchell hopes Editor & Publisher will return in another form.
"I would hope because of our special history and our role as a watchdog in journalism that it would be more likely in this case that there will be someone that's going to say, `Hey, we're not going to let this die.'"
Along with Editor & Publisher, Nielsen is also shuttering the book review title Kirkus Reviews. The two publications have 18 employees combined. Nielsen would not reveal details about the financial performance of E&P or Kirkus.
Spokesman Gary Holmes said Nielsen is still reviewing its properties to make sure the company is focused on businesses with "the highest potential for growth." Nielsen is keeping a handful of other media properties, including Contract Magazine and Progressive Grocer.
Lachlan Murdoch, 38, the eldest son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, was expected to be among the buyers of the Nielsen publications, but he was not part of the deal, according to two people familiar with the matter. They were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. A message left early Friday with Murdoch's investment firm in Australia was not immediately returned.
AP Business Writer Ryan Nakashima in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Vancouver's Olympic Paranoia Explained
Now that Canada's border services agency has put Vancouver's Olympic Paranoia on the radar across Canada and to our neighbors to the south, thanks to their treatment of journalist Amy Goodman, it's probably a good time to try to explain a few things, such as why Vancouver and British Columbia are acting as paranoid as the high school pot-head trying to avoid the vice principal after a BC bud and hash brownie lunch.
To recap, Ms. Goodman was held up at the border because she was giving some talks in Vancouver and Victoria about Afghanistan, Iraq, health care, and a few other topics that could be grouped under the heading “Not the Olympics.” But the only thing the border guards were concerned with was if she was planning on talking about the 2010 winter games. She was incredulous that they were incredulous that she didn't plan on talking about it. It was a veritable vertigo of incredulity.
The comment sections on sites carrying the story were filled with people wondering, in the manner of comedians everywhere, What's the deal with Vancouver and the Olympics? Well, here's the deal: We Canadians are a sensitive peoples. So when we offer to host the Olympics and pass city by-laws restricting basic rights in order to satisfy corporate sponsors, our feelings get hurt when these actions are misconstrued as sinister by dirty hippies.
You see, when it comes to citizens' rights during the Olympics, the government treats them the way I treat a red light at 4 am on empty streets – as merely a suggestion. Granted, restricting rights and falling prostrate to the Olympic overlords may seem like conduct unbecoming of a first world country and wannabe-world-class city, but hey, we're nothing if not polite, and we want to make the IOC happy – hence the internal conflict. We can't stand the idea of people not liking us.
When the Beijing Olympics announced that there would be “free speech zones” far away from any venues, there was an international outcry against that move. Now, Vancouver is planning to do the same thing, without the attendant dictator to say, “Whaddaya gonna do about it?” The governments' only recourse is to try to convince us it's for our own safety, of which it is eminently concerned. Don't believe them? Their feelings get hurt. I mean, what's wrong with calling for celebratory-signs-only near sports venues? Okay, then. So, no to “Free Tibet”, but yes to “HOORAY! I'M SO EXCITED ABOUT FREEING TIBET!”
Now, due to public pressure, and the BC Civil Liberties Union's lawsuit, the city is reconsidering the language in the by-law.
But still, negative press started building, and the city and the Vancouver Olympic Committee (VANOC) tried to play it all down (It reminds me of a line from The Flintstones. Barney: Hi Betty what makes you think there's a body in the trunk?).
Then, the Vancouver police buy some military grade hardware (the LRAD), originally developed to combat pirates, as a public address system. It's main use is usually to emit ear-splitting noise, perfect for use in Fallujah and dispersing protesters, which is what it was used for at the G20 summit in Pittsburgh recently. Some people find it hard to believe it wouldn't be used in this manner, and the VPD public relations department resents having to work so hard to convince us otherwise.
And, of course, there's that other perennial problem for the Olympics – what to do with the homeless? British Columbia has a terrible record on dealing with the issue, but, just in time for the Olympics, it passes the Assistance to Shelter Act. Against our own Charter of Rights, it would allow police to sweep up the homeless and deliver them to shelters against their will. No shelter provider in Vancouver thinks this is a good idea.
Shelters are overcrowded and some people don't like to be packed in like that unless it's a four-man bobsled, preferring to bundle up and sleep outside. Actually, they prefer adequate housing, and a crammed shelter doesn't qualify. “I consider it to be a draconian piece of legislation, which I hope will receive...a court challenge,” said Miloon Kothari, the former United Nations special rapporteur on adequate housing.
And so the paragon of virtue becomes a parvenu with a retinue of goons, and that's bad optics.
So, yeah, authorities are smarting a little from having their good intentions misinterpreted. They're terrified of protests and they don’t want to see any embarrassment for the different levels of government; they don’t want to see it on the national or international news.
You have to understand, this paranoia is a particularly acute Canadian problem. I get the feeling that China didn't give a rat's ass what anybody thought about its “free speech” zones. And when the Americans host the Olympics, well, what?—you gonna tell the Americans what to do? Didn't think so. They will not go gently into that fortnight.
And then there's Maude, er, I mean Canada. We care deeply about what people think about us. “Does France think I'm fat? What does Holland think about my bong policy? Does hiking up my skirt to the Olympic Franchise make me look cheap?”
Most Vancouverites know that people are being hurt by the Olympics, but they choose to disavow this knowledge in favour of the Olympics....”I know what I see on the streets before my eyes, but I pretend otherwise, because the authorities tell me that the Olympics are a good thing...”
In psychoanalysis, this 'disavowal' of the real has the structure of psychosis, and man, does that ever make some people PARANOID. And that makes us feel like the Amy Goodman's of the world are out to get us. Not gonna happen. People will like us. Must make people like us. Please like us.
Monday, December 07, 2009
Gitmo ’suicide’ trio had rags stuffed down throats: report
On the night of June 9, 2006, three detainees at Guantanamo's Camp Delta were found hanged in their cells. The US military initially described their deaths as "asymmetrical warfare" against the United States, before finally declaring that the deaths were suicides that the inmates coordinated among themselves.
The Seton Hall report questions virtually every major element of the Pentagon's story, and suggests a cover-up of the events of that night. But, lacking a clear picture of what happened, the report has nothing to offer as to what it was that was covered up.
The report's description of the military investigation into the matter suggests a less-than-exhaustive review: