Amazon Launches Smartphone (GalleyCat)
Amazon has gotten into the smartphone business with the launch of the Fire, Amazon’s first smartphone. NYT Though the device is called the Fire phone, Amazon’s new gadget is less a phone than a pocketable cash register hooked directly into the retailer’s intelligent warehouses. And it’s not cheap. The Fire phone sells for $199 with a two-year AT&T contract. Although it also comes with a free one-year subscription to Amazon’s Prime membership, the Fire phone is essentially the same price as high-end phones made by Apple and Samsung. For Amazon, a company whose previous devices have had innovative pricing plans that often involved selling devices at cost, the Fire phone’s uninspired price tag is a surprising disappointment. The Washington Post / The Switch The phone lets you scan products in stores, so that you can buy things directly from Amazon, using a new service called “Firefly.” Users can even use the phone to “listen” to songs or videos, and link users to places to buy them. It can also recognize art, and scan text such as phone numbers and then immediately place a call. The Verge There’s one big difference here: the Fire phone’s interface changes based on how you’re looking at it and how you orient the device. Amazon calls the feature “Dynamic Perspective,” which basically means that some apps on the phone will have a three-dimensional depth to them, and tilting the phone will let you peer around edges, just as you can with real objects. Mashable The history of 3D-type screens in mobile suggests consumers aren’t interested in the feature. The two most notable devices, the HTC Evo 3D and the LG Optimus 3D, both flopped. The only real 3D success in mobile so far has been the Nintendo 3DS, which is explicitly a game console.
Jay Carney Tells Reporters: ‘You’ll Be The Judge of My Success’ (TVNewser)
After three and a half years as White House press secretary, Jay Carney presided over his final press briefing Wednesday afternoon, calling his time in the role an “extraordinarily gratifying” experience. FishbowlDC “I have loved every minute of every day, even the many minutes of many days I spent in this room,” Carney said before concluding. “As I think most of you now understand and believe, it’s always a pleasure no matter how hard it can get in here, no matter how hot it can be and contentious it sometimes is.” Politico Carney is leaving the White House after nearly five and a half years in the administration. He first served as Vice President Joe Biden’s communications director before becoming press secretary in early 2011, after President Barack Obama’s longtime aide Robert Gibbs left the job. Time Carney’s deputy, Josh Earnest, will begin regular briefings from the podium Thursday. He will assume the post officially on Friday, when Carney will present him with the ceremonial flak jacket and the password to the @PressSec Twitter account. HuffPost / AP Unflappable and careful not to improvise, Carney presided over the daily hour-long press briefings, explaining and defending Obama policies and initiatives. Carney’s entry into the briefing room Wednesday was heralded by music from Guided by Voices, Carney’s favorite indie rock band.
U.S. Patent Office Kills Washington Football Team’s Trademark Status (PRNewser)
The unofficial “People vs. Daniel Snyder” case continued its devolution Wednesday with news that the U.S. Patent Office had withdrawn the registration belonging to They-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. The Washington Post / Post Politics “The writing is on the wall. It’s on the wall in giant, blinking neon lights,” Senate majority leader Harry M. Reid said on the Senate floor shortly after the decision was announced. Singling out the Redskins owner, Reid said “Snyder may be the last person in the world to realize this, but it’s just a matter of time before he’s forced to do the right thing and change the name.” ESPN Five Native Americans, representing four tribes, brought the case against the league in 2006. Although the Redskins name and past logos are involved in the decision, the trademarks that were canceled do not include the current Redskins logo. Politico The trademark attorney for the Redskins, Bob Raskopf, downplayed the ruling and vowed the team will win an ensuing appeal. “We’ve seen this story before. And just like last time, today’s ruling will have no effect at all on the team’s ownership of and right to use the Redskins name and logo,” he said in a statement, citing rulings in 1999 and 2003. “We are confident we will prevail once again, and that the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s divided ruling will be overturned on appeal.” FishbowlDC The naming of the football team has been an ongoing debate in Washington and beyond. In May, 50 U.S. Senators signed a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in support of a name change for D.C.’s NFL team, something Snyder says he will never do.
Philly News Heir Sells Stake, Lenfest Sole Owner (ABC News / AP)
Philanthropist H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest is now the sole owner of Philadelphia’s largest newspapers, after his late partner’s family sold its $16 million stake. The deal, finalized Wednesday, caps a year of turmoil at The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News and Philly.com newsrooms. The Washington Post / Erik Wemple A man of considerable wealth, Lenfest is well-suited to newspaper ownership in tough times. Eighty-four years old, he has fought a long battle for control of the company not for financial gain, obviously, but rather to preserve an independent editorial voice for the region. New York Post Some newsroom observers are waiting for signs of that “bright future” proclaimed by the new owner. So far, the hiring of Brian Tierney as consultant has not been greeted favorably by staffers.
Exclusive Dish From Monica Lewinsky’s New PR Guru (FishbowlNY / Lunch)
We missed all the big doings on Monday when President Bill Clinton was at Michael’s for a private lunch in the Garden Room and stuck around to press the flesh in the dining room on his way out the door. Oh well, next time. Wednesday, the usual suspects were, as usual, operating at full tilt around the room, where the decibel level made it hard to hear all the dish my fascinating lunch date was serving up. I was joined by Dini von Mueffling, co-founder of HvM Communications, a boutique public relations firm that represents a myriad of clients, including hotter-than-hot The Organic Pharmacy and wine expert Antonio Galloni’s Vinous. Between bites of salad niçoise, Dini told me her first love had always been journalism. No doubt those journalistic instincts will come in handy when dealing with her newest client, Monica Lewinsky.
Twitter Now Supports Animated GIFs (AllTwitter)
This is either very, very good news, or very, very bad news, depending on how you feel about moving pictures on the Internet: Animated GIF images are now supported on Twitter. SocialTimes While some users expressed dismay that the new feature may take up unnecessary amounts of data from their cell phone plans, the GIFs do not play automatically in a user’s timeline. While GIFs in individual tweets play automatically, users will have to click a play button to view them in their timelines. Wired / Gadget Lab A few weeks ago, Twitter teased the feature: A few folks were able to post GIFs and view them, and then the ability seemed to disappear back into the ether. And the ability to kinda-sorta post GIFs with Giphy has existed since late 2013. But now it’s back, and hopefully for good.
BuzzFeed’s Michael Hastings Remembered One Year After Car Crash (FishbowlDC)
Wednesday marked the one-year anniversary since BuzzFeed reporter Michael Hastings died in a car crash in Los Angeles. The former Rolling Stone contributing editor’s novel The Last Magazine was posthumously published this week by Blue Rider Press. Rolling Stone Hastings, whose 2010 Rolling Stone piece “The Runaway General” led to the firing of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, had already established a groundbreaking legacy when he died at age 33 last June.
Angie Martinez Resigns From Hot 97 (FishbowlNY)
Angie Martinez, one of the most influential voices in hip-hop radio, has resigned from Hot 97. In an Instagram post, Martinez thanked Hot 97’s parent company Emmis Communications and explained that she wanted to explore new opportunities. BuzzFeed A tweet featuring smiling emojis from Hot 97’s rival station, Clear Channel-owned Power 105.1, suggests that Martinez may take her popular afternoon show to their station. New York Daily News Nicknamed “The Voice of New York,” Martinez has for years hosted the Afternoon Drive, in which she often landed interviews with some of the biggest names in hip-hop, entertainment and more. Jay-Z, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian and Derek Jeter have all been guests on her show. President Obama even called in when he was on the campaign trail in 2008.
Guggenheim Promotes Lynne Segall (FishbowlNY)
From senior vice president and publisher at The Hollywood Reporter, to executive vice president and group publisher for both THR and Billboard. That’s the latest career progression for the talented Lynne Segall. WWD / Memo Pad Billboard has been in flux over the past few months as Janice Min, who was promoted to co-president and chief creative officer of parent company Guggenheim in January, has been charged with revamping the music trade publication. Following a string of hires, Min brought on former Hearst International executive editor Tony Gervino as editor to help broaden the scope of the paper’s coverage in April.
Hillary Clinton’s Back-to-Back CNN, Fox News Interviews Ratings (TVNewser)
Hillary Clinton capped off the television portion of her book tour with back-to-back interviews on CNN and Fox News. Bret Baier and Greta Van Susteren’s joint Fox News interview delivered the biggest cable news audience, averaging 2,022,000 total viewers and 313,000 adult 25-54 viewers from 6:45 to 7:15 p.m. CNN’s interview, which ran from 5 to 6 p.m., had 521,000 total viewers and 115,000 adult 25-54 viewers. THR / The Live Feed A Fox win in the hour is business as usual. And CNN did simulcast its “Town Hall” globally on CNN international and CNN en Español, so its total haul is likely considerably larger than its domestic take. Deadline Hollywood CNN actually did better with its repeat of the Clinton Town Hall at 9 p.m., when 593,000 tuned in — 146,000 in the demo — which was the network’s biggest haul of the night.
Alyssa Mastromonaco Joins Marie Claire (FishbowlNY)
Alyssa Mastromonaco, President Obama’s former White House deputy chief of staff, is joining Marie Claire as a contributing editor. Mastromonaco served under Obama from 2011 until last month. She had worked with the president since 2005. At Marie Claire, Mastromonaco will contribute columns as well as “consult on story ideas [and] provide insight on trends and women to watch.”
Print Still Matters, Even if Some Believe it Shouldn’t (Nieman Journalism Lab)
Clearly we are moving toward a mainly digital and majority mobile world. The smartest publishers would love to throw the switch from print to digital and just be done with it. Costs are so much lower, likely profit margins so much higher, and the pain of transformation reduced. But 75 percent or more of the money flowing in to pay the journalists still comes from print — and we know there is no digital business model yet able to pay for large local newsrooms. FiveThirtyEight and Vox maybe — The Miami Herald, Star Tribune, or Dallas Morning News, no.
Journo Startups That Appeal Right to Readers (CJR / #realtalk)
If you spend any amount of time around freelance writers, you’re familiar with the litany of complaints. Most publications don’t pay well. Publications that do pay well expect freelancers to do so much reporting up-front, before they’ve accepted a piece, that it makes pitching a financially risky prospect. Globetrotting freelancers have to convince desk-bound editors that their ideas will be relevant to readers outside the major cities of the East Coast. If freelancers want to undertake an ambitious topic, one that’s dangerous or requires international travel, they’ve got to front the cost of the plane tickets and cross their fingers that their insurance will suffice. Don’t even get them started about waiting for the check to come — or harassing publications until it’s finally in the mail. Enter the freelancer-founded collective journalism startup.
Meredith Corporation Agrees to Purchase WGGB-TV (WGGB-TV)
Meredith Corporation has agreed to purchase ABC40 and FOX 6 from Gormally Broadcasting. Meredith owns WFSB in Hartford, Conn., along with its low-power sister station WSHM in Springfield, Mass. TVSpy According to WGGB, the sale is expected to be complete before the end of the year.
The Atlantic‘s Wire Loses One to Fusion (Politico / Dylan Byers on Media)
Fusion has hired Danielle Wiener-Bronner away from The Atlantic‘s Wire to serve as social media editor, the network announced on Wednesday. Wiener-Bronner’s departure marks yet another loss for the stand-alone website since former editor-in-chief Gabriel Snyder decamped in January for Inside.com. Earlier this month the Wire tapped Dashiell Bennett, a news editor since September, to replace Snyder.