Emotional Jay Leno Bids Star-Studded Farewell to Tonight Show (Reuters)
Comedian Jay Leno said an emotional goodbye to The Tonight Show on Thursday with a star-studded farewell led by actor Billy Crystal, after hosting the NBC late-night program for more than 20 years and handing the reins over to Jimmy Fallon. Leno, 63, who took over one of U.S. broadcast television’s marquee programs in 1992 from Johnny Carson, came out to a standing ovation from the audience of friends and family, shaking hands with many as he did in each show. Variety Characteristically, Leno wasn’t particularly maudlin or sentimental at first, at least compared to Carson’s “very heartfelt goodnight” that preceded Leno’s briefly interrupted stint as Carson’s successor. THR / The Live Feed Celebrity friends — or, in some cases, just celebrities — that appeared onstage included Jack Black, Kim Kardashian, Chris Paul, Sheryl Crow, Jim Parsons, Carol Burnett and Oprah Winfrey. The seven joined Billy Crystal in a snarky musical salute to Leno, and Winfrey got one of the night’s biggest laughs by singing a line of Crystal’s slightly tweaked “So Long, Farewell” from The Sound of Music. TheWrap The episode felt like an affectionate roast. Leno, once accused of jealously refusing to yield the show, was plenty generous with airtime. He left it to others to get most of the laughs, though he got plenty of his own too: At one point he said the real shame was that in all his time on the show, O.J. Simpson never found the real killers. The Washington Post / Television It wasn’t until Leno’s tearful speech at the end that this final show felt worthy of shelf space in television’s historical vault. “Boy this is the hard part,” Leno said, quickly verklempt. He thanked his audience and talked about how lucky he felt to have interviewed “presidents, astronauts, movie stars…” But he was most appreciative of his hard-working, union-labor staff: “The first year of this show I lost my mom; the second year I lost my dad. Then my brother died and after that I was pretty much out of family. The folks here became my family,” Leno said. “When people say to me, ‘Hey, why don’t you go to ABC, why don’t you go to Fox?’ — [but] I didn’t know anybody over there. These are the only people I know.”
James Carville Joins Fox News as Contributor (TVNewser)
The Ragin’ Cajun is bringing his heat to Fox News Channel. James Carville is joining the network as a political analyst. Carville will appear across various FNC programs offering political commentary on the news of the day. Bill Shine, EVP of Programming for the network, says Carville’s “successful and storied career in politics over several decades is an enormous asset to Fox News.” THR / The Live Feed Carville, famous for his work on the 1992 presidential campaign for Bill Clinton (depicted in Oscar-nominated doc The War Room), is also known for his on-air sparring with his wife, Republican political consultant Mary Matalin. HuffPost Carville’s split from CNN came alongside exits by Matalin, Erick Erickson and Bill Bennett — but Carville and Matalin were considered CNN’s most prominent pundits. Carville’s departure was part of a much larger shakeup headed by chief Jeff Zucker’s new strategy. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media Carville’s move also comes just a few months after liberal commentator Sally Kohn left Fox News in October and joined CNN.
AOL CEO Tim Armstrong: ‘Distressed Babies’ Figured in 401(k) Roll-Back (Capital New York)
Appearing on CNBC Thursday morning, AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong said: “We have to look at our benefits programs very seriously.” He was explaining why his company recently decided to restructure its 401(k) program in a way that essentially pulls back the company’s employer-matching contributions. “As a CEO and as a management team,” said Armstrong, “we had to decide, do we pass the $7.1 million of Obamacare costs to our employees? Or do we try to eat as much of that as possible and cut other benefits?” HuffPost The idea that costly pregnancies would increase AOL’s future employee benefit costs doesn’t make sense, said Gary Claxton, the co-director of the Program for the Study of Health Reform and Private Insurance at the Kaiser Family Foundation. Those expenses shouldn’t have any effect on costs. Re/code Those unhappy with the way the changes were communicated expressed it clearly. Said one email I got sent among some Huffington Post employees: “His comments during the earnings call, specifically blaming the policy change in part on the costs associated with the birth of two ‘distressed’ babies by AOL employees, were completely outrageous. Almost unbelievable.”
New York Times’ Fourth-Quarter Net Income, Revenue Recede (NY Post)
Times are tough — as the New York Times’ earnings attest. Net income tumbled 63 percent for the Times in the fourth quarter, to $65.6 million, from $178.1 million in the year-earlier period. Revenue slipped 5.2 percent to $443.9 million from $468.1 million a year earlier. Ad Age / Media News As it has in the past, the Times said programmatic ad tech and a “glut” of online inventory were undermining its digital ad revenue. Print luxury advertising was down in the fourth quarter because of declines from jewelry and international fashion advertisers, according to Meredith Kopit Levien, the Times‘ head of ad sales. Capital New York 2014 will be a “critical year in the story of advertising” at The New York Times Co., chief executive Mark Thompson said Thursday morning. On a conference call with Wall Street analysts following the release of the Times‘ fourth-quarter financial results, Thompson ran through the initiatives the company is focusing on as it aims to reverse an ongoing slump in print and digital advertising revenues. FishbowlNY In the fourth quarter alone, the Times added 33,000 digital subscribers for a total of 760,000. Imagine if the paper had started charging for digital access in the late 90s.
Magazines Gain in Digital Sales But Newsstand Revenue Continues to Fall (NYT)
Magazine circulation declined slightly in the last six months of 2013, according to new figures released Thursday by the Alliance for Audited Media, as big declines in single-copy newsstand sales offset gains in digital editions. Total average circulation was down nearly 2 percent, according to the report, which covered the six-month period that ended Dec. 31. FishbowlNY Fashion and women’s magazines fared the worst during the last six months of 2013. Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Vogue, Seventeen and People Stylewatch all saw newsstand sales drop by 20 percent or more.
News Corp Reports 4 Percent Revenue Drop (The Guardian)
News Corporation, the publishing arm of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, reported a slight drop in revenue on Thursday. The company said revenue had declined 4 percent in the last quarter on lower advertising revenue at its newspapers, especially in Australia. News Corp publishes several newspapers including The Wall Street Journal, the London-based Times, and The Australian. It also owns book publisher HarperCollins, Australian pay-TV and digital real estate stakes, and education company Amplify. Bloomberg Like many publishers, CEO Robert Thomson is working to transform the company’s newspapers into a digital business. The challenge is online audiences don’t command the same advertising rates as print readers. To improve its results, the company has tried to keep a lid on expenses and is seeking online acquisitions, such as its purchase of digital-news startup Storyful last year.
First Look Media to Launch Next Week With Snowden-Themed Digital Magazine (Politico / Dylan Byers on Media)
First Look Media, the new journalism venture backed by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, will launch its first digital magazine next week. “The new site will be led by the experienced and award-winning team of Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and Jeremy Scahill,” Omidyar announced on his website Thursday. “It’s initial focus will be in-depth reporting on the classified documents previously provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.”
Time Inc. CEO Joe Ripp to Move Off 34th Floor (Adweek)
Time Inc. CEO Joe Ripp Thursday is leaving the 34th floor of the Time and Life building, the cavernous executive offices that have long been home to the company’s top echelons of leadership — but have also become synonymous with remote management and plodding decision-making. Ripp, who is remaking the publisher of titles like People, Time and Sports Illustrated as he prepares to spin it off from Time Warner later this year, has affected a folksy and approachable management style in the several months he’s been on the job, stressing the need to streamline management to speed decision-making and reportedly deriding the 34th floor as the place “where ideas go to die.” NY Post / Media Ink Ripp says he is “comfortable” with the $1.3 billion in debt load Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes will lay on the magazine giant when it is spun off as an independent company in the second quarter. “Debt is good,” Ripp — sounding like the anti-Gordon Gecko — told about 300 top managers at Time Inc.’s quarterly managers meeting on Thursday.
Bob Costas Begins Sochi Olympics Coverage With Eye Infection (TVNewser)
Between the missing shower curtains, brown tap water and computer hacking affecting journalists covering the Sochi Games, NBC’s Bob Costas might have it the worst. He has an eye infection. At the start of NBC’s fortnight of coverage Thursday night, Costas announced, “I woke up with my left eye swollen shut and just about as red as the Soviet flag.”
CNN’s Transformation Says A Lot About What Is Working Today in Television (The Economist)
Jeff Zucker, boss of CNN Worldwide, a cable-news firm, likes to start his morning with a shot of numbers. Every weekday at 9 a.m. he confers with his teams in New York, Atlanta, Washington, D.C. and other bureaus to discuss ratings and Web traffic, and to decide what news to cover. On Feb. 4 a story reconstructing the final day of Philip Seymour Hoffman, an actor who died of a heroin overdose, boosted CNN’s website. Zucker wanted to “push it” on TV too. As producers pitch the stories they plan to cover, Zucker pitches them his own, including more on Hillary Clinton’s election prospects, how bad weather affects America’s economy and whether drinking two fizzy drinks a day will actually kill you.
Upworthy Quits Page Views, Measures ‘Total Attention Minutes’ Instead (10,000 Words)
Upworthy released a blog post Thursday announcing their new model for measuring success: Attention Minutes. Their source code and more information about its implementation is promised for the coming months (something to look forward to besides spring?). But for now, let’s take a look at their reasoning.
Philadelphia Weekly Puts Local Musician With Suspicious Number of Twitter Followers on Cover (Philadelphia City Paper / The Naked City)
Last week’s Philadelphia Weekly cover story was a strange one: It was a long profile of singer-songwriter Jordan White. The cover proclaims “Jordan White: For a guy who’s not a rock star yet, he sure has a lot of fans.” Inside, the headline is “The Secrets of His Success: Jordan White might be the most famous local rock balladeer you’ve never heard of.” Online, the headline is some clickbait about unicorns, but the subhead gets to the actual reason the piece was assigned: “Meet the ambitious musician from the suburbs who’s built an online audience 200,000 strong.”
Dick Button Talks Sochi Security, Today’s ‘Pip Squeak’ Jumps And Nonsensical Scoring (FishbowlNY / Lunch)
With all of the Northeast in the deep freeze and the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics just hours away, it seemed more than fitting that this week’s “Lunch” date was with Dick Button. Since the umpteenth snowstorm of the season kept us away from Michael’s Wednesday, we decided to meet for a special Thursday edition of this column.
Why Poor Kids Do Not Get Media Jobs (MattBruening.com)
Jennifer Pan has a piece on Jacobin about the labor of social media. I enjoyed the bits about the extent to which social media jobs are essentially gendered emotional labor jobs in which predominately women interface with the public for a given company while the power structure that runs the company remains male-dominated. I take exception however with this sentence: “As the ongoing debates over unpaid internships and writing for free have evinced, the traditional media world has long been structured to bar those who cannot afford the high cost of jumping through gatekeeping hoops from entry.” Indeed, this has become a common sentiment, but as I have expressed before, I think it puts way too much emphasis on cost as the relevant barrier that keeps those from poor backgrounds out of media jobs.
Gannett’s Print-Focused Paywalls Flounder (CJR / The Audit)
Gannett’s fourth-quarter newspaper results, announced Tuesday, were basically miserable. Revenue at its publishing segment dropped 4.6 percent in the fourth quarter from last year (excluding 2012’s extra week), with advertising dropping 5.9 percent and circulation falling 1.6 percent. The last figure is key.