Aug 3, 2015
10:44 am

Publication That Has Been Covering the Media for Almost 40 Years Shuts Down (USA Today)

A media watchdog publication that has been in business since 1977 is shutting down. USA Today reports that American Journalism Review said it has run out of money and will shutter its online operation.

AJR, produced by the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, shut down its print version in 2013, but continued with online publishing.

Said Lucy Dalglish, dean of the college: “Unfortunately, we are unable to provide the resources needed to keep AJR the vibrant, innovative online publication it deserves to be.”

In a statement, the university said the publication’s online archives will continue to be available, while new content will no longer be produced.

“AJR was known for covering the changing media landscape since its inception in 1977, featuring profiles of news organizations and providing guidance and commentary on how journalists can better use technology or cover controversial issues,” USA Today notes. “Its coverage was closely followed in the media business, along with competitors like Poynter and Columbia Journalism Review, according to a detailed autobiography of the publication.”

The print publication originated as the Washington Journalism Review.

american journalism review

Aug 3, 2015
10:27 am

Sling TV Targets NBC After Stations Refuse to Run Ads (Here’s the Video) (YouTube, Sling TV)

Dish’s Sling TV service is ratcheting up the pressure on NBC after network-owned stations reportedly refused to air ads for the service.

Sling TV CEO Roger Lynch appears in a new clip introducing the company’s ads, where he aims his comments squarely at NBC and its owner Comcast, making the point that stations owned by ABC, CBS and Fox are airing the ads. Lynch has also noted that independent NBC affiliates are running the ads, while NBC-owned stations in San Diego, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., have rejected them.

Lynch discusses the situation in a blog post, calling NBC owner Comcast “the standard bearer for ‘Old TV’ in the U.S.” One of the ads at the center of the campaign characterizes traditional TV providers as schoolyard bullies.

“Here’s the irony,” Lynch writes. “The refusal to air our campaign endorses the ads’ central truth: there are traditional pay-TV players that just don’t get it.”

Here’s what Lynch and Sling TV are saying, with the introductory video featuring Lynch followed by the schoolyard bully spot:

Aug 3, 2015
10:24 am

How Apple Plans to Kill Voicemail (Business Insider)

Apple is developing a service that may put an end to the need to listen to voicemails. Business Insider reports that the company is testing a voicemail service that lets Siri listen to voicemail for you and transcribes it into text.

“Apple’s iCloud service will then send you the text of the transcribed voicemail — meaning you will never need to listen to your voicemails again, sources tell Business Insider,” the publication reports, noting that the new service is targeted for a 2016 launch.

The report adds: “Apple’s proposed solution is both incredibly simple and incredibly clever: People like to leave voicemails (it’s often quicker to orally deliver your information than it is to type it in a text message). But they don’t like to receive voicemails (it’s a lot quicker to read a text than it is to listen to the person talking to you). The new product will also bridge a generation gap: Older users like voicemails. Young people do not.”

With the new system, Siri answers calls to the user of iCloud Voicemail instead of sending the calls to an audio recorder. “iCloud Voicemail can relay information about where you are and why you can’t pick up the phone to certain people,” the story reports. “But the coolest feature of the service is that Siri will transcribe any incoming voicemails, just as it does with anything else you say to it.”

The text transcriptions would then become available on the user’s iPhone.

apple logo

Aug 3, 2015
10:21 am

Walt Disney Experts Address Allegations Against the Mickey Mouse Creator (EW)

Longstanding allegations against Mickey Mouse creator and iconic entertainment figure Walt Disney surfaced Sunday at a Television Critics Association summer press tour panel, with people behind a new documentary on Disney generally dismissing the accusations.

Entertainment Weekly reports that Sarah Colt, the director and producer of the new PBS “American Experience” film, set to air this fall, focused in particular on the suggestion that Disney was anti-Semitic.

Said Colt: “That’s just not based on any truths, so there’s no reason to bring it up in the film. It wasn’t relevant. There isn’t any evidence.”

Neal Gabler, the author of “Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination,” offered a similar perspective, noting that in his research on Disney, “I saw no evidence, other than casual anti-Semitism that virtually every gentile at that time would have, that Walt Disney was an anti-Semite.”

Gabler is also quoted by EW saying: “There are many charges against Walt Disney, and if you answered every one of them, you’d have a four-hour film that was nothing but rebutting charges.”

The experts conceded that Disney was both revered and feared, EW notes. Said Gabler: “Everyone was terrified of [Disney].”

The four-hour PBS documentary airs Sept. 14 and 15. Here’s a trailer:

Aug 3, 2015
10:19 am

After Slaying of Cecil the Lion, the New Alpha Male Has His Own Security Team (TMZ, YouTube)

After the killing of Cecil the lion by a Minnesota dentist made headlines, Cecil’s successor as leader of the pride at Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe isn’t taking any chances.

TMZ.com reports that the new leader, Jericho, has a security team in place to ensure that the animal isn’t hunted and killed.

“An official from the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force tells TMZ, a research team is monitoring Jericho’s every move and are ready to pounce if anything looks suspicious,” the website reports. “Jericho has taken over alpha male duties for the pride, and if he’s killed the animals that were once under Cecil’s watch will be unprotected in the wild.”

Cecil was hunted and killed last month by Walter Palmer, a recreational big game hunter with a dental practice in Bloomington, Minn. The animal was reportedly lured out of his protected habitat, where he had been a part of tracking studies for years and had become a local favorite among tourists. Palmer reportedly paid $50,000 to have locals set up the hunt.

The incident caught the attention of Jimmy Kimmel, who talked about it in a video you can watch below.

Researchers are reportedly tracking Jericho with a GPS unit, and officials have placed a ban on hunting lions in the vicinity of the park.

Aug 3, 2015
10:11 am

IATSE Reaches Terms With Reality Show — Deal Is Being Called a Victory for the Union (Deadline)

After picket lines went up about a week and a half ago, a settlement has been reached in the dispute between IATSE and the production company behind the reality show “Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge,” Deadline.com reports.

The union had been picketing the offices of 51 Minds Entertainment, alleging unfair employment practices.

“Agreed to late last night, the IATSE contract sees the post-crew back at work today with enshrined health and pension benefits,” Deadline reports today.

IATSE announced this morning: “The unfair employment letters issued against the production company 51 Minds Entertainment (currently producing Broken Skull Ranch Challenge), and rGear rental business, have both been rescinded.”

The show, which airs on CMT, is currently producing its third season.

Deadline notes: “This is yet another win for IATSE and the Motion Picture’s Editors Guild in bringing unionization to unscripted TV. A very short June strike saw a contract on ‘Marriage Boot Camp’ and back in October of last year, the union inked a deal with Bravo’s ‘Shahs of Sunset’ on similar terms — after a much more protracted labor action.”

steve austin's broken skull challenge-logo

Aug 3, 2015
8:57 am

How PBS Is Jumping In on the ‘Documentary Boom’ (Variety)

A familiar PBS franchise is being expanded as the broadcast service positions itself for what’s being called a “documentary boom.” Variety reports that “Frontline” will become a multi-part investigative series.

Executive producer Raney Aronson unveiled the plans Sunday during the PBS presentation at the Television Critics Association summer press tour.

“Aronson, who took the reins of ‘Frontline’ from founding exec producer David Fanning in May, said the Boston-based operation has several large-scale investigations in the works that will be presented as multi-part series in the coming years,” Variety reports.

Aronson reportedly told Variety that “Frontline” is examining options for “telling new stories in different ways,” but she stopped short of discussing reports that are in the works.

One project that is headed to air is “My Brother’s Bomber,” a three-part “Frontline” series premiering Sept. 29 that examines the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland in 1988.

pbs frontline-logo

Aug 3, 2015
8:44 am

What’s Mitt Romney Doing in the New Promo for ‘Late Show with Stephen Colbert’? Insisting on Pancakes (Here’s the Clip) (CBS, YouTube)

CBS has just released new promo clips for “Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” which premieres Sept. 8. Among them is this one featuring Mitt Romeny, which is identified as the “Late Show Pancakes Promo”:

Aug 3, 2015
3:35 am

Whoa! This is Jon Stewart’s Last Week on ‘The Daily Show.’ Some Advertisers Reportedly Paid Up to $2 Million for Ad Packages to Get a Spot on Thursday’s Finale (NY Post)

“Comedy Central is asking advertisers to plunk down more than $1 million to buy ads across the network in order to secure a spot during the Aug. 6 finale” of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” reported our good friend Claire Atkinson in the New York Post last week.

She added, “The buy-in packages have gone as high as $2 million, according to ad buyers.”

The report also noted, “As part of those packages, the Viacom-owned network also jacked up the rate for a single 30-second ad to between $200,000 and $250,000 — a huge hike from the usual $30,000 to $40,000 the show charges.”

Aug 3, 2015
3:33 am

A Familiar Voice Who Was Part of NPR’s ‘All Things Considered’ Since the 1980s Dies from Injuries Sustained in a Car Crash (NPR; LA Times)

“A member of the ‘All Things Considered’ family has died,” begins NPR’s Susan Stamberg, who continues, “Alan Cheuse, who reviewed books on our air nearly every week since the early 1980s, passed away [Friday, July 31, 2015] after a car accident in California two weeks ago.”

Cheuse was 75, but sounded years younger. Says Stamberg, “In two minutes every week, Alan paid his respects to good writing in his soft, intense, passionate voice.

According to the Los Angeles Times, “Cheuse was injured in a car crash on July 14 on Highway 17 while on his way from the Squaw Valley Writers Workshop in Nevada City to Santa Cruz. He was hospitalized with broken ribs and vertebrae. Three days later, he suffered a subdural hematoma, after which he entered a coma.”

Says Stamberg, “Who ever read as much as Alan did? When he wasn’t reading, he was teaching — over the years at Bennington, the University of Virginia, University of Michigan, and for the last two-plus decades, at George Mason University. And when he wasn’t reading and teaching, he was writing. Five novels, novellas, short stories, textbooks.”

Here’s a podcast of one of Cheuse’s recent reviews.

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