To adapt Robin Williams' immortal comment on cocaine, buying a newspaper could be God’s way of telling you you’re making too much money. (But not for long—ha-ha.) The sales of the Boston Globe to Red Sox owner John Henry and the Washington Post to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos at prices reflecting but a glimmer of the gold they once traded for has triggered a bull market in speculation over the general future of newspapers and the fate of the New York Times, in particular.
"A number of key members of the family which controlled The Wall Street Journal say they would not have agreed to sell the prestigious daily to Rupert Murdoch if they had been aware of News International's conduct in the phone-hacking scandal at the time of the deal."
The storytellers at Next Action Media, fresh from their remarkable depiction of the Chilean miner story, turn their CGI lens to the battle between the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. This is rough going, but stick with it: You don't want to miss the West Side Story-style battle between Rupert Murdoch and Arthur Sulzberger. Also, Carlos Slim looks like a Mountie for some reason? But whatever, I'll take as many of these as I can get.
You all know the story: A multileveraged American industry goes into a slump. Traditional stateside sources of capital dry up, and distribution networks get lubricated with foreign investments that don't bear close scrutiny. Balance sheets become wooze-inducing, and at the end of the day, a globe-bestriding empire shrivels into a mere vanity project, as international markets turn away in abashment and horror. We speak, of course, of the ultra-high end fashion world, where the fetishized handmade franchise of "couture" appears to be in its death throes, according to an absurdly solemn cover story by Nancy Hass in the Wall Street Journal magazine.
Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger and his trusty CEO Janet Robinson sent out a snide, braggy memo congratulating the Wall Street Journal on the launch of its New York section. It is wildly out of whack in terms of tone; yet it is sort of admirably hostile, in a way? Except that then doesn't one figure that such a hostile "big barking dog" strategy really just mean you're weaker than anyone expects? Read for yourself and decide. I guess I least enjoy having the ad demographics displayed as a measure of worth. I'm sure the paper does have rich readers! And here's the rest of us, dragging down your [...]
"A busy day consists of two 'live' hedcuts, drawings that are due to run in the next day's paper….. Each intricate portrait can take up to five hours to complete, with countless little dots. But in an emergency, artists can produce one in as little as two hours, with more lines and fewer specks….
'Because we are essentially tracing the photograph, a lot of people think it's not a big deal,' says [Hai] Knafo. 'But it is.'
'We have our little tricks,' says Noli Novak, who has been with the Journal since 1987. 'A portrait with less dots will take less time.'
'People at the Journal don't even [...]
This weekend's Wall Street Journal had a nice appreciation of Frederic Edwin Church's "The Heart of the Andes," which happens to be my favorite painting. I have spent countless hours at the Met just sitting in front of it and taking it in, and I never get tired of it. No matter how perfect your computer's resolution, seeing it on the screen does it no justice; the next time you're uptown you should definitely go take a look.
— Eric Holthaus (@WSJweather) October 24, 2012
Here she comes. Hurricane Sandy terribly abused Jamaica last night, and is en route, possibly, maybe, up the Eastern seaboard, where she has a hot date with a nor'easter blowing across the U.S. This has weather folks very excited. But none are more excited than the Wall Street Journal's Eric Holthaus. We'd like you to get to know him. He's the most fun of all the weather dudes who are absolutely freaking out right now. Then go out and buy all the [...]
I have never read Elizabeth Smart's By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept, but after Sarah Weinman's terrific appreciation of it in the Wall Street Journal's weekend Review, I think I probably have to add it to the list. Anyway, this is a good a place as any to mention that the recently-revamped Review section is actually very enjoyable. Sure, it skews a little to the right, but not in the crazy, creeping way that the paper's editorial section does. It's just a nice, compact journal of arts and literature, and conservative in the good, comforting way. Also, any publication that runs the byline of Awl [...]
The more one reads the Times' Styles section, the more one is convinced that it is a week-in, week-out exercise in trolling — giving bloggers topics to opine on and get lathered up about, as predictable in call and response as the Barbra Streisand references in the old Saturday Night Live sketch "Coffee Talk." That silly article on Sunday about the completely publishing-devised nontrend of "Formerly Hots" was but the most egregious example of the Times trying to get the self-appointed commentariat riled up — and succeding. And don't think the Wall Street Journal, which has been attempting to gain ground on the Gray Lady, hasn't noticed! Indeed, [...]
"I haven't read it, but I hear it's really good." -Misshapes DJ Geordon Nicol, who worked last night's launch party of the Wall Street Journal's Greater New York section with his crew, on the paper's new metro package. You can see a picture of the trio on page A26 of today's Greater New York, directly across from the full-page ad for Robert Half International ("the world's first and largest specialized recruitment firm focused exclusively on the placement of finance and accounting professionals").
I am really, really pre-enjoying the coming chapter of the battle-saga of the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times-way too much. I love that there are two rich men, Arthur Sulzberger and Rupert Murdoch, both delightful and wacky in their own ways, who have staked out both an ideology and a business practice and now they are going to get all Greco-Roman about it-and will drag their deputies into it, too. (New Times spokesbot (not doing too well so far!) Big Bob Christie v. Robert Thomson (mean as can be!).) So this is the perfect curtain raiser for the coming bloodbath. Here's Thomson's latest: "My advice [...]
It's a funny thing, fidelity. Last week's enormous bankruptcy-report filing on shady financial practices at the late Lehman Brothers investment house depicts an internal braintrust desperate to conceal reckless debt transactions and deceptive accounting practices from public view. The court-appointed examiner in the firm's bankruptcy proceedings, Anton Valukas, found that senior Lehman officials tried to alert their bosses of blatant efforts to reclassify debt as "sales" under a recondite accounting trick known in house as "Repo 105"-so named because it permitted the company to assess buy-back transactions of assets sold for cash at a value representing 105% or more of the cash the company actually pulled in. And presto, Valukas [...]
You know what? I actually enjoyed this. But being both massively hirsute and encumbered with an enormous proboscis I already trim my nose hair with a scythe, so it didn't really help me any. Though I do need to find me a barber shop that serves liquor.
"Fears Rise That Economy May Falter in the Spring"; "Economic Reports Fan Fears": Both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are going real big today on the surprising news that the economy might not be "good" over the next few months. Oh noes! What did we know and when did we know it!?
Well, on April 11th, Goldman Sachs published a U.S. Daily report headlined "A Road Map for Sluggish Q2 Growth," which said pretty much the same thing, well in advance of the job numbers released yesterday: "After months of stronger-than-expected data, the US economy has started to lose momentum." They also cite [...]
Daniel Henninger'sWall Street Journal op-ed column today is mind-boggling. He comes out hard, so it's easy to summarize: "It needs to be said. The rescue of the Chilean miners is a smashing victory for free-market capitalism." His point is that the drill and the drill rig used for the miner rescue were developed by two smallish companies, right here in America. Other bits of technology were also created by companies! The free market innovates! Companies make things! So capitalism saved miners. Pretty much everything about this column is utterly undone by the facts.
With the rise of the Wall Street Journal's New York section has come the realization that the WSJ and the New York Times are two silly, squabbling children. This schtick was fun and profitable when the Post and the Daily News did it-but that scheme isn't going to work in this case. The endless back and forth has already become sad: now their legal departments are bitching each other out over trademarked language in their competing promotions. Also, you know what's uncalled for, from a lawyer? "After an exhausting search of our records, we find no indication that you ever received permission to make use of our unique [...]
There was a fascinating piece in this weekend's Wall Street Journal which centered on a recent experiment conducted by Science. A bunch of white ladies from around the world were shown a series of pictures of dude faces. The faces were of the same dude, but had been altered so that some were more masculine (wider jaw, bushier eyebrows, etc.) and some more feminine (fuller lips, rounder eyes, etc.). The women were asked to choose which face they found more attractive. The results?
It was only a matter of time. First, the histrionic cry of "socialism" at the merest suggestion of a more equitable distribution of the social good known as health care. Then, the robust trade in New Deal denialism on the right–the economic version of intelligent design theory, only without the intelligence. And now, unsatisfied with turning the clock back to 1929, Wall Street Journal editorial hand Daniel Henninger has called for the resuscitation of the Robber Barons. Henninger derides the incremental efforts of the Obama administration to boost job creation with tax credits and stimulus funds. That's all just bootless government meddling in the masterful free market, [...]