Blog Posts by Joe Pompeo

  • In Media Res: Kate Middleton hacked?; supermarket tabloid gets real

    kateAP110609110173So this is still going on: The list of suspected victims in the phone-hacking scandal at Rupert Murdoch's News of the World continues to grow. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair and Kate Middleton, who you may remember from a certain subdued marriage ceremony this spring, are among the latest prominent Britons who could have been spied upon in the scandal. The culprit would have been private investigator Jonathan Rees, who the U.K. tabloid had hired to access the voicemails and other private accounts of UK celebrities.
    But as The Guardian notes: "None of these cases has been officially confirmed or even investigated. With many of them, it is not yet clear precisely what form of surveillance Rees and his agency, Southern Investigations, were using."

    A media Arab Spring?: Press freedoms appear to be improving in the two countries first touched by the Arab Spring uprisings earlier this year. In Egypt, the nation's largest independent newspaper is thriving. And native bloggers, in response to the recent arrest of one of their own, have taken to the web in a coordinated effort to lodge unified criticism against the military, which has so far not interfered. Meanwhile, a "new breed" of journalist has risen in Tunisia, where, according to an opinion piece in the Africa Review, the press has become "Daring, nosier, and a little more liberated than what was there before the revolution that ousted Ben Ali from power ... With better treatment of the media plus more tolerance to criticism, Tunisia's annual ranking in media freedom in the Arab world has improved greatly."

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  • Sarah Palin may have a strong distaste for the "lamestream" media. But that didn't stop the former Alaska governor from using the reporters who cover her to provide the voice-over narration for a new three-minute mini-film touting her recent bus tour across the East Coast. And yes, that would be the same bus tour in which the press corps was pretty much reduced to stalking the maybe-GOP candidate because she wouldn't give them an itinerary outlining her plans.

    And here is Palin's backhanded statement--released with the footage--semi-complimenting the media's coverage of the peripatetic PR jaunt, which slowed to a halt last Thursday with a clam bake in the primary battleground of New Hampshire: "Even though the media too often sadly chose sound-bites over substance, they did get lots of substance during our 'One Nation' tour from the nearly two dozen opportunities I got to speak candidly with them and talk about policy, politics, history, and everything in between."

    You can watch the

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  • Spaceship to land in Cupertino, Calif.


    The City of Cupertino, Calif., has unveiled plans (see rendition above) for a circular spaceship dock designed as a welcome center for the aliens it expects to reach Earth by the year 2050.

    Kidding! That's actually a depiction of the futuristic office Apple wants to build in the Silicon Valley town where the tech giant is headquartered. Chief executive Steve Jobs made an appearance at the Cupertino City Council meeting Tuesday night to discuss the proposal.

    "It's clear that we need to build a new campus," said Jobs. "We're just out of space. And that doesn't mean we don't need the one we've got, we do need it, but we need to augment it. And so we've got a plan that lets us stay in Cupertino."

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  • FIRST CUTS: Bad vibes from Beck and Olbermann; News Corp. counsel resigns

    Here's our list of headlines that should be on your morning media menu:

    • "Both Beck and Olbermann elicit far more bad vibes than warm fuzzies," according to a new study, reports Jeff Bercovici. (Forbes/Mixed Media)

    • News Corp's general counsel has resigned. (New York Times)

    • The New York Observer is launching a new glossy called NYO Magazine--you can be its managing editor if you have zero years experience and are willing to a accept a $30,000 annual salary. (Business Insider/The Wire)

    • "I've never ever seen anything as bad as Patch, ever," a salesperson for the AOL hyperlocal news venture tells Nicholas Carlson. (Silicon Alley Insider)

    • The San Francisco Examiner is looking very male and white these days. (SF Weekly)

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  • topics-abramson-photo-articleInlineDead man eats words: "No woman will ever be an editor at the New York Times." That is what Clifton Daniel, the paper's former managing editor told Eileen Shanahan, its first female Washington bureau reporter, during a job interview in 1961. Of course there went on to be many women editors at the Times. And not least, there's the woman who eventually inherited Daniel's old job, Jill Abramson. Abramson has been promoted from ME; she is taking over the top editorial slot at the paper starting Sept. 6, around the same time  that Daniel, who died in 2000, is expected to roll over in his grave.

    But who is this Jill Abramson character, anyway? For one, she is on the cover of this week's redesigned New York Observer, which includes a lengthy profile of the soon-to-be "Lady of Gray." What will change at Times once she takes the reins? "There will be a far different management style from up top," writes WWD's John Koblin, whose senior newsroom source tell him: "She's just a much bigger presence."

    The case of the not-real 30 dead bodies: Perhaps Abramson will take care to avoid flubs like this one, in which the paper of record's official Twitter account blasted out a news alert reporting that "Up to 30 Dismembered Bodies Found Near Houston"--only to swiftly retract the alert once the 30 or so dismembered bodies failed to turn up near Houston--or anywhere else for that matter. To be fair, the Times was re-sourcing a Reuters news alert--which in turn  relied on "local media reports" that turned out to be wrong. All that authorities were actually doing was trying to investigate a tip they'd received about these alleged dead bodies. And said tip actually came from an area psychic.

    So the lesson to be learned from all of this? "That even in this age of intense competition and instant reporting, it's important for news outlets to remember that they should stick to what they know, not what they think on stories like this," writes Mark Memmott of NPR, which is no stranger to breathless reporting errors. (Remember when NPR killed off Gabriel Giffords in its reporting on the Tucson, Ariz., shootings earlier this year?) " And that some seemingly old-fashioned kinds of things — such as attributing information, waiting to hear from multiple sources and being very, very careful about how we phrase our reports — are still important."

    Read More »from In Media Res: Jill Abramson proves ’60s-era predecessor wrong; ABC lands Duggard exclusive
  • FIRST CUTS: Olbermann, Beck, Sulzberger, Abramson, Roshan and more

    Here's our list of headlines that should be on your morning media menu:

    • Keith Olbermann comes clean in a "sometimes explosive" interview. (The Hollywood Reporter)

    • Revenge of the fired journalists part two. (Slate)

    • The puzzling case of the missing lesbian Syrian-American blogger. (The Lede)

    • New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. has a new Manhattan penthouse. (New York Observer)

    • Fox News really can't wait to get rid of Glenn Beck. (

    • The New York Observer goes long on Maer Roshan and Jill Abramson. (Here/Here)

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  • New York Observer to emphasize long-form, scoops with new web design

    obshomeChange has been perhaps the most reliable constant at the New York Observer in recent years. In the past two years alone, the Manhattan weekly blew through three top editors and about as many redesigns in print and online.

    But Elizabeth Spiers, the paper's newest editor-in-chief, says the publication is "going back in the direction that it probably should have stayed on," and she's now ready to unveil the latest changes at the salmon-colored weekly.

    Redesigns will debut both for the paper and its website Wednesday. On the print side, the face-lift isn't all that drastic. "The former design had several elements that work well in magazines on white glossy paper, but not so much on salmon newsprint--aggressive use of white space, heavy fonts, large photo illustrations," Spiers told The Cutline. "So we basically went back to treating it like a newspaper, tabloid format or not. ... We didn't rip the whole thing up and start over, but I think this version's a lot cleaner and more readable." (Disclosure: I worked at The Observer until about a year before Spiers came on board.)

    The online tinkering was more aggressive. The paper has ditched its former content-management system, Drupal, in favor of a lighter WordPress CMS. Meanwhile, buzzy design firm Hard Candy Shell handled the user experience and aesthetic elements, "which focused on cleaner presentation that would accommodate more breaking news and higher volume posting," said Spiers. "The new design does little to distinguish between long form features that appear in the paper and long-form web exclusives, which we'll be doing far more of--meaning more long-form altogether, and no assuming that if something runs longer than 500 words, it can only run affixed to a slice of dead tree. But we do also expect that the biggest change will be an emphasis on breaking news and smaller scoops throughout the day."

    The redesign won't be live until the paper hits stands Wednesday morning, but you can check out a preview of the new homepage below.

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  • Comcast chief receives achievement award fresh off successful Olympics bid

    brian-l-roberts-profileMedia professionals from New York and beyond filled a banquet room at Manhattan's Plaza Hotel Tuesday afternoon for the fifth annual Mirror Awards, the Newhouse School of Communications' yearly gala honoring excellence in reporting on the industry and the press.

    Gabriel Sherman, fresh off the buzz of his big-impact New York magazine feature on Fox News Chief Roger Ailes a few weeks ago, won the best single article, traditional media, prize for an earlier high-profile cable news expose: last year's long take (also published in New York) on the cable-news ratings wars. That story was also a Fox-centric effort, since the News Corp. cable net regularly dominates its competitors at CNN and MSNBC. Meanwhile, the proceedings were hosted by two MSNBC morning anchors, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski.

    Fox News was also featured--albeit in a negative light--in the award for best commentary, digital media, which went to progressive journalist Eric Alterman for a trio of Center for American Progress pieces that included a scathing analysis of the network.

    "I think it's really important that people take a good hard look at Fox News today," Alterman said during his acceptance speech.

    The traditional media commentary award went to Vanity Fair's James Wolcott, while his Conde Nast colleagues from the New Yorker dominated the best traditional media profile category with four of the five nominations. Ken Auletta's profile of Afghanistan media mogul Saad Mohseni was the victor.

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  • Weeks after deadly tornado, a whirlwind of support for the Joplin Globe

    joplin-globe-sunday-tornado-editiion2For journalists at the Joplin Globe, junk food has gone a long way these past few weeks.

    For one thing, a steady stream of snacks has helped sustain newsroom staffers through heaps of reporting that must seem as impenetrable as the rubble from May 22's deadly twister, which left swaths of their Missouri town in ruins. But while many reporters fuel themselves through deadlines with dubiously nutritional fare, the Globe's current snack larder is a testament to human kindness in the face of daunting adversity: small-town publications around the country have sent the paper care packages filled with candy, pretzels, energy bars, coffee, and other comforts. They got one from Alabama's Tuscaloosa News, whose community likewise endured devastating tornadoes earlier this year, and also from a paper in Roanoke, Va., that was on the front lines of the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings.

    Last Friday, the Joplin newsroom received a care package from a daily in Omaha, together with a note that read: "The staff of The World-Herald knows from experience how taxing a story of major community tragedy can be on everyone ... We hope [this package] will lift your spirits and provide some relief from the stress and grind."

    Omaha's gift basket included one very common stress remedy: a case of Busch Light. "We laughed about that," Carol Stark, the Globe's editor-in-chief, told The Cutline on Monday. "But just a little."

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  • FIRST CUTS: Breitbart’s validation; Beck’s subscription plans

    Here's our list of headlines that should be on your morning media menu:

    • With the Anthony Weiner controversy, conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart "has established his Web site,, as the place to go with juicy tidbits of a scandal in the making," write Jeremy Peters and Jennifer Preston. (New York Times)

    • Also, Breitbart "had no idea [he] was on television" when he crashed Weiner's press conference Monday afternoon, he told Sean Hannity. (Mediaite)

    • Glenn Beck will charge fans $5-$10 a month to subscribe to his daily web TV show starting this summer after he leaves the Fox News airwaves. (New York Times)

    • Comcast has disputed Bloomberg TV's charge that it is violating an FCC condition to place the business network in the same channel neighborhood as competitors such as the cable giant's own CNBC. (Adweek)

    • New York's WNET is taking over the television operations of the New Jersey Network. (New York Times)

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