Since I was not invited to Herb Allen’s annual media mogul shindig in Sun Valley last week (I am sure it was an oversight) I tried to surreptitiously join the boldface business gang through, you know, the media. Why not? Just Rupert Murdoch, Harvey Weinstein, Terry Semel, Sergey Brin, Barry Diller, Anderson Cooper, Jeff Bezos... and me. I would hitch a virtual ride on a private jet (no plebian time-share for me) and carve up the world media pie and decide how all the people of the world will see, hear, and feel all their information, news and entertainment for the foreseeable future. What fun in the sun.
I was not alone in this voyeuristic pursuit. There is such interest in the Sun Valley event that major media outlets dispatch reporters who can say they are on the scene but cannot really see anything since this is a “No Media” zone for these hotshot media titans. All we get are crumbs of speculation, gossip, and the occasional spark of insight from a Ken AulettaNew Yorker profile. Supposedly, Google seriously smooched up YouTube, and ABC Cap Cities succumbed to ABC at prior Sun Valley mogul fests. Important business gets done here.
So how does the media cover the media when the media is excluded? If you’re The New York Times and you are in the midst of a huge push into ‘new media’ you send David Carr to be an on-the-scene blogger for the Times’ “DealBook.”
In the opening days of the confab Carr was agog with how happy and relaxed Rupert Murdoch looked. Sure. He probably timed his bid for Dow Jones so he would have that little canary in his mouth when getting together with those who thought they were his peers. Not only does Rupert have the juiciest deal in the works, he has the hottest wife, Wendi Deng, 30 years his junior. Rupert had to cough up the biggest divorce settlement in history (big divorce settlement, big... you know), $1.7 billion in assets and $110 million in cash, to his former wife when she caught him having an affair with Wendi. So naturally we want to know how Rupert maintains his virility and unfettered ambition and still look like he doesn’t have a care in the world.
“Rupert Murdoch was spotted with some yogurt on his plate; Warren Buffett had what looked to be a hamburger...” Carr wrote in the DealBook blog.
So, that’s it. Rupert consumes live culture. This news shook the blogosphere. Carr did not mention that an enterprising entrepreneur has already drawn up plans for RUPURT, Rupert yogurt, for the erectile dysfunction/incontinent crowd that wants to be as voracious in their 70s as they were in their 40s.
Is it just me, or does Rupert Murdoch’s face actually seem to be melting? I expect him to rip off the latex mask someday to reveal a 35 year old guy who will scream with glee: “I will live forever and own all media and my wife will always be 30 years younger than me.” No matter what good intentions he espouses, dress him up in a Hawaiian shirt and khakis and Rupert Murdoch still looks like a Batman bad guy who hatches his evil plans for world domination in an underground lair.
Bottom line media news from Sun Valley: No deals, nothing substantive but David Carr is cool. He was on the scene, sneaking behind the vegetation, tangling with the burly body guard, knocking back shots and commiserating with reporters in the local bar. He corners Howard Stringer in the bar when other reporters are too shy (he does have a deadline to consider, and you get the sense that he is ennobled by liquid libation), and is harangued by security for having the temerity to write down what Sergey Brin is saying.
New York Times readers were not thrilled with Carr and the paper-of-record’s lean toward chattiness in its Internet reporting. Comments one: “ok, please stop the fawning and breathless reports of celebrity spotting. unless this has to do with deals, markets, or news, no one really cares. how many pixels/ink you guys gonna waste on this drivel?”
Finally, Carr lands some big game mogul. Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, ventured into the gaggle of info-starved reporters and dropped a few bombs at Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone, who was obliged to retaliate when he arrived on the scene. It was sort of a Paris vs. Lindsay exchange although nobody snapped these guys going commando in uncompromising positions.
I liked Carr’s reporting because he was writing like a blogger on constant deadline, not a stuffy Times reporter considering his words for posterity. Carr was not afraid to be a goofball gawker, not Alessandra Stanley issuing high directives about what to like or not like on TV because it fits with the Times standard of liberal, cultural elitism. The Times is forcing change through increasing use of video segments, podcasts, blogs, and slide shows to accompany news and criticism. Times readers, I see through comments on various blogs, have no sense of humor, are resistant to change, and prefer their news to be wrapped in a highly liberal bias. This blog-driven chattiness about lunch fare and summer mogul fashion and the lust for power and money must drive them crazy. You gotta love it.
Mark Rose is founder and CEO of RosePR/new media, offering best-of-breed digital communications strategies and resources. He is also editor of PRBlogNews , a web publication focusing on public relations practices in the digital age.
A Total Web Shocker: Debbie Weil, one of the world’s foremost experts on CEO blogging technique, was busted this week for an online drug promotion scheme. To make matters worse... Weil, the world renowned author of “The Corporate Blogging Book,” is now being accused of cheapening herself and the blogosphere by using her popular blog to promote a questionable weight loss product. And the topper... the drug, Alli, is widely known to produce various side effects.
GlaxoSmithKlein released this statement: “The drug works by preventing your body from absorbing some of the fat you eat. The fat passes out of your body, so you may have bowel changes. You may get: gas with oily spotting; loose stools; and more frequent stools that may be hard to control.” GSK added, “In fact, you may recognize it as something that looks like the oil on top of a pizza.”
But the real story here is this: what exactly has the blogosphere so outraged?
Uber blogger Dennis Howlett points out: “Apparently for some chroniclers of blogging ethics, it wasn't enough for Ms. Weil to disclose that she was on GSK's payroll: ‘Full disclosure: I'm working with GSK on the blog.’"
Well, in the interest of journalistic integrity, we decided to run an independent test. We enlisted our eager intern Julie Baumgarten of Somerville, New Jersey (3rd-year undergrad studying marketing communications at Northwestern University). Late this week, we sent Julie to have lunch at the popular Baja Burrito on Grand Avenue. The first day was the "control" where she dined without the drug; and then on day two, she took the weight loss product, Alli. [Note: on both days she had exactly the same order, i.e. the cheese and onion enchiladas, a bean burrito and the sopa de tortilla. Also note: Julie had sour cream with her burrito and on both occasions downed a 12 oz. Dos Equis.]
Day One (without Alli) -
Day Two (with Alli) -
After careful examination of the tapes, our staff of experts have concluded that there is "a definite prejudice among bloggers when it comes to greasy farts and cheesy discharges."
It is with some regret that we need to inform our audience that we are losing Ms. Baumgarten. Julie has elected to end her internship with us effective immediately. We'd like to thank her for her cooperation and wish Julie continued success as she investigates various career alternatives.
On Thursday, March 8, 2007 at 7:41 AM, Ronn Torossian, President and CEO of 5WPR, emphatically promised that he was going to sue us. No real reason, he was just irritated by our teasing him about getting in bed with pornographer Joe Francis. Anyway, Ronn gave his obscenity-laced word that we'd see the complaint in 72 hours. It's now late by
Kathleen Durazo about A Measly $2.8 Million Goes Missing, Lawsuit Results Fri, Jul 31, 10:58:34 AM Ray Durazo (the founder) sold the company to Dan in 1999. He was not involved in any of this. He (and I) found out about the lawsuit in the LA Times. In addition to embezzling this m [...]