Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Morning Brief: Bonuses and layoffs; Time Magazine looks at the zine world; soap opera times at a tech news site

Just in time for the weekend News Corp. released its annual statement which includes information on corporate information about the size of bonuses being handed out to the guys in the corporate suites.

James Murdoch, deputy chief operating officer, and embroiled in the phone hacking scandal in the U.K., is scheduled to receive a $6 million bonus, a rather hefty 75 percent increase in his 2010 pay. But according to The Guardian he has is feeling a little awkward about the bonus:
But in a statement on Friday night, James Murdoch said he would not be taking the bonus in "light of the current controversy" over phone hacking at the News of the World. "I feel that declining the bonus is the right thing to do," he said.
Maybe he knew this news was coming down today: News International, the U.K. division he has run, announced that it would cut 110 positions. Tom Mockbridge, chief executive at News International said in a statement that so far 89 former News of the World employees have decided to take the company up on its severance offer while 23 employees have taken other positions at the company.

“These proposals are the result of long-standing plans which I, and the rest of the executive team, believe to be key to ensuring our titles, our brands and our future in print and digital remain an indispensable part of the national and international media," Mockbridge said in the announcement.

Time Magazine this last week looked at the "zine" phenomenon, the independent magazines, often labors of love, put out by writers and editors in their spare time.
Edited by Jenna Wortham, a staff technology reporter at the New York Times, and Thessaly La Force, the former online editor for the Paris Review, Girl Crush is part of a resurgence in the zine form, particularly among media professionals. Like their rough-around-the-edges predecessors, these zines are independently published and precise in their editorial vision, but they have more star power and more mainstream editorial influence. Strikingly, often the same men and women who are helping to keep large media outlets afloat by day are also the ones going home and working on indie publishing efforts by night.
Something about the article reads like an ode to print versus the web, and nothing is mentioned about the other option now available, publishing via tablet or eReaders.

But the real underlying story is about why these types of magazines don't get the ire of the mainstream media companies that employ these editors during the week. The answer is that as long as the ad teams are left out of the equation the corporate players really don't see these independent publications as anything other than an opportunity for some editors to blow off some steam.

Are you following the Tech Crunch soap opera? In a nutshell, the issue revolves around whether Michael Arrington has stepped down as editor of the AOL owned tech site to run a venture capital fund – Arianna Huffington told the NYT's David Carr "yes", while Arrington said, well, something else.

Carr wrote on Sunday that "It’s now hard to know whether AOL is Mr. Arrington’s partner, client, employer or banker."

It's a fun little drama, I suppose, but I always see these things resolving the same way: someone gets rich (Arrington sold TechCrunch to AOL for $30 million) and someone gets fired (might end being the same person, or it could be the internal people writing about the saga (no links to protect the offenders).