David Kaplan of paidContent reported Friday that Rupert Murdoch's News Corp is selling Beliefnet to BN media:
Beliefnet, the multi-faith-based news and discussion site, has laid off a "great number" of staffers today in advance of News Corp.'s sale of the company to BN Media, paidContent has learned. An announcement is expected this afternoon. Representatives from News Corp (NSDQ: NWS). and Beliefnet did not return calls seeking comment.
Last May, AllThingsD reported that News Corp., which acquired the site in 2007, was shopping it around. Back in October, Steve Waldman, who cofounded the site in 1999 and stayed as president and editor-in-chief after the sale, left the company to take a post with the FCC. The exact number of the Beliefnet staffers being let go wasn't clear, nor was the sale price. We will update when we have more details.
This news follows reports last week News Corp owned MySpace's co-president resigned. Charles Cooper of the CBS News TechTalk blog wrote last week:
In April 2009, former Facebook exec Owen Van Natta was hired to replace MySpace's founding CEO Chris DeWolfe. Then last February, MySpace canned Van Natta and promoted insiders Mike Jones and Jason Hirschhorn to co-presidents. Now, Hirschorn is making his exit from the company, leaving Jones to carry the ball as a solo act.
We've repeatedly noted that Murdoch is a mess when it comes to the internets. Perhaps he should just stick to propping up unprofitable newspapers and political television programming disguised as cable news.
Last week, highlighting Fox Nation's absurdly false claim that President Obama had turned over a "Major Strip" of Arizona to Mexico, Media Matters' Jamison Foser asked, "What lie won't Fox tell?" Today, Fox Nation reveals that they're even willing to lie about their own boss, as long as it helps them push their right-wing ideology.
Here's the backstory: News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch has joined several other CEOs and big-city mayors, including New York City's Michael Bloomberg, in a new organization that is "advocating for immigration reform -- including a path to legal status for all undocumented immigrants now in the United States." This morning, Murdoch and Bloomberg appeared on Fox News' Fox & Friends to discuss the coalition.
Fox Nation headlined their story on the interview, "Murdoch and Bloomberg Agree: Border Security First."
As Media Matters' Dianna Parker noted just minutes ago, News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch appeared on Fox & Friends this morning with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to discuss their support for comprehensive immigration reform. For his part, Fox & Friends co-host (and Murdoch employee) Steve Doocy seemed to be on his best behavior:
Steve Doocy hosted Murdoch and NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Fox & Friends to talk about their about immigration reform efforts, and the tone of the discussion was pretty measured and -- dare I say -- pro-immigrant.
It was not the tone Fox News usually employs when talking about immigration. There was no typical scare-tactic b-roll of people appearing to cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally by crawling over fences, no crowing about "amnesty," no outrage over immigrants stealing American jobs or getting fair wages, and no baseless suggestions that all immigrants are criminals. Get this: Doocy even used the phrase "undocumented immigrants," instead of slinging around the charged word "illegals," like he and his co-hosts do in virtually every other segment on immigration. It was like watching a completely different network.
But how far reaching will this promising change in attitude on such an important issue extend?
If the right-wing cable outlet's horrific coverage of global climate change despite Murdoch's efforts to fight the problem is to be any indication, not far at all. As Media Matters' has repeatedly noted:
News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch has stated that News Corp. "can set an example" and "reach our audiences" when it comes to fighting climate change, promising in 2007 to make all of News Corp.'s operations carbon neutral by 2010 and most recently commissioning pollster Frank Luntz to conduct a survey that reportedly studied the most effective way to communicate with voters on climate change. However, media figures at his news outlets, including Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, have routinely advanced false and misleading claims in denying climate change.
Remember, this is the same cable network that recently announced plans to launch a new website (FoxNewsLatino.com) targeting the Latino community despite its long history of pushing misinformation surrounding all things even remotely tied to immigration.
The News Corp paywalls are coming!
As media mogul Rupert Murdoch begins to ease consumers into paying for newspaper content online, Bloomberg Businessweek's Matthew Campbell reports that he's offering a variety of "freebies" to sweeten the deal:
The Times, the London newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., is offering free tickets to Toy Story 3 or a weekend at the Grosvenor Hotel in Dorset in an effort to persuade readers to pay for news online.
The newspaper this week began closing down its free website and will charge for access, mirroring a long-standing practice at the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal. The New York Times Co. plans to do the same next year. Both concede the step will mean fewer readers. A drop in advertising revenue is forcing them to seek other, more steady, sources of income.
Murdoch's News Corp., which this week offered to buy the rest of U.K. pay-TV operator British Sky Broadcasting Plc for 7. billion pounds ($11.5 billion), is pushing a business model with clients paying for content as a driver of revenue growth. He's using that same strategy at the Times and the Sunday Times. The Times is now offering paying subscribers access to free events and discounted products through its 'Times+' service in an effort to build customer loyalty.
Still, any paywall strategy risks cutting newspapers off from an ecosystem of blogs and social media sites that was created partly by the availability of free content.
Rather than offering up movie tickets and other giveaways, I would have gone with offering consumers some straight-forward reporting based on the facts throughout all of his media outlets. Why stop with newspaper content? What about cable news? Anyone with basic cable in the U.S. pays for Fox News so why not start there? Rather than "Fair & Balanced" he could call it "Fact Checked, We Pinky Swear."
I'm not going to hold my breath… but I am going to hold onto my credit card.
From a June 11 Politico article:
The former nine-term congressman also showed that ties to his old employer, Fox News Channel, can reap financial rewards in addition to promotional advantages.
Kasich's report shows two $10,000 contributions in late May from Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch and his wife.
Kasich hosted "Heartland With John Kasich" and frequently served as guest host on Fox's flagship talk show, "The O'Reilly Factor," between 2001 and 2007.
Since floating his candidacy for governor in February of 2008, Kasich has made more than two dozen appearances on Fox News.
So how does News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch plan on instituting the paywall for publications like the Wall Street Journal and New York Post? By getting your credit card number.
Joe Flint of the Los Angeles Times' Company Town blog reports (emphasis added):
News Corp. Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch, whose holdings include the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post, explained in an interview with his Fox Business Network how he plans to get people to pay for content online. It doesn't sound too complex.
Said Murdoch: "Simple. You turn them off. They've got to sign on. They give you their credit card number. And that's it. And then you e-mail them and say you're putting the price up or you're taking it down or whatever."
Just this week News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch admitted that his media empire had made some "big mistakes" since purchasing the once leading social network MySpace.
Here's another one of those "big mistakes."
If one were going to break big news on a social network, wouldn't it be a good idea to break said news on one's own struggling social network rather than promoting another rival network?
Not so, at least when it comes to News Corp's Wall Street Journal. The New York Observer's Media Mob blog reports:
When Times Square was evacuated earlier this afternoon, The Wall Street Journal "checked in" to the area on Foursquare with a news alert: "Portions of Times Square have been evacuated after a report of a suspicious package."
This was the first time the Journal has used FourSquare to break news, according to a release.
The Journal even put out a press release. A press release! It could have just as easily said, "Sorry MySpace, even your own sister-companies don't find you relevant."
Perhaps he's just to busy waging war on the New York Times, but News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch made it clear this week that his media empire has no interest in purchasing Washington Post Co.'s Newsweek.
Yahoo! News' Michael Calderone reports (emphasis added):
It's an interesting idea, but don't bet on it. A News Corp. spokesperson tells Yahoo! News that there are "no plans to bid" on Newsweek.
It's not too surprising that Murdoch isn't kicking the tires this time around, given that now he's dumping millions into the Journal, and last year unloaded a weekly magazine, The Weekly Standard, to fellow billionaire publisher Philip Anschutz. A source close to Anschutz tells Yahoo! News that the sports, entertainment, and media mogul isn't planning to bid on the beleaguered newsweekly, either.
This after AOL News contributor Paul Wachter suggested Murdoch bundle Newsweek with the Wall Street Journal:
If you're comparing the Times and the Journal, one significant advantage of the Times is its Sunday magazine supplement, offering longer, in-depth articles on a wide variety of subjects, stories akin to what you might find in The New Yorker or The Atlantic. In contrast, the Journal's WSJ Magazine offers fluffy stories on travel and fashion; it's completely dispensable. But if Murdoch bought Newsweek, he could tweak it into a hefty weekend magazine, one that would come with a recognizable brand. Plus, since the Weekend Journal is delivered on Saturdays, the reworked magazine would have the potential to scoop the Times'.
Perhaps rather than bundling Newsweek with the Journal, News Corp might be interested in bundling a detailed fact-check of the Journal.
While Newsweek's fate is far from clear, we can all breath a sigh of relief that Murdoch shows no interest in ruining yet another publication. After all, it's probably better to die a respectable death than it is to be propped up -- Weekend at Bernie's style -- by Murdoch's News Corp.
We've posted about the ongoing saga of News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch and MySpace several times before:
Well, now it appears Murdoch is coming clean -- perhaps just a little -- about News Corps' colossal failure of management since purchasing MySpace, the once leading social networking site.
Huffington Post's Bianca Bosker has more:
According to a tweet from PaidContent editor Robert Andrews during a NewsCorp earnings call earlier today, Murdoch fessed up to having "made some mistakes" with MySpace.
Andrews tweeted the following:
Last summer we brought you news that Rupert Murdoch -- chairman of News Corp, the parent company of Fox News -- was forced to pay big bucks to settle a hacking lawsuit. Romenesko summarized the sordid story:
...Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper subsidiary paid about $1.6 million to settle court cases involving allegations that its reporters worked with private investigators to hack into numerous public figures' cell phones. Murdoch tells Bloomberg News that's news to him. "If that had happened, I would know about it."
Well, Murdoch's media empire is shelling out big bucks for even more underhanded business practices -- this time centering on a Rugby team, the Melbourne Storm. The Independent reports:
Rugby club Melbourne Storm, which is owned by Murdoch's News Limited, has been at the centre of a major scandal, after players were found to have been receiving secret payments to stay at the club. This contravenes Australia's strict salary cap rules, and Murdoch has been fined a A$500,000. How many more fines can a magnate afford?
In addition to the fine, Murdoch's Melbourne Storm was stripped of it's "2007 and 2009 championship titles" as well as "three minor titles from 2006-08" according to a report from The Guardian.
From the May 4 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:
Loading the player reg...
What's a news executive to do when his newspapers are about to go behind a paywall and he needs to make sure the risky business decision isn't later revealed to be foolish?
Clamp down on transparency of course!
At least that's what News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch is doing.
Robert Andrews of PaidContent writes:
With nearly a month to go before News International raises its first paywall in June, both Times Online and Sun Online have stopped publishing their user numbers through the ABC in the UK.
March monthly figures for UK newspaper sites were issued Thursday - but both Murdoch sites are absent.
ABC confirmed to paidContent:UK that it is still auditing the publisher's traffic numbers - but it is keeping the figures private at News International's request and, at present, publication is not due to resume next month.
This means it will be hard to see exactly how many readers Times Online will lose when it starts charging £1 a day and £2 a week starting June.
The thinking goes a little something like this: If people know how many users currently visit your website and they find out how many users continue to visit your website once the paywall goes up, then they will be able to determine precisely how successful (or not) your decision to put up that paywall was in the first place.
As Media Matters investigative reporter Joe Strupp noted Monday, "[t]he battle is on" between Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal and the New York Times:
The Wall Street Journal launched its new 'Greater New York' section today with all the fanfare of a political campaign kick-off.
Taking over the grand ballroom of The Plaza Hotel in Manhattan, the Journal feted dozens of guests with a breakfast of bagels, quiche, coffee, Danish and other goodies. Large screens in the room promoted the new section's name, while top guns Les Hinton, CEO; Robert Thomson, managing editor; and Michael Rooney, chief revenue officer, headlined the event.
As the New York Observer's John Koblin writes in a post on the Media Mob blog, later Monday evening Murdoch downplayed the WSJ's ability to "kill" the Times at a Gotham Hall "launch party of The Journal's Greater New York section." The News Corp head also managed to get in a jab at Times publish Arthur Sulzberger Jr.'s expense:
With the war starting, we wondered what Mr. Murdoch thought about Times publisher's Arthur Sulzberger Jr.'s reaction to the whole dust-up involving what happened at Sir Martin Sorrell's apartment a few weeks ago, when Mr. Sulzberger and Journal editor Robert Thomson met for the first time. (Mr. Thomson described their conversation to us in an interview, and Mr. Sulzberger, through a spokesman, said Mr. Thomson lied.)
Mr. Murdoch's swatted the air disgustedly with his right hand, and said, "He should get a life."
The Times recently ran an ad campaign in which it provided stats about its dominance over The Journal with women readers in the New York area. What did Mr. Murdoch think?
"Bullshit," he said. "We have more women readers-total-than they do nationally."
Did he feel he could kill The New York Times?
"You can't kill The New York Times," he said. "It'll be here forever."
I guess if anyone should know about the ability to "kill" off a news outlet, it would be Murdoch. After all, this is the same News Corp chief that has presided over the decline of many newspapers and other entities like MySpace. As Newser.com's Michael Wolff noted in February, News Corp has "shouldered" the "losses" of the Times of London and the New York Post "for more than 30 years (representing, quite possibly, the largest aggregate loss of any media properties ever.)"
Like father's employee, like son?
Rupert Murdoch's son James reportedly crashed the London offices of The Independent because the paper had produced promotional ads stating, "Rupert Murdoch won't decide this election. You will."
The Guardian reports:
But [Rupert's] son James seems less ready to turn the other cheek, as it were. And this would seem to be the most plausible explanation for why Murdoch the younger, the chairman and chief executive News Corporation Europe and Asia, caused a media sensation on Wednesday by striding across the editorial floor at the Independent newspaper to berate its editor-in-chief, Simon Kelner.
In common with so many of the unpleasant episodes involving angry young men in modern London, it was a squall about reputation and respect. The newly relaunched Independent had produced a series of relatively innocuous promotional ads assuring readers: "Rupert Murdoch won't decide this election. You will."
There is no evidence that Murdoch senior has even seen the ads, but witnesses report that directly upon seeing Kelner, who was supervising the final production stages of that night's paper, Murdoch the younger began angry remonstrations. "What are you fucking playing at?" was his opening gambit.
The episode left experienced journalists shocked. "They strode in like a scene out of Dodge City," said one. "Murdoch scanned the room, you could almost hear him saying 'Where is he?'"
It looks like the younger Murdoch may be a big fan of Fox News' Bill O'Reilly who has become infamous over the years for ambushing those critical of the conservative network.
From an April 16 New York Times article:
For more than a week on his Fox News show, Sean Hannity promoted his planned Tax Day attendance at a Tea Party rally in Cincinnati. But as hundreds of Mr. Hannity's fans lined up for a pre-rally book signing there on Thursday, he was whisked back to New York, his plans scrapped by his bosses at the last minute.
Fox News executives said they canceled because they did not know that the Tea Party organizers were raising money based on Mr. Hannity's widely promoted attendance at the rally. But Mr. Hannity's producers at Fox were aware for months that tickets were being sold, said Chris Littleton, the president of the Cincinnati Tea Party, a nonprofit group. And Mr. Hannity mentioned the sales on his TV show a week ago.
The incident caused consternation inside Fox News Channel, which is a unit of the News Corporation, over its perceived closeness to the antigovernment Tea Party movement, especially in its highly rated opinion shows.
The network has faced regular accusations that it is promoting - not just covering - the Tea Party movement, something that its executives deny.
Responding to a question from the media watchdog group Media Matters last week, News Corporation's chief executive, Rupert Murdoch, said, "I don't think we should be supporting the Tea Party or any other party."
Whether it is promoting the Tea Party or covering it, Fox is clearly the movement's favored outlet; a New York Times-CBS News poll released this week found that 63 percent of self-described Tea Party supporters gain most of their television news from Fox, compared with 23 percent of all adult Americans.
Tickets costing $20 and $100 were sold for "Hannity seating" near his stage, according to the group's materials. Mr. Littleton said proceeds were to go to the Cincinnati Tea Party, a group that has not donated to political candidates. He said he "received calls from Fox asking about ticket sales," apparently referring to Fox producers.
Asked about the producers' and executives' knowledge of the ticket sales, Mr. Shine said Friday that "I'm doing a big post-mortem and trying to get to the bottom of it."