Tag Archives: newspaper

Who’s Sheetin’ Who?!

wharrgarblLet’s Do It Kroc-Style: Boom Like That!

History is written by the victors.
–Winston S. Churchill

I have this personal pet theory. It goes a little something like this:

What do I mean by this? It’s time for a tale of hungry dogs, drowning by garden hose, buxom secretaries, altered birth certificates and who’s car is parked next door.

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#Awarkward front page caginess at #WSJ

There was something a skosh awkward with the print edition of the Wall Street Journal today (Friday, August 31st). And I’m speaking as a reader of news, not as a forward observer in the partisan wars.

You just know the WSJ wanted to be in on Romney’s big night. It was finally time for the big acceptance speech. No doubt the WSJ wanted it so bad they could taste it.

There was just one wee problem. The event would occur after their print deadline. I’ve seen newspapers in local markets push back deadlines for things like important sporting events in the evening and such. Editorial closes late, which pushed back pre-production, press deadlines and cascades all the way to distribution. The trucks run late. In my experience it takes an edict from the CEO to push back reliability benchmarks on home delivery. It’s a rather big deal.

Apparently the wait time was too long or WSJ doesn’t have such an option. Under the headline “Romney Vows to ‘Restore’ U.S.’ came news “coverage” (air quotes) consisting of several predictions. I guess we could call it a case of “pre-reporting” (air quotes) the news. In that vein the WSJ became the equivalent of a bulletin board system or newsletter.

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I’d buy that for a penny! #WSJ

How WSJ advertises their iPhone app

How it actually appears (unpaid version) on my iPod

For some time I’ve been meaning to do a post about the Wall Street Journal app on my iPod. I think it was back in July 2011 when I took the screenshot shown above (on the right).

Notice what is peculiar about it? Here’s a little hint:

Without further ado, here are some excerpts from my official review of the WSJ app for iOS devices.

It’s the best goddamn app for showing locked content (keys) that I’ve ever seen in my whole fucking life.
–Tom B. Taker

Seriously. If you love little key icons you’re going to love this app.
–Tom B. Taker

This app will make you lose your shit. If you can unlock anything in it, that is.
–Tom B. Taker

Finally! The Wall Street Journal has taken the time-honored model of frustrating customers and achieved sublime perfection.
–Tom B. Taker

So many keys – you’ll think you’re on a vacation in Florida! And that’s an economical vacation!
–Tom B. Taker

I’d post the review in full, but unfortunately that is restricted content. Lucky for you it’s only $9.99. Send me your credit card information and I’ll pass it along.

Now obviously I could pay money and remove those little locked icons. How much would you pay? Well, for that priviledge the WSJ wants $1.99 a week. (That’s about $103/year.) Or you could get the actual print version delivered to your door six days a week for $2.29 a week. (About $119/year.)

Yep. That’s right. Go online and save the trees, gas, and cost of paying a human being to schlep a physical object to you and you’ll save a whopping 13 percent. Erm, 13 percent? Say what?

Yes, here we have the WSJ model that web content should be almost the same price as traditional distribution.

Now how much would you pay?

Wait! Before you answer, check this out. What if you could only pay one penny? Then would you be interested?

In a story this morning The Guardian reports on a WSJ scam that cost an executive his job. (Is The Guardian one of the hundreds of media owned by Rupert Murdoch? I’m not sure. There are so many it’s hard to keep them straight. Luckily there’s an app for that! Good news – they’re not!)

In wake of the scandal, the European Publishing Chief for the WSJ resigned. The Guardian reports that under the scheme WSJ newspapers were sold for one cent each in a bid to increase circulation numbers.

By the way, in case anyone forgets, the WSJ is owned by News Corp. and Rupert Murdoch. (Why do I feel like I should be referring to him as He-Who-Should-Not-Be-Named?) Shudder!

Anywho, under the scheme, companies who sponsored the WSJ paid a reduced “knock-down” rate of 5 cents or less per newspaper. In the case of a Dutch company known as Executive Learning Partnership (ELP), the rate was 1 cent per newspaper for 12,000 sponsored purchases per day.

The Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) eventually determined that the scheme was responsible for 41% of the daily circulation the WSJ claimed in Europe, about 31,000 copies out of a total of 75,000.

Things fell apart when ELP complained they were not getting enough return on their investment. Gee, ya think? Perhaps it isn’t wise to invest in a newspaper that artificially inflates its circulation numbers, eh? To placate ELP, the WSJ executive created an addendum to their contract, and it is that addendum that The Guardian reports led to his resignation.

The Guardian found evidence that the Journal had been channelling money through European companies in order to secretly buy thousands of copies of its own paper at a knock-down rate, misleading readers and advertisers about the Journal’s true circulation.

The bizarre scheme included a formal, written contract in which the Journal persuaded one company to co-operate by agreeing to publish articles that promoted its activities, a move which led some staff to accuse the paper’s management of violating journalistic ethics and jeopardising its treasured reputation for editorial quality.

Source: The Guardian

Ethics? Reputation? Editorial quality? Those are not words one normally associates with something owned by the likes of Rupert Murdoch.

The highly controversial activities were organised in London and focused on the Journal’s European edition, which circulates in the EU, Russia, and Africa. Senior executives in New York, including Murdoch’s right-hand man, Les Hinton, were alerted to the problems last year by an internal whistleblower and apparently chose to take no action. The whistleblower was then made redundant.

Don’t you hate it when you get made “redundant?” I know I do! (Or did I already say that?)

If Rupert Murdock is involved, why do I feel that even a mere penny is too much to pay?

Wall Street Infernal

A study in subtlety - Rupert Murdoch style. Better read on, because what you don't know could kill you!

This week I happened, totally by chance, to see some opinion pages from The Wall Street Journal. I don’t subscribe to WSJ nor do I seek out their opinion very often. But my boss loves money – he loves to eat it – so he’s a subscriber. You know the type. He has investments and actually gives a shit about what happens in the stock market. He spends his free time reading about tax laws, learning how to live life and structure things so he can pay as little as possible, etc.

I happened to glace at the opinion page on Tuesday, April 12, 2011, and there was Barack Obama front and center. Above him, a headline asked, “Who’s the Extremist Now?” I remember thinking, “Nice. Now that is subtle.”

Then, a mere two days later, on Thursday, April 14, 2011, I noticed Obama was featured on the opinion page. Again! There was another picture of Obama and the headline above asked, “Who Do You Trust?

Holy fuck shit, Batman. It looks like we’ve discovered a trend!

Yes, I’m aware I’m about to discuss the opinion pages of a major newspaper. The op-ed pieces I mentioned above were apparently produced by WSJ staff writers who both had WSJ email addresses. It is fitting and proper for a newspaper to let it all hang on their opinion pages. But I’ll expound on this further in just a bit.

For those of us not too quick on the uptake, here’s how drive-by journalism works. Grab a picture of someone you don’t like, perhaps even the President of the United States. If possible, select a picture that is unflattering, but not overly so. Perhaps your victim is in mid-sneer or has a slightly ominous look on his face. Perfect!

Next comes the fun part. Write your headline. Since this is the “opinion” page feel free to phrase it as a question. This simple but effective method allows you the freedom to implant almost any message into your reader’s brains.

Lastly, try to find a writer, journalist and/or pundit to write an article to go with your creation. This might seem superfluous and a little bit overboard, but it’s actually quite important for your opinion page to appear, at least to the naked eye, to have some small measure of legitimacy.

There! Stand back and marvel at what you’ve done. An honest day’s work you can be proud of. And, best of all, it’s subtle.

So, I couldn’t help but wonder. This little tactic is so effective and fun, could this possibly work on anyone else?

First, let’s connect some quick dots.

  • The Wall Street Journal is owned by Dow Jones & Company Inc.
  • Dow Jones & Company Inc. is owned by News Corporation.
  • The Founder, Chairman, and CEO of News Corporation is Rupert Murdoch.

As the 117th wealthiest person in the world, some might find that face to be quite lickable. I know I would, slurp slurp! (Image: Wikipedia.)

Ah. Rupert Murdoch. The man who brought us FOX News. Suddenly I think we’re on to something here. He’s not exactly known for his desire to be unbiased. Murdoch’s penchant is for “advocacy journalism” or “agenda journalism.” Both labels fit his style quite well, I think.

Murdoch has been married three times. Notably, after divorcing from his second wife, he married for the third time only 17 days after his divorce was final. Only 68 years young at the time, Murdoch married Wendi Deng, age 30, presumably among those who find personal wealth on the order of $6.3 billion to be reason enough to find Murdoch’s face highly lickable. (An assumption on my part.)

All hail true love! As always, when it is really true that is a very magical and special thing, indeed.

I guess it might be a good thing for conservatives in the United States that Murdoch doesn’t inject too much of his own morals and sensibilities into his endeavors like FOX News and the WSJ.

Back on August 1, 2007, the merger between News Corp and Dow Jones was a done deal. The WSJ responded with an editorial on that same date claiming that Murdoch intended to “maintain the values and integrity of the Journal.” The WSJ was long considered to be liberal in news reporting and conservative on the opinion pages.

Now, back on topic, I’m wondering if we can take a page from the WSJ and try it ourselves. All we need is a picture and a headline. Let’s try it out!


Fooled Around While Still Married to Wife #2?

Whoa! I take it all back. This shit is fun after all! 🙂

So, what do you think? Are the tactics above featuring Obama on the WSJ opinion pages fair tactics? Or do they go too far?

And, more importantly, can you think of great headlines for other photos? Give it a try!