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::Articles

Ken has written the Annals of Communications column for The New Yorker Magazine since 1992.


The Hillary Show
The New Yorker June 2

Since stepping down as Secretary of State, fifteen months ago, Hillary Clinton has kept a calculated distance from the press and the public. She has been working on a memoir about her years at the State Department, Hard Choices, to be published in early June; making occasional speeches, often for a fee said to exceed two hundred thousand dollars; and talking with close advisers about a possible second Presidential run. Despite the absence of a story, the media cant stop discussing her....


Outside the Box
February 3, 2014

In the spring of 2000, Reed Hastings, the C.E.O. of Netflix, hired a private plane and flew from San Jose to Dallas for a summit meeting with Blockbuster, the video-rental giant that had seventy-seven hundred stores worldwide handling mostly VCR tapes. Three years earlier, Hastings, then a thirty-six-year-old Silicon Valley engineer, had co-founded Netflix around a pair of emerging technologies: DVDs, and a Web site from which to order them. Now, for twenty dollars a month, the sites subscribers could rent an unlimited number of DVDs, one at a time, for as long as they wished; the disks arrived in the mail, in distinctive red envelopes....”


Freedom of Information
The New Yorker October 7

At eight-thirty on the morning of June 21st, Alan Rusbridger, the unflappable editor of the Guardian, Britains liberal daily, was in his office, absorbing a lecture from Jeremy Heywood, the Cabinet Secretary to Prime Minister David Cameron. Accompanying Heywood was Craig Oliver, Camerons director of communications. The deputy editor, Paul Johnson, joined them in Rusbridgers office, overlooking the Regents Canal, which runs behind Kings Cross station, in North London. According to Rusbridger, Heywood told him, in a steely voice, The Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary, the Attorney General, and others in government are extremely concerned about what youre doing.....


After Bloomberg
August26, 2013

Michael Bloomberg, whose third and final term as mayor of New York expires at midnight on December 31st, keeps a digital clock running in reverse in his City Hall office, counting down the days, hours, minutes, and seconds left in his term. He remains one of the wealthiest men in the city—his fortune is estimated at twenty-seven billion dollars—but this seems of limited comfort to him. In 2008 and 2012, he considered running for President, as a moderate Republican or as a self-financed third-party candidate, but he was eventually persuaded that he couldn’t win. Now he is clearly vexed by the challenges of envisaging his own future and a City Hall without him...


Business Outsider
The New Yorker April 83

The newsroom of Business Insider occupies the thirteenth floor of 257 Park Avenue South, overlooking the sidewalks and snail-mail concerns of Twenty-first Street. Rows of pressed-wood ikea desks are lined up under a vast ceiling, and several dozen writers and editors tap away at keyboards and gaze at twenty-three-inch screens. By the reception desk, there is a Ping-Pong table, where two employees chase and whack a celluloid ball. As with all newsrooms these days, telephones rarely ring, and shouting and group huddles are uncommon. Instead, reporters Google, Facebook, text. The loudest noise often comes from Henry Blodget, the editor-in-chief, who occupies the first seat in the sixth row from the entrance. He sits with his back to a white concrete pillar, facing his reporters and editors, wearing a white shirt, a tie, and a charcoal business suit. When he talks, his arms swing and his voice rises, conveying the enthusiasm of an evangelist.....


The Heiress
December 10, 2012

On Saturday, July 2, 2011, a high-society traffic jam descended on the cobblestoned town square of Burford, a village sixty-eight miles northwest of London, not far from the market town of Chipping Norton. Hundreds of chauffeured cars approached a gated stone wall, which opened to a long, circular driveway and the sprawling country house of Elisabeth Murdoch, a prominent television entrepreneur and the daughter of Rupert Murdoch, and her husband, Matthew Freud, who runs what may be the most powerful public-relations firm in Great Britain. In addition to their professional accomplishments, the couple have gained renown for their lavish “Chipping Norton set” parties, which are often attended by their friend Prime Minister David Cameron, government ministers, financiers, C.E.O.s, celebrities, and newspaper editors. “You’re never likely to be bored,” the former Prime Minister Tony Blair, an occasional guest, told me. The CNN host Piers Morgan, a former editor of Rupert Murdoch’s the News of the World, once told the Daily Mail, “I’ve never seen so many people who hate each other together in one room.”


Citizens Jain
The New Yorker October 8

The square that borders the Dadar Railway Station is the largest of sixty-five newspaper-delivery depots in Mumbai. At 4 A.M., forty trucks and vans packed with newspapers and magazines have parked and slid open their back doors; the trash-strewn streets are otherwise deserted, and the loudest noise comes from the cawing of crows. During the next few hours, two hundred and thirty-one thousand newspapers will be unloaded, half of them published by Bennett, Coleman & Company, Ltd., India's dominant media conglomerate....


Paper Trail
June 25, 2012

At four o'clock in the morning on January 22, 2010, John Sargent was pedalling furiously on an exercise bicycle in the basement of his Brooklyn brownstone. Sargent, the C.E.O. of Macmillan Books, had a difficult decision to make. In five days, Steve Jobs would announce the first iPad, and he was pressing Sargent to agree to a new way of selling books....


Get Rich U.
The New Yorker

Stanford University is so startlingly paradisial, so fragrant and sunny, it’s as if you could eat from the trees and live happily forever. Students ride their bikes through manicured quads, past blooming flowers and statues by Rodin, to buildings named for benefactors like Gates, Hewlett, and Packard. Everyone seems happy, though there is a well-known phenomenon called the “Stanford duck syndrome”: students seem cheerful, but all the while they are furiously paddling their legs to stay afloat....


War of Choice
January 9, 2012

Marco Rubio, a Republican who is the junior senator from Florida, has a full head of thick black hair and a movie star’s baby face. He speaks passionately and argues persuasively. Just forty years old, he has the youthful glamour of a Kennedy, with an attractive wife and four children. Tea Party activists love Rubio, and he is surely the most prominent Hispanic Republican in America.....


Changing Times

At nine o'clock on the morning of September 6th, Jill Abramson was riding the subway uptown from her Tribeca loft. It was her first day as executive editor of the New York Times, and also the first time in the paper's hundred and sixty years that a woman's name would appear at the top of the masthead. Abramson described herself as "excited," because of the history she was about to make, and "a little nervous," because she knew that many in the newsroom feared her....


Steve Jobs 1955-2011
Newyorker.com October 51

Steve Jobs is dead. One big question is whether the unbelievably innovative culture he forged will live. Jobs was not a great human being, but he was a great, transformative, and historical figure. Many books were dashed off describing what a tyrannical person Jobs could be—how he took the parking spaces of the handicapped, how he reduced employees to tears. Those tales will fade like yesterday’s newspapers. What will stand erect like an indestructible monument are the things Steve Jobs created that changed our lives: The Macintosh; the iTunes store that induced people to pay for music and other content; Pixar, which forever changed animation; the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. These were more than technological feats, but Apple products were beautifully designed, as well. For three decades, even as he got older, Steve Jobs and Apple remained "cool."....


The Brooks Resignation: Business and Loyalty
11

The only surprise in the resignation of Rebekah Brooks is that it took so long. She was the editor of the News of the World when a good deal of hacking was done, when police were paid bribes for documents and news tips. When she left the newsroom, she became the News Corp. executive responsible for overseeing at least one newspaper that continued these practices, as well as others that we may learn more about. And when she testified before Parliament, she offered misleading and contradictory answers. Yet she remained in place. When Rupert Murdoch flew to London last weekend to quarterback his company’s defense, a reporter asked: What’s your foremost concern?....


What Murdoch Made
Newyorker.com - July 7, 2011

During the first full day of the Allen & Co. Conference in Sun Valley, Rupert Murdoch was almost invisible. He was not spotted at the morning panels or at the outdoor lunch where he usually arrives early and holds court. Presumably, he was holed up strategizing about how to extricate his News Corp. from the worst crisis it has faced since it nearly went bankrupt in the early nineties. The seriousness of the situation is reflected in the dramatic step Murdoch’s son, James, announced Thursday: closing the News of the World, a one-hundred-and-sixty-eight year-old paper. In his absence, many attendees asked: did Murdoch know his London newspaper hacked into the voicemail of private phone lines—not only those of the royal family, but of a thirteen-year-old murder victim, and possibly relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan—and paid police to unearth information?....


A Woman's Place
Can Sheryl Sandberg upend Silicon Valley’s male-dominated culture?
The New Yorker July 111

In 2007, the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, knew that he needed help. His social-network site was growing fast, but, at the age of twenty-three, he felt ill-equipped to run it. That December, he went to a Christmas party at the home of Dan Rosensweig, a Silicon Valley executive, and as he approached the house he saw someone who had been mentioned as a possible partner, Sheryl Sandberg, Google's thirty-eight-year-old vice-president for global online sales and operations. Zuckerberg hadn't called her before (why would someone who managed four thousand employees want to leave for a company that had barely any revenue?), but he went up and introduced himself. "We talked for probably an hour by the door," Zuckerberg recalls....


Murdoch's Best Friend
What is Robert Thomson doing at the Wall Street Journal?
The New Yorker April 111

Last April, the magazine Hello! featured an exclusive eighteen-page spread on the baptism of Wendi and Rupert Murdoch’s young daughters, Grace and Chloe. The cover displayed a group photo of the Murdochs and their guests, all dressed in white, in Jordan, where they had come to witness the children’s baptism in the place where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. The patriarch was in the front, bespectacled and earnest, a boutonnière pinned to his white shirt. Queen Rania of Jordan stood nearby, as did Nicole Kidman and Ivanka Trump.


The Dictator Index
The billionaire Mo Ibrahim battles a continent's legacy of misrule.

March 711

One day last March, students crammed into the Great Hall at the University of Ghana, outside Accra. They filled the plastic chairs set up to face an ornate wooden lectern, and lined the hallways around the auditorium. It was oppressively hot, and a fan was positioned to blow air toward the speaker, Mo Ibrahim, a Sudanese-born billionaire who built one of the first mobile-phone networks on the continent. He stood alone onstage, flanked by four golden floor-to-ceiling columns. His speech was titled “Taking Responsibility—How to Fix the Mess That Africa Is In”....


Tim Armstrong's Hail Mary Pass
AOL's purchas of the Huffington Post
Newyorker.com February 71

The game clock was ticking down on C.E.O. Tim Armstrong’s pledge to demonstrate by the second half of this year that AOL could mount a comeback from the near dead. AOL suffered a dismal last quarter of 2010, with revenues and traffic and subscribers continuing to fall. Quarterback Armstrong was not scoring with pledges to transform AOL into a content company....


Why Is Eric Schmidt Stepping Down?
Was the Google CEO pushed, or did he jump?

January 2111

According to close advisors, the Google C.E.O. was upset a year ago when co-founder Larry Page sided with his founding partner, Sergey Brin, to withdraw censored searches from China. Schmidt did not hide his belief that Google should stay in the world’s largest consumer marketplace. It was an indication of the nature of the relationship Schmidt had with the founders that he—as Brian Cashman of the Yankees did this week—acknowledged that the decision was made above his head. He often joked that he provided “adult supervision,” and was never shy about interrupting the founders at meetings to crystallize a point. In the eleven interviews I conducted with him for my book on Google, he freely told anecdotes about the founders, sometimes making gentle fun of them, never seeming to look over his shoulder.


You've Got News
Can Tim Armstrong save AOL?
The New Yorker 1

In the past three years, newspaper advertising revenues have plummeted, a fourth of all newsroom employees have been laid off or have accepted buyouts, and more than a hundred free local papers have folded. During these unhappy times for the profession, a surprising savior has appeared: America Online. In the last year, AOL has hired many talented journalists. The surge of activity is even more noteworthy given AOL's dismal decade. The company still gets eighty per cent of its profits from subscribers. But AOL also runs popular service sites, like e-mail, Instant Messaging, MapQuest, and Moviefone. And, according to the company's newest C.E.O., Tim Armstrong, the most important part of AOL is the collection of blogs and news sites that it manages: DailyFinance, Politics Daily, Engadget, TechCrunch, FanHouse, and about ninety others. Armstrong, who is forty years old, thinks that AOL can develop a reputation as a place where reporters and editors craft original stories.


The Networker
Afghanistan’s first media mogul

July 510

Every day in Kabul, politicians and journalists in search of information come to a barricaded dead-end street in the Wazir Akbar Khan district to see Saad Mohseni, the chairman of Moby Group, Afghanistan’s preëminent media company. At the last house on the right, burly men carrying AK-47s lead them up creaky stairs to a small second-floor office. Mohseni, a gregarious man with a politician’s habits, often stands up to greet visitors with a hug, then returns to his desk, where a BlackBerry, two cell phones, and a MacBook Air laptop are constantly lit up; fifteen small flat-screen TVs, set to mute, are mounted on the office walls


Publish or Perish
Can the iPad topple the Kindle, and save the book business?
The New Yorker April

On the morning of January 27th—an aeon ago, in tech time—Steve Jobs was to appear at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, in downtown San Francisco, to unveil Apple’s new device, the iPad. Although speculation about the device had been intense, few in the audience knew yet what it was called or exactly what it would do, and there was a feeling of expectation in the room worthy of the line outside the grotto at Lourdes. Hundreds of journalists and invited guests, including Al Gore, Yo-Yo Ma, and Robert Iger, the C.E.O. of Disney, milled around the theatre, waiting for Jobs to appear. The sound system had been playing a medley of Bob Dylan songs; it went quiet as the lights came up onstage and Jobs walked out, to the crowd’s applause...


Non-Stop News
With cable, the Web, and tweets, can the President
-- or the press -- still control the story?

January 2510

On September 9, 2009, the day that President Obama was to make a televised speech in support of national health insurance before a joint session of Congress, he flew to New York in the morning to speak at a memorial service for Walter Cronkite. Although Obama had no personal connection to Cronkite—he was a nineteen-year-old sophomore at Occidental College when, in 1981, Cronkite signed off as the anchor of the "CBS Evening News"—he sat through the entire two-and-a-half-hour service, at Lincoln Center. As the closing speaker, the President used his platform to deliver a kind of sermon to the many hundreds of journalists who were in the hall. He was there to tell the gathered tribe that their work was, in no small measure, a frenzied and trivial pursuit.


Ten Things Google Has Taught Us
Google Squares off with its Capitol Hill Critics

In researching his new book, Googled: the End of the World as We Know It, published by Penguin Press, author Ken Auletta had extensive access to the company's inner workings and reported widely on its impact on the media landscape. In a Fortune.com exclusive, he offers ten enduring lessons drawn from his journey into Google's realm:...


Searching for Trouble
Why Google is on its Guard
October9

In a suit and tie and with closely cropped gray hair, Mel Karmazin stood out as he crossed the Google campus, in Mountain View, California, on a sunny June day in 2003. Young people in jeans and baggy T-shirts passed him holding their laptops before them like waiters' trays. Google was nearly five years old, and was thought to be merely a search engine. As the C.O.O. of Viacom, Karmazin represented one of the world's largest media companies—the owner of, among other holdings, the CBS network, TV and radio stations, Paramount Pictures, MTV and its sister cable networks, and the publishers Simon & Schuster. Two of Viacom's biggest competitors, AOL and Time Warner, had earlier merged to become the world's largest old-and-new-media conglomerate, and Karmazin was looking for potential partners in the tech world.


The Search Party
Google Squares off with its Capitol Hill Critics

In June, 2006, Sergey Brin, one of the co-founders of Google, went to Washington, D.C., hoping to create a little good will. Google was something of a Washington oddity then. Although it was a multibillion-dollar company, with enormous power, it had no political-action committee, and its Washington office had opened, in 2005, with a staff of one, in suburban Maryland. The visit, which was reported in the Washington Post, was hurried, and, in what was regarded by some as a snub, Brin failed to see some key people, including Senator Ted Stevens, of Alaska, who was then the chairman of the Commerce Committee and someone whose idea of the Internet appeared to belong to the analog era. (He once said that a staff member had sent him “an Internet.”) Brin told me recently, “Because it was the last minute, we didn’t schedule everything we wanted to.” It probably didn’t help that his outfit that day included a dark T-shirt, jeans, and silver mesh sneakers.....


Promises, Promises
What might the Wall Street Journal become
if Rupert Murdoch owned it?

March was not the best of months for Richard F. Zannino, the C.E.O. of the Dow Jones Company, which owns the Wall Street Journal. Zannino joined the company six and a half years ago, after a career in the apparel industry, and his tailored suits and good looks set him apart from most people in the newspaper business. Until recently, Zannino assured his board of directors at Dow Jones that a resurgent Wall Street Journal would drive up advertising revenues, and that the stock price would follow. He believed that since becoming C.E.O., in February of 2006, he was rejuvenating a company whose revenues that year—$1.8 billion—were slightly less than they were in 1993, and he liked to say that under his control forty-five of its top eighty executives have been replaced or shifted; he promised that it would soon be clear that his team had transformed Dow Jones into “a more diversified, content-driven media company.”...


Critical Mass
Everyone listens to Walter Mossberg.

On a blustery, overcast day early this year, P.R. representatives from Sprint and Samsung stopped by the Washington bureau of the Wall Street Journal to meet with the columnist Walter S. Mossberg. The agenda was clear: Sprint had a new music phone designed by Samsung, and the group was hoping for a positive reception from a man who has become to technology what Brooks Atkinson once was to the New York theatre—someone whose judgment can ratify years of effort or sink the show. Mossberg’s “Personal Technology” column, which anchors the front of the Journal’s Thursday Marketplace section, is particularly powerful when it comes to judging innovation intended for the consumer market. The opening sentence of his inaugural column, sixteen years ago, was “Personal computers are just too hard to use, and it’s not your fault,” a sentence that Mossberg has since described as his “mission statement.”...


The Fixer
Why New Yorkers call Howard Rubenstein
when they've got a problem.

A subscription to The New Yorker is required to read the full text of this article online. You may read the abstract by following the link below.


Mad as Hell
Lou Dobbs's populist crusade.

Regular viewers of "Lou Dobbs Tonight," on CNN, might be surprised at the venue that Dobbs chose for lunch not long ago: the Grill Room of the Four Seasons, a midtown bastion of the very same political and business "élites" that he denounces daily on his television program. The Four Seasons is the enduring commissary of the Old Guard, where Henry Kissinger waves to the former Citigroup C.E.O. Sandy Weill, there is limo-lock at the side door, and the regulars have their checks sent to the office. Dobbs's Town Car left him at the door, on East Fifty-second Street, and the restaurant's co-owner, Julian Nicolini, embraced him that day as warmly as when he welcomed, among others, Stephen Schwarzman, the chairman and C.E.O. of the Blackstone Group; Nelson Peltz, the C.E.O. of Trian Partners; Edgar Bronfman, Sr., the former chairman and C.E.O. of Seagram; and Mortimer Zuckerman, the real-estate developer and publisher of the News. Nicolini led Dobbs to one of five choice banquettes, and Dobbs settled in, looking very much at home.....


The Raid
How Carl Icahn came up short.

Richard D. Parsons, who runs Time Warner the world’s largest media company, does not fi the C.E.O. stereotype. He has a scruffy beard He is black. He hugs strangers, and believe that he can make just about anyone like him. S it was natural that when, in August, Parson learned that Carl Icahn’s hedge fund, Icah Partners, had joined three others to acquir three-per-cent ownership of Time Warner, he called Icahn and asked if he could drop by. “I never hurts to show a guy some respect, Parsons said later. He knew that Icahn ha made billions as a corporate raider in th eighties and had pioneered the art of “greenmail." (The raiders would buy a block o shares in a company and sell them back at premium, in return for agreeing to drop challenge to the company’s management.) Bu Parsons, who once worked for Nelson A Rockefeller, and who was the chairman o Rudolph Giuliani’s 1993 mayoral campaign also knew that this was as much a politica campaign as a business battle

The Inheritance
Can Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., save the Times—and himself?

Last month at the Chelsea Piers sport complex, a group that included corporat leaders, bankers, and teachers held a black-tie benefit dinner to celebrate Outward Bound, an to honor the winner of the award named for it founder, Kurt Hahn. The speakers talked abou Hahn’s belief in a person’s “inner strengths, recounted gruelling outdoor experiences, an gave solemn thanks for the sort of campfir encounter sessions they had come to value a Outward Bound. Throughout the evening people greeted each other with hugs, and eve tears; but there was silence when the award fo furthering “the Outward Bound mission” wa presented to Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr., th chairman of the New York Times Compan and publisher of the Times. Sulzberger was wryly introduced by a friend—“I found his infectious enthusiasm to be irritating when I was dangling over a cliff,” she said—and then Sulzberger, a youthful-looking man of fifty-four, bounded to the microphone....

Fault Line
Can the Los Angeles Times survive its owners?

By the morning of July 20th, after months o gossip, everyone in the third-floor newsroom o the Los Angeles Times knew that John S. Carroll, who had been the newspaper’s editor for five years, was going to resign. Through the large glass window of the conference room, the staff could see Carroll, along with the senior editors and the publisher, Jeffrey Johnson, who had rarely appeared in the newsroom. They all looked sombre. A few minutes after the meeting adjourned, the staff assembled at the national desk, across from Carroll’s office, to hear Johnson confirm that Carroll was indeed leaving.

 

The Dawn Patrol
The curious rise of morning television,
and the future of network news

Katie Couric still finds it surprising when people come up to her and say things like "You're in my bedroom every morning." But Couric, the co-anchor of NBC's "Today" show, understands the impulse. "People have a very personal relationship with us," she says, referring to herself and her co-anchor, Matt Lauer. For most of the past fifty-three years, "Today" has been the favored companion of morning viewers. It is the most profitable program on any network—its commercials earn about two hundred and fifty million dollars annually, about three times as much as ABC's "Good Morning America" or CBS's "The Early Show." ("Today," which averages six million viewers, earns more because it reaches a larger and younger audience and, unlike its competitors, is on for three hours, not two, on weekdays.) While the networks have been rapidly losing viewers throughout the day—to cable, the Internet, and other distractions—the morning shows have gained them....

Sign-Off
The Long and Complicated Career of Dan Rather

On the door to Dan Rather's office at CBS are two fading gold lines of script: "Go tell the Spartans, thou who passest by, / That here, obedient to their laws, we lie." The quotation, Rather told meÑthe words of the Spartans who died holding off the Persian army at the Battle of ThermopylaeÑhas served as an inspiration ever since Mrs. Spencer, his fourth-grade teacher in Houston, Texas, first read it aloud in class. "They fought to the last man," he said. "I read that as loyalty. That's what it's come to mean to me. Loyal to the very end. Loyal to their beliefs. Loyal to their code." Rather, it was clear, was talking about himself; it was December, and he and several CBS News colleagues were awaiting the results of an outside investigation into their work which threatened their livelihoods and their reputations.

 

The New Pitch
Do ads still work?

In the introduction to his 1963 best-seller, "Confessions of an Advertising Man," David Ogilvy apologized for writing "in the old-fashioned first person singular." In the intervening decadesÑthe years of, among others, Madonna and Donald TrumpÑthat modest impulse has faded. The inclination now is more toward emphatic self-promotion. Linda Kaplan Thaler, who today enjoys an Ogilvy-like reputation as one of advertising's creative talents, co-wrote a book on marketing in 2003, and advised her peers, "Don't worry about whether the news is good or bad. Just get covered. . . . PR breeds PR."

Kerry's Brain
Bob Shrum is one of the biggest names in the campain business -- but is he prepared to take on Bush?

Robert Shrum, a senior adviser to John Kerry, is probably the Democratic Party's most celebrated speechwriter. But Shrum, who has made speechwriting a specialty, dislikes being described by what he does best. "I don't want to be a speechwriter," he insists, and he is eager to make clear that he has broader strategic responsibilities in the Kerry Presidential campaign. According to Kerry's former campaign manager, Jim Jordan, "Anything having to do with words and message, Bob had the last word."

Big Bird Flies Right
How Republicans learned to love PBS.

A year and a half ago, Pat Mitchell, the president of the Public Broadcasting System, was invited to tea at Vice-President Cheney's house. The federal government is PBS's biggest patron, and Mitchell was happy to accept. There to greet her, on December 11, 2002, was Lynne Cheney, the Vice-President's wife, and Michael Pack, a producer. Cheney has written a number of children's books, and Mitchell especially liked "A Is for Abigail"ÑAbigail AdamsÑwhich was subtitled "An Almanac of Amazing American Women." She knew that Pack, who had made documentaries for PBS, had ties to the Bush Administration; he had recently been nominated by George W. Bush and confirmed by the Senate to serve on the National Council on the Humanities....


How the Media Got That Way
Book Review

The Creation of the Media: Political Origins of American Communications; Paul Starr; Basic Books: 484 pp., $27.50 All the News That's Fit to Sell: How the Market Transforms Information Into News; James T. Hamilton; Princeton University Press: 342 pp., $35


Fortress Bush
How the White House keeps the press under control.

Last August, in Crawford, Texas, George W. Bush gave a barbecue for the press corps. Bush has let it be known that he's not much of a television-news watcher or a newspaper reader, apart from the sports section; and during a conversation with reporters he explained, perhaps without intending to, why his White House often seems indifferent to the press. "How do you then know what the public thinks?" a reporter asked, according to Bush aides and reporters who heard the exchange. And Bush replied, "You're making a huge assumption–that you represent what the public thinks."


Family Business
Dow Jones is not like other companies. How long can that go on?

At first glance, the Wall Street Journal and its parent company, Dow Jones & Co., appear to be models of serenity. The newsroom, as newsrooms go, is surprisingly tranquil, despite a recent round of layoffs. Paul E. Steiger, the managing editor (the paper's top editorial position), listens more than he exhorts, and jokes about how boring he is. The chairman and C.E.O. of Dow Jones, Peter R. Kann, glances at his watch when he makes presentations, as if he couldn't wait to flee.


Vox Fox
How Roger Ailes and Fox News are changing cable news.


One morning not long ago, the co-hosts of "Fox & Friends," the Fox News network's raucous and right-leaning version of the "Today" show, were promoting Fox-branded merchandise such as baseball caps and soap-on-a-rope when Steve Doocy, a co-anchor, turned to his partner, E. D. Hill, and said, "You know who's really jealous about our merchandising?" Doocy, who doubles as the weatherman, answered his own question: "My dentist is so jealous. You've seen him on TV--Aaron Brown. You know, the guy on CNN--he does that show at night? He just works nights over there. But during the day he's our dentist. Do we have a picture?"


Beauty and the Beast
Harvey Weinstein has made some great movies, and a lot of enemies.



Harvey Weinstein sometimes believes that Hollywood is out to get him. He believed this even before it was true. Weinstein, or Harvey--in the movie business, there is only one Harvey--believes that he is a target partly because Miramax, the studio that he co-founded with his brother, Bob, is based in New York. Mostly, he believes that the movie industry resents the success he's had in the past two decades, making movies--sometimes brilliant, innovative movies--that Hollywood wouldn't touch.


The Howell Doctrine
The Times' new top editor has big plans for the paper. Not everyone is ready to go along.


A man who takes the subway wearing the white panama hat of a plantation owner is either blithely arrogant or irrepressibly self-confident, and in the nine months that Howell Raines has been the executive editor of the Times both qualities have been imputed to him. Raines is fifty-nine, and has worked for the Times for a quarter of a century; he has been praised and derided for the sometimes coruscating editorial page that he ran from January of 1993 until August, 2001. But until last year his acquaintance with the newsroom was only passing, and to most of his Times colleagues he was an alien--as the metropolitan editor, Jonathan Landman, characterized him, a "Martian."


Battle Stations
How long will the networks stick with the news?

Like so much else, television news changed on the morning of September 11th. Six weeks later, as Aaron Brown, CNN's new anchorman, shifted from a Pentagon briefing to the ruins of the World Trade Center and then to a dissection of the latest anthrax scare, a familiar figure appeared in a box in the right half of the screen: O. J. Simpson on the witness stand.


Leviathan
How much bigger can AOL Time Warner get?


At AOL Time Warner, as everywhere else, life has been altered dramatically since September 11th. The company has donated hundreds of wireless mobile communicators to law-enforcement personnel, produced fund-raising concerts, contributed more than five million dollars to the recovery effort, and persuaded AOL subscribers to donate more than fifteen million dollars. The company also lost considerable income (the company claims not to know these costs) as movie and magazine schedules have been disrupted and costs at the Cable News Network and Time have risen sharply. Nevertheless, the world's largest and most powerful communications company has not lost sight of its primary goal--to encircle and seduce consumers.


The Microsoft Verdict


At the Rockefeller Center headquarters of AOL Time Warner last Thursday, one of the company's senior executives took time to watch the breaking news. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia had delivered a ruling in the Microsoft antitrust case, and, as depicted on the cable television networks, the verdict appeared lopsidedly simple: Microsoft triumphs.


Inside Out
How Inside.com was born, grew, and met an uncertain fate.


The idea came to Kurt Andersen and Michael Hirschorn in early 1999, at the height of what has come to look like the Internet gold rush. Print was doomed, it was said; revolutionary forms of online journalism were at hand, and would also make you rich.


The Lost Tycoon
Now he has no wife, no job, and no empire,
but Ted Turner may just save the world.



Early last year, Ted Turner seemed invincible. He was the largest shareholder in AOL Time Warner, owning around four per cent of the soon-to-be-merged companies; his celebrated name was on the door of a major division, Turner Broadcasting System; and his dimpled chin, gap-toothed smile, and pencil-thin Gable-esque mustache were recognizable everywhere.


Final Offer
What kept Microsoft from settling its case


The first time Microsoft's team of lawyers entered the courtroom of Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, of the U.S. District Court in Washington, in 1995, they had good reason to believe that he would side with them. Jackson, with a cloud of white hair and a tan acquired from sailing, certainly looked like the sort of judge who makes businessmen feel comfortable.


Hard Core

Why does Bill Gates think that the Microsoft antitrust trial has been such a disaster for him?


What I Did At Summer Camp
A reporter gets inside Herb Allen's C.E.O. retreat.


Summer camp is a chance for a kid to play, to forge friendships, to escape his parents. For a media mogul, the five-day Sun Valley, Idaho, camp conducted for the past seventeen years by the investment firm Allen & Company offers similar advantages. There is a head counselor and there are activity directors; each day has a morning activity period, canteen, then playtime and evening programs. The session culminates in an awards ceremony. This year, for the first time, an outsider, a reporter, was permitted to attend. This is my diary.


The Invisible Manager
Can the reclusive executive who helped bring back the N.F.L.--and is pushing Howard Stern--reinvent CBS?


Not long ago, Mel Karmazin, the president and chief operating officer of CBS, got a call from Rupert Murdoch, the owner of the Fox network and the chairman and C.E.O. of the News Corporation. "I wanted to introduce myself," Murdoch reportedly said. "We've never met, but I’m looking forward to meeting you."


Demolition Man
Mark Willes tore down the traditional wall between editorial and advertising. Will that save the L.A. Times?


When Debora Vrana, a business reporter for the Los Angeles Times, arrived at her office on October 15th, she found a press release from an advertiser along with a note from an advertising-sales executive asking, “Could this run on page two or three?”


The Emmy Factory
Why does everyone seem to win television’s most recognized award?


John Cannon affects a grave, almost funereal mien, greeting a visitor to his dimly lit offices with a solemn handshake. Although it is a warm July day, his windows are shut and the air-conditioning is off. When he sits, he doesn’t unbutton his double-breasted blue pin-striped jacket; when he speaks, he barely gestures.


The Microsoft Provocateur
For a decade, Nathan Myhrvold, Bill Gates's corporate gadfly, has been writing copious, bombastic, brilliant, and confidential memos for his boss. To read them is to understand a lot about Microsoft--and the future.


Nathan Myhrvold is Bill Gates's favorite geek. "I don't know anyone I would say is smarter than Nathan," Gates says. "He stands out even in the Microsoft environment." But the thirty-seven-year-old Myhrvold, the chief technology officer of the company, is considerably more than a resident geek.


The Bloomberg Threat
Why does America's newest media mogul scare Dow Jones?


It's fabulous being Michael Bloomberg, as he is quick to tell you. His name is stamped on seventy-three thousand computer terminals that companies lease to receive the Bloomberg – a treasure of up-to-the-minute and historical financial data.


The Man Who Disappeared
At one time, a whole generation of Times reporters wished they could write like McCandlish Phillips. Then he left them all for God.


Last April 12th, a crowd filled the First Church, in Wenham, Massachusetts, for the funeral of Nathaniel C. Nash, the Frankfurt bureau chief of the New York Times. Nash, a much admired reporter, had been among the thirty-five passengers and crew killed when the airplane carrying Secretary of Commerce Ronald Brown crashed into a Croatian mountain.


Inside Story
Why did both candidates despise the press?


When the 1996 Presidential race ended--when the last bridge to the twenty-first century had been proposed and the last "He's a liberal, he's a liberal" had been uttered--the press called it an awful, dispiriting campaign. President Clinton and Bob Dole, many wrote, were negative and cynical and had become slaves to the latest poll.


The Re-education of Michael Kinsley
What's been going on since the Beltway contrarian and the corporate cyber whizzes in Seattle got together to create a new kind of electronic magazine? Some very interesting ideas about journalism.


When Michael Kinsley announced, last November, that he was leaving Washington, D.C., to edit an online magazine in Seattle, colleagues and friends reacted as if he were moving to another planet. And, in a sense, he was.


The News Rush
Why are the networks so eager to invade CNN's turf?


Last October, the top executives of NBC and of Microsoft met on the fifty-second floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza to talk about a dramatic news partnership.


That's Entertainment
These are giddy days in the industry,
and C.E.O.s keep losing their heads.


On the afternoon of Tuesday, January 16th, Frank Biondi's secretary told him that Sumner Redstone, Viacom's chairman, wanted to see him at three-thirty the next day. This was an unusual request, since Redstone often popped unannounced into Biondi's office, which was just a few steps away from his own. "I knew then that something was going on," Biondi, who at the time was Viacom's president and chief executive officer, says.


The Pirate
Rupert Murdoch often shuns the normal practices and principles of business and the media to get what he wants. It's a strategy that's working in China but hasn't with Time Warner.


When Rupert Murdoch arrives at his office on the Twentieth Century Fox lot, in Los Angeles, the single television is set to CNN, and the sound is off.


Awesome
Michael Eisner's comeback and his probable peace with Jeffrey Katzenberg crown a succession of mogul mergers and breakups that tops anything on TV.


In a season of media madness topped off by the announcement that the Walt Disney Company was buying Capital Cities/ABC, consider these bombshells.


Pay Per Views
With legislation pending, what can a media C.E.O. do to get Congress on his side? PAC funds help, but the new Republicans want more than just money.


Last November at election time, Sumner Redstone, the chairman of Viacom, asked Frank J. Biondi, Jr., Viacom's chief executive officer, if the company's political-action committees had hedged their electoral bets by supporting Republican candidates as well as Democrats. Redstone had reason to be concerned.


The Consigliere
There are big decisions yet to be made in the MCA-Seagram deal, and they may all involve Herbert Allen.


Herbert A. Allen's official biography contains just five sentences, and they reveal almost nothing about the man. The biography says that Allen is the chief executive officer of Allen & Company, a privately held investment-banking firm; is a member of the board of directors of the Coca-Cola Company; was once chairman of the board ofColumbia Pictures; and graduated from Williams College. There is no hint that Allen has becomethe unofficial investment-banking consigliere to many of the world's communications companies.


Selling the Air
Who will control the airwaves? This year may see a decision, and the battle is on between the new Congress and the F.C.C.--and its chairman, Reed Hundt.


To decision-makers in the communications business, government--not titans like Bill Gates and Rupert Murdoch--is the true powerhouse. Not since the Communications Act of 1934, which authorized the federal government to license radio and television stations to use the public airwaves, has the government become entangled in so many momentous communications issues.


Redstone's Secret Weapon


Who is Frank Biondi? Viacom's president and C.E.O. is nowhere near as visible as Sumner Redstone, his boss, but Biondi is the one who "makes the numbers," and last year those numbers got Paramount and Blockbuster for Viacom. Now Redstone and Biondi want Viacom to become the Microsoft of the entertainment world.


Fee Speech
Who, besides members of Congress, accepts money from special interests? Often, the journalists most eager to sneer at politicians for it.


The initial hint of anger from twenty-five or so members of the House Democratic leadership came on an hour-and-a-quarter-long bus ride from Washington to Airlie House, in rural Virginia, one morning last January. They had been asked by the Majority Leader, Richard A. Gephardt, of Missouri, to attend a two-day retreat for the Democratic Message Group, and as the bus rolled southwest the convivial smiles faded.


The $64,000 Question
Thirty-five years after the quiz-show scandal, a group of network executives consider the question: Is television still cheating?


When Charles Van Doren was about to be exposed for his role in the nineteen-fifties quiz-show scandal, Albert Freedman, the associate producer of the show "Twenty-One," tried to comfort him by saying, "Besides, what did you do wrong? Everybody knows the magician doesn't saw the lady in half."


The Human Factor
Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg were one of the steadiest and most successful teams in Hollywood. So why did they force a split that neither man wanted?


My car phone rang. It was August 30th, and I was on my way to Kennedy Airport to fly to Los Angeles for a dinner with Jeffrey Katzenberg, the chairman of Walt Disney Studios. He had told me earlier by phone that he would give me the real story of why, just six days before, he and Michael Eisner, the chairman of the Walt Disney Company, had announced their divorce.


Network for Sale

In the wake of Barry Diller's failed bid for CBS, who will own the network isn't clear, but some truths about mergers in the new electronic media are.


The contest for the control of CBS and QVC resembles a game of musical chairs: after each round, there are more participants than there are seats. On July 12th, it appeared that Barry Diller had lost his seat as the prospective chief executive officer of CBS and might soon leave as the C.E.O. of QVC.


Back in Play
Barry Diller has said that network broadcasting is the past, so what does he see for CBS? And what will happen now that Larry Tisch has put CBS in play?


AS is true of any enabling relationship, Laurence A. Tisch, the chairman of CBS, and Barry Diller, the chairman of the QVC home-shopping network, needed each other in order to go on to something else.


Rising Son
From the time Edgar Bronfman, Jr., skipped college for a career in Hollywood to his decision to take over and redirect a large part of his family's Seagram Company, he has had a clear sense of what he wants his achievements to be. Some nervous executives at Time Warner are wondering where they fit into his plans.


As the day wore on, the rumor that Seagram was about to mount a hostile takeover of Time Warner echoed loudly. Perhaps the rumor began with stockbrokers, who tipped their clients, who placed their bets and then alerted reporters, who jumped at a scoop and phoned Seagram officials, who were not in, and then reached jittery Time Warner sources, who could not deny that their company was a target, because they did not know, and naturally made their own inquiries, thereby confirming hunches that something was afoot.


Room at the Top
Joseph Lelyveld ascends to the Times' editorship. It was the naming of the new No. 2--and what it said about the future--that kept everyone guessing.


WHEN the Politburo wanted to signal a change in the leadership of the Soviet Union, reporters knew because the Soviet state radio suddenly switched from its regular programming to sombre classical music. When the College of Cardinals chooses a new Pope, reporters know because the Vatican releases puffs of white smoke. When the Times is about to shift editors, reporters know because a memo printed on stark white paper is posted on the third-floor bulletin board.


The Magic Box
Time Warner is testing its futuristic vision of services that will be available from the TV. But how much interaction do Americans really want?


Kate seemed to be the perfect customer for what Time Warner calls its Full Service Network--the first switched, digitized, fibre-optic, multimedia, interactive TV system. She was just thirty, and so was presumed to be open to change; she was affluent, and so was presumed to be willing to pay for what she watched; and on a form she had filled out for a recent Time Warner "viability test" she had expressed a desire to be liberated from network programmers, who told her what she could watch and when.


Changing Channels
While NBC and ABC grapple with management successions, mergers, and Mike Ovitz as producer, a new form of cable threatens to change the rules.


This seems to be a season of transitions. Michael Gartner, the beleaguered president of NBC News, has fallen on his sword because of the faked crash of a General Motors truck on "Dateline NBC."


Promise Her the Moon
To the television networks, the star power of a Diane Sawyer is ever more crucial. So another contract bidding war has begun--led again by Fox.


"Diane is the John Madden of network news," a Fox executive who is engaged in a feverish but still quiet contest with ABC, CBS, and NBC to recruit Diane Sawyer said last week.


John Malone: Flying Solo
John Malone, who engineered the merger between his TCI and Bell Atlantic, is the pioneering cable titan whom Al Gore once called Darth Vader. Despite charges of monopoly and deception, Malone has become the most powerful man in television, and has the industry and Capitol Hill wondering where he'll go next.


There is no television set in John C. Malone's office. This seems odd, since Malone, the president and chief executive officer of Tele-Communications, Inc., is the most influential man in television. After twenty years at the helm of TCI, Malone now controls one of every four cable boxes in the country, and through TCI and Liberty Media, a programming company formerly owned by TCI, he has an interest in twenty-nine cable services, including CNN, TNT, QVC, Court TV, Black Entertainment Television, American Movie Classics, and the Discovery Channel.


Under the Wire
Will the telecommunications revolution end in monopoly or Big Brotherhood? Neither, if Al Gore gets his way.


Ask Vice-President Al Gore about telecommunications and he thinks of highways. During a recent interview at his office, in the West Wing of the White House, Gore recalled that when he was a boy in Carthage, Tennessee, his family couldn't get into their new car and drive to Nashville--a fifty-mile trip--with any speed, because the road was just two lanes all the way.


TV's New Gold Rush
American programming has invaded overseas markets once dominated by state-run television, and ABC's Herb Granath has led the charge.



Herbert Granath's personality is as steady as a dial tone. Although Granath is a formidable figure in worldwide television and theatrical production--as chairman of ESPN, as co-chairman of two other cable networks, as a pioneer in the selling of network shows to foreign outlets, as a partner in ten overseas television enterprises and production houses, as a facilitator in the recent linking of ABC News with the BBC, and as a producer of Broadway plays--"power" is not the word that jumps to mind when people first meet him.


The Last Studio in Play
Barry Diller and Sumner Redstone differ about where their industry is going, and Paramount Communications may prove to be their testing ground.


Although Sumner Redstone hadn't played poker in twenty years, he knew he couldn't lose this hand. He had five aces--the supreme hand in a seven-card game called day baseball. Redstone was travelling with three colleagues, and this was the final hand before their plane landed. Redstone did not want just to win; he wanted to empty his friends' pockets.


The Race for a Global Network
G.E.'s Jack Welch was trying to unload NBC. But now NBC has a strategy, while CBS reels from Howard Stringer's departure.


John IN the corporate jungle, Jack Welch has emerged as a lion. Welch, the chairman and chief executive officer of General Electric, is a former chemical engineer who has made G.E. into a sixty-billion-dollar global behemoth, which since 1986 has included NBC.


Raiding the Global Village
CNN's global dominance faces challenges from new multinational network linkups and from changes in what the world wants to watch.


"Unless American soldiers are there, American television is not there," the Cable News Network correspondent Christiane Amanpour observed recently about network coverage of foreign stories.


Opening Up the Times
Can the New York Times, America's family-owned newspaper of record, function as a democracy? Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., who succeeded his father as publisher a year and a half ago, wants to change the power structure of the Times. And he has put his top editors through some soul-searching to see if they can make it happen.


On the surface, the New York Times, the world's most majestic newspaper, retains its serenity.


What Won't They Do?
Hollywood decision-makers discuss the social impact of the big screen and the small screen--and where the entertainment industry's responsibilities end.


The producer Lawrence Gordon was convinced that his movie "The Warriors" would be a major success. The research told him. Word of mouth told him. The year was 1979, before Gordon had produced such hits as "Die Hard," "Predator," "Field of Dreams," and "48 Hours," and he thought that "The Warriors"--a movie about street gangs--was his ticket to producer Heaven.


Barry Diller's Search for the Future
Diller's new venture began with a laptop and a home-shopping cable network--and it stunned Hollywood. But it may make him billions.


When Barry Diller, the former chairman of Fox, Inc., speaks of his Apple PowerBook, a laptop computer, he grows rhapsodic. "My odyssey began with the PowerBook," Diller said recently of the months he spent after leaving Fox.


Late-Night Gamble
NBC suffered a major blow to its prestige when it lost David Letterman, but will it get the last laugh?

Although David Letterman and his contract negotiations had been the subject of intense media attention for months, the prospect of facing reporters for a press conference to announce his new contract filled him with dread.


How the Politicians and the Public Stopped Reading Newspapers and Listening to Sam Donaldson and Learned to
Loathe the Media
An Election-Year Anatomy of an Institution in Decline.


The swarm of reporters hovered outside Blake's coffee shop in Manchester, New Hampshire, waiting for the candidate to appear. Suddenly Bill Clinton stepped out into the New England cold—not that you could see him, of course. What you could see were the boom microphones and TV cameras and tape recorders, all diving toward the dense center, reporters frantic to capture the moment—that gotcha! question, that gaffe—that would kill one candidate's quest for the presidency.


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