Friday, August 4, 2017

Shelby Co. D.A. Has Twitter Meltdown, Internet Watches

Posted By on Fri, Aug 4, 2017 at 12:34 PM

Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich. - JUSTIN FOX BURKS
  • Justin Fox Burks
  • Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Commercial Appeal, Tennessean, Other Tennessee Papers to be Edited Outside of Tennessee

Gannett Announces Plans to Close Nashville Design Studio

Posted By on Tue, Aug 1, 2017 at 10:36 PM

You know all those weird mistakes in the Commercial Appeal that make it seem like it's being edited somewhere else, because it's actually being edited someplace else? Well, as of October 1, 2017 the CA won't even be edited in Tennessee. Neither will The Tennessean, the Knoxville News Sentinel or any of the Volunteer State's Gannett-owned papers.

From The Tennessean:
Gannett and the USA TODAY NETWORK Tuesday announced plans to consolidate its Nashville Design Studio, with design work shifting to similar operations in Des Moines, Iowa, Louisville, Ky., and Phoenix, Ariz.

The closure will affect up to 88 jobs once the transition of work is complete on October 1. However, there will be some remote-work opportunities for Nashville employees aligned with the other studios. "The Nashville Design Studio team has been a valuable part of the USA TODAY NETWORK," said Mizell Stewart III, Vice President /News Operations at USA TODAY NETWORK. 

Also form The Tennessean — and note the use of the word continue:

"Readers will continue to enjoy beautifully designed print editions, while at the same time enjoying our outstanding news coverage on their smartphones, tablets and desktops. We are fully dedicated to providing the best and most engaging content possible — however our readers want to consume it."

Unless further changes are announced it appears all production work and editing for Gannett's 100+ daily newspaper properties will be done at one of the USA Today publisher's three remaining studios in Des Moines, IA, Louisville, KY, and Phoenix, AZ.

Gannett announced it would sell the Tennessean's offices in August, 2016. They announced the closing of their Asbury Park design studio in April. The Commercial Appeal's offices are also on the market and overnight employees have been advised to work from a coffee shop, home, or some other location that makes them "feel secure."

Tags: , , , ,

NewsMax CEO Worries About Sinclair Broadcast's New Acquisitions, Media Consolidation

It's a Conservative-Propaganda-Organ-Eats-Conservative-Propaganda-Organ World Out There. Be Careful Where You Step.

Posted By on Tue, Aug 1, 2017 at 2:15 PM

Boris Epshteyn — Coming to WREG soon?
  • Boris Epshteyn — Coming to WREG soon?
Industry trade magazine AdAge reports that Christopher Ruddy has asked the FCC to take time and carefully weigh any decision allowing the Sinclair Broadcast Group to go through with a deal that would bring the media conglomerate a total of of 233 local TV-news stations, including Memphis’ WREG.

Via AdAge:

"I am calling for delay," Christopher Ruddy, CEO of Newsmax, a conservative outlet with a 24-hour cable news channel, said in an interview. "I think it needs more vetting."

Ruddy, a friend of President Donald Trump, adds a conservative voice to liberal critics of the deal who are wary of Sinclair building a network of local stations featuring the company's pro-Trump commentary.

If you don't know who the players are here NewsMax is a frankly conservative multi-platform media company where TV hosts comfortably compare unflattering news reports about President Trump to “lynchings.” That comparison's no anomaly at NewsMax, which recently dipped its toe in the cable news business. Though marketed as Fox-light it's been a reliably safe space for Right-Wing cranks and conspiracy theorists.

Sinclair's been collecting local news stations. Holdings currently include ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX affiliated properties in an environment where local TV news has more reach than all four major cable news stations combined with NewsMax tossed in like a set of Ginsu knives. Frankly conservative and unapologetically Trumpist, Sinclair requires local stations to air segments by former Trump staffer Boris Epshteyn, the sixth person interviewed in ongoing probes into Russia's impact on U.S. elections.

For pretty much everything you need to know about Sinclair and Boris, and what might happen to Memphis' WREG if the FCC approves Sinclair's latest takeovers click here.

So basically we've reached this weird patch of Spacetime where a company invested in a national cable news product promoting kooks and conspiracy theorists can run headlines like "Local Broadcast Wins as National Media Increasingly Distrusted" with a straight face.

Welcome to The New Fairness in a marketplace of ideas that's somehow even worse than it was when  irresponsible media narratives were seeded and tended by media organs with no agenda beyond basic profit motive.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Dammit Gannett: "Where's Elvis" Edition

Posted By on Tue, Jul 25, 2017 at 3:07 PM

Maybe it's time to change Fly On the Wall's long-running "Neverending Elvis" tab to "Disappearing Elvis." This is from Saturday's Commercial Appeal. And it's starting to feel personal. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Memphis Billboard Contains Porn

Posted By on Tue, Jul 18, 2017 at 2:19 PM

Well, it contains the word, anyway.

A Memphis billboard off I-40 near Whitten Rd. has a strong message for glossy women's mag readers: "Cosmopolitan  Magazine Contains Porn." Which seems a little extreme, if you ask me. Unhealthy body standards, sure. And maybe a peculiar strain of neurosis-inducing content obsessed with the male gaze. But — and I haven't consulted with Mae Beavers for the definitive ruling — to call it porn sounds like a stretch.
Your mama does.
  • Your mama does.
This isn't a new complaint. One of the loudest "Cosmo = porn" voices is a Hearst heir. She's been at it a while.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Commercial Appeal Editor To Staff: "Work From a Coffee Shop."

Posted By on Mon, Jul 17, 2017 at 5:51 PM

Are you lonesome tonight?
  • Are you lonesome tonight?
Before cracking the latest, darkest chapter in a seemingly endless series of dark chapters, about the last dark days of the Commercial Appeal, it might be helpful to remind readers why the CA's parent company Gannett is exactly like one of the voracious, many-tentacled gods inhabiting the nightmare world of horror maestro H.P. Lovecraft.

Lovecraft's deities are terrifying because they aren't supernatural. On the contrary, like sprawling media companies in possession of properties in distant, disconnected markets, they follow a system of natural laws far beyond the scope of human understanding. They are essentially materialist, trans-dimensional beings originating somewhere else in the multiverse and, as such, they are indifferent to any  suffering or destruction caused by self-interested incursion into the human realm. So too, enormous media conglomerates pursue agendas that are so far removed from the basic needs of Jane and Joe Subscriber from Anytown USA, it becomes impossible to accuse executive leadership of malice, no matter the resulting chaos. The madness is evident in everything from Gannett's gutting of local news staff, to its reliance on unknown editors from far away places who can't be expected to know the landscape.

As bad as it all sounds, the worst was only prelude to unspeakable terrors lurking just beyond the horizon. See, The Commercial Appeal's a ghost these days — a ghost running on a skeleton crew. Its longtime home at 495 Union is for sale, and even when the enormous structure is occupied during much-reduced business hours, vast expanses lie empty, unused and unknown. Who knows what fell creatures lurk in the cold gloom of the parking lot, let alone the ragged wastes between circulation and the morgue? If I worked in a building possessed by some outside entity with interests so utterly unconcerned with my own, I know I'd probably dock my laptop at the neighborhood coffee shop instead of my cubicle. And judging by this actual, sad, verbatim memo from the CA's newly installed Executive Editor Mark Russell, that's what management suggests as well: Get Out!!!

"A few updates:

*Starting today (Monday), building security in The CA’s 495 building has been reduced to 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For this week, if you work after 5, and need an escort to your car, please ask a colleague to accompany you. If you are worried about working in your department alone after, say, 6 or 7 p.m., please consider leaving at 5 to work from a coffee shop, home or some other location that has what you need and where you feel secure. And the same thing goes for someone starting at 6 a.m. Please work from a coffee shop or home if you are worried about being safe coming in at 5:45 before security starts this week. Later this week, I will update you on the security plans going forward when I know more."
But does he really want to know more? Is it worth the madness to come?

(Click the vid to hear the memo read aloud in the style of Welcome to Night Vale)

Friday, July 14, 2017

Is a Trump Surrogate Coming to WREG?

Sinclair Media triples order for "must air" installments of "Bottom Line" with Boris Epshteyn

Posted By on Fri, Jul 14, 2017 at 4:57 PM

Race to the Bottom
  • Race to the Bottom
"Bottom Line With Boris," doesn't even sound like a real news segment. It sounds like something made up by the Onion News Network. But it's real — at least in the sense it exists. And if the FCC approves Sinclair media's rule-fudging acquisition of WREG, former special assistant to President Donald Trump, Boris Epshteyn will be popping up on Memphis TV screens several times a week.

For whatever it's worth, Mr. Bottom Line is also the sixth person questioned by the House Intelligence Committee in its ongoing Russia probe. Throughout the campaign Epshteyn was pro-Putin and his financially  conflicted commentary mirrored Russian propaganda on the Ukraine. He parted ways with Trump in March, but continues to stand by his man in his private sector editorials.

This week Politico broke news that Sinclair tripled its weekly order for must-air "Bottom Line with Boris" segments.

Memphis won't be alone. If/when the Sinclair deal goes down — and there's no reason to believe it won't —  72-percent of all Americans will live in a Sinclair market.   It's a big deal, to borrow from Vox, "Because local news programs are some of the most-watched shows in America."

"Most watched" translates to 4-times the combined audience of the top three cable news stations — CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC.

While national news outlets like CNN become targets in political info-wars, local news delivers the eyes and ears of the nation, and Trump-entangled Sinclair is on the verge of acquiring Memphis' top-rated station.

Right now WREG's still a Tribune Media property.  Should that change prepare yourself for commentary like this.


And, ironically, this.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

WMC's Jerica Phillips Interviews a Dog

Posted By on Thu, Jun 22, 2017 at 2:41 PM

Well, sort of...

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Drax the Destroyer Guest Tweets for MLGW?

Posted By on Wed, May 31, 2017 at 1:40 PM

Judging by a recent round of defensive, hyper-literal tweets from the official MLGW account, it would appear that Memphis' public utility has hired in Drax the Destroyer to man social media during this period of post-storm crisis. Drax, the blunt alien powerhouse who struggles to understand metaphor and most figurative language, responded negatively to a tweet by Memphis newsie Joyce Peterson. When Peterson accurately explained how "45,000 customers without power" means more than 45,000 people remain in the dark, Drax answered back sharply:  "This tweet is unequivocally wrong and malicious."
After a number of Twitter uses invited Drax to munch a chill pill MLGW's guest tweeter doubled down on his initial pronouncement: "Our customer is not a house or an apartment building. Our customers of record are people who have families, employees, and customers."
While it's cool of MLGW to bring in such a big celebrity and card-carrying Guardian of the Galaxy, the PR gig may not be a good fit for Drax's skill set, which is basically destroying things.

Insert your own "covfefe" joke here.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

CA Follies: Get It Together Gannett

Posted By on Tue, May 9, 2017 at 9:48 AM

The Commercial Appeal's lost its editor to St. Jude, name brand staff to layoffs, and its ability to prevent tiny, tragic errors. You know, like when you run an above the fold A-1 headline about a woman from "Columbia," who runs a Colombian diner, right next to a picture of the smiling subject wearing a correctly spelled Colombia t-shirt.

Seems like somebody was sipping too much juice down by the Bug Light Stage this past weekend.

And here's a classic case of "don't know if they're coming or going" from Saturday's edition. Read the sub-headline, then read the opening paragraph. Then go ahead and cry in your cubicle a little. It's okay, really it is.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Commercial Appeal Reports Unfortunate Festival Sponsorship

Posted By on Mon, May 8, 2017 at 3:39 PM

Memphis in May's Beale Street Music Festival can be a gorgeous weekend on the river. It can also be a crowded, muddy, buggy mess, and turning one of the festivals concert stages into an enormous Bug Light is a terrible, terrible, terrible idea. That's why FOTW is happy to report this is only a typo.

WREG to Be Acquired by Conservative Sinclair Broadcast Group

What does that mean for Memphis?

Posted By on Mon, May 8, 2017 at 2:59 PM


With their overemphasis on crime and safety in the urban core, Memphis' TV-news stations already affect a potent, subtle, and effective right-wing bias. Today's media news suggest things are about to get less subtle. On Monday, May 8, Tribune Media Co. announced its 42 television news properties, including Memphis' WREG-TV, would be acquired by Sinclair Broadcast Group for somewhere in the neighborhood of $3.9 billion.

If approved by the FCC Sinclair, will operate 233 stations in 72-percent of America's broadcast markets. The company will additionally assume $2.7 billion in debt.

Sinclair has a long, unapologetic (though occasionally denied) history of aligning itself with conservative politics and making local news less local. There's no point in repeating the origin story when this Memphis Flyer Viewpoint from 2003 does such a fine job of condensing things.

Like many a media empire, Sinclair grew through a combination of acquisitions, clever manipulations of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules, and considerable lobbying campaigns. Starting out as a single UHF station in Baltimore in 1971, the company started its frenzied expansion in 1991 when it began using "local marketing agreements" as a way to circumvent FCC rules that bar a company from controlling two stations in a single market. These "LMAs" allow Sinclair to buy one station outright and control another by acquiring not its license but its assets. Today, Sinclair touts itself as "the nation's largest commercial television broadcasting company not owned by a network." You've probably never heard of them because the stations they run fly the flags of the networks they broadcast: ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, and the WB.

The new deal, which also gives Sinclair part ownership in the Food Network, still requires FCC approval, but, as noted by CNN, the Trump administration has shown nothing but interest in approving these kinds of mergers. Once approved Sinclair plans to swiftly liquidate all real estate connected to Tribune Media's print holdings. That makes sense since, as noted by The Baltimore Sun, Sinclair Broadcast Group does two things very well: "It knows how to run local stations lean and mean. And it makes some of the most visually engaging local news in the country."

The Sun also notes Sinclair's history of "compromising its news operations with right-wing politics."

Of course Sinclair's only putting its mouth where its money is.  Last month Trump’s FCC reinstated a something called the UHF Discount allowing media conglomerates to blow through congressionally set ownership limits. The UHF Discount is an obscure rule from 1985 before the transition to digital eliminated the UHF/VHF signal gap. It allowed owners of UHF properties to declare half the coverage area reach compared to a VHF station.

Tags: , ,

Friday, April 28, 2017

Gannett Stalls Severance Payments to Former Commercial Appeal Employees

Posted By on Fri, Apr 28, 2017 at 8:10 PM

Posted to Social Media by Commercial Appeal reporter/MemphisNewspaper Guild representative Daniel Connolly.

Gannett deliberately stalls severance payments to former Commercial Appeal employees
***Please share this with your friends. This is important.***
I'm the head of the Memphis Newspaper Guild labor union, which represents some workers at The Commercial Appeal.
***I'm sorry to inform you that the newspaper's new parent company, Gannett, is deliberately stalling severance payments to 12 former newsroom employees.***
These former employees have not received a dime of severance since they lost jobs effective April 11.
Because Gannett is currently finishing up a brutal "fight-for-your job" contest in the advertising department. The company broke a ton of rules in the process. They're afraid of the legal consequences for their rule-breaking in advertising.
So they're stalling the payments to the former newsroom employees in the hopes of forcing the union to sign an amnesty that forgives the company for its rule-breaking.
I've seen plenty of bad corporate behavior in my life. ***Gannett's calculated decision to inflict harm on people who have lost jobs is among the worst corporate behavior I have ever seen.***


In advertising, Gannett fired everyone and made them reapply for new jobs. We call this process The Hunger Games.
Desperate to hold on to her job, advertising employee Marianne Sheridan competed in The Hunger Games and walked into a job interview with three Gannett employees she'd never met before. She was nervous at first. And then she felt worse.
*** "Frankly, at one point my head felt like it was going to explode," she told me. ***
She left the interview, sweat pouring off her body. Someone called an ambulance and she was taken to a hospital. She's out now, but still undergoing medical tests. It's not clear what happened to her.
"I think it was a huge anxiety attack," she said. "Since the beginning of April, we've been under this stress of having to reapply for our jobs."
She found out Thursday that she doesn't have a job anymore.
Six advertising employees applied in The Hunger Games and didn't get jobs. Around six others refused to participate in The Hunger Games and will also lose jobs. The last day for these 12 or so employees is May 1.
The Hunger Games isn't just stressful.
Our union contract lays out a detailed process for job cuts. The Hunger Games process - firing everyone and making them apply for jobs - is not allowed under our union contract. The company knows this and did it anyway.
Some of the people who "won" The Hunger Games competition will be paid thousands of dollars less than they were paid before. That's also not allowed under our union contract.
We're already hearing disturbing reports of sales staffers not being paid for commissions they rightfully earned.
And somehow, magically, the six people who participated in The Hunger Games and lost their jobs are all women. Several are African-American.
We're concerned about that, too.
**** Due to Gannett's willful, blatant violations of the rules, we filed a federal complaint to the National Labor Relations Board on April 21. ***
The federal agency will now investigate the complaint and take appropriate action. We also have another complaint pending through what's known as the grievance / arbitration process.
On Thursday, the company lawyer once again demanded we sign an amnesty deal that withdraws all our complaints.
Otherwise, he says the 12 former employees in the newsroom plus The Hunger Games victims in advertising will have to wait months or years for severance until an arbitrator decides.
If you ask the company lawyer, he'll say the delay is the union's fault. That because we won't sign the amnesty, we're the ones who are stopping these workers from getting their severance.
But think about that for a minute.
*** Gannett breaks multiple rules in firing people.
We complain about it to the feds.
And then Gannett says it will refuse to pay severance until we drop our complaints about its rule-breaking.***
I know I'm coming across as angry.
That's because I _am_ angry.
*** I'm watching good people suffer. I'm furious to see how Gannett fires people, then works very hard to hurt them some more. ***
We, the labor union, are going to pursue legal challenges hard. In the meantime, you can make a difference!
*** Call our interim publisher and tell him to pay a fair severance to the former workers. ***
His name is Mike Jung, he's based in Florida and temporarily working here.
His phone number is 239-335-0277 and his email address is
I've met him, and he seems like a good guy. But he needs to hear from you.
*** And you can reach out to help our former workers. Our former employees are great people who had the misfortune of losing jobs to cost-cutting. Why not hire them? Send job leads to Guild office manager Amy Olmstead: or 901-726-6857. ***

How Much News is on the News: A Guns & Bunnies Web Extra

Posted By on Fri, Apr 28, 2017 at 1:52 PM

This week's cover story measuring violence and fluff on local TV news has generated a lot of questions. One more frequently asked: How many news stories make it into the evening broadcast, and how much time is allotted to each story?

This may not be a perfect answer, but it should at least point curious folks in the right direction.

I went back to the Flyer staff's original viewing diaries but only looked at Tuesday night's broadcast. Every night is a little different, obviously, so one night isn't a good data sample. Still, the formula is more or less the same broadcast to broadcast, so Tuesday, being a fairly normal news night, provides a reasonable snapshot.

Not counting weather, sports, and headline teasers, Memphis stations averaged 18 news stories on Tuesday night.  If all of Memphis stations were rolled into one big happy news team 42-percent — or 13-minutes —of their roughly half-hour weeknight (10 p.m.) broadcasts would be devoted to news content.

How much time was devoted to each story? I suppose I could go back and count it all up, but don't really see the point. 18 stories in 13-minutes? obviously not very much. A casual, anecdotal observation: There was more time burned hanging around in neighborhoods fishing for comments about children left home alone (and unharmed) than, say, comparing Memphis parking meter rates to other, similar markets.


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Memphis is Ugly. Cleveland Still Uglier, According to BS List

Posted By on Thu, Apr 27, 2017 at 1:28 PM

Hey look, another bullshit list for people to click on and argue about. This time Memphis has been named the 9th ugliest city in America. Based on what criteria?

Jesus, do you really care?



Most Commented On

© 1996-2017

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation