Archive for May, 2013

Produced By Conference Shines Brighter Spotlight on TV

May 31, 2013  |  Variety  |  No Comments

Like all of Hollywood, the Producers Guild of America is turning up the volume on TV and new media. In years past, the PGA’s Produced By conference has focused heavily on the world of movies. The shift will be readily apparent at the producers group’s  fifth conference, set for June 8-9 at Fox Studios. Leading... Read more

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"Nerd Circus" Steam Carnival Reaches $100,000 Kickstarter Goal

May 31, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Steam Carnival, the STEM-plus-art educational circus that performed earlier this week at D11 , has met its $100,000 fundraising goal on Kickstarter . The carnival’s creators, Two Bit Circus, officially announced the news in a message thanking their Kickstarter backers. At the time of this writing, 1,033 backers had pledged $100,901 with 55 hours left for pledges. Full D11 Conference Coverage

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U.S. Helmer Jailed in Venezuela Moved to Notorious Prison

May 31, 2013  |  Variety  |  No Comments

U.S. documentary filmmaker Tim Tracy, arrested in Venezuela for alleged espionage last April, was transferred May 29 to the notorious El Rodeo II prison outside Caracas. Tracy and 20 others were transferred from their cells within the government intelligence service building because of a severe bacterial outbreak. Tracy is slated to attend a hearing on... Read more

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Social Media Editors Debate, Defend Their Role In Newsrooms

May 31, 2013  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

A handful of top social media editors and experts defended the relevance of their newsroom roles on Friday in light of a BuzzFeed article that declared "the social media editor is dead." During a HuffPost Live segment on Friday , Rob Fishman—the author of the BuzzFeed post and a former social media editor at The Huffington Post—said the position of social media editor has resulted in untested and inexperienced journalists suddenly finding themselves in high profile, authoritative positions, even if they aren't necessarily qualified to be the spokespeople for their news brand. That role, if it isn't dead yet, should be retired, Fishman argued. Anthony DeRosa , the outgoing social media editor at Reuters, countered that there are journalists at his organization—Felix Salmon and Jim Roberts, for instance—who have larger personal followings than he does, adding that not every social media editor acts as the face of their organization. Rather than just serving as Reuters' tweeter-in-chief, DeRosa said his focus is on news gathering and working with user-generated content to incorporate it into the news organization's reporting, which is still a task many traditional reporters are unfamiliar with. Liz Heron , who was recently promoted from director of social media to editor of emerging media at The Wall Street Journal, had previously predicted that the social media editor job might become obsolete in a few years. But for now it remains an important role. BuzzFeed, she pointed out, has two social media editors on staff. "Even digital natives still need this role in their newsrooms," she said. Later, Heron added: "It's really diminishing the role of a social media editor to say just because everyone in the newsroom understands how to use Twitter, we don't need them anymore. It's like saying you don't need a front page editor, to use a more legacy analogy. You still need somebody in charge of what's going to be the final output for your largest readership." In Fishman's piece (and during the live segment), he took issue with the fact that a handful of social media editors used the Twitter accounts of their news organizations to discuss lunch one afternoon . Instead of humanizing the news organizations, Fishman said Friday it makes the whole business feel insidery and exclusive. Fishman added that an expansion of Twitter's list function evoked an "orgy of excitement" among social media professionals. The feature may have news gathering purposes, but the average user won't even notice, Fishman said. "I don't think you really understand what the role of a social media editor is," DeRosa injected. "The fact that you downplay the fact that we can now build that many lists on Twitter just shows the fact that you really don't understand what goes into being a social media editor." But back to lunch. Mathew Ingram , a senior writer at GigaOm, said he doesn't mind lighthearted fare every once in a while, since social media is inherently social. Otherwise it's just spam, he said.

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Fox Makes Headway as First Week of Upfront Deals Ends

May 31, 2013  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

After jumping out to an early start on Wednesday, Fox steadily has been closing its 2013-14 upfront deals, writing business at slightly less inflated rates than in recent years. According to media buyers, Fox is securing CPM increases between 5 percent and 7 percent above last year’s rates. That’s a bit of a dip when compared to Fox’s 8 percent bump in the 2012-13 bazaar and an 11 percent average premium in the previous year. Given that it has less inventory to sell than in upfronts past (Fox closed out the broadcast season down 22 percent in the 18-49 demo), small compromises on price should yield more favorable outcome in overall dollar volume. For all that, there is only so much Fox can do to pump up its early commitments for the coming season.

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Beyond Price: Comparison Shopping 2.0 Is About Customer Experience

May 31, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

iStockphoto.com/mbortolino E-commerce is undergoing some radical changes as price-based comparison shopping loses steam, forcing online merchants to differentiate themselves in more meaningful ways. Comparison shopping was one of the first areas of “indirect” e-commerce services. It emerged on the Web back in the mid 1990s, shortly after the debuts of the first true online retailers. Comparison Shopping engines like PriceGrabber, Shopping.com, NexTag and my own venture, MySimon, helped consumers aggregate pricing data almost instantly, and it trained a generation of consumers to seek out such tools to save them both time and money. As the traffic and prominence of these sites grew, venture capital dollars quickly followed, and the comparison shopping category became known as much for generating outsized venture capital returns as it did for saving consumers money. But things have changed dramatically in recent years for the comparison shopping space. Whether you judge it by the traffic to these sites, the venture money raised or the recent investment returns, the party is pretty much over. Three key factors are now driving the collapse of the once-lucrative comparison shopping business: Pricing strategies are producing diminishing returns as the price ranges across competing vendors shrink to insignificance — an effect of pervasive and readily accessible pricing information. The shopping engines are becoming a victim of their own success. Google has dramatically changed how it treats shopping engine URLs

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‘Blade Runner’ Sequel Moving Forward with Writer

May 31, 2013  |  Variety  |  No Comments

A sequel to Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner” is gaining momentum, with Michael Green in talks to rewrite the script from Hampton Fancher, who wrote the screenplay for the 1982 original. Alcon Entertainment has been working on the project for over two years, since announcing in early 2011 that it had secured film, TV and ancillary... Read more

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After Four Years, Twitter Platform Director Ryan Sarver to Depart

May 31, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Ryan Sarver, Twitter’s director of platform who worked closely with the Twitter partner ecosystem over the past four years, announced via Twitter that he plans to leave the company. “After four incredible, indelible years at Twitter the time has come for me to fly the coop. My last day will be June 28,” Sarver said in a tweet . Before joining Twitter in 2009, Sarver worked on consumer products at Skyhook Wireless for three years, and founded real estate startup Bluetrim in 2005. Over the years, Sarver’s role has been to work with Twitter’s surrounding ecosystem composed of thousands of developers, communicating with them on a regular basis about what is cool — and more importantly what isn’t cool — to do with Twitter’s data. But Sarver joined the company in 2009 under a very different regime, when Twitter co-founder Evan Williams was still CEO of the company. Williams was known for his “let a thousand flowers bloom” stance on the Twitter ecosystem, essentially encouraging developers to use the Twitter API for any sorts of applications and businesses. Under current CEO Dick Costolo, that’s certainly not the case. Halfway through his tenure, Sarver was essentially charged with shepherding developers into a shifting ecosystem, where Twitter client applications were pooh-poohed and analytics and big data plays — not to mention Twitter’s ambitious Cards project — were more directly emphasized. As a result, Sarver took the brunt of the heat for that from the very upset developer community at large for the better part of two years. For what it’s worth, I’ve heard that Sarver has been ready to go for a little while now. Couple that with the fact that Sarver’s shares are fully vested after his four years at the company, and it makes sense that he’s taking off. No immediate plans for afterwards, he said, but I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on him, as Sarver has managed to build his profile up rather well during his time at Twitter

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Major Dell Shareholder Urges Other Investors to Abstain in Go-Private Vote

May 31, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Southeastern Asset Management, the investment firm that is the largest outside shareholder in struggling computer maker Dell, today urged other shareholders not to participate in a coming proxy vote over a plan to take the company private. Southeastern owns about 8 percent of Dell’s outstanding equity and has teamed up with activist investor Carl Icahn, who owns a little less than 5 percent, to oppose the $24.4 billion leveraged buyout proposed by CEO Michael Dell and private equity firm Silver Lake Partners. That deal values Dell at $13.65 a share. In an open letter, Southeastern urged shareholders to withhold their votes entirely. This is a key tactic because in the way proxy votes work, a non-vote is essentially equal to a vote against the buyout. Certainly there will be a large number of people who own Dell shares directly who will receive a proxy card in the mail and promptly ignore it. But they don’t matter nearly as much as the large institutional shareholders, like, say, T. Rowe Price, which has previously said it opposes the buyout proposal and which owns about 4 percent of Dell shares. Every non-vote and no vote is going to count. Under the rules of the proxy vote, Michael Dell, who controls about 16 percent of the company’s shares, and other internal shareholders can’t participate in the vote. It’s not close yet, but if more institutional shops come out against the buyout, it could start to look like a contest. Southeastern’s letter came on the same day Dell published its final proxy materials and scheduled the vote on the deal for July 18. Here’s the text of the Southeastern letter

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Apple Loses Bid for Galaxy Tab Ban in the Netherlands

May 31, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

According to Apple, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet infringes on the look and feel, or so-called “community design,” of its iPad. But according to the Supreme Court of the Netherlands, it does not. And in a Friday ruling , it dismissed Apple’s appeal for a preliminary injunction against the sale of the Galaxy Tab 10.1, saying its design rights are too limited in scope to justify such an action. Apple declined a request for comment.

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