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With the Vegetable Orchestra, music is more than just food for the soul

By Michael Hurtig
Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

For the musicians of the Vegetable Orchestra, peppers make up horns, hollow pumpkins replace drum sets, and bound celery sticks resemble guitars. In an age when music is defined by its viral prevalence, The Vegetable Orchestra is literally going back to its roots.

The eleven-person orchestra records and performs all of its music by using fresh vegetables as instruments. Read More …

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Weekly Media News Briefing, January 2nd-6th

By Michael Hurtig
Friday, January 6th, 2012

Broadcast television is (finally) coming to a phone near you. MetroPCS, a mobile service provider, has announced that it has partnered with Mobile Content Venture (MCV) to broadcast digital tv to phones equipped with digital tuners. MCV is a joint venture of 12 major US broadcast groups, whose aim since 2010 has been to leverage the power of broadcast tv through cell phone and other digital delivery. Although a number of manufacturers, including mobile phone and pc companies, previously adopted tuners as a part of their products, they have yet to become popularized. Read More …

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Against digital competition, publishers make books beautiful, while print news still looks for an edge

By Michael Hurtig
Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Publishing houses want readers to judge a book by its cover, not to mention colored endpapers and deckle edges, the Times’ Julie Bosman reported recently. Unfortunately, beleaguered newspapers cannot adapt this survival strategy.

Recently, the economics of print journalism have become more dire than traditional publishing. The reversal would have seemed ludicrous ten years ago, when newspapers still littered apartment lobbies, brownstone stoops and small-town sidewalks even as the umpteenth death knell was sounded for the novel and, less somberly, the hardcover non-fiction doorstop.

Read More …

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Weekly Media Briefing for December 19th-23rd

By Michael Hurtig
Monday, December 19th, 2011

The video game console is taking center stage in more living rooms as video streaming on consoles grows. Nielsen’s report last week indicated that streaming and video-on-demand is up on leading consoles compared to the same time last year. The Xbox (Microsoft), Playstation 3 (Sony), and Wii (Nintendo) provide the super-processing power that many consumer computers lack, ideal for high-quality streaming, and in a convergent media climate where multi-use means everything, they’re also bringing a new dynamic to the tv experience.

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Deserts of Ice

By Michael Hurtig
Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Baker secures an exclusive interview for the cameras of Westinghouse television on his 1983 trip to the North Pole.

To honor this week’s 100th anniversary of the first South Pole expedition, here is an article that appeared in CHRONOS Magazine about Dr. Baker’s adventures in the polar regions.

“Deserts of Ice”
An interview with William F. Baker
By Evan Leatherwood

“Out on the ice, I often imagined that if I veered off the path just a few hundred feet, I would probably be the first person in all of history to stand in a particular spot.”  As Bill Baker talks about his expeditions to the North and South Poles, he stares out into an echoing room decorated with hundreds of model ships.  It is the ballroom of the New York Yacht Club, a splendid gilded-age building near Grand Central Station in Manhattan.  An antique nautical clock by Tiffany & Co. keeps time in the lobby, and century-old photos of the Club’s library and dining room show them looking much as they do today.  It is the perfect place to sit and listen to explorer’s tales.

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Weekly Media News Briefing for December 12th-16th

By Michael Hurtig
Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Last Tuesday, NBC’s push to increase local coverage took a more concrete form as it announced new partnerships with non-profit news organizations. Notably, Propublica, a nonprofit news organization specializing in investigative journalism, will team up with 10 NBC stations. The move comes on the heels of Comcast’s merger with NBC Universal in January, in which Comcast agreed to increase local coverage across NBC’s news operations. Propublica’s General Manager, Richard Tofel (above), spoke positively on the sustainability of non-profit news organizations at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism in April 2011.

Warren Buffet, despite previously saying that newspapers were a dying business, has just bought a local paper in Nebraska. Is the wizard of Omaha making a statement of values, or does he believe he is making a good investment?

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Weekly Media News Briefing for December 5th-9th

By Michael Hurtig
Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

North American Newspapers are expected to continue their downward trajectory into 2012, according to a new report from KubasPrimedia. While ad revenues are even worse than originally projected, the quarterly number of readers making the transition from print-heavy with a digital supplement to a full digital news diet has also been an elusive figure to project. Digital subscriptions are picking up, but despite an initial skyrocket following the introduction of online paywalls and e-reader subscriptions on applications like Apple’s newsstand, ad revenue is unlikely to return to previous levels – a continued push for innovation is a must.

Last week the New York Times launched a new commenting system that allows trusted readers with a history of “good commenting behavior” to post without moderation. Via Business Week.

CNBC Europe and CNBC Asia will merge to create CNBC International. In a release, network chief Mark Hoffman stated that the consolidation would bring “streamlined communication”, thus strengthening overall operations. Via News On News

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Weekly Media News Briefing for November 28th-December 2nd

By Michael Hurtig
Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

China’s regulators intend to ban advertising during television dramas. Although it may be exciting for the viewers, experts say that pushing the commercials to the end of the program will seriously hurt marketers. Via WSJ

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Weekly Media News Briefing for November 21st-25th

By Michael Hurtig
Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Samsung may be next in line to produce televisions for Google, the L.A. Times reports. Although Google TV’s first iteration did not catch on with consumers, Google’s ongoing effort to enter the television market is now backed by its recent investment in the production of premium programming channels via Youtube. Meanwhile, Netflix is pressing forward with the licensing of exclusive premium content – in a recent deal with Fox, the company has acquired the exclusive rights to distribute new episodes of Arrested Development, a critically acclaimed Fox comedy which ran for 3 years before being canceled. Netflix’s recent troubles with subscribers and its subsequent loss of market value have directed attention away from the company’s trajectory in premium content distribution, but it is clear that the internet streaming site is looking to establish itself as a major player in the future of television.

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Weekly Media Briefing for November 14th-18th

By Michael Hurtig
Monday, November 14th, 2011

John Paton, CEO of MediaNews, is taking a web-based approach to the newspaper industry. His methodology for the overhaul of newsrooms is reminiscent of those organic to many internet news start-ups, demanding that journalists take on broader roles, while removing any barriers to speedy newsgathering and publishing. More at the New York Times.

Youtube seems to have cracked the code to the premium content industry. Under a new partnership with Disney, the company will produce an original series and feature Disney content on its site. Youtube has long been seeking to broaden its content offerings – the company stepped up its efforts earlier this year when it began offering premium video rentals, and more recently created partnerships with show runners and content producers matched by a $100 million dollar investment to create a slew of online premium content channels.

Apple’s newsstand, included with its new operating system, iOS5, offers publishers a new way to distribute their content – and get paid for it. One UK Publisher, Future Publishing, has reported a major increase in digital sales – 750%. Although this increase is based on the publisher’s first four days on the platform and not on annual sales, it still has significance. The psychology of purchasing a publication at a newsstand rather than a site, matched by the convenience of Apple’s sales portal may prove to be a strong formula for selling premium content.

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