August 3, 2021

Reynold Ruffins, Push Pin Studios Graphic Artist, Dies at 90

Reynold Dash Ruffins was born on Aug. 5, 1930, in Queens. His father, John, was an appliance salesman for Consolidated Edison, the energy company; his mother, Juanita (Dash) Ruffins, was a homemaker.

Like Mr. Glaser, a high school buddy, Mr. Ruffins went to the High School of Music Art in Manhattan (now the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music the Arts) and then Cooper Union, the highly selective and, at the time, tuition-free arts college in Lower Manhattan. He graduated in 1951.

One summer, he and his classmates there, Mr. Glaser and Mr. Chwast, formed a graphics business called Design Plus. They had two clients. One wanted to make a gross of cork place mats (Mr. Ruffins designed the tropical scene they silk-screened onto them), and the other was a monologuist who needed a flier. “Then our vacation was over and we went back to school,” Mr. Chwast said.

Next, Mr. Chwast, Mr. Sorel and Mr. Ruffins had the idea to sell themselves with a digest of type and illustration, a four-page booklet designed as a parody of the Farmer’s Almanac. They called it the Push Pin Almanack and sent it to art directors to drum up work. (Mr. Glaser had gone to Europe on a Fulbright grant.) It was filled with bits of ephemera — factoids and poems and old-time remedies for toothache, for example — rendered in a neo-nostalgic style all their own. Mr. Ruffins designed the push pin logo. Copies of the Almanack and its successor, The Push Pin Monthly Graphic, are now collectibles for design enthusiasts.

In 1954, Mr. Chwast, Mr. Glaser and Mr. Sorel formed a proper design firm and named it Push Pin Studios, though they had barely any clients. They invited Mr. Ruffins to join.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/01/obituaries/reynold-ruffins-dead.html

How Local Media Spreads Misinformation From Vaccine Skeptics

In an email, Dr. Mercola wrote, “Local communities must come together when the federal health agencies and mainstream media are under the influence of the pharmaceutical industry.”

Dr. Tenpenny, Dr. Northrup and Mr. Bollinger didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Many local media publications and stations have reported responsibly and factually on the pandemic. Gannett, the publisher with 100 daily newspapers and nearly 1,000 weekly publications across 43 states, has dedicated resources to fact-checking and teaching journalists that accuracy matters more than speed, said Amalie Nash, senior vice president for local news and audience development at USA Today, which is owned by Gannett.

The investment was crucial because in the pandemic, “people turned to us in record numbers to get information about lockdowns, mask policies and vaccines,” Ms. Nash said.

But as the local news industry has been hit by declining advertising revenues and cuts, some outlets have sometimes unknowingly run vaccine misinformation because they have fewer employees or less oversight than in the past, said Ken Doctor, a news industry analyst. Without the resources to publish original, independent journalism, they may also rely on whatever can be freely repurposed from online material, he said.

In total, local media remains a significant force. There were 1,762 local television stations and 3,379 radio stations operating in the United States last year, according to the Radio Television Digital News Association and Syracuse University. While print publications have been decimated, there are still about 1,300 daily papers and 5,800 weekly publications, with roughly half located in small rural communities, according to research from the University of North Carolina.

Jo Lukito, an assistant journalism professor who studies disinformation at the University of Texas at Austin, said local media is often a starting point that creates a “trading up the chain” effect.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/01/technology/local-media-misinformation-vaccine-skeptics.html

To Fight Vaccine Lies, Authorities Recruit an ‘Influencer Army’

In March, the White House also orchestrated an Instagram Live chat between Dr. Fauci and Eugenio Derbez, a Mexican actor with over 16.6 million Instagram followers who had been openly doubtful of the vaccines. During their 37-minute discussion, Mr. Derbez was upfront about his concerns.

“What if I get the vaccine, but it doesn’t protect me against the new variant?” he asked. Dr. Fauci acknowledged that the vaccines might not completely shield people from variants, but said, “It’s very, very good at protecting you from getting seriously ill.”

Mr. Flaherty said the whole point of the campaign was to be “a positive information effort.”

State and local governments have taken the same approach, though on a smaller scale and sometimes with financial incentives.

In February, Colorado awarded a contract worth up to $16.4 million to the Denver-based Idea Marketing, which includes a program to pay creators in the state $400 to $1,000 a month to promote the vaccines.

Jessica Bralish, the communications director at Colorado’s public health department, said influencers were being paid because “all too often, diverse communities are asked to reach out to their communities for free. And to be equitable, we know we must compensate people for their work.”

As part of the effort, influencers have showed off where on their arms they were injected, using emojis and selfies to punctuate the achievement. “I joined the Pfizer club,” Ashley Cummins, a fashion and style influencer in Boulder, Colo., recently announced in a smiling selfie while holding her vaccine card. She added a mask emoji and an applause emoji.

“Woohoo! This is so exciting!” one fan commented.

Posts by creators in the campaign carry a disclosure that reads “paid partnership with Colorado Dept. of Public Health and Environment.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/01/technology/vaccine-lies-influencer-army.html

Can Paramount+ Succeed? One Producer Hopes to Make It So.

Since then, he has produced five shows in the universe initially imagined in the 1960s by Gene Roddenberry, and all will be on Paramount+. They are “Star Trek: Discovery”; “Star Trek: Picard”; “Star Trek: Lower Decks”; “Star Trek: Prodigy,” which will debut in the fall; and “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds,” set for release in 2022. ViacomCBS says “Star Trek: Discovery” and “Star Trek: Picard” are among the most watched original series on Paramount+.

Also in the works are “Section 31,” starring Michelle Yeoh, and a show built around the “Starfleet Academy,” which will be aimed at a younger audience.

But how much “Star Trek” does one planet need?

“I think we’re just getting started,” Mr. Kurtzman said. “There’s just so much more to be had.”

He recently finished a four-month shoot in London for the first half of “The Man Who Fell to Earth,” a 10-episode series based on the 1976 David Bowie film. Chiwetel Ejiofor plays a new alien character who arrives on Earth at a turning point in human evolution.

Mr. Kurtzman said he loved the experience of working on the series, buoyed by the fact that the pandemic allowed him and his writing partner, Jenny Lumet, the opportunity to complete all the episodes before production began.

“I would absolutely not be doing anything differently if we were making this as a film,” he said. “I’m working with movie stars in three different countries, shooting sequences that are certainly not typical television sequences, all of which I can only do because of my experience working in films.”

Ms. Lumet met Mr. Kurtzman in 2015. He requested getting together after seeing the film “Rachel Getting Married,” which she wrote. Ms. Lumet said she was surprised that this “sci-fi robot guy in khakis” was interested in meeting her at all.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/01/business/media/alex-kurtzman-paramount-cbs-star-trek.html

Rupert Murdoch Wishes Keith Kelly ‘The Best’ In Retirement

Mr. Kelly lives with his wife, Pat Walsh, a nurse at Sloan Kettering who came from the village of Knocknagoshel, in County Kerry, Ireland. He has three sons; one a marine, one a lifeguard, and one a bartender. “All throwbacks,” their father said.

One gets the feeling that, if he could, Mr. Kelly would eat newsprint for breakfast. The son of a pressman for The Daily News, Mr. Kelly was born in Brooklyn and delivered the papers as a boy. His very first scoop came in 1980, and it was a big one.

Interested in the sectarian conflict raging in Northern Ireland then, he decamped to Belfast to try his hand as a freelance foreign correspondent. Soon afterward, a source close to the Irish Republican Army told him that a hunger strike was being planned within the walls of the detention center of Long Kesh.

Mr. Kelly’s report, headlined “Jailed N. Irish to Use Hunger,” went out on the Catholic News Service wire, helping to break the story. This hunger strike and subsequent ones, during which Bobby Sands, Raymond McCreesh and others died, became some of the most enduring episodes of the Troubles.

Mr. Kelly’s scoop earned him just $50, but it paid dividends 17 years later, in 1997, when he landed an interview with Pete Hamill, a champion of Irish America and the editor of The Daily News at the time. “Pete was going through all my clips and he said, ‘Wow, that’s a good scoop,’ and it helped me get the job,” said Mr. Kelly, still proud.

He displayed Irish loyalty for Mr. Hamill. One night, in 1997, a former Fleet Street editor named Wendy Henry (nickname: “the badger”) turned up at a News party, still smarting over some tabloid beef, and threw a drink in Mr. Hamill’s face. Seeing this, Mr. Kelly quickly whipped up an unholy concoction — “it was, like, crème de menthe, the cheapest whiskey, some Kahlúa and cream,” he said — to dump on Ms. Henry in retaliation. But a colleague grabbed him and warned that he would end up on Page Six, the Post’s gossip column.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/31/style/keith-kelly-new-york-post-media-columnist-retires.html

Scarlett Johansson Sues Disney Over ‘Black Widow’ Release

Disney, citing the ongoing coronavirus threat, ultimately decided to release several major movies simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access. It used the strategy in May for “Cruella,” which starred Emma Stone and took in $221 million worldwide. (Disney has kept Disney+ revenue for “Cruella” a secret.) On Friday, Disney will give the same treatment to “The Jungle Cruise,” a comedic adventure that stars Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson. It is not known if Ms. Stone, Ms. Blunt or Mr. Johnson renegotiated their contracts with Disney as a result.

In December, WarnerMedia kicked a hornet’s nest by abruptly announcing that more than a dozen Warner Bros. movies — the studio’s entire 2021 slate — would each arrive in theaters and on HBO Max. The decision prompted an outcry from major stars and their agents over the potential loss of box office-related compensation, forcing Warner Bros. to make new deals. It ultimately paid roughly $200 million to thwart the rebellion.

The deeper question is this: If old-line studios are no longer trying to maximize the box office for each film but instead shifting to a hybrid model where success is judged partly by ticket sales and partly by the number of streaming subscriptions sold, what does that mean for how stars are paid — and where they make their movies?

The traditional model, the one that studios have used for decades to make high-profile film deals, involves paying small fees upfront and then sharing a portion of the revenue from ticket sales. The bigger the hit, the bigger the “back end” paydays for certain actors, directors and producers.

The streaming giants have done it differently. They pay more upfront — usually much, much more — in lieu of any back-end payments, which gives them complete control over future revenue. It means that people get paid as if their projects are hits before they are released (or even made).

Ms. Johansson’s suit also took direct aim at Bob Chapek, Disney’s chief executive, and Robert A. Iger, Disney’s chairman, by citing the stock grants given to them as rewards for building Disney+, which has more than 100 million subscribers worldwide. “Disney’s financial disclosures make clear that the very Disney executives who orchestrated this strategy will personally benefit from their and Disney’s misconduct,” the complaint said.

According to the suit, Ms. Johansson’s representatives approached Disney and Marvel in recent months with a request to renegotiate her contract. “Disney and Marvel largely ignored Ms. Johansson,” the suit said.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/29/business/media/scarlett-johansson-black-widow-disney-lawsuit.html

Activision, Facing Internal Turmoil, Grapples With #MeToo Reckoning

Other co-workers suggested she “hook up” with them, she said, and regularly commented on her appearance over the years. Ms. Welch, 52, also said she had been repeatedly passed over for promotions in favor of less qualified men.

She did not report the incidents, she said, partly because she did not want to admit to herself that her gender was a “professional liability” and she loved her work. But by 2016, she said, her doctor had persuaded her to leave because the stress was hurting her health.

Until the lawsuit came out, Ms. Welch said, she thought her experience was unique at the company. “To hear that it’s at this scale is just profoundly disappointing,” she said.

Addressing the former employees’ accusations, Activision said that “such conduct is abhorrent” and that it would investigate the claims. The company said it had distanced itself from its past and improved its culture in recent years.

California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which protects people from unlawful discrimination, said it did not comment on open investigations. But its lawsuit against Activision, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, also spared little detail. Many of the misconduct accusations focused on a division called Blizzard, which the company merged with through a deal with Vivendi Games in 2008.

The lawsuit accused Activision of being a “a breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women.” Employees engaged in “cube crawls” in which they got drunk and acted inappropriately toward women at work cubicles, the lawsuit said.

In one case, a female employee died by suicide during a business trip because of the sexual relationship she had been having with her male supervisor, the lawsuit said. Before her death, male colleagues had shared an explicit photo of the woman, according to the lawsuit.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/29/technology/activision-walkout-metoo-call-of-duty.html

Alden Closes Bowie Blade-News After Buying Tribune Publishing, Its Owner

“Sometimes I think about the list of things that the newspaper covered,” Mr. Rauck said. “Not necessarily in a story, but that it checked off — sharing local sports news, seeing little Janie’s name in the paper, pictures of local things.”

He added, “We didn’t have Nextdoor or Facebook.”

Even before Alden became its owner, The Blade-News endured significant cutbacks.

The austerity measures — which included moving its journalists to the office of The Capital Gazette, its sibling publication in Annapolis — were put into place as more readers chose to get their news online. That shift meant the industry could no longer rely on its traditional source of cash, print advertising.

Over the last 15 years, more than one quarter of newspapers, mostly weeklies like The Blade-News, have gone out of business, according to a University of North Carolina study. Alden and other hedge funds have bought struggling papers, seeing them as undervalued assets that can be made profitable after further cutbacks.

Donovan Conaway, the primary reporter at The Blade-News and the writer of the article on the Bowie police officer accused of theft, said in an interview that he would continue to report on Bowie whenever there was “a major crime, a big event.” His work will appear on the Capital Gazette site.

Three years ago, another Blade-News reporter, John McNamara, who worked out of The Capital Gazette’s office, was one of the five people killed in the shooting there. On July 15, Jarrod W. Ramos, a disgruntled reader who had pleaded guilty, was found to have been sane and therefore criminally responsible for the attack.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/29/business/media/alden-tribune-newspapers.html

Erik Larson Has a Scary Story He’d Like You to Hear

The growth of audio originals marks a shift in how authors and publishers view the form, which was once regarded as an appendage to print, rather than its own medium. But as audio sales have continued to grow year after year, publishing companies have found themselves scrambling to meet demand.

“Audio listeners are so voracious, they listen to so much, we have to keep supplying content for them,” said Lance Fitzgerald, vice president of content and business development at Penguin Random House Audio.

Publishers have also started to test the market for stand-alone audio. Penguin Random House, which Crown is an imprint of, has around a dozen original audiobooks in development. The company’s recent audio-only works include “All Rise,” Nick Offerman’s comedy special; “Getting Started With Sourdough,” by Chad Robertson and Jennifer Latham of Tartine Bakery; stories set in the Star Wars universe; and a project with Steven Rinella, the host of the Netflix series “MeatEater.”

Another major publisher, Hachette, has produced several successful audio originals, including works by the singer and songwriter Billie Eilish and the leadership coach Roger Flax. Macmillan has been experimenting with its own podcasts and is developing an audio original with the indie pop duo Tegan and Sara.

But the audio-only approach poses challenges, and most authors and publishers are proceeding cautiously. Without a print counterpart that’s displayed in stores, it can be hard to get such titles in front of consumers, unless the author has a large and loyal following.

“There is an advantage when there are multiple versions out at once. You’re going to get more people talking about it and evangelizing,” said Mary Beth Roche, the president and publisher of Macmillan Audio. “In general, we feel like unless there’s something uniquely aural about the experience, if it deserves to be in audio, it deserves to be in print.”

For Larson, the audio format offered a way for him to break into new territory. He said he’s open to releasing “No One Goes Alone” as a book, though there are currently no plans for a print edition.

“Right now, it is what it is,” he said. “I’m very pleased to call it a day with an audio original.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/29/books/erik-larson-audiobook-no-one-goes-alone.html

Gawker: The Return

In her editor’s note on Wednesday, Ms. Finnegan wrote that when approached to lead the site last year, she had said, “Absolutely no way in hell.”

A second approach in January won her over. Ms. Finnegan hired a team of 12, mostly women, including four contributing writers.

“I suppose my selling points as a potential editor in chief of Gawker were that I had previously worked at Gawker and Bustle and was unemployed,” Ms. Finnegan wrote. “I was also willing to do it, which not many people can say.”

The new Gawker website opened with coverage of celebrities (“Do Justin and Hailey Bieber Hate Each Other?”), the universe (“Space: The Lamest Frontier”) and Gawker itself (“Here’s What Some People Think About Gawker Coming Back”).

Mr. Goldberg, the site’s owner, submitted himself to an email interview in a new series, “How Much Money Do You Have?” While not answering the question directly, he did have some thoughts on how Gawker’s comeback could affect his fortune.

“If there is one website that could get me sued into oblivion, then it is almost certainly Gawker,” Mr. Goldberg said. “Let’s face it — do we think that Bustle or Nylon Magazine is going to pick a petty and ill-conceived fight with a deca-billionaire? Probably not.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/28/business/media/gawker-return.html