May 23, 2019

The Last, Best Press Agent

But, as Mr. Presten likes to say, listen to this: One day, Ms. Anderson went into a small shop on Madison Avenue and 58th Street called Salem Hosiery. The owner’s son, Michael Salem, had started an offshoot of his family’s hosiery business by selling undergarments to closeted, cross-dressing men who came in to buy lingerie for their “wives and girlfriends.”

Mr. Salem ultimately advertised in Penthouse magazine and introduced Mr. Presten to the son of the publisher, 19-year-old Bob Guccione Jr., who would go on to found Spin magazine. Then, he was peddling a three-page poster magazine called Rock Superstars.

Mr. Presten sent the younger Mr. Guccione to speak at a school in Harlem and put him on Barry Farber’s radio show. He turned the affable Mr. Salem into a clip machine, with his titillating “male-order business.” And he became a go-to outside P.R. man for Penthouse and the elder Mr. Guccione for years.

Mr. Presten was there for the release of the X-rated “Caligula” (1979), financed by Mr. Guccione, and the sweeping media blush of 1984, when Penthouse bought and published nude photos of Vanessa Williams, the first black Miss America. Reliably, there were the “Pet of the Month” parties at Mr. Guccione’s Upper East Side double townhouse, which contained Judy Garland’s gold piano, a silver-tiled sunken pool and the owner’s posse of Rhodesian Ridgebacks.

For all the stories, personal devastation has not eluded Mr. Presten. He described his marriage to Ms. Anderson as tumultuous. In 2003, Kary Presten, a banking executive and the older of Mr. Presten’s two grown sons from his first marriage, committed suicide at age 44.

“Those are the breaks, man,” Mr. Presten said, his voice heavy for a change.

In 2002, a wall collapsed at Nirvana, and the owner, Shamsher Wadud, couldn’t pay the new lease. The next year, Mr. Guccione’s publishing empire, General Media, filed for bankruptcy.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/23/style/what-is-a-press-agent.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

San Francisco Police Call Freelancer Possible ‘Co-Conspirator’ in Report Leak

The police have not taken a similarly aggressive stance toward Evan Sernoffsky, a crime reporter for The San Francisco Chronicle who relied on unnamed sources familiar with the same report for an article he wrote about Mr. Adachi’s death.

Law enforcement authorities have not taken any apparent action against Mr. Sernoffsky, the newspaper that employs him or others in the same newsroom who have covered the story, according to Audrey Cooper, The Chronicle’s editor in chief.

The raid of Mr. Carmody’s apartment took place in the wake of President Trump’s frequent anti-press remarks and the federal government’s prosecutions of the whistle-blowers Chelsea Manning and Reality Winner. The Police Department’s statement on Tuesday sought to characterize Mr. Carmody as someone hoping to profit from ill-gotten official materials in his possession, rather than as a journalist.

“Investigators learned that Mr. Carmody was offering to sell the stolen report to various Bay Area news organizations,” the statement said. “Mr. Carmody’s LinkedIn profile shows that he is a ‘Freelance Videographer/Communications Manager, USO Bay Area’ and that he was not employed by any of the news organizations who received the stolen report.”

It is common for self-employed journalists to sell their work to news outlets that do not employ them. Those engaged in the kind of quick-hit journalism practiced by Mr. Carmody are commonly known as stringers.

Investigators believe that whoever leaked the police records to Mr. Carmody is employed by the Police Department, the statement said. As a public defender, Mr. Adachi often challenged the department over allegations of abuse.

The raid of Mr. Carmody’s apartment prompted criticism of what free-press advocates have characterized as a trampling of First Amendment rights and a California shield law that protects journalists. Several dozen news organizations, including The New York Times Company and Dow Jones Company, have filed a friend-of-the-court letter in support of Mr. Carmody.

Mayor London Breed, after initially supporting the police, shifted her position over the weekend. “The more we learn,” she said of the raid, “the less appropriate it looks to me.” George Gascón, the city’s district attorney, has been less equivocal is his public criticism of the search.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/22/business/media/san-francisco-police-bryan-carmody-leak.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Lens: 10 Years of Photography, and Lens

That realization came at a time when advances in digital technology and platforms spurred both anxiety and layoffs among photojournalists as well as a drop in freelance editorial assignments. James Estrin envisioned an online destination that would highlight excellent photography and serious discussion of visual journalism, a mission that over the years expanded to include debates on important issues of accuracy, ethics and representation.

After some research, James suggested to Michele McNally, then The Times’s director of photography, the idea of a photo blog. There were few such blogs at the time, and none with The Times’s reputation or reach. She agreed, though she also realized it could be too much for one person to take on. That’s when David W. Dunlap, then a Metro reporter with a keen interest in photography, came on board as the incipient blog’s co-editor. Josh Haner, who besides being a fine photographer — he would go on to win a Pulitzer Prize in 2014 — was conversant in the language of coders and designers, also joined the team as co-editor, setting up a simple WordPress blog for a one-week trial run.

Michele wasn’t kidding about the amount of work involved. Lens took a year to get up and running — there were so many people involved in the planning that it took about four months to settle on a name. Lens finally went live five days a week with a sleek design featuring a dark background, slide shows and white type. The first post declared that Lens would showcase the work of Times photographers and also highlight the best images by photographers from other publications, wire services and agencies from around the web:

“In time, we hope it will also become the center of a community of readers who are not just interested in photojournalism — in the broadest sense of visually chronicling the world around us — but actively involved in some way or other, whether professionally or informally.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/22/lens/10-years-of-photography-and-lens.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

After Police Raid and a Hearing, a San Francisco Freelancer Will Get His Property Back

After all, the day after the public defender’s death, Evan Sernoffsky, a San Francisco Chronicle crime reporter, published an article citing unnamed sources familiar with the same police report Mr. Carmody gave as supporting material to local TV news programs — but Mr. Sernoffsky’s apartment was not raided.

Audrey Cooper, The Chronicle’s editor in chief, suggested that the difference in the status of staff reporters at large news organizations and freelancers might have figured in the treatment of Mr. Carmody.

“It’s harder to come after our corporation and come into our newsroom than it is a one-person operation,” Ms. Cooper said, adding, “And, of course, no politician in San Francisco wants to pick that fight with us.”

Mr. Carmody’s brand of journalism differs from the kind practiced by deskbound staff members. He is what some in the business call a stringer or, more colorfully, a “night crawler.” That means he jumps on breaking news, frequently in the wee hours. He typically sells his reports to local TV stations and often does not receive on-air credit for his work.

“A lot of it is fires, car crashes, homicides,” he said in a recent interview.

In an opinion article last week, Ms. Cooper, the Chronicle editor, defended Mr. Carmody while acknowledging that he was a “less-than-ideal” martyr for the cause of press freedom at a time when it is under broad attack.

His chosen line of work, which he has practiced for nearly 30 years, may make him someone who does not quite fit the public’s definition of a journalist — but his supporters say he deserves the same protections as any reporter with benefits from a known institution.

“Freelancers are legitimate journalists,” said Kat Anderson, the interim executive officer at Guild Freelancers, which bills itself as a union for independent journalists, primarily in Northern California. “We’re entering a danger zone if we start denying someone is a journalist when they claim they are.”

In a brief interview Monday, before the hearing, Mr. Carmody was defiant. “I have a full-time job at a media company,” he said, referring to his own news agency, North Bay News. “Why they didn’t recognize that, I don’t know.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/21/business/media/press-freedom-carmody-freelancer.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Google Changes Abortion Ad Policy

For years, Google has faced complaints that its platform enables so-called crisis pregnancy centers, which oppose abortion, to masquerade as abortion providers in an effort to dissuade women from seeking the procedure. The new certification process is meant to make plain exactly what services an advertiser provides.

“Depending on how you’re certified,” the company said in the post, “Google will automatically generate one of the following in-ad disclosures for your abortion product or service ads: ‘Provides abortions’ or ‘Does not provide abortions.’ The disclosures will show on all Search ad formats and help ensure that these ads transparently provide basic information users need to decide which abortion-related ads are most relevant to them.”

Google changed the policy after The Guardian reported that the tech company gave $150,000 in free ads to Obria Group. The ads suggested that Obria, which does not perform abortions and tries to persuade women not to end their pregnancies, offered abortion services.

“The idea that we’re moving toward verification around advertising shouldn’t be controversial in any way,” said Joan Donovan, an expert on misinformation who heads the Technology and Social Change Research Project at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center. “We should require businesses that are purchasing advertising to be who they say they are and be able to provide the services they say they do — we shouldn’t have to wait for it to be a really hot-button issue at the time.”

In 2014, the abortion rights group Naral Pro-Choice America said that it successfully pressured Google to take down deceptive advertisements from crisis pregnancy centers. Last year, ahead of a referendum on abortion in Ireland, Google suspended all ads related to the vote.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/21/business/media/google-abortion-ads.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

New Coke Was a Debacle. It’s Coming Back. Blame Netflix.

In an about-face, the company brought back the original under the name Coca-Cola Classic, and the two types existed side by side for the remainder of the decade. After taking on the name Coke II, the reformulated drink lasted until 2002, when it was quietly pulled from shelves. The original formula had won out, but the “Classic” tag didn’t fall away from cans and bottles until 2009.

The Duffers featured brand-name products in the first two seasons of “Stranger Things,” with Kellogg’s Eggo waffles and Kentucky Fried Chicken having prominent roles. Netflix said the two companies did not pay anything to appear on the program.

The company added that many of its other corporate partnerships, including with Baskin-Robbins, would not generate revenue, although the streaming service will get a cut of “Stranger Things”-branded clothing and other merchandise. Any money the company brings in from the arrangements isn’t as important as “fueling the fandom,” said Christie Fleischer, Netflix’s vice president for consumer products.

For the show’s creators, the association with brand-name products lends a touch of their favorite ’80s movies to the show. “When we were kids, we were obsessed with those self-lacing Nikes in ‘Back to the Future Part II,’ and, of course, we loved that Elliott baited E. T. with Reese’s Pieces!” the Duffers, who are 35-year-old twins, said. “When we were kids, that simply made Elliott more relatable, more ordinary, more like us.”

Relationships with outside companies seem likely to become a trend for Netflix. The producer Shonda Rhimes, who has a nine-figure, multiyear contract with the service, expressed an interest in “product integration” during an interview with The Times last year.

The Duffers said none of the marketing deals meant to hype their show would add to their bank accounts. “We’re not getting a revenue cut from any of this,” they said. “The hope is that it just gets the show more exposure.”

The arrangement did lead to a paid side gig, though: The Duffers directed a Coke commercial to be shown in movie theaters starting this weekend. And they said their show would stay true to the brand, saying, “We did tell our production designer to make sure we never saw any Pepsi!”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/21/business/media/new-coke-netflix-stranger-things.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

New Coke Was a Debacle. It’s Coming Back. Blame ‘Stranger Things.’

In an about-face, the company brought back the original under the name Coca-Cola Classic, and the two types existed side by side for the remainder of the decade. After taking on the name Coke II, the reformulated drink lasted until 2002, when it was quietly pulled from shelves. The original formula had won out, but the “Classic” tag didn’t fall away from cans and bottles until 2009.

The Duffers featured brand-name products in the first two seasons of “Stranger Things,” with Kellogg’s Eggo waffles and Kentucky Fried Chicken having prominent roles. Netflix said the two companies did not pay anything to appear on the program.

The company added that many of its other corporate partnerships, including with Baskin-Robbins, would not generate revenue, although the streaming service will get a cut of “Stranger Things”-branded clothing and other merchandise. Any money the company brings in from the arrangements isn’t as important as “fueling the fandom,” said Christie Fleischer, Netflix’s vice president for consumer products.

For the show’s creators, the association with brand-name products lends a touch of their favorite ’80s movies to the show. “When we were kids, we were obsessed with those self-lacing Nikes in ‘Back to the Future Part II,’ and, of course, we loved that Elliott baited E. T. with Reese’s Pieces!” the Duffers, who are 35-year-old twins, said. “When we were kids, that simply made Elliott more relatable, more ordinary, more like us.”

Relationships with outside companies seem likely to become a trend for Netflix. The producer Shonda Rhimes, who has a nine-figure, multiyear contract with the service, expressed an interest in “product integration” during an interview with The Times last year.

The Duffers said none of the marketing deals meant to hype their show would add to their bank accounts. “We’re not getting a revenue cut from any of this,” they said. “The hope is that it just gets the show more exposure.”

The arrangement did lead to a paid side gig, though: The Duffers directed a Coke commercial to be shown in movie theaters starting this weekend. And they said their show would stay true to the brand, saying, “We did tell our production designer to make sure we never saw any Pepsi!”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/21/business/media/new-coke-netflix-stranger-things.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Fox News Welcomes Pete Buttigieg. Trump and ‘Fox & Friends’ Aren’t Pleased.

Mr. Hume added, “Oh, and covering candidates of both parties is part of the job of a news channel.”

Viewers have tuned in, too. About 1.1 million people watched Mr. Buttigieg on Sunday. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota drew 1.6 million viewers earlier this month. Senator Bernie Sanders’s Fox News town hall event was seen by 2.5 million people, the biggest TV audience yet for a candidate for the Democratic nomination. A Fox News town hall with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York is scheduled for next month.

On Sunday night, Mr. Wallace did not contradict Mr. Buttigieg’s criticisms of Mr. Carlson and Ms. Ingraham. But even he seemed surprised at the warm reception for the mayor, exclaiming “Wow!” when the audience stood up to applaud at the end.

Mark McKinnon, a veteran political strategist, said he could understand why Mr. Trump might be alarmed at seeing potential rivals show up on his favorite network.

“Anyone who goes to a Fox town hall is going to come off better, more reasonable, more human, and not nearly as evil, ideological or stupid as they are currently being painted by the network,” Mr. McKinnon said. “The bar is low. Viewers will be pleasantly surprised when Democrats show up to town halls and they’re not wearing Mao caps.”

For Ms. Warren, such distinctions are moot. In opting out of a town hall event, she declared Fox News a propaganda outlet for the president and said that Democrats who go on the network only help its reputation and bottom line. Senator Kamala Harris of California has also announced a boycott.

Ms. Warren and Ms. Harris won plaudits for their stance from some liberals. But other Democratic campaigns say the channel remains a key venue to reach voters outside the party’s base.

“If you want to counterprogram Fox, you have to do it to their face,” said Lis Smith, who runs Mr. Buttigieg’s communications strategy. “We can’t just retreat to our self-reinforcing echo chambers.”

“If you want to talk to every voter, you have to meet them where they are,” Ms. Smith added.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/20/business/media/fox-news-pete-buttigieg-chris-wallace.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Georgie Anne Geyer, Foreign Correspondent and Columnist, Dies at 84

Ms. Geyer often turned up on public-affairs programs, like PBS’s “Washington Week in Review,” as well as on the college lecture circuit. In 2000, writing a new preface for a reissue of her autobiography, she noted that young people would often ask her how she “controls” her interviews with notable figures.

“I have to tell them that the way you control your interviews (or any other part of your work) is to know more about the subject than the other person does,” she wrote. “This advice, as you can well imagine, is seldom greeted with deafening applause.”

Georgie Anne Geyer was born on April 2, 1935, in Chicago, to Robert and Georgie Hazel Geyer (acquiring her nickname from the way she pronounced her first name as a baby).

Her father ran a dairy business. Her mother had taught her to read and write by the time she was 4 and, as she wrote, “laid the foundation for the curiosity that drove me to Siberia, up the Tapajoz and down to Abu Dhabi.”

A formative experience came in 1956 when, after graduating from Northwestern University with a journalism degree, she went to Vienna on a Fulbright scholarship. She was there when revolution broke out in neighboring Hungary. She and other students went by bus to the border. “The people fleeing across those snowy hills,” she wrote, “had the empty, searching faces of refugees everywhere.”

Returning to Chicago, she worked at The Southtown Economist in Chicago before moving to The Daily News in 1960. An early assignment there, she wrote, involved infiltrating a Mafia wedding disguised as a waitress.

Ms. Geyer was given a chance to report from Latin America in 1964. It was the beginning of a string of assignments that took her to Peru, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala — where she spent a week with leftist guerrillas in the midst of a civil war — and, in 1966, Cuba, where few outside reporters had been admitted. She had her first of several meetings with Castro.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/20/obituaries/georgie-anne-geyer-dead.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Herman Wouk, Best-Selling Novelist With a Realist’s Touch, Dies at 103

Like “War and Peace,” whose sweep and ambition served as a model, “The Winds of War” and “War and Remembrance” jumped back and forth from the battlefield to the home front. Historic events and domestic life intersected in the experiences of one American family, headed by the naval commander Victor Henry, nicknamed Pug.

In returning to the world of “The Caine Mutiny,” Mr. Wouk won back many of the critics who had written him off. His two war novels, totaling nearly 2,000 pages, gave a rousing account of great events, informed by painstaking research. If Pug Henry seemed to show up, unaccountably, at the elbow of every great leader in the war at one historic turning point after another, Mr. Wouk’s breathtaking narrative pace, skillful stage management and flair for wide-screen spectacle tended to drown out the criticism.

With Mr. Wouk’s help, both novels were translated into successful television mini-series starring Robert Mitchum as Pug Henry. The first installment of “The Winds of War,” broadcast in 1983 on ABC, attracted 80 million viewers, and more than half the available television audience tuned in as it unfolded over seven days. “War and Remembrance,” an even more lavish production extending over 30 hours at a cost of more than $110 million, was broadcast in 1988 but attracted a smaller audience.

After writing the autobiographical novel “Inside, Outside” (1985), Mr. Wouk applied his epic formula to modern Israel in “The Hope” and “The Glory,” both published in 1994 to generally unenthusiastic reviews. Readers were guided through Israel’s turbulent history — from its founding to its three major wars and on into the 1980s — by Zev Barak, a noble scholar-warrior on hand to experience all important battles and diplomatic negotiations.

A conversation with his brother, Victor, an electrical engineer who once worked on the Manhattan Project, provided Mr. Wouk with the subject matter for “A Hole in Texas” (2004), a scientific soap opera about a supercollider project in Waxahachie, Tex., abandoned by the government.

With “The Lawgiver,” Mr. Wouk broke with his traditional style of narration and told his tale in a modernized epistolary style, using letters, memos, emails, Twitter posts and text messages written by his characters. He also returned to Simon Schuster, the publishers of his first novel.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/17/obituaries/herman-wouk-dead.html?partner=rss&emc=rss