February 25, 2018

NPR Executive Was Warned Repeatedly About Sexual Harassment, Report Finds

NPR says it has already taken steps to bolster its workplace culture, including making changes to the complaint process, creating an anti-harassment support group, mandating in-person sexual harassment training and strengthening its human resources department.

The report suggested further steps, including conducting background checks and asking questions about prior sexual harassment issues during the hiring process, retaining an outside firm to investigate complaints and conducting a study of gender equity in pay and promotions.

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After Weinstein: 71 Men Accused of Sexual Misconduct and Their Fall From Power

A list of men who have resigned, been fired or otherwise lost power since the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke.

“We are committed to implementing its recommendations to ensure we have a workplace where everyone feels safe and respected,” Isabel Lara, an NPR spokeswoman, said in a statement. “The past months have shown that sexual harassment is a serious, widespread problem, pervasive in every industry and many organizations; NPR is no exception.”

The report said that some NPR employees had been warned about Mr. Oreskes’s behavior, but the knowledge stayed within a “whisper network” that didn’t extend outside the newsroom.

“As a result, information that many staff members felt was widespread actually was not known to HR or leadership,” the report said.

The timeline revealed by the investigation shows that NPR executives frequently expressed concern about Mr. Oreskes’s behavior, but repeatedly addressed it through conversations instead of disciplinary action.

When NPR hired Mr. Oreskes in March 2015, a search firm delivered “overwhelmingly positive” feedback, with no criticism of his workplace conduct, the report said. But a member of the eight-person hiring committee was aware of one episode and raised it to human resources: A woman said Mr. Oreskes had left her multiple voice mail messages late at night asking to discuss his book while they were at a conference. The woman said that she had heard a similar story about another woman at the conference and that “the incidents made the conference attendees very uncomfortable,” according to the report. Nonetheless, the committee unanimously voted to hire him.

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In the summer of 2015, two female NPR employees said they had dinners with Mr. Oreskes that turned excessively personal, the report found. He gave one of them a hug after dinner, which “made her feel uncomfortable,” the report said. They reported the dinners to human resources in October 2015, and the company’s general counsel, Jon Hart, spoke with Mr. Oreskes within a week.

“This conversation was described as a ‘stern talking to’ in which Mr. Hart told Mr. Oreskes that sexual comments were not appropriate and warned him that it could not happen again,” the report said. “Mr. Oreskes committed to Mr. Hart that it would not happen again.”

But in the spring of 2016, Mr. Oreskes expensed several dinners with women, including one with a female NPR employee, the report found. In August, Mr. Hart and Deborah A. Cowan, the chief financial officer, met with him and asked for business justifications for his dinners, while cautioning him to make sure he had justifications for dinners going forward.

Executives again discussed his behavior in October 2017, and they decided that Jarl Mohn, the chief executive, “would have an additional counseling session with Mr. Oreskes,” which he did, the report said.

“They decided not to terminate Mr. Oreskes at that time because there were only two reported incidents of conduct involving NPR employees and both had been addressed two years prior,” the report found.

After Mr. Mohn asked the staff to come forward with harassment complaints, an employee said Mr. Oreskes had groped her in the spring of 2017. Around the same time, a woman told NPR’s legal team that Mr. Oreskes had kissed her without her consent when he was employed by The Times.

He was suspended on Oct. 31 after the Washington Post article was published. Shortly after, an NPR employee said Mr. Oreskes had made an inappropriate comment in 2016 during a conversation about her career, and had invited her to his beach cottage to “continue the conversation over wine,” the report found. Mr. Mohn asked for his resignation after hearing her complaint.

Mr. Oreskes’s career in journalism stretches back about four decades. He started at The Daily News and joined The Times in 1981, holding many jobs in two decades at the paper, including chief political correspondent and deputy managing editor. He worked at The Associated Press from 2008 to 2015, serving as a vice president and senior managing editor.

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The newly released report, which was not edited by NPR employees, was based on interviews with 86 current and former employees, 71 of whom were women.

Reached by email on Wednesday, Mr. Oreskes said that the law firm that prepared the report did not ask to speak to him, but that he continued to support NPR and its mission.

He pointed to a statement he made on the day he resigned: “I am deeply sorry to the people I hurt. My behavior was wrong and inexcusable, and I accept full responsibility.”

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/21/business/media/npr-michael-oreskes.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

The Atlantic Plans a Hiring Spree

The austerity plan at Condé Nast coincided roughly with the sale of the once-mighty Time Inc. to the Meredith Corporation — the Des Moines-based publisher of Better Homes and Gardens and Family Circle magazines — in a $2.8 billion deal made possible by an equity infusion from Koch Industries, the conglomerate run by Charles G. and David H. Koch.

With Emerson Collective as its new patron, The Atlantic has avoided the grim fates of its fellow news organizations. In a memo to the staff, Mr. Cohn said that circulation is at an all-time high — it rose 13 percent last year — and that visits to TheAtlantic.com rose by 25 percent in 2017.

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The magazine’s decision to go on a hiring spree is surprising at a time when legacy publications and recently established websites alike are shedding employees.

“I think quality journalism is a scarce commodity these days and I think the discerning readers reward places that are making stories that mean something,” Jeffrey Goldberg, the editor in chief of The Atlantic, said.

The planned additions to the newsroom are meant to bolster the magazine’s coverage of Washington, Hollywood, Europe and the tech industry.

“It will be a mix of writers and editors and video producers and podcast producers and live events producers,” Mr. Cohn said. “Those are areas of coverage that we want to focus on, and we’ll do it across all our platforms: digital, print, live events, video, audio, newsletters.”

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Other jobs will go to engineers, designers and members of a new team the magazine has called Talent Lab, which is intended to “help us achieve one of our paramount goals: ensuring that our team is truly representative of America in all of its diversity,” Mr. Cohn wrote.

When it acquired a majority stake in The Atlantic, Emerson Collective — which focuses on education, the environment and immigration — expanded its portfolio of media and entertainment holdings. It is also an investor in Axios, a media company started by the Politico co-founder Jim VandeHei and its former star reporter, Mike Allen, and in Pop-Up Magazine. In 2016, it took a minority stake in Anonymous Content, the production and talent management company behind the movie “Spotlight.”

The organization also supports several nonprofit journalism organizations, including The Marshall Project, Mother Jones and ProPublica. It was founded in 2004 by Ms. Powell Jobs, the widow of the Apple co-founder Steven P. Jobs, who died in 2011.

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“Emerson is eager to see us grow and succeed, and they were excited at helping to make this happen,” Mr. Cohn said.

Mr. Goldberg said he looks forward to bringing The Atlantic back to its 19th-century roots, when its founders, including heavyweights like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Oliver Wendell Holmes, viewed the magazine as a forum for some good old intellectual brawls and tussles.

“We are in a moment of national fracturing, and our expansion allows us to do a lot more of the kind of work that really is in our DNA,” Mr. Goldberg said. “We can double down on our coverage of Washington and this administration. We can double down on publishing the best and most interesting and thought-provoking ideas about the American future.”

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/21/business/media/the-atlantic-plans-a-hiring-spree.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Bahrain Activist Gets 5-Year Sentence for ‘Insulting’ Tweets

As those charges were pending, Mr. Rajab reiterated his criticisms last May in another opinion column in The New York Times appealing to President Trump on the eve of his trip to Riyadh, the Saudi capital. “It fills me with shame that my country, Bahrain, is bombing Yemen, with United States support,” Mr. Rajab wrote, adding, “What I have endured is a small fraction of what the people of Yemen have suffered, largely because of the military intervention of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and their allies.”

United Nations agencies say that the Saudi-led air campaign in Yemen has contributed to a humanitarian disaster, including thousands of indiscriminate civilian casualties as well as widespread famine and disease. A recent report by a United Nations panel concluded that the two sides had reached a stalemate neither could win, and that a Saudi-led blockade of the country has “had the effect of using the threat of starvation as an instrument of war.”

Supporters of the Saudi-led campaign argue that it is necessary to prevent Iran from establishing a beachhead on the Arabian Peninsula through its allies in Yemen, the Houthis. Supporters of Bahrain’s Sunni Muslim monarchy similarly argue that the Shiite-dominated opposition is in league with Shiite-led Iran. Tehran has used its state-owned media to encourage unrest in Bahrain, and Shiite militants in Bahrain have carried out violent attacks on security forces.

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Mr. Trump has embraced Saudi Arabia as a close ally, vowed to push back against Iranian influence around the region, and tempered even the muted criticism of Bahrain that occurred under the Obama administration.

“Our countries have a wonderful relationship together,” Mr. Trump said during an appearance in Riyadh last spring with the king of Bahrain, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa. “There has been a little strain, but there won’t be strain with this administration.”

In September, the Trump administration approved a $3.8 billion deal for Lockheed Martin to sell Bahrain more than a dozen new F-16 fighter jets, as well as upgrades to its existing fleet and other military equipment. Mr. Trump dropped requirements imposed under President Barack Obama for improved human rights before any arms sales. And, after a meeting with the crown prince of Bahrain in late November, Mr. Trump said on Twitter that the kingdom had agreed to spend as much as $9 billion on unspecified “commercial deals,” including the F-16s.

Mr. Rajab’s sentence on Wednesday was “a slap in the face to justice,” Heba Morayef, the Middle East director at Amnesty International, said in a statement. “It is absolutely outrageous that he be forced to spend a further five years in jail simply for daring to voice his opinions online.”

Aziza Salman, a representative of the government of Bahrain, said in an email that the charges against Mr. Rajab “relate to specific articles of Bahrain’s penal code and did not, in any way, relate to any political views he may hold.”

“Bahrain’s commitment to protecting the security of the nation and its citizens is absolute; Nabeel Rajab was found guilty of undermining that security,” she added.

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Asked on Tuesday about Mr. Rajab’s impending sentencing, a State Department spokeswoman, Heather Nauert, said the administration was “very disappointed” that an earlier conviction had been upheld. “We continue to have conversations with the government of Bahrain about our very serious concerns,” she added.

Follow David D. Kirkpatrick on Twitter: @ddknyt.

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/21/world/middleeast/nabeel-rajab-bahrain-twitter.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

An Olympic Figure Skater Who Also Made History for The Times

The sports editor at the time was Bernard William St. Denis Thomson, known in the office as the Colonel. (Gay Talese revealed in “The Kingdom and the Power” that he had actually been an army captain, not a colonel, and served in World War I as a trainer of pack animals.) Regardless of his rank, he was fond of barking orders to his underlings, military style.

He had hired Vinson “hesitantly and after considerable soul-searching,” the Times columnist Arthur Daley wrote years later. “He regretted it the very first day” when he realized that he would not be able to swear as much.

Years later, though, Vinson recalled of her colleagues, “They soon found out I could outdrink them,” according to one of her skating students, Frank Carroll (who would later coach some of the world’s most renowned skaters).

Vinson was not just some celebrity author who swanned in to dash off a few skating articles. She plunged right into the daily grind of a real sportswriter. She amassed 189 bylines in her first 12 months, and covered track, tennis, swimming, lacrosse and horse shows.

Under the banner “Women in Sports,” her first column reported on the Curtis Cup matches for amateur golfers and added notes about a fencing exhibition at the Hotel Astor and field hockey in Prospect Park.

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Even at her young age, her prose reveals that she was a pro, seriously and carefully laying out the news of every event, even if it was low in the sports pecking order. Within the limits of The Times’s strict rules and sometimes stiff house writing style, she managed to impart some flavor to her coverage.

In reporting on an outdoor swim meet in Manhattan Beach in 1935, she wrote, “It was not a water hazard but a mental hazard that Miss Rawls had to face in the medley race. For the sprightly, laughing Southerner is literally ‘frightened to death’ by lightning, and it must have been small comfort to see a telephone pole a block away struck by a bolt and burning merrily away.”

Her bylines almost always appeared over accounts of women’s sports. No one sent Vinson to write about a glamorous event like a bowl game, a prize fight or the World Series (although Carroll says she often attended such events with her male colleagues). Instead, she plied her trade at places like the Heights Casino in Brooklyn for squash, the Pelham Country Club for golf and Jones Beach for archery.

Daley acknowledged that while Vinson was “never completely accepted” by The Times’s boys’ club, she was eventually “warily admitted to the gang.”

Amazingly, Vinson juggled full-time sportswriting with full-time athletic pursuits. On Jan. 13, 1936, she reported a squash story from the Cosmopolitan Club in Manhattan. On the 15th, she sailed for Germany and the Winter Olympics on the liner Washington. (It was an era when boat sailings were big news. The Times reported that Sergei Rachmaninoff was also on board; Vinson made the boat by just 10 minutes and forgot her uniform.)

On Feb. 2, her byline appeared again, over a story about the women’s ski team. On the 13th, she finished fifth in her third Olympics. She also placed fifth in the pairs competition alongside George Hill. On March 3, she was back on the squash beat, reporting from London, and before the month was out she was back reporting on badminton from New York.

Vinson wrote her last article for the Times in 1937 (“Miss Amory Victor With Miss Phipps,” on the results of a “Scotch foursome” golf match) and began her coaching career.

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Maribel Vinson Owen, center, leading her daughters, Laurence, 16, left, and Maribel, 20, both national skating champions, in a practice session at the Boston Skating Club in February 1961. Credit Frank C. Curtin/Associated Press

Vinson seldom got to show it in her articles about college field hockey, but she was an intellectual powerhouse. Carroll remembers that in the 1950s, “We drove around a lot to rinks and would discuss the philosophers I was studying at Holy Cross, like Thomas Aquinas. We’d talk about the Latin language, the differences between ecclesiastical Latin and classical Latin. She was one of the most brilliant women I’ve ever met.”

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They drove so much, Carroll notes, because Vinson was not allowed to teach at her home rink, the Skating Club of Boston. “She was brutal, and they didn’t like that … She was a very tough, tough mentor. She demanded discipline.”

Vinson kept at writing, penning three books about figure skating and contributing off and on to The Associated Press and Boston Globe.

She raised two daughters, Maribel and Laurence, and both became elite skaters. (Laurence took after her mother and wrote poetry.) In 1961, mother and daughters, along with 15 other members of the U.S. skating team, died when their 707 jet crashed in Brussels on the way to the world championships in Prague. It was a devastating day for United States skating, and made front page news nationwide.

Vinson’s legacy lives on through coaches like Carroll, who trained Michelle Kwan and Evan Lysacek, among others.

And through all the women sportswriters who have graced these pages.

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/21/insider/olympic-figure-skater-first-female-sportswriter-for-the-times.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

State of the Art: Why We May Soon Be Living in Alexa’s World

Something bigger is afoot. Alexa has the best shot of becoming the third great consumer computing platform of this decade — next to iOS and Android, a computing service so ubiquitous that it sets a foundation for much of the rest of what happens in tech.

It is not a sure path. Amazon could screw this up, and rivals like Google have many cards to play to curb Alexa’s rise. Amazon’s strategy — something like a mix between Google’s plan for Android and Apple’s for the iPhone — is also unusual. And there are lingering social concerns about voice assistants and, as I discovered, their sometimes creepy possibilities. How many people, really, are willing to let an always-on device in their house?

Despite this, Alexa’s ubiquity is a plausible enough future that it is worth seriously pondering. In an effort to do so, I recently dived headlong into Alexa’s world. I tried just about every Alexa gadget I could get my hands on, including many not made by Amazon, such as an Alexa-enabled pickup truck, to see what life with her will be like once she’s everywhere.

What I found was a mess — many non-Amazon Alexa devices aren’t ready for prime time — but an inviting one. Late-night shrieks notwithstanding, one day very soon, Alexa or something like it will be everywhere — and computing will be better for it.

“We had a spectacular holiday,” Dave Limp, Amazon’s senior vice president of devices and services, said when I called last month to chat about the assistant’s future.

Amazon is famously cagey about sales numbers, but Mr. Limp braved a slight disclosure: “We’ve said we’ve sold tens of millions of Alexa-enabled devices, but I can assure you that last year we also sold tens of millions of just Echo devices. At that scale, it’s safe to now call this a category.”

Mr. Limp’s distinction is confusing but important. At Amazon, Alexa lives in two places. She is part of a device category, the Echo smart speaker, which now comes in a variety of permutations, from the $49 Echo Dot to the screen-bearing Echo Show, which sells for $229. (These prices are merely guidelines; in its bid for ubiquity, Amazon often offers steep discounts, with the Dot selling for $29 during last year’s holidays.)

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But like Google’s Android operating system, Alexa is also a piece of software that Amazon makes available for free for other device makers to put into their products.

At least 50 devices are now powered by Alexa, and more keep coming. They include dozens of Echo-like smart speakers, home thermostats, light fixtures, dashboard cameras, smartphones, headphones, a smoke alarm and a very strange robot.

Alexa is spreading so quickly that even Amazon can’t keep track of it. Mr. Limp said that as he wandered the floor at the CES electronics trade show in Las Vegas this year, even he was surprised by the number of different Alexa devices.

“To me, that says the strategy is working,” he said.

There are some costs to this strategy, which prizes speed over polish. The universe of Alexa-enabled products is shaggy. Many third-party devices get low reviews on Amazon. Many don’t include some of Alexa’s key functions — I tested devices that don’t let you set reminders, one of the main reasons to use Alexa. Technical limitations also prevent non-Amazon devices from taking advantage of some of Alexa’s best new features, like the ability to call phones or other Alexas (creating a kind of home intercom system).

Mr. Limp said Amazon was aiming to fix these limitations, but conceded that its strategy necessarily led to some low-end devices. “You’re right, sometimes the ramifications of this will be that some devices will be out there that aren’t perfect,” he said.

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Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant is part of Echo smart speakers like this one, but it is also a piece of software that other device makers can put into their products. Credit Jens Mortensen for The New York Times

But there are also advantages to Alexa’s model for ubiquity. Imagine if you could gain access to your smartphone on just about any screen you encountered. Move from your phone to your TV to your laptop to your car, and wherever you went, you’d find all your apps, contacts and data just there, accessible through the same interface.

That model isn’t really possible for phones. But because Alexa runs in the cloud, it allows for a wondrously device-agnostic experience. Alexa on my Echo is the same as Alexa on my TV is the same as Alexa on my Sonos speaker.

And it’s the same even on devices not in your home. Ford — the first of several carmakers to offer Alexa integration in its vehicles — lent me an F-150 pickup outfitted with Alexa. The experience was joyously boring: I called up Alexa while barreling down the highway, and although she was slower to respond than at home, she worked just the same. She knew my musical tastes, my shopping list, the apps and smart-home services I had installed, and just about everything else.

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It was the best showcase of the possibilities of always-on voice computing. In the future, wherever you go, you can expect to talk to a computer that knows you, one that can get stuff done for you without any hassle.

There’s a lot of money in the voice game. For Amazon, Alexa’s rise could lead to billions of dollars in additional sales to its store, Mark Mahaney, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, predicted recently. Amazon is thus not the only company chasing the dream of everywhere voice computing.

Google, which is alive to the worry that Alexa will outpace it in the assistant game, is also offering its Google Assistant to other device makers. Though Amazon remains the leader in the business, there’s some evidence that Google’s devices gained market share over the holidays. (Apple, which just released a $349 smart speaker, HomePod, does not seem to be aiming for voice ubiquity.)

The emerging platform war between Amazon and Google could lead to fallout for users. But their platforms can also play together. Amazon’s and Google’s relationships with third-party companies are nonexclusive, which means that hardware makers are free to add both Alexa and Google Assistant to their products. Sonos, for instance, now integrates with Alexa, and is planning to add Google Assistant soon.

This is not the best outcome for the future; it would be better for all of us if the next computing platform didn’t come from one of the current tech giants, and if start-ups didn’t have to rely on Amazon or Google for this key piece of tech.

But that seems unlikely. If Alexa is headed for ubiquity, it’s good that Google may be, too.

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/21/technology/amazon-alexa-world.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Feature: What Happens When Athletes Do the Sportswriting?

The Players’ Tribune originally gave athletes newsroom titles: David Ortiz, the jolly Red Sox slugger, was editor at large; Matt Harvey, the Mets hurler, was New York City bureau chief. On Twitter, jokes about Kobe Bryant — the editorial director! — flourished. Just imagine him screaming in the face of a middle reliever about a missing nut graf. For sports media, it was a way to grin in the face of the prickly existential fear they’d lived with ever since social media forever changed their industry. Twitter and Instagram had already conditioned athletes to communicate with the public directly. Might they, the middlemen and middlewomen, one day be cut out altogether? Wouldn’t athletes simply tell the same tales of humdrum perseverance that they do in Gatorade commercials? Didn’t good writing still require good writers?

Three years on, The Players’ Tribune has become a regular source of breaking news: Kevin Durant announced his league-upheaving move to Golden State in July 2016 with an essayistic memo, which then become a recurring format. In November 2015, Kobe Bryant announced his retirement via 11 stanzas of spare, Japanese-style poetry, which, unfortunately, did not. And confessional pieces like Thomas’s, written by N.H.L. also-rans and Brazilian soccer stars alike, have regularly gone viral.

At its helm is Jeter, who spent 20 years in New York saying nothing to the press. He is an athlete famed, almost revered, for blankness. But the fact that he played in that Yankees spotlight for as long as he did and mostly avoided off-the-field notoriety suggests that Jeter might possess some hidden guile. After all, The Players’ Tribune represents the first truly new wrinkle in sportswriting in a decade. But what is it, exactly? It’s not fair to call it P.R. The access it provides is genuine. But you can’t really get around one tricky fact: When you give the subject the final cut, you can’t call it journalism either. Perhaps The Players’ Tribune can be best understood as an effort by athletes to seize that most precious contemporary commodity — the narrative.

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As recently as the early 1980s, the walls between pro athletes and the sportswriters who covered them were permeable. Local newspaper reporters would travel with the team, dine with the team and sometimes have one too many cold domestics with the team. These people were, essentially, co-workers. By the ’90s, money, and the instincts for self-preservation that money engenders, had created a system of formalized control that holds to this day. Technically, there is access galore: before and after practice, before and after pregame warm-ups, before and after the game itself. But locker-room interviews are notoriously fruitless. Gary Hoenig, a 71-year-old ex-newspaperman and the founding editor of ESPN the Magazine, who now works for The Players’ Tribune as an editor, told me, “I don’t think showering and standing there half-naked with a mic in your face is a great way to relate what your actual life is like.” And yet beat reporters trudge dutifully on, Bics in hand, and regularly do great work in unpromising situations.

But as meaningful access withered alongside print media, a new generation of sportswriters decided they would just stay in their living rooms and take their shots from there. The columnist Bill Simmons and the blog Deadspin pushed back against the hidebound conventions of sportswriting, the former with a hyperpersonal style defined by homerism, looseness and joy, the latter by happily pointing out all the ways we were being lied to. (I worked for Simmons at ESPN’s Grantland for four years.) Take, for example, their coverage of Jeter. Simmons and the baseball writers at Grantland assailed this purportedly unassailable figure, running geeky statistical analysis to prove that, despite his five Gold Gloves, he was actually a miserable defensive player. Deadspin, originally a Gawker affiliate, delighted in unearthing Jeter’s foibles. Once, it published a post suggesting he liked to watch his own highlights, in the nude, while shouting, over and over, “Yeah Jeets!” That this was based on an unverified rumor sourced from Reddit didn’t really matter. Deadspin was unconvinced that anyone, let alone a baseball player, should be uncomplicatedly revered. For millions of young fans, that mentality — that mainstream sports media presents a facile master narrative that is to be warred with at all times — became a defining principle.

And then there’s ESPN, which hovers above the whole system, Death Star-like, doing everything from dry game recaps to experiential multimedia packages to breaking-news pieces to talk shows that have come to define the way we shout about sports to websites like Grantland, which existed, to some extent, to question all of this. During his time at the network, the commentator Skip Bayless was well known for insisting that LeBron James was not, in fact, very good at basketball but was, rather, somewhat bad at basketball. And he never broke character. For the thinking sports fan, this was ESPN’s great tragedy: The network wanted it all, every last nook, and so it coupled its ambitious, unparalleled coverage with shameless, soul-crushing shouting.

For years, no one has dared to imagine a way to win back access. But The Players’ Tribune did, by completely redefining it. The site gives its subjects final approval of their own coverage. Normally, this would be a journalistic sin, were it not for an elegant and cynical workaround: giving the subject the byline. The model has precedent in the form of the ghostwritten as-told-to sports memoir, which has bred some stone-cold classics: “I Am Zlatan,” the Swedish soccer star Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s prickly and strange 2011 autobiography, is one of the best things I’ve ever read. (As a boy, Ibrahimovic celebrates personal milestones by stealing bicycles.) But being a bona fide literary achievement doesn’t mean it’s not brand management.

Last fall, on the West Side of Manhattan, I visited the consummately start-up-like offices of The Players’ Tribune, with its open-floor plan and glass-walled conference rooms, its espresso bar and its espresso bar’s adjoining patio and its adjoining patio’s stunning Hudson River views. Jeff Levick, The Players’ Tribune chief executive, greeted me in his large, airy and spare office. Slim, small and slightly mod, Levick speaks quickly and while speaking quickly says things like “global” and “aspirations” and “massive” and “disruption.” He had come onboard just a few weeks earlier as the company’s first C.E.O., and he was promising to turn a catchy idea with millions in financing from venture capitalists and athletes into a moneymaker. He was previously the chief revenue officer at Spotify, and, he explained, he saw the two companies as fundamentally alike. Both are “platforms,” he told me: one for music, the other for what he calls “A.G.C.” — “athlete-generated content.”

Levick was happy to tell me, in the classic manner of the disrupter, about how his company was about to upend an angry, worn-out industry. Sitting bolt upright, eyes locked onto mine, gesticulating with purpose, he pointed to the large flat-screen TV behind us: therein lay the enemy. “I have ESPN on all day long, and I get where these athletes are coming from,” he said. “These guys are the best in the world at what they do, and they can’t catch a break! They’re getting beaten up all day. Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t get beaten up like that.” His point was this: All that unnecessary negativity that ESPN’s TV shows churn out is ultimately a boon to the bottom line of The Players’ Tribune because that negativity is persuading athletes to share their proprietary, much-desired content with The Players’ Tribune.

I suggested to Levick that there were still certain unique advantages that only traditional reporting can offer. “Well, then, I guess the story of how the Isaiah Thomas trade went down would have happened somewhere else,” he politely scoffed. “That, to me, was a piece of journalism that would never have been told through a sports reporter. They weren’t going to get access to that story. And it’s an amazing story.”

Sean Conboy is an intense, handsome, wide-eyed true believer who wears all black. At 31, he is the executive editor of The Players’ Tribune, which means he’s the chief ghostwriter, responsible for many of the articles that have gone viral. He has a desk somewhere, I assume, but whenever I caught him at the office, he and his laptop were itinerant. The first time I saw him, he was on a couch near a Pop-A-Shot basketball hoop, plotting a coming business trip to Madrid. The next time we sat entombed together in a fishbowl meeting room that at least felt, and may indeed have been, soundproof.

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Conboy had previously worked at Wired and Sports Illustrated and was brought in before The Players’ Tribune concept had been publicly revealed, while athletes were still being recruited as investors. He remembers thinking, as it was explained to him in his first sit-down, that it could be interesting. “Or,” he recalled thinking, “it could be terrible!” Now he oversees a team of 10 out of an overall staff of nearly 80. They’ve developed a few routine practices to attempt, as best as possible, to simulate an editor-writer relationship with the athlete. They push to get direct cell numbers and emails. They warn of the commitment to come. “We say off the bat, this is not a dashed off thing,” he said. “This isn’t a transcript of an interview. You’re signing up for a partnership. We wanna make a movie.”

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Sometimes, the athletes “come in hot” with a draft or even just a long text message; other times, the athletes first want to talk through a difficult experience. When the former N.H.L. goalie Corey Hirsch wrote about the undiagnosed obsessive-compulsive disorder that nearly pushed him to drive his car off a cliff, he spoke with Conboy five or six times. (Hockey has been the source of a number of The Players’ Tribune’s best stories, churning out compelling characters at a rate incommensurate with its place in the culture at large: The former Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton once provided an anecdote about his Parkinson’s-afflicted grandmother trying to talk him into letting her slug some booze out of the Stanley Cup.) Hirsch first revealed his story without being sure he would actually go through with publishing it. He was nervous about how his family would perceive it; and he nearly pulled it. That risk is part of the process at The Players’ Tribune: Whether it’s video or print, athletes have final cut and can kill a whole project. But Hirsch went through with it, and his article has been read more than a million times.

Like Hirsch, the Miami Heat shooting guard Dion Waiters is not a player familiar to casual fans. But his April 2017 essay is perhaps the best thing the site has published. Waiters is a famously overconfident shooter — a chucker. In the article, through tales of violence, doubt, heartbreak and nausea, he doesn’t bother defending himself. Instead, he doubles down. “I see what people say about me,” he writes. “I see the GIFs and all that. They say, ‘He never seen a shot he don’t like.’ ‘He’s got irrational confidence.’ ‘He thinks he’s the best player in the N.B.A.’ Hell yeah I do.” The essay was published during the N.B.A. playoffs, but the Heat’s season was already over. The title of the piece: “The N.B.A. Is Lucky I’m Home Doing Damn Articles.”

After Conboy finishes his ghostwriting, a lot of athletes can get judicious, carefully pruning or deleting moments of oversharing. “We want athletes that go in the Google Doc and just go to town,” he told me. “That’s the best version of this.” He recalled Isaiah Thomas’s writing his first piece for the site. “It was 1 a.m. East Coast time, and he’s texting about line edits,” Conboy said. “ ‘Move this around. What if this was said this way.’ ” Some players even act just like prima donna magazine writers and fight with their editors over every word. “Kobe writes his own drafts,” Conboy said, smiling. “Literally, he writes his own drafts.”

But most don’t. In fact, the process, as Conboy described it to me, was oddly familiar. For the Waiters story, Conboy and his subject went out for cheese steaks in Philly, then later did a two-hour interview. “Profile writing, it’s not easy,” he said, picking his words carefully. “You’re not getting two hours anymore hardly anywhere.” But Conboy could. Effectively, The Players’ Tribune has found a way to simulate the access of olden times by putting control in the hands of the wealthy and attractive subjects. In a way, Conboy did profile Waiters. He just didn’t receive the byline.

The Players’ Tribune has an annual tradition called the “athlete board meeting.” It’s open to just about anyone in the biz; a big room full of obscure Olympians and megastars, retired and active, male and female alike. They hold it in Los Angeles every July, the week of ESPN’s awards show, the ESPYs. This past year’s meeting was led by Bryant, one of the company’s more enthusiastic investors. (A member of the editorial staff told me about an early meeting in Los Angeles, purportedly just a low-key hang to kick around story ideas; Bryant showed up via helicopter with a small black notebook that he quickly filled as he proceeded to ask an intense stream of highly informed digital-media-strategy questions.) At one point, Levick recalls, Bryant threw out a question to the room: “ ‘What keeps you up at night?’ ” One of the athletes responded, “ ‘The thing that keeps me up at night is that my legacy will only be what people see on the field. That they won’t know me for all the other things that are interesting to me.’ And all these hands went up. ‘Totally.’ ‘Totally.’ ‘That worries me so much.’ ”

Can this really be a going concern? That our obsessive sports media is missing heretofore untold, profound personal truths about our heroes? For all its peaks, on any given day reading The Players’ Tribune, you might just run into a variation of “Hey [Insert City] — we’re gonna give it our all this year.” Neither the site itself nor its social media has become a real destination. According to comScore, the site gets a respectable 3.4 million unique views a month; its Twitter account has just over half a million followers. A lot of its content is, frankly, repetitive and predictable. The pieces that succeed effectively float away from The Players’ Tribune and into the national conversation.

In 2015 Katie Nolan, then the host of the scrappy, low-budget Fox Sports show “Garbage Time,” lodged a critique of The Players’ Tribune model. “It isn’t for us fans,” she said in a segment on the show, which had a certain outsider credibility. (It has since been canceled.) “It’s for the players who want to appear like an open book without the risk of getting themselves in trouble for being an open book. And maybe I’m being cynical, but that sucks.”

I brought this up to Hoenig, the Players’ Tribune editor. Hoenig has had a long, lucrative career. You get the sense that he’s quite pleased to be at The Players’ Tribune and that he’s not all that worried about what happens next. Now, though, he let himself get worked up. “Is it P.R. to say I’m putting a face on somebody that you feel completely free to attack willy-nilly without knowing who they are?” he said. “Yes, it’s good strategy for an athlete to control his own — I don’t even call it image — his own narrative. That’d be a good strategy for you and me too.”

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The first time I saw Jeter at The Players’ Tribune, he appeared, fists pounding on the door, at a corner office where I had been chatting with Jon Sakoda, an early-stage investor. Laid on a low piece of cabinetry was a massive, glitzy championship belt given to the Players’ Tribune president, Jaymee Messler, by her pal Stephanie McMahon, daughter of the W.W.E. chief executive Vince McMahon. Jeter and Sakoda spent a few minutes admiring it. “You’re getting one next!” Jeter promised Sakoda. Then he briefly ambled off to find help in figuring out why Uber wasn’t working on his new phone. It was another sunny day in the well-lit Manhattan offices of a celebrity-backed, moneyed start-up with ambitions far beyond its page views.

Jeter spends most of his time in Miami, where he’s the chief executive of the Marlins, and doesn’t have his own full-time office here. We met later in a vacant office, under a wall of perfectly arrayed framed memories: photos from charity parties, past Jeter press coverage, Bryant’s poem. In person, Jeter looked good — in his bluejeans and dark gray henley, the picture of casual bro chic. But there were moments that remind you that he has been around awhile. He rolled out a rotator cuff, slowly; he smashed a fist into a spike of pain on his lower thigh. His rookie season was 1996. He dated Mariah Carey! For the better part of the first half of his career, the worst-case scenario was a Page Six write-up on what Meatpacking District club he was at last night.

I theorized that The Players’ Tribune had been born as a retaliation to the gossip columnists who had poked and prodded him for so long. He shrugged it off. “You know how many phone calls I’ve gotten from my mom through the years when I was younger asking me questions?” he said. “Eventually you just try not to pay attention to it.” He added: “You remember the Motorola two-way? When they came out? That was as good as it came. Then the color one came out. And all of a sudden. …” He trailed off. “Everything you do is public knowledge.”

I asked him about Alex Rodriguez, his former teammate and frenemy, and a player famously, calamitously inept during his playing career at controlling his public image. (Just search for “A-Rod kisses himself.”) Did Jeter ever try to help him? “I spoke with everyone,” he said. “I would stress accountability to anyone that came to our organization.”

I asked whether, had today’s athlete protests spread to the Yankees while Jeter was playing, would he have taken a knee. “I’m not in the clubhouse now,” he said. “I’ll say: Everyone has a right to peaceful protest.”

What did I know about Derek Jeter? Not much and certainly nothing new after this brief encounter. I left the interview feeling as though, intentionally or not, he’d made a good case for access journalism’s uselessness. We already live among the distorting effects of Twitter and Instagram, the uncanny and calculated sense of intimacy that social-media platforms provide. Now we have a model that simulates objective journalism, supposedly written by the people who were once subject to that journalism’s scrutiny.

Projecting The Players’ Tribune model forward, we can imagine a world in which athletes simply don’t need to talk to reporters, in an echo of what feels like the unstoppable atomization of all news and information. Politicians, TV showrunners, labor-union leaders: theoretically The Players’ Tribune platform is replicable for any public professional. In the future, perhaps, every last person will get to broadcast his or her own particular worldview, free of objectivity, on a bespoke, partisan media organ, with slick photography and design. And it will be up to us to decide what version of the truth we want to believe.

Amos Barshad is a writer based in New York.

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A version of this article appears in print on February 25, 2018, on Page MM31 of the Sunday Magazine with the headline: A League of Their Own.

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/21/magazine/what-happens-when-athletes-do-the-sportswriting.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Right-Wing Media Uses Parkland Shooting as Conspiracy Fodder

In written posts and YouTube videos — one of which had more than 100,000 views as of Tuesday night — Gateway Pundit has argued that Mr. Hogg had been coached on what to say during his interviews. The notion that Mr. Hogg is merely protecting his father dovetails with a broader right-wing trope, that liberal forces in the F.B.I. are trying to undermine President Trump and his pro-Second Amendment supporters.

Others offered more sweeping condemnations. Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist behind the site Infowars, suggested that the mass shooting was a “false flag” orchestrated by anti-gun groups. Mr. Limbaugh, on his radio program, said of the student activists on Monday: “Everything they’re doing is right out of the Democrat Party’s various playbooks. It has the same enemies: the N.R.A. and guns.”

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By Tuesday, that argument had migrated to CNN. In an on-air appearance, Jack Kingston, a former United States representative from Georgia and a regular CNN commentator, asked, “Do we really think — and I say this sincerely — do we really think 17-year-olds on their own are going to plan a nationwide rally?” (He was quickly rebuked by the anchor Alyson Camerota.)

Conspiracies, wild and raw online, are often pasteurized on their way into the mainstream. A subtler version of the theory appeared Tuesday on the website of Bill O’Reilly, the ousted Fox News host. Mr. O’Reilly stopped short of saying the students had been planted by anti-Trump forces. But, he wrote: “The national press believes it is their job to destroy the Trump administration by any means necessary. So if the media has to use kids to do that, they’ll use kids.”

Some of those who have been spreading the conspiracies are facing consequences.

Benjamin Kelly, an aide to a Florida state representative, Shawn Harrison, emailed a Tampa Bay Times reporter on Tuesday accusing Mr. Hogg and a classmate, Emma Gonzalez, of being actors that travel to the sites of crises.

Mr. Kelly was soon fired.

“I made a mistake whereas I tried to inform a reporter of information relating to his story regarding a school shooting,” Mr. Kelly tweeted. “I meant no disrespect to the students or parents of Parkland.” His boss, Mr. Harrison, said on Twitter that he was “appalled” by Mr. Kelly’s remarks.

But by Tuesday evening, a new conspiracy was dominating Gateway Pundit’s home page. “Soros-Linked Organizers of ‘Women’s March’ Selected Anti-Trump Kids to Be Face of Parkland Tragedy,” read the headline. Within an hour, it had been shared on Facebook more than 150 times.

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/20/business/media/parkland-shooting-media-conspiracy.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Fox News Plans a Streaming Service for ‘Superfans’

Mr. Finley said the network was still discussing the cost of a subscription.

The Fox News venture joins an increasingly crowded — and increasingly niche — marketplace for web-only streaming television.

ESPN is starting its subscription service, ESPN Plus, in the spring. About five million viewers signed up last year for HBO and Cinemax digital subscriptions. Last week, CBS said it counted five million subscriptions to its CBS and Showtime streaming services, and it plans to add two more stand-alone products, CBS Sports HQ and an offering branded for “Entertainment Tonight.”

Fox Nation, depending on its popularity, may prove more consequential to the country’s political life than the average streaming service.

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Fox Nation is intended to appeal to “the dedicated audience that really wants more of what we have to offer,” said John Finley, who oversees program development and production for Fox News. Credit Fox Nation

Fox News already commands the attention of President Trump and many voters in his base. The digital product would bring viewers an additional dose of opinion programming beyond staples like “Hannity” and “Fox Friends.” Live events, like question-and-answer forums, would encourage more direct interaction with anchors and commentators.

Fox News viewers “value our product so much, they go to hotels and if they can’t have Fox, they send us emails. They go on cruises, and if they can’t have Fox, they send us emails,” Mr. Finley said. “This is a way for us to meet that demand.”

Whether the venture would be a moneymaker is up in the air.

Fox News reaps more than $1 billion in annual profit, providing ample funds to hire a new team for Fox Nation, which is not expected to initially carry advertising. Mr. Finley declined to estimate his start-up costs, and streaming services in conservative media have had a mixed record of success.

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The Blaze, a web-only service founded by the host Glenn Beck in 2011 after he left Fox News, struggled to attract interest and eventually morphed into a more traditional network distributed by cable and satellite providers. Bill O’Reilly, who was fired by Fox News in April, started a subscription service on his website that has earned little attention.

Mr. Finley said Fox Nation was not comparable to a personality-driven product. “This is not starting from scratch here,” he said. “Glenn Beck had a ton of viewers when he was here on Fox. When he left, it didn’t seem to me that they followed him. People are loyal to the Fox brand.”

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The median Fox News viewer is 65 years old, according to Nielsen, but the network points to its website traffic and heavy presence on Facebook and other social media platforms as evidence that a web-only service can appeal to its audience.

Among Fox News’s main rivals, MSNBC has no stand-alone product. CNN has a streaming service, CNNgo, which offers some free original programming, but it otherwise requires an existing cable or satellite subscription. Jeff Zucker, CNN’s president, said in December that he was considering a digital product for the channel’s “Great Big Story” brand, which is aimed at younger viewers.

Fox News, though, is facing some new competition on its conservative flank. The potential expansion of the Sinclair Broadcast Group may bring more conservative programming to local television stations. Peter Thiel, the technology investor and Trump supporter, is said to be interested in creating a right-leaning media organization based in Los Angeles.

Asked if Fox Nation was a response to pressures from cord-cutting and other industry trends, Mr. Finley said Fox News loyalists “are not cutting the cord anytime soon.”

“I don’t think this is about competing with our rivals. It’s about serving our audience,” he added. “We know who our audience is. We know what they want.”

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/19/business/media/fox-news-streaming.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

David Poindexter, 89, Who Used Media to Preach Family Planning, Dies

“If we want to sell this family-planning idea,” he told The New York Times in 1993, “we have to push the education and the motivation of the product and the why of the product. That’s what we are about.”

In one of the many international dramatic series that Mr. Poindexter helped develop, a Filipino man grieves at the grave of his wife, who died delivering their 13th child, and apologizes for not helping to plan their family better. In another, a Pakistani doctor warns a woman with four daughters that she would be committing suicide if she continues to try to bear a son.

“Hum Log” (or “We People”), an Indian soap opera that debuted in 1984, was suggested a year earlier to Ms. Gandhi by Mr. Poindexter and Miguel Sabido, a Mexican writer and producer who had embedded his popular telenovelas with messages about family planning and adult literacy.

Mr. Poindexter had encountered Mr. Sabido’s work several years earlier and viewed his research-based model for creating socially conscious programming as one that he could export to many other countries.

“David was uniquely able to get to the head of a state broadcaster to convince them that these series were a good idea and in line with the policies of their country,” said Bill Ryerson, a longtime colleague of Mr. Poindexter’s and the president of the Population Media Center, which has carried on his work. (Mr. Poindexter retired in 1998.)

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In the 1980s, Mr. Poindexter trained Kenyan radio and television personnel to produce soap operas for the government-run Voice of Kenya. In one episode of the show “Tushauriane,” or “Let’s Discuss It,” which made its television debut in 1987, a teenager marries an elderly polygamist in her village, becomes pregnant, has a miscarriage and becomes pregnant again. The series’ intent was to persuade couples to use family planning.

“This is not, first of all, drama, but value-reinforcement,” Mr. Poindexter told The Times in 1987.

In a telephone interview, Mr. Ryerson cited one study about the effect of a series on Radio Tanzania in the 1990s that was broadcast as a result of Mr. Pondexter’s work. It found a 32 percent increase in first-time use of family-planning clinics in the area where the show was broadcast, and 41 percent of the study’s respondents named the program as the reason.

David Oldham Poindexter was born on Jan. 30, 1929, in Hood River, Ore., about 60 miles east of Portland. His father, Dean, was also a Methodist minister whose postings around the state kept the family moving. His mother, the former Anna Porter, was a homemaker.

David Poindexter earned a bachelor’s degree from Willamette University in Salem, Ore., and a master’s in theology from Boston University, following his father into the ministry.

After eight years as the pastor of a Portland church, he joined the National Council of Churches in Manhattan as director of its broadcasting and film commission. The post brought him into contact with Hollywood executives. In 1970, he moved to the Population Institute in Washington as the director of its communication center.

Mr. Poindexter said he became interested in overpopulation in the late 1960s when he watched Paul Ehrlich, the author of the best-selling 1968 book “The Population Bomb,” in an appearance on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.” Mr. Poindexter compared Mr. Ehrlich to Paul Revere.

“Only this time, the message was, ‘The people are coming,’ and it began to galvanize the country,” he said in a speech in 2008 at the Norman Lear Center, part of the Annenberg School for Communications at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

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Mr. Lear and his socially conscious situation comedies, like “All in the Family” and “Maude,” became part of Mr. Poindexter’s efforts to spread his message. He and other activists lobbied to have their issues reflected in Mr. Lear’s shows.

“David was messianic about overpopulation,” Virginia Carter, a former executive of Mr. Lear’s production companies, said in a telephone interview.

She said she had been Mr. Lear’s emissary to advocates like Mr. Poindexter. “David felt that a better world was one with fewer people in it,” she said.

Ms. Carter said his family-planning concerns were reflected in an episode of “All in the Family,” in which Mike Stivic (Rob Reiner), the son-in-law of Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor), had a vasectomy.

Mr. Lear said in an interview that his sitcoms had provided inspiration to Mr. Poindexter. “We were dealing with subjects that mattered,” he said, “and he was a great fan of that, and he took those lessons learned and applied them internationally.”

In addition to his son, Mr. Poindexter is survived by his wife, the former Marian Sayer, who taught theology. He continued to serve churches as a guest pastor for many years.

In his 2008 speech in Los Angeles, Mr. Poindexter acknowledged that some had been skeptical of his soap opera strategy.

“You talk about soap opera,” he said. “I’m the person who got the word ‘soap opera’ into a U.N. document, and I had battles doing that because nobody believes that a soap opera can make any difference.”

Daniel E. Slotnik contributed reporting.

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/19/obituaries/david-poindexter-dead.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

We Have Streaming Revenue, Too, Says NBC. And We Can Prove It.

Nielsen ratings, which measure the number of viewers who tune in for shows at the time of their broadcasts, are down for the networks yet again — at a 10 percent clip this season. NBC has responded by learning to make money from viewers who stream its programs — and now it is learning how to put a number on it. The key is gathering statistics from services like NBC.com, the NBC app, video on demand and Hulu to determine how much money its shows are pulling in from streamers.

Take “This Is Us,” for example. According to the network’s data crunchers, NBC has earned around 47 percent of the revenue generated by its 2016 pilot episode from advertising through digital views. Over all, 44 percent of the revenue NBC has earned from “This Is Us” has come through digital viewership, the network said.

Similarly, the critically acclaimed sitcom, “The Good Place,” starring Kristen Bell and Ted Danson, has earned roughly 36 percent of its revenue from digital advertising, NBC said.

The new source of revenue is NBC’s attempt to make up for a larger decline in advertising dollars. Television ad sales fell 8 percent in 2017, one of the biggest drops in years, Bloomberg reported. That’s why executives like Mr. Greenblatt need to make the digital business work sooner rather than later.

“It’s not insignificant now,” he said, “and I think over time it grows into becoming really significant.”

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About 36 percent of the revenue NBC has received from “The Good Place,” starring Krisetn Bell and Ted Danson, has come from streaming. The network pulls data from services like NBC.com, the NBC app, video on demand and Hulu to makes its calculation. Credit Justin Lubin/NBC, via Associated Press

Not every show is making big money from digital views. About three-quarters of the revenue NBC made from the 2015 pilot of “Blindspot,” for instance, has been earned the old fashioned way, the network said.

But NBC was less savvy back then in extracting money from viewers who preferred streaming. By the time of the first “This Is Us” season, NBC had wised up, striking a deal that allowed it to earn money from Hulu ads shown during episodes of the hit tear-jerker.

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Generating revenue from streaming is relatively new for the networks, said Jeff Bader, NBC’s president of program planning, strategy and research.

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“When I came to NBC five years ago, we were in this place with: How are we going to manage this business that’s been in decline?” he said. “We were doing everything we could not to be the record industry and have our stuff pirated and not monetized.”

Particularly depressing was the number of younger viewers who seemed to be changing their viewing habits.

“For years, we were seeing our average age go up, up up,” Mr. Bader said. “Younger viewers were drifting. They weren’t watching broadcast television in the same numbers they used to.”

Once the network examined the data, however, it began to see that younger viewers hadn’t exactly abandoned NBC. They were just watching shows on their own schedules — sometimes months after the broadcast date.

NBC has intensified its efforts to measure the nontraditional audience with the Winter Olympics. Its latest ratings reports have combined the number of viewers it reaches through broadcast, cable and streaming platforms under a single figure it calls total audience delivery. This is the network’s attempt to counter the Nielsen measure, which shows a shrinking Olympics audience.

NBC understands the reason for the advertising community’s skepticism concerning the number of people who watch shows via streaming, however.

“That is the frustrating part of the whole ecosystem,” Mr. Greenblatt said, “because we don’t have a third-party objective measuring system that everyone has adopted that we all buy into.”

Until that third-party system emerges, Mr. Greenblatt said that his sales department has gone all-in on selling advertisers on a statistical portrait that is prettier than the one painted by Nielsen.

“This started for me purely on looking at viewership numbers, because I wanted to be able to make the argument, ‘People aren’t just bailing on network TV,’” he said. “Then it occurred to us, it’s not just a viewership number we’re defending. It’s part of the business model now and it’s going to be move that way more and more.”

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/18/business/media/nbc-streaming-viewers.html?partner=rss&emc=rss