December 16, 2019

Media Decoder Blog: The Breakfast Meeting: Rethinking the Nook and Woodward vs. the White House

Barnes Noble said that it would rein in ambitions for its Nook tablets after a sharp drop in their sales, Leslie Kaufman writes. William Lynch, the company’s chief executive, told analysts that though Barnes Noble remained devoted to the Nook it would cut advertising and manufacturing of devices. Mr. Lynch said the reformulated Nook strategy would focus more on digital content, sales of which increased 6.8 percent last quarter, and digital education. Barnes Noble shares rose 3.4 percent to close at $15.74.

Bob Woodward, long a scourge of the right wing and a hero of the news media for breaking the Watergate scandal, reversed those roles somewhat this week after he publicly criticized the White House, Christine Haughney and Brian Stelter report. Politico, which broke the story, wrote that Mr. Woodward said he felt threatened by an e-mail from a White House official who had yelled at him for half an hour because of an op-ed article he published in The Washington Post last Friday. The news drew cheers from the conservative establishment, but White House reporters said that arguments and shouting were part of the job description — Politico published the e-mail exchange on Thursday, which appeared cordial. Mr. Woodward said in an interview Thursday that he never felt threatened, but was still concerned about how the Obama White House handles criticism. Dylan Byers, of Politico, also writes about the story.

The Chrysler Group has joined with “Motown: The Musical” to invigorate its “Imported from Detroit” advertising theme, Stuart Elliott writes. The commercial features Berry Gordy, famed record producer and subject of the musical, leaving the Motown headquarters in Detroit riding in a Motown Edition of a Chrysler 300C sedan, and then arriving at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater on Broadway, where the musical opens April 14, as “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” plays. When he arrives an altered Chrysler slogan, “Imported from Motown,” appears, followed by the words “ ‘Motown: The Musical’ on Broadway March 2013.” The commercial is believed to be the first time that a Broadway show has had such paid national television exposure before it opens in New York.

A Bloomberg Businessweek cover about the housing rebound in the United States that featured artwork showing cartoonish minorities clutching fistfuls of money has drawn accusations of racism, Tanzina Vega writes. Writers for Slate and the Columbia Journalism Review found the cover inappropriate, and Josh Tyrangiel, the magazine’s editor, said “If we had to do it over again we’d do it differently.” Andres Guzman, the artist who produced the cover, said he based it on an assignment about housing and that no racism was intended. “I am Latino and grew up around plenty of mixed families,” Mr. Guzman said. “I simply drew the family like that because those are the kind of families I know.”

The Jonathan Levin High School for Media and Communications in the South Bronx, named after the son of the Time Warner chairman who was murdered by a former student he had taught in the same building, may be closed by the city, Al Baker reports. In the last few years a number of factors, like the increasing number of students who speak no English, have driven down the school’s graduation rate, and money for extras, including a scholarship in Mr. Levin’s name and baseball field maintenance, has dried up. The school, originally intended to help at-risk students get a start in the fields of media and media studies, would be the latest casualty of the Bloomberg administration’s policy of shuttering schools and replacing them with new ones, critics say.

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