November 25, 2020

Media Decoder: WBAI-FM Lays Off Most of Staff

WBAI-FM, the noncommercial radio station that has been a liberal fixture in New York for more than 50 years, laid off about two-thirds of its staff last week, including its entire news department, because of long-simmering financial difficulties.

In a tearful on-air announcement on Friday, Summer Reese, the interim executive director of the Pacifica Foundation, which owns WBAI, said that after talks with SAG-Aftra, the union that represents broadcasting talent, “we will be laying off virtually everyone whose voice you recognize on the air,” effective Monday.

She said on the air that 75 percent of the staff would be let go, but in an interview over the weekend she said that the final number was 19 out of the station’s 29 employees, about 66 percent.

Andrew Phillips, the former general manager of another of Pacifica’s five stations, KPFA-FM in Berkeley, Calif., has been appointed WBAI’s interim program director.

A spokeswoman for SAG-Aftra declined to comment.

Pacifica also operates stations in Washington, Houston and Los Angeles, and syndicates popular public affairs programs like “Democracy Now!,” which started at WBAI in 1996.

WBAI, which broadcasts at 99.5 FM, has long struggled financially, and its leadership structure has been described as anarchic. But its problems multiplied last year after Hurricane Sandy, when it was forced to vacate its studios on Wall Street. In March, the station began a drive to raise $500,000 to pay back rent on its transmitter. Ms. Reese said the station had millions of dollars in debt and had operated at a loss since 2004. She said the Pacifica network had repeatedly drained its finances to cover WBAI’s expenses. The station, she added, could no longer afford to make its payroll and was laying off employees to pay its transmitter rent and to avoid being forced to sell its broadcast license.

WBAI is not the only troubled Pacifica station. Ms. Reese recently said that WPFW-FM in Washington might not be able “to get through until September.” Over the weekend she said that since Pacifica had been dealing with these troubled stations, “the entire enterprise is distressed,” but that by fixing its finances the network could survive.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/12/business/media/wbai-fm-lays-off-most-of-staff.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Newsweek, Sold in 2010, Is Changing Hands Again

The announcement, which was first reported by The Hollywood Reporter, was made on Saturday evening. Etienne Uzac, co-founder and chief executive officer of IBT Media, said in a statement: “We are thrilled to welcome this iconic brand and global news property into our portfolio. We believe in the Newsweek brand and look forward to growing it, fully transformed to the digital age.”

Justine Sacco, a spokeswoman for IAC/InterActiveCorp, which currently owns Newsweek, confirmed the sale, but declined to comment further.

At Newsweek’s peak in 1991, when The Washington Post Company owned it, its circulation was 3.3 million, according to the Alliance for Audited Media. But the magazine suffered many of the troubles facing the print media industry as more readers migrated to the Web for news.

Sidney Harman, a billionaire investor, bought Newsweek from The Washington Post in 2010 for $1 and assumed $40 million in liabilities. He then merged it with The Daily Beast, the Web site owned by IAC/InterActiveCorp. Both entities were run by Tina Brown.

But in 2011, Mr. Harman died, leaving IAC and Ms. Brown to handle the burden of keeping the magazine afloat. Last fall, Newsweek announced that it would stop publishing a print edition at the end of the year. In May, Ms. Brown told her staff that the company planned to sell now to concentrate on building up The Daily Beast.

A statement released by IBT stressed that the sale did not involve the purchase of The Daily Beast. It also noted that the company planned to return Newsweek to its original Web site, www.newsweek.com, in the coming weeks and build Newsweek’s global online franchise.

“We are 100 percent digital with a track record of successfully growing online media properties,” said Johnathan Davis, co-founder and chief content officer of IBT Media, in a statement. “The Newsweek brand is strong around the world, and we believe there is significant potential to leverage that.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/04/business/media/newsweek-bought-by-digital-news-company-ibt.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

2 Japanese Airlines Report No Problems With 787

British safety investigators are examining whether a malfunction in an emergency locater transmitter, or any other equipment in the rear of the parked Ethiopian Airlines plane, set off or fueled the fire on Friday.

The fire, which caused no injuries, nevertheless came as an unwelcome reminder of the overheating lithium-ion batteries that prompted a worldwide grounding of 787 jets early this year.

The transmitter, which would send out the plane’s location after a crash, is powered by a smaller, lithium-manganese battery. Britain’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch has essentially ruled out that the larger lithium-ion batteries played a role in the fire, but it confirmed on Tuesday that the transmitter “is one of several components being looked at in detail.” The agency added that it would be premature to speculate on the causes of the fire at this stage.

Industry officials said there were not many other components near the transmitter, which is in the ceiling in front of the plane’s tail. They said investigators were also checking electrical wiring and distribution boxes as well as parts of the oxygen and air-conditioning systems for any clues to how the fire started or spread.

Investigators also have not said whether Ethiopian crews performed any maintenance on these systems during the eight hours that the jet was parked at Heathrow, near London.

All Nippon, which operates 20 Dreamliners, said it had completed checks on the rear sections of the jets, removing ceiling panels in that area and making sure that all the wiring was properly connected.

It also looked for any signs of charring and other abnormalities on the transmitter, and found nothing amiss.

The airline carried out the checks on Sunday and Monday, said Megumi Tezuka, an All Nippon spokeswoman based in Tokyo. All Nippon decided to carry out the inspections even though it had not received any specific instructions or guidance to do so from Boeing or Japanese regulators, she said.

“We found nothing that would prompt us to ground the planes or take any other action for now,” she said. The airline was awaiting further information from British investigators and Boeing on the cause of the fire.

Japan Airlines, which operates eight Dreamliners, said it had also completed checks on the planes over a long holiday weekend in Japan and continued to fly them.

“We remain in close contact with Boeing and are waiting to receive further information,” said a Japan Airlines spokesman, Hisanori Iizuka.

The two Japanese airlines together own more than 40 percent of the Dreamliners delivered so far.

In January, when a fire broke out on a parked Japan Airlines jet, and smoke forced an All Nippon flight to make an emergency landing, both episodes were set off by the plane’s lithium-ion batteries. Those batteries, used more extensively in the 787 than in any other commercial plane, supply power when the jet is on the ground and provide backup power for the flight systems when it is in the air.

The episodes prompted regulators around the world to ground the innovative planes, which use lightweight carbon composites to cut fuel costs, until Boeing made the batteries more fireproof. Flights resumed in late April.

The lithium-manganese battery in the transmitter weighs 6.6 pounds, compared with 63 pounds for each of the batteries that overheated in January. Any indication that the transmitter is to blame would be a relief to Boeing, because it is used in many jets and is not a new feature of the 787.

Hiroko Tabuchi reported from Tokyo, and Christopher Drew from New York.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/17/business/global/japan-carriers-find-no-787-problems.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Clues Emerge About Twitter’s Music Feature

Twitter is an online service where millions of people go to chat. Now the company behind it is hoping that it will also be where they go to find new music.

Twitter is introducing a music feature that is expected to use the listening habits of users’ friends and contacts to recommend music for them to listen to, giving its more than 200 million users more to send tweets about and another reason to stay logged in. But exactly what form the music service will take is unclear.

On Friday, Twitter set up a page on the Web that was blank except for the company’s silhouetted bird logo, “#music” and a sign-in tab that, when clicked, asked users to give a trending music application access to their account. The wording of the page changed slightly throughout the day, but it described an application that could scan users’ Twitter feeds, update their profiles and even post tweets, suggesting an ability to alert users about the music their friends were listening to.

Another clue to the service is Twitter’s acquisition of We Are Hunted, which recommends new music based on social media conversation. After weeks of rumors, Twitter announced on Thursday that it had bought the company.

Shavone Charles, a spokeswoman for Twitter, declined to answer questions about the new service. Instead, she directed reporters to an announcement by We Are Hunted that it was shutting down its own site, though it would “continue to create services that will delight you, as part of the Twitter team.”

Recommendations based on social media interactions have become common throughout digital media for things like restaurants and shopping. Many online music services offer these features as well. Spotify, for example, can broadcast its users’ playlists through Facebook. Twitter’s advantage, in addition to its size, may lie in the devotion of its customers.

“Music is one of the most tweeted topics,” said Ted Cohen, a former label executive who is now a consultant to digital music companies. “Discovery is critical to the growth of music, and the new gatekeeper is recommendations from trusted sources.”

Technology sites (and Twitter) were full of speculation on Friday about what the service would offer and how it would be opened and marketed. AllThingsD, a technology news site, reported late Thursday that the Twitter service might be introduced this weekend, in time for the beginning of the Coachella music festival in the Southern California desert.

But Paul Tollett, the president of Goldenvoice, the company behind Coachella, said in an e-mail on Friday that Twitter had nothing official planned with the festival.

AllThingsD also reported that the service would at first be open only to “influencers” like celebrities, and for a time on Friday, Twitter’s music page said it was “invite only.”

One of those apparent influencers was Ryan Seacrest, the “American Idol” host, who sent a pair of tweets late Thursday describing the service. It “shows what artists are trending,” he wrote, and “also has up and coming artists.”

He added: “Playing with @twitter’s new music app (yes it’s real!).”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/13/business/media/clues-emerge-about-twitters-music-feature.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

‘Tonight’ Show Expected to Return to New York, With Fallon

While the network has yet to complete a deal, it has made a commitment to Jimmy Fallon, the current host of its “Late Night” program, to have him succeed Jay Leno as the next host of “Tonight,” according to several senior television executives involved in the decision. The show would move from Burbank, Calif., back to New York, where it first started in 1954 with Steve Allen as host.

Some details remain to be worked out, including an exact timetable for the switch, though it is expected to take place by the fall of 2014 at the latest, the executives said in interviews this week.

NBC has quietly begun work on a new studio in its headquarters building at 30 Rockefeller Plaza as the home for the new “Tonight” show. The studio is part of a general reconstruction of the building being undertaken by Comcast, which this week completed a full takeover of NBC Universal.

An NBC spokeswoman declined to comment on the move, other than to say the network was building a new state-of-the-art studio for Mr. Fallon.

A move to New York would return “Tonight” to its roots, after an absence of more than four decades. Beginning in 1954 the show was broadcast every evening from New York City, first from the Hudson Theater with Mr. Allen as host, followed by Jack Paar and Johnny Carson, both of whom worked at 30 Rock. But Mr. Carson, looking for easier access to Hollywood guests, as well as a different lifestyle, moved the show permanently to Burbank in 1972.

Mr. Fallon, who made his reputation at 30 Rock as a star on “Saturday Night Live,” now occupies the studio where Mr. Carson was working in the 1960s and early ‘70s. His “Late Night” show is broadcast at 12:35 a.m. Eastern time, following Mr. Leno on “Tonight.”

Mayor John V. Lindsay of New York with Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show in 1966.

Don Hogan Charles/The New York Times.

Mayor John V. Lindsay of New York with Johnny Carson on “The Tonight Show” in 1966.

The changing of the guard on “Tonight” is one of the biggest personnel decisions in television, and has always been fraught with intrigue and backroom maneuvering. Three years ago, an effort to replace Mr. Leno with Conan O’Brien ended in recriminations and an ultimate reversal; Mr. Leno was reinstated as host after only seven months. NBC endured weeks of negative press coverage. In the early 1990s, Mr. Leno and David Letterman engaged in a heated and often acrimonious competition to replace Mr. Carson.

But NBC became concerned when ABC moved its own late-night star, Jimmy Kimmel, to go head-to-head with Mr. Leno and Mr. Letterman. Mr. Kimmel had been building his reputation as a host, generating well-received new ideas for the late-night format. He is also a generation younger than Mr. Leno and Mr. Letterman.

Many executives in the television business speculated that NBC could not afford to wait too long to promote Mr. Fallon, or it might risk having Mr. Kimmel lock up the younger-adult viewers that are the economic lifeblood of late-night television.

A New York “Tonight” show will join a metropolitan landscape already filled with late-night comedy shows, including “Late Show With David Letterman” on CBS and shows featuring Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert on Comedy Central. One lingering question is what NBC will do with its “Late Night” franchise, which has always been a New York-based show.

Mr. O’Brien hosted that program before Mr. Fallon and it was speculated before his ascension to the “Tonight” show that he might try to keep working in New York, where he had thrived. But at the time NBC insisted “Tonight” had become a Hollywood-centric show and needed to stay in California.

Mr. Fallon quickly impressed NBC’s new management under Comcast, and his succession has been widely expected for at least a year. The only question has been when.

The potential timetable for the change — sometime within the next 18 months — has been tied to Mr. Leno’s current contract, which ends in the fall of 2014, as well as the need to sign Mr. Fallon to a new deal.

But one executive said NBC did not want Mr. Fallon to appear on the open market, where another network could try to woo him away — perhaps CBS, as a replacement for Mr. Letterman when he retired.

Given the past turbulence involved in changing hosts, NBC wants to make the transition to Mr. Fallon as smooth as possible. But the issue became both complicated and fractious in recent months.

The relationship between Mr. Leno and NBC became strained recently when the host told some jokes on his show about NBC’s poor performance in prime time, initiating a hostile e-mail exchange with Robert Greenblatt, the chairman of NBC Entertainment.

On Wednesday NBC said the conflict with Mr. Leno was being smoothed over.

Another complicating factor has been Mr. Leno’s continued success in the ratings.

When he was replaced by Mr. O’Brien, Mr. Leno was a dominant No. 1 in the late-night competition, and was unhappy to be asked to try to initiate a prime-time hour. When that show failed, and Mr. Leno was reinstated on “Tonight,” he eventually was able to regain his leadership in the ratings.

Indeed, Mr. Leno, as he often has in his career, has proved unexpectedly resilient in the ratings. In recent weeks, he has continued to finish first — always in the category of total viewers and usually among viewers between the ages of 18 and 49, the most sought-after age group for late-night advertisers.

As one of the executives involved in the planning of the shift to Mr. Fallon put it: “And then Jay manages to stay ahead of Kimmel. How often has that guy been underestimated?”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/21/business/media/tonight-show-expected-to-return-to-new-york-with-fallon.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Macy’s, J.C. Penney and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Ordered Into Mediation

If the companies do not reach an agreement before April 8, Justice Jeffrey K. Oing of New York State Supreme Court will continue hearing the case. Representatives for all three companies said they would participate in the mediation process.

Penney agreed on Thursday not to sell any Martha Stewart-designed goods in the categories Macy’s is fighting over — bedding, bath and kitchen — until April 8. Penney has been vague about when it planned to sell those products, telling investors to expect an introduction in May, though its lawyer said this week that they were supposed to be in stores in April.

Macy’s had a contract with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia giving it exclusive rights to Ms. Stewart’s products in bedding, bath and kitchen. However, in 2011, Penney made a $38.5 million investment in Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and announced it would be selling those products, too. Penney and Ms. Stewart’s company say they have not violated the Macy’s contract because the Penney products will be in a “store within a store,” and the Macy’s contract allows Ms. Stewart to have products in her own stores.

The companies have been fighting hard to get their way. Macy’s has said it sells about $300 million worth of Ms. Stewart’s goods a year, and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia gets a 4 percent royalty from that. And Ron Johnson, the chief executive of Penney, said he did not expect any other vendor at Penney to sell as much as Martha Stewart.

This will be the first mediation talks for the companies. Before the trial, Penney and Ms. Stewart’s company were willing to go into mediation, a Penney spokeswoman, Daphne Avila, said, but “other parties were not amenable.” Macy’s declined to comment on prior mediation efforts. Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia said that in advance of the mediation order on Thursday, Ms. Stewart and Macy’s chief executive, Terry Lundgren, “had a productive conversation regarding the ongoing contract dispute between MSLO and Macy’s. We view today’s actions as a positive step forward and welcome a prompt and fair resolution.”

Though contractual disputes are not always dramatic, the trial has been lively, providing a window into corporate strategy and the thinking — and e-mail habits — of powerful executives like Ms. Stewart, Mr. Lundgren and Mr. Johnson, all of whom have testified.

Despite the witness lineup, Justice Oing has shown impatience with the parties. And he appeared to be warning Penney this week, as he and the companies’ lawyers discussed whether he should broaden a preliminary injunction that would stop it from selling Martha-designed products in the contested categories until the case is decided.

Ordering those products for sale in Penney stores “is a risk that your company and your client took without having a judicial determination as to the rights and remedies or liabilities” involved in this case, Justice Oing said.

“Ultimately, you guys’ve played this out,” he said.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/08/business/judge-sends-macys-penney-case-to-mediation.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Media Decoder Blog: Rich and Proud of It, Saudi Billionaire Prefers Bloomberg’s To Forbes

It’s report card time for the world’s billionaires and one contender is balking about his grades. But as journalism about the world’s wealthy grows, this billionaire now can take his complaints to a competitor.

Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal of Saudi Arabia who appeared in the Forbes annual billionaire’s list published this week said that he will no longer cooperate with Forbes on its lists and asked that he no longer be included in the rankings. As a dig to Forbes, he has promised to continue to cooperate with Bloomberg on its far newer billionaire rankings.

After the Forbes rankings were posted online on Monday, the prince announced in a news release that his team has worked with Forbes for the last six years and uncovered what they called “intentional biases and inconsistencies in the Forbes valuation process.” The prince added that “he could no longer participate in a process which resulted in the use of incorrect data and seemed intended to disadvantage Middle Eastern investors and institutions.”

A spokeswoman for Forbes Media noted that the prince has plenty to be pleased about: his ranking rose to 26 for a $20 billion net worth from a ranking of 29 the year before for a net worth of $18 billion. The spokeswoman said it’s just $9.6 billion less than the prince claims he is worth.

On Tuesday morning, Forbes released an article that showed just how long this battle has been simmering between Forbes and its editors. Kerry A. Dolan, who reports on the wealthy and the Forbes billionaire’s list, wrote that Forbes has engaged with the prince over “a quarter century of lobbying, cajoling and threatening when it comes to his net worth listing.” Ms. Dolan added that “of the 1,426 billionaires on our list, not one — not even the vainglorious Donald Trump — goes to greater measure to try to affect his or her ranking.” In one case, the prince grew so upset about a prior ranking that “he called me at home the day after the list was released, sounding nearly in tears. ‘What do you want?’ he pleaded.”

Ms. Dolan said that Forbes had started to further investigate the prince’s net worth based on the guidance of former employees who noted that, based on fluctuations in his company’s stock price, that he was using the public company to inflate his net worth. In fact, the magazine tracked how the prince’s company’s stock price seems to rise in the ten weeks before Forbes locks in its values for the billionaire’s list.

A Forbes spokeswoman said that it would continue to feature the prince on future lists. Mike Perlis, president and chief executive officer of Forbes, added that the prince had an amicable interview with Steve Forbes before a crowd of several hundred tycoons during the Forbes Global CEO conference in Dubai in October.

But moving forward, the prince announced he would cooperate with Bloomberg on its billionaires list. Bloomberg just started publishing a billionaires’ list last March after Matthew G. Miller, former global wealth editor at Forbes Media, moved there and started tapping into Bloomberg’s 2,400 journalists to contribute. The prince said in a statement that he would continue to work with Bloomberg because they use “a more accurate method of calculating financial holdings.”

Article source: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/05/rich-and-proud-of-it-saudi-billionaire-leaves-forbes-list-for-bloombergs/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Washington Post Joins List of News Media Hacked by the Chinese

The Washington Post can be added to the growing list of American news organizations whose computers have been penetrated by Chinese hackers.

After The New York Times reported on Wednesday that its computers as well as those of Bloomberg News had been attacked by Chinese hackers, The Wall Street Journal said on Thursday that it too had been a victim of Chinese cyberattacks.

According to people with knowledge of an investigation at The Washington Post, its computer systems were also attacked by Chinese hackers in 2012. A former Post employee said there had been hacking attempts at the Washington Post for at least four years, but none targeted the company’s newsroom. Then, last year, newsroom computers were found to be communicating with Web servers that were traced back to China, according to people with knowledge of the Post investigation who declined to speak on the record.

Jennifer Lee, a spokeswoman for the Post Company, said that the “company did not have anything to share at this time.”

Security experts said that in 2008, Chinese hackers began targeting American news organizations as part of an effort to monitor coverage of Chinese issues.

In a report for clients in December, Mandiant, a computer security company, said that over the course of several investigations it found evidence that Chinese hackers had stolen e-mails, contacts and files from more than 30 journalists and executives at Western news organizations, and had maintained a “short list” of journalists for repeated attacks.

Among those targeted were journalists who had written about Chinese leaders, political and legal issues in China and the telecom giants Huawei and ZTE.

The Times reported on Wednesday that Bloomberg L.P. was also attacked by Chinese hackers after its Bloomberg News unit published an article last June about the wealth accumulated by relatives of Xi Jinping, China’s vice president at the time. Mr. Xi became general secretary of the Communist Party in November and is expected to become president in March.

The secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, said on Thursday that a global effort was needed to establish rules for cyberactivity. In her final meeting with reporters, Mrs. Clinton addressed a question about China’s efforts to infiltrate computer systems at The New York Times. “We have seen over the last years an increase in not only the hacking attempts on government institutions but also nongovernmental ones,” she said, adding that the Chinese “are not the only people who are hacking us.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/02/technology/washington-posts-joins-list-of-media-hacked-by-the-chinese.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

The Haggler: When Customer Service Is a Dead-End Street

Au contraire, argued a fearless few. One reader said he thought McDonald’s might simply be trying to alert people who don’t eat pork — Muslims and kosher-observant Jews, for instance.

But would someone with a dietetic restriction against pork ever even consider ordering something called a McRib? Even if the answer is yes, there is another problem here. If the point of the ad is to give a heads-up to the pork-averse, it would need only say “It’s pork!” The world “real” in this context is unnecessary.

Of course, if McDonald’s posted ads for the McRib that merely stated “It’s pork!” the subtext of the ad would be, “We believe our customers are really stupid.”

Someone else argued that the ad helps because pigs aren’t the only animals with ribs that are barbecued. Beef ribs are popular, too. Fair enough. Yet, again, if the goal is to eliminate any doubts about the origins of the meat, “It’s pork!” would suffice. No need for “real.”

But another reader made a point that the Haggler believes must be shared.

“I thought you were going to note that there are no ribs in the McRib,” wrote Jack Schwartz of Baltimore. “It’s parts of the pig that have been formed to look like ribs.”

Actually, according to a McDonald’s spokeswoman quoted in a Business Insider article in December, the McRib is made of “simple ground pork.” Which sounds like a combination of pig parts that could very well include ribs. But the rib look of the McRib — that is indeed an illusion.

So perhaps a more illuminating slogan might be “McRib: Only the look is fake!” That might not sell as many sandwiches, but it is certainly more informative.

O.K., letter time.

Q. On May 9, 2012, a certificate of title was awarded to Bank of America as part of a foreclosure on property I own — a vacant lot that I had hoped to build on. But Bank of America has continued to report delinquent payments to credit-score agencies, like Equifax. This means that I could have bad credit reports for all eternity, with no hope of ever improving my credit score.

Rectifying this problem has proved impossible. The call-in procedure at Bank of America seems designed to frustrate. No one seems to know the correct number to call. When I finally reached service reps, they were not allowed to call me back and could only repeat a robotic litany: “We have no record of a foreclosure sale. Would you like to make a payment?”

 I finally reached a supervisor, but she would not provide me with a direct number.  I had to go  through another generic number.  Two people who answered said they did not know who my contact person was.  “We have no knowledge of a foreclosure sale,” onesaid. Round and round we go.

Can you help? CONRAD REVAK

Naples, Fla.

A. First, the Haggler would like to point out that this is the first mortgage-related question ever posted in this space. That seems crazy, given that millions of Americans have been complaining for years that their bank won’t return calls or has mishandled paperwork, entered incorrect data and so on. Mortgages surely have caused more consumer heartburn than anything else since the housing crisis began.

But for some reason, only a handful of people have ever thought the Haggler could help. And the other cases were either too convoluted or were resolved before interventions could be made.

So you think the Haggler can’t handle a mortgage? Phooey. If you’ve got a good, clear case and can summarize it in less than 300 words, do share.

In this instance, the Haggler wrote to Bank of America, which resolved the entire problem in about a day and a half. The details here are that Mr. Revak — or more specifically, his lawyer — asked a court to grant what is called a deed-in-lieu, a financial instrument that lets a borrower give the title of a property to a bank, bypassing the standard and more arduous foreclosure proceeding.

A spokeswoman at Bank of America, Jumana Bauwens, said the wheels were grinding slowly in Mr. Revak’s case because his deed-in-lieu approach was unusual, and the “bank’s legal team felt they needed to do some more research to ensure that we wouldn’t have title issues when we sold the property in the future.”

O.K., but what’s up with the Bank of America’s phone system, which runs customers from one dead end to another? Might the company want to rethink that issue?

The Haggler tried to get the spokeswoman to say anything about this subject, but with no success. Which is maddening. How about just telling the Haggler that it’s working on the phone problem, or wants to, or is really bummed that it hasn’t already? Anything would be better than ignoring the issue.

As for Mr. Revak, he wrote to say that Bank of America got in touch by phone with a whole new and far more helpful attitude. Apologies were offered, and a promise was made that the bank would contact the credit scoring agencies and correct the record.

If Bank of America follows through with that promise, Mr. Revak wrote, “I will consider the case closed. The big unanswered question, though, is how many Americans are taking a hit on their credit score for no reason?”

E-mail: haggler@nytimes.com. Keep it brief and family-friendly, include your hometown and go easy on the caps-lock key. Letters may be edited for clarity and length.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/27/your-money/when-customer-service-is-a-dead-end-street.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Media Decoder Blog: Rolling Stone Lays Off Two Noted Staff Members

6:02 p.m. | Updated Rolling Stone, amid a variety of magazines responding to a troubled advertising environment by trimming staff, laid off two of its bigger names this month.

Eric Bates, the magazine’s executive editor who had worked there for nearly a decade, was laid off on Jan. 4. And Mark Neschis, who previously worked in the Clinton administration, reported for his last day on Jan. 11.

Mr. Neschis was handling press for Wenner Media, which owns Rolling Stone, along with Us Weekly and Men’s Journal. He did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday. But Mr. Bates looked back at his tenure at the magazine fondly. He helped edit Rolling Stone’s article on Gen. Stanley McChrystal and was involved with visiting the White House with the company’s founder, Jann Wenner, to interview President Obama.

“I’m going to be rooting for them and looking forward to whatever is next for me,” said Mr. Bates. “We were really modeling the way journalism can be done, even in a time of cutbacks and showing that there’s a real hunger for long-form journalism.”

Melissa Bruno, a spokeswoman for Wenner Media, declined to comment on the departures. But a December report issued by the rating agency Standard Poor’s noted that Wenner Media had been assigned a negative rating when it tried to refinance a loan for the company.

The report called the company’s earnings profile “vulnerable” and said that the rating “reflects our expectation that leverage will remain high, given the structural pressures of declining newsstand and print advertising revenues facing the magazine publishing business.”

The rating agency was not hopeful that cuts could make much of a difference for Wenner, saying that “cost reductions may not fully offset the company’s weak revenue trends.”


This post has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: January 23, 2013

An earlier version of this post misstated the name of a magazine owned by Wenner Media. It is Men’s Journal, not Men’s Health.

Article source: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/23/rolling-stone-lays-off-two-noted-staff-members/?partner=rss&emc=rss