Welcome to the latest edition of Ad Age Publisher's Brief, our roundup of news from the world of content producers across digital and print. Got a tip? Send it our way. Here's the previous edition.
Will Facebook pay up? "More than a year after announcing Facebook would feature less news, Mark Zuckerberg says he has a new idea: He wants to create a section of his social network that would be devoted to 'high-quality news,' and may pay publishers that share their stuff there." That's the read that Peter Kafka of Recode has on a conversation Facebook chief Zuckerberg recently had with Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner. But Kafka doesn't just parse the back-and-forth, he adds context with his own reporting and background on Facebook's rather tortured history with the news media. As Kafka writes,
Zuckerberg doesn't mention any plans to charge Facebook customers who read news stories on the site, and a person familiar with his thinking says the news tab would be free to users: "This isn't a revenue play for us."
Keep reading here.
Speaking of backstories: Right now everyone in the media is reading "What Was the Washington Post Afraid Of?," published by New York Magazine's Intelligencer on Monday. In it, Irin Carmon tells of her experience with The Washington Post (working as a freelancer teamed up with staffer Amy Brittain) reporting on sexual harassment allegations surrounding former CBS News Chairman Jeff Fager—a story the paper ultimately didn't run. (The New Yorker's Ronan Farrow later wrote about Fager as a part of his investigative reporting that got CBS Corp. Chairman and CEO Les Moonves ousted.)
Carmon offers some context on Twitter about why she wrote the story:
Much of my job has involved asking people, mostly women, to truthfully tell their stories even when it might harm them or the institutions they care about. I figured the least I could do was to try to do the same. https://t.co/8y2OMQA28h— Irin Carmon (@irin) April 1, 2019
If you're wondering about that leading "Afraid Of?" headline—right off the bat New York Mag seems to be suggesting something unflattering about the Post, right?—well, here's a sample summary of Carmon's piece via Twitter:
A gutsy, important story that shows how powerful men can cow even the most courageous editors from publishing.— Adam L. Penenberg (@Penenberg) April 1, 2019
(Adam Penenberg is director of New York University's American Journalism Online master's program.)
March Madness by the numbers: Social video analytics service Tubular, which tracks videos across the major platforms, tells Ad Age that one publisher is dominating March Madness right now in terms of views. Bleacher Report has three out of five of the most-viewed NCAA-related videos across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter since the start of all the madness:
1. CBS News: "Basketball player brought to tears when coach surprises him with family" (3.1 million views)
2. Bleacher Report: "Carsen Edwards came into the tournament slumping but torched Villanova for 42 points" (2.9 million)
3. Bleacher Report: "Ja Morant has a brilliant career ahead of him" (2.3 million)
4. Bleacher Report: "Gabe Kalscheur caught fire from behind the arc today" (2.2 million)
5. House of Highlights: "Chuma Okeke, who injured his knee in the game against North Carolina, had the honor of stamping the bracket after Auburn won" (2.1 million)
Turner Broadcasting System (TBS) bought Bleacher Report in 2012 for $175 million. The NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament is co-produced by CBS Sports and Turner Sports. Synergy, baby!
Another story everyone in media is reading right now: "Watching the Internet React to the Worst Night of My Life" (subhead: "Erin Lee Carr on her father's death")—also published by New York Magazine (it's a book excerpt). Erin Lee Carr's dad was David Carr, the beloved New York Times media columnist who died in 2015.
For our regular "On newsstands now" segment... how about a pop quiz? Do you know who this (below) is? The star of the April cover of Hearst's Elle is a singer-songwriter. (Hint: We are never, ever, ever getting back together.) The actual print cover features a more recognizable shot of her and, of course, has proper coverlines. But Elle is serving up this teaser on social media to create an aura around the issue drop.
Maybe both? "'Are We at a Party, or a Wake?': Journalists Wonder If Apple News+ Is a Trojan Horse." That's the headline of Joe Pompeo's behind-the-scenes look, for Vanity Fair, at all the posturing and negotiations leading up to the launch of Apple's new subscription news service. He neatly sums up the pros and especially the cons, including:
... by getting on board with Apple News+, you run the risk of abdicating your direct relationship with readers and potentially cannibalizing your existing subscriber pool, thereby handing more leverage to an ever-more-powerful platform economy that has already wreaked havoc on journalism and the news business.
Keep reading here.
Also hitting (U.S.) newsstands right about now: U.K. indie magazine tmrw (as in "tomorrow"), which has put American social media star Cameron Dallas on one of the split covers of its new "Break the Mould" issue. Scroll down to see it. (The other covers feature rapper Yungen, model Delilah Belle and singer-songwriter Rat Boy, aka Jordan Cardy).
The 24-year-old Dallas more or less defines the trajectory of modern fame: He exploded on Vine (R.I.P.) and Instagram (where he currently has more than 21 million followers), became a fashion-world darling, did a Calvin Klein Jeans campaign, loomed over Times Square in a multistory American Eagle billboard, landed various roles in TV shows and movies, got his own 10-episode Netflix reality series titled "Chasing Cameron," and is now making a bid for a serious music career. Last fall he dropped his major label debut single, "'Why Haven't I Met You?" (Columbia Records), and its music video has racked up nearly 5 million views on YouTube.
Oh, and he was the subject of headlines on the very first day of 2019, including "Social media star Cameron Dallas arrested for allegedly punching man in the face" (NBC News), adding a gritty edge to his fame. Anyway, his debut album is due out this summer—thus this tmrw cover, with the star lounging next to a guitar. It's worth noting that when tmrw previewed the cover on Instagram, Dallas reposted it on his own Insta with a five-word caption: "I cant play the guitar."