New York Times Opens Hangover Rooms, Goes WikiLeaks; Rupert Murdoch Babies His Kids

It happens: some mornings you get to work without having been home the night before and you pull a freshly starched white shirt from the bottom drawer of your desk, you brush your teeth under the fluorescent light of the men's room with one of those little things you put over your index finger and then you just need to lie down, if only for a minute, to regroup. If you're employed by the New York Times, you're in luck! More on the new private couches, plus Rupert Murdoch's nepotism and sexy news anchors, inside Press Clips, Runnin' Scared's daily media column. (Tip your bloggers!)

Take a Load Off: New York's Daily Intel brings the world the feel good media story of the day, via the Times' internal newsletter:

Since we moved into the new building in 2007, one enduring complaint is that people have no place to go if they are feeling queasy or unwell and need somewhere quiet in the newsroom to lie down and rest. Good news. This week, we installed two six-foot-long bench couches in the employee "Privacy Rooms" in the northwest and southwest corners of the third floor tower. These are the small rooms with opaque glass doors set up in the original building plan to afford employees a private place to make telephone calls or have conversations.

Opaque glass... for "telephone calls" or "conversations." Winky face! Intel rightly suggests it's obviously for hungover employees (or even "an intra-office affair") but that leaves out all of the diligent workers on late deadlines. (And all of the drugs they can now consume in private!)

Why Fox News Always Wins: The Awl points us to a new study with the completely original conclusion that men enjoy watching hot women on television, and usually don't even care what they're saying:

Two Indiana University scholars report that, for male viewers, 'emphasis on the sexual attractiveness of female news anchors distracts from memory formation for news content.' They found that 'men's cognitive mechanisms favored visual over verbal processing,' which is a delicate way of saying their focus -- and subsequent memory -- are more on the broadcaster's appearance than on the material she was delivering.

Which reminds us! Roger Ailes, Fox News bigwig and self-conscious fat man, recently explained the same exact thing to Esquire's Tom Junod. Ailes watches his TVs on mute:

"Look at all those screens. Where does your eye go?"

You really want to know the truth, Mr. Ailes?

We don't know about you, but Esquire's eye goes to the screen featuring your creamy redhead, Jenna Lee. ... "Well, she didn't look anything like she looks now when she came here. She'd just completed Columbia journalism school, and she wanted to be a writer. But I met with her and sent her down to hair and makeup to clean her up a little. When she came back, I took a look at her and said, 'What would you think of going on air?'

And that's why he makes the big bucks.

Meanwhile, Back at the Times: The serious news today from the Paper of Record comes from Yahoo's media blog The Cutline, which is delivering solid original stories daily (as previously noted). Today, Michael Calderone reports that the New York Times may be developing a system by which sources can anonymously leak large numbers of confidential files. If that sounds especially topical, it's because of a little something called WikiLeaks. "Earlier this month," The Cutline notes, "[Al Jazeera] created a WikiLeaks-style 'anonymous electronic drop box' but with the promise of vetting by a news organization."

Executive editor Bill Keller told The Cutline that he couldn't go into details, "especially since nothing is nailed down." But when asked if he could envision a system like Al Jazeera's Transparency Unit, Keller said the paper has been "looking at something along those lines."

"A small group from computer-assisted reporting and interactive news, with advice from the investigative unit and the legal department, has been discussing options for creating a kind of EZ Pass lane for leakers," Keller said.

If anything, this shows the huge effect that WikiLeaks has had on journalism in the last few months. The challenge that WikiLeaks' somewhat anarchistic dumping style presents for established news organizations -- and assuming WikiLeaks chooses to deliver their files to these gatekeepers early -- could be offset by going around a "middleman" like Julian Assange.

Remember, WikiLeaks used to work with the Times, but since, ties have frayed. Working toward self-sufficiency is the most logical step for an organization as large as the Times, especially if they doubt Assange as an ally.

Come to Daddy: The Daily Beast says today that Rupert Murdoch is looking to purchase his own daughter Elisabeth's production company called Shine Group. The man in charge is getting up there in years and he's hoping to have all of his little duckies in a row:

Murdoch turns 80 in March, and sources inside News Corp. say his main goal is to figure out a way to return Elisabeth, 42, and Lachlan, 39, to the company and divide up the empire between them and their youngest brother, James, 38, who is the only Murdoch child currently working at News Corp. According to sources, Murdoch and his three children have been actively talking for months about potential ways to work together again. (Murdoch's eldest daughter, Pru, 52, is not involved in the family business, though she will inherit part of the family's 37 percent voting control of News Corp. along with her three siblings. Grace, 10, and Chloe, 8, the two children Murdoch has with current wife, Wendi Deng, will inherit a financial interest in News Corp. but have no voting control.)

All of these familial games get juicier, as noticed by Forbes, when you take into account Fox News' aforementioned boss Roger Ailes, who does not vibe well with Murdoch's youngsters. Daughter Elisabeth's husband, Matthew Freud, had the following to say about Ailes in the New York Times:

I am by no means alone within the family or the company in being ashamed and sickened by Roger Ailes's horrendous and sustained disregard of the journalistic standards that News Corporation, its founder and every other global media business aspires to.

"They are working together as a group on a master plan," one News Corp. insider tells The Daily Beast. The biggest (fattest?) obstacle is Mr. Ailes himself, because he's sitting solidly on a big pile of cash.

The Daily, Someday: Speaking of Murdoch, Peter Kafka at MediaMemo reports that News Corp.'s The Daily, the much-delayed iPad newspaper (with an impressive cast of writers), will be available "in the next few weeks." Along with the Times paywall, which to be fair, no one is really clamoring for, all of these push-backs are making waiting for media news feel like waiting for a rap album. At least it's still slated to cost $.99 a week.

[jcoscarelli@villagevoice.com / @joecoscarelli]


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