Julian Assange Essay Slams New York Times; Vice Media Is Rich as Hell and Respectable


The relationship between the New York Times and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange soured amid a power struggle, resulting in a detailed account of their break-up from the newspaper in which Assange is described as “a bag lady,” as well as “arrogant, thin-skinned, conspiratorial and oddly credulous.” The organizations have stopped working together directly, and in an April essay from the News Statesmen, Assange takes aim at the institution that spurned him, all while preaching for his own cause (something he does almost as well as he dances). More on Assange’s latest written provocations inside our daily media column Press Clips, as well as stats on The Daily‘s struggling social media strategy, the successes of Vice Media and a video that explains why Arianna Huffington isn’t wearing any shoes.

Angry Assange: Sanctimonious maybe, but Julian Assange is such a damn good SDS-loving college sophomore; he’s also not totally wrong when he writes, as the Statesman teases today, “As well as the hostility of governments, popular grass-roots publishers have had to face the realities of advertising as a source of revenue. [T]he Daily Herald…was forced to close despite being among the 20 largest-circulation dailies in the world, because its largely working-class readers did not constitute a lucrative advertising market.” He’s certainly read his Chomsky.

Assange compares WikiLeaks to the grand tradition of historic alternative media, including “the pamphleteers of the English Civil War and the radical press of the early twentieth century.” He says the New York Times is threatened by his organization, which he writes hopes to “lay ‘all the mysteries and secrets of government’ before the public,” and that, “Seen within this historical perspective, the New York Times‘s performance in the run-up to the US-led invasion of Iraq, and its hostile attitude to WikiLeaks today, are not surprising.”

And these are just some choice pull-quotes! The essay hits newsstands Thursday.

#TheDaily: Though no one is sure exactly how many people are reading it, Nieman Lab reported this morning that Rupert Murdoch’s iPad newspaper The Daily is only scoring about 50 tweets a day from inside the app.

This is an important figure because The Daily does not have a traditional website and can only be read in an internet browser if a paying customer shares the story via social media. The result is not a string of text, like a normal news article, but an image that shows how the piece would look on a tablet, and that’s a user experience issue in itself.

Nieman Lab warns, “We’re measuring the number of tweets generated from within The Daily. We’re not directly measuring the number of readers of The Daily,” but with those numbers, does have the confidence to state:

The data doesn’t look good for The Daily. Its activity on Twitter seems to match my own perceptions of how they’re doing — an early rush of excitement; a decline as people lost interest and the app struggled with technical problems; a plateau once the tech got sorted out; and then another decline once the app started charging users.

In the nearly two months we’re looking at, only 6,026 tweets were generated within The Daily app. But much more discouraging is the trend.

On the day of its release, there were 387 tweets, but less than 100 a day for the last month and a half, so it’s trending downward.

But what Nieman doesn’t mention, and what seems especially disheartening is that The Daily has a professional social media person who could very well be doing a sizable chunk of that tweeting. In the last 24 hours, for example, the official account @daily has tweeted over 20 links to the paper’s stories, which on a slow day could account for half of the tweets from within the app. And that’s not counting the tweets from the individual journalists themselves, on their personal accounts, who (anecdotally, at least) have worked to make sure their non-iPad-owning followers can see their work. Maybe Nieman Lab accounted for these numbers — a second installment looking at the data is slated for tomorrow — but even if that were true, and all of these tweets were coming from customers not staff, the figures are still too small. (Update: The Nieman Lab numbers only count tweets coming directly from inside the app, while a quick look at the official account indicates that those tweets are coming from the web, so they aren’t counted among the ~50 per day.)

Again, these aren’t readership numbers, but they’re not exactly indicating much of a dent made yet in the online conversation.

Nepotism 101: Speaking of News Corporation, as we’ve said before, Rupert Murdoch’s children are rich and powerful too. Thanks, Dad!

Vi$e: The Canadian magazine once about cocaine and cocaine (and pictures of cocaine) is now “a pan-media confederation with a record label, a book label, its own television series and a full-service media agency,” the New York Times reports today of Vice.

The successful media company (!) is now expecting a new investment partnership with one of MTV’s co-founders and two larger investment firms, while also adding representation from the famed Ari Emanuel and his William Morris Endeavor Entertainment. The article — the latest in the ongoing Vice Goes Legit media narrative — says that the company “employs 750 people in offices in 34 countries and claims some 2,500 contributors.” And it’s still pretty good!

Money, Cash, Corrections: There’s a long history of fabulous newspaper corrections but the New York Post has a really special one today: it turns out singer Toni Braxton didn’t say, “I have a big-ass house, three cars and I fly first class all around the world. Some say I have the perfect life.” Her sister did.

HuffPo Stinks: It wouldn’t be Press Clips without at least one mention of Arianna Huffington, so here is a video in which she wiggles her naked toes alongside a similarly shoe-less Tim Armstrong, the CEO of AOL. The whole company is going “One Day Without Shoes” today, supposedly, but even if the office smells, it’s for charity.


This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 5, 2011

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