News Corp. is shuttering The Daily, the iPad-based publication/app that launched in February 2011. The news, which comes as News Corp. is busy turning its publishing assets into a separate company, is far from surprising. The publication was hemorrhaging money and cutting staff, so it was a matter of when, not if, it would close up shop. Felix Salmon and Will Oremus have some thoughts about tablet-centric journalism (and about the extreme shortsightedness of creating a publication solely focused on a single product, particularly at a time when creating content that can be viewed across many/all platforms is sort of the only sensible way to go).Still, as always, it’s never fun to see journalists and other workers lose their jobs.
This could be very interesting: News Corp. is considering splitting its publishing and entertainment divisions into two separate businesses, according to the Wall Street Journal (a News Corp. publication). The split would create an entertainment company including 20th Century Fox, the Fox and Fox News stations and its other film and television endeavors, while also creating a smaller publishing business built around HarperCollins and News Corp.’s various newspapers.
The logic behind such a move is obvious. News Corp. is a phenomenally successful entertainment company, with lots of success in film and on television (financial successes, at least); it is also a company that happens to publish newspapers, which are a relative financial drag. Rupert Murdoch famously loves newspapers and loves publishing them, and the Journal reports that he is finally pondering a split after opposing such a move for years.
One has to wonder (I’m wondering, specifically, I am the one who is wondering) if his sudden interest in this stems from the phone-hacking scandal, which centered on News Corp.’s publications and its management of the same. I’m also very curious if this story is being leaked just to gauge how investors feel about the idea now that the dust has settled somewhat on the phone-hacking. If so, I wonder how they will react and what will happen next.
Hey, “The Simpsons” won’t be unceremoniously canceled over a contract dispute! How nice for everyone involved. The cast is willing to take a pay cut, albeit a slimmer one than the network demanded, and won’t get any cut of the show’s back end profits, report Kim Masters and Alex Ben Block at the Hollywood Reporter. Yes, this means the network won, because a corporate behemoth which financially benefits no matter how the negotiations turn out always wins over a group of artists less likely to find similar remuneration elsewhere. The show has been renewed for another two seasons, which will see the series run at least 25 seasons.
Fact: “The Simpsons” is a beloved institution. Commonly accepted opinion often trotted out as fact due to obviousness (but not technically verifiable): “The Simpsons” is not nearly as good as it used to be. Fact: New episodes of “The Simpsons” are watched by far fewer people than watched older episodes.
People freaked out about this whole thing because (a) it meant “The Simpsons” would end, and even those of us who no longer watch new episodes still take comfort in the knowledge that new episodes are out there, (b) it meant “The Simpsons,” the greatest television show in history, would go off the air in an unfitting and sad fashion (rather than with a well-crafted, intentional series finale), (c) it reminded us that, ultimately, the art we consume (movies, television shows, etc.) are in fact just business properties and come down only to the financial facts (a fact we knew, but a fact that remains jarring and discomfiting when laid bare, particularly as it relates to a beloved show we like to think of as above all that), (d) it featured, essentially, a corporation threatening several employees with salary reductions or terminations despite years of faithful and productive service, which (even though this particular instance deals with huge amounts of money most of us could never dream about earning) still sticks in our collective cultural craw, and I mean, a company basically saying whether you take the cut or not, we’ll still make our money one way or the other, and that stings, right? and (e) that company, Fox, is part of News Corp., not exactly the most beloved organization insofar as multinationals go, but particularly scorned this year in the wake of the whole hacking scandal.
“The Simpsons” will eventually end. The show, and the actors, were spared the indignity of being shoved aside over a money issue. The facts of the matter remain undeniable: The show will end. It will end many years removed from its glorious prime. Whenever that happens, all of the people involved will walk away with plenty of money, while the network in particular will continue to rake in a lot of additional money. But at least there are another couple of seasons (at least) before we confront this reality again.