Money & Company

Tracking the market and economic trends
that shape your finances.

Category: Media

Real Estate | Autos | Consumer | Economy

New York Times says mea culpa after oops email to 8 million people

Nyt-correction

More than 8 million people received an erroneous email from the New York Times Co. telling them that they would no longer be receiving home delivery of the newspaper.

The email, sent Wednesday, was a mistake, the company said.

“A Times employee inadvertently sent an email that was intended for a short list of people to a long list of people,” said Eileen Murphy, a Times Co. spokeswoman.

When the error was recognized, the company sent out another email that said: “Please disregard the message. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused.”

The paper also has a blog post on NYTimes.com that says the initial “message sent off a flood of Twitter reactions and calls to The Times.”

There were concerns that the paper had been hacked and questions were raised about whether or not personal information had been compromised, the post said.

Murphy assured readers that there was no breach.

“We weren’t hacked,” she said. “And no private information was shared.”

RELATED:

Russ Stanton stepping down as Los Angeles Times editor

San Diego Union-Tribune sold to hotel magnate Doug Manchester

Consumer Confidential: Google Music, iTunes Match, no-job majors

-- W.J. Hennigan

twitter.com/wjhenn

San Diego Union-Tribune sold to hotel magnate Doug Manchester

Union tribune
The San Diego Union-Tribune is being sold to MLIM, owned by local hotel magnate Doug Manchester, said current owner Platinum Equity.

Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed by Los Angeles-based Platinum,  which bought the 143-year-old newspaper from Copley Press in 2009. The acquisition is expected to close by Dec. 15.

MLIM is headed by chief executive and longtime radio station owner John Lynch, who founded the Broadcast Co. of America and once worked for the Chicago Tribune. 

In its two and a half years of ownership, Platinum attempted to modernize the Union-Tribune’s print and online operations, the private equity investment firm said Thursday. The newspaper has an average circulation of 219,347, ranking it 25th on the list compiled by the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

“We came here at a difficult time for the newspaper industry and helped the Union-Tribune successfully transform its operations and reinvent itself,” said Louis Samson, a Platinum principal who led the 2009 acquisition effort. 

Readers were stunned by the announcement. “Chin hits floor,” tweeted Twitter user djduke. “Is this an early April Fool’s joke?” tweeted Whitney Benjamin. “Sad news folks,” tweeted Anne Cornetta.

RELATED:

Slide in newspaper circulation slows

Los Angeles Times 5th-largest newspaper, says circulation report

-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: The San Diego Union-Tribune's headquarters in Mission Valley. Credit: San Diego Union-Tribune

The San Diego Union-Tribune is being sold to MLIM, owned by local hotel magnate Doug Manchester, said current owner Platinum Equity.

Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed by Los Angeles-based Platinum,  which bought the 143-year-old newspaper from Copley Press in 2009. The acquisition is expected to close by Dec. 15.

MLIM is headed by chief executive and long-time radio station owner John Lynch, who founded the Broadcast Company of America and once worked for The Chicago Tribune.  

In its two and a half years of ownership, Platinum attempted to modernize the Union-Tribune’s print and online operations, the private equity investment firm said Thursday.

“We came here at a difficult time for the newspaper industry and helped the Union-Tribune successfully transofrm its operations and re-invent itself,” said Louis Samson, a Platinum principal who led the 2009 acquisition effort.  

Readers were stunned by the announcement. “Chin hits floor,” tweeted Twitter user djduke. “Is this an early April Fool’s joke?” tweeted Whitney Benjamin. “Sad news folks,” tweeted Anne Cornetta.

Consumer Confidential: Google Music, iTunes Match, no-job majors

Googpic
Here's your West-End-girls Wednesday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

-- Google has learned to sing. The searchmeister is entering the online music market with a new service that will let users store songs online and listen to tracks on multiple devices. Google has expanded into music, television and movies to bolster sales of devices running its Android mobile software. The company is also seeking rights for its Google+ social-network users to share music with each other. On the eve of the debut, Google reached an agreement with Sony’s music unit. Universal and EMI have already signed on. Songs will cost 99 cents to $1.29, though Google may offer discounts. (Bloomberg)

-- Not to be outdone, Apple has rolled out a new iTunes Match service. For $24.99, iTunes account holders can store their entire iTunes library, plus songs from their CDs, in the cloud that is the Internet. The library contents are then available to listen to on computers and iOS devices, including iPhones. The program differs from Google Music and Amazon Cloud Player because iTunes Match isn't based on uploading your music then listening to it via a Web-based player that streams your songs. Instead, it determines which songs in your collection are available in the iTunes Store, which boasts some 20 million songs. The program automatically adds these songs to iCloud. Songs that aren't in iTunes can be uploaded by the user. (Lifehacker)

-- Not all college majors are created equal -- at least when it comes to giving you a leg up in the job market. College majors with high unemployment rates include a variety of psychology degrees, fine arts and architecture, according to Census statistics. Here are the Top 10 majors (or should that be Bottom 10?) for not getting a job: Clinical psychology (19.5% unemployment rate), miscellaneous fine arts (16.2%), U.S. history (15.1%), library science (15%), military technologies (10.9%), educational psychology (10.9%), architecture (10.6%), industrial and organizational psychology (10.4%), miscellaneous psychology (10.3%), linguistics and comparative literature (10.2%). (MarketWatch)

-- David Lazarus

Photo: Google is launching a new music service to compete with Apple's iTunes. Credit: Ralph Orlowski / Getty Images

 

For housewives, starring Housewives: Reality TV tabloid to launch

Reality
Add reading to the Situation’s gym-tan-laundry list: The publisher of the National Enquirer and Star plans to launch a magazine devoted solely to covering reality television.

The glossy, photo-heavy Reality Weekly, produced by American Media Inc., will hit newsstands in January. It’s a dream come true for Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton and other tube-based talents who will no longer have to vie with movie stars for printed space.

And at $1.79 an issue, the publication aims to be cheaper than competitors such as People and Us Weekly. Reality Weekly will be offered at the same newsstands at grocery stores and retail chains such as Wal-Mart, Kmart and Rite Aid, with an expected circulation of 250,000 to 450,000, the company said.

The magazine will feature segments such as the “Biggest Fights of the Week,” recapping on-air brawls, and a roundup of bikini-clad stars called “Hottest Shots of the Week.”

American Media is keeping production costs low, basing the magazine out of its existing New York headquarters and asking the current staff to do double duty. Richard Spencer, the editor in chief of OK magazine’s U.S. edition, will also serve as editor in chief of Reality Weekly.

Meanwhile, magazines focusing on the real world instead of "Real World" are struggling.

Newsweek is scrapping its 27-year-old political series this election season as it attempts to deal with a faster news cycle and tightening budgets, according to the New York Times. The magazine, whose circulation plunged nearly 32% last year, would publish long-form profiles of presidential campaigns.

Even the top-ranked magazine by circulation, AARP The Magazine, saw its numbers slip 3% in 2010 to 23.7 million. Fourth-ranked Reader’s Digest slipped nearly 24% to 5.8 million, according to the MPA magazine association.

RELATED:

Los Angeles Times fifth-largest newspaper, says circulation report

L.A. Times circulation figures: Sunday up, daily down -- but overall, the best in eight years

-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: A prototype cover of Reality Weekly. Credit: American Media Inc.

Consumer Confidential: Foreclosure rate up, Amazon's best books

Book
Here's your take-me-to-the-river Tuesday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

--Lawmakers continue to dither over what to do about rising foreclosure rates. Meanwhile, the foreclosure rate has risen again. The rate at which mortgage holders were late with their payments by 60 days or more rose in the June-to-September period for the first time since the last three months of 2009, according to TransUnion. The credit reporting agency said 5.88% of homeowners missed two or more payments, an early sign of possible foreclosure. That was up from 5.82% in the second quarter. The increase surprised TransUnion researchers, who had expected late payments, or delinquencies, to fall for the quarter.

--Talk about a field of dreams: A debut novel, Chad Harbach's "The Art of Fielding," has been chosen Amazon.com's best book of 2011. The online retailer's Top 10 list also features Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs and two of the year's most talked-about works of fiction, Jeffrey Eugenides' "The Marriage Plot" and Haruki Marukami's "1Q84." Amazon's editorial picks include the memoir "What It is Like to Go to War," by Karl Marlantes; and two nonfiction books set during World War II, Erik Larsen's "In the Garden of Beasts" and Michael Zuckoff's "Lost in Shangri-La." Others selected were a second debut novel, Tea Obreht's "The Tiger's Wife"; the literary thriller "Before I Go to Sleep," by S.J. Watson; and a young adult novel, Laini Taylor's "Daughter of Smoke and Bone."

-- David Lazarus

 Photo: Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Occupy Wall Street moves to 'South Park' [Video]

 

There’s a new fat cat in "South Park" tonight: Eric Cartman, with a nod to the Occupy Wall Street protests, will dub himself the newest denizen of the 1% club.

"South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone are the latest to opine on the movement with a new episode that has the roly-poly cartoon character flubbing his school’s fitness test. His failure dilutes the scores of the other elementary school students, resulting in more gym exercises for everyone.

Cue mass resentment from the 99% and first backlash and then melancholy for Cartman. Sound familiar? 

The Occupy movement has inspired a pop culture outpouring. Commentators including Michael Moore, Joan Rivers and Jon Stewart have all weighed in. Halloween costumes included top-hats and minks, and plethora of Guy Fawkes masks, even some in cephalopod outfits bearing “Octopi” signs.

RELATED:

Occupy Wall Street: City officials across U.S. grow impatient

Large swath of public unsure what to think about 'Occupy' protests

Wealthy can declare support for Occupy Wall Street on new website

-- Tiffany Hsu

Video: A clip from "South Park." Credit: South Park Studios

Los Angeles Times 5th-largest newspaper, says circulation report

168734.FI.1101.newspaper-circulation.1.GEM

The Los Angeles Times is the fifth-largest newspaper in the country, based on new circulation numbers from the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

In the six months ending Sept. 30, the publication’s circulation – the number of copies it distributes on an average day – reached 572,998, according to the Tuesday report.

The paper’s Sunday circulation of 905,920 copies was the third-highest, though it was down more than 4% from the previous six-month period. Daily circulation is down more than 5% from 605,000.

The Wall Street Journal is leading the pack with nearly 2.1 million copies each day, followed by USA Today with nearly 1.8 million, the New York Times with 1.1 million and the New York Daily News with nearly 606,000.

The San Jose Mercury News, the New York Post, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune and the Dallas Morning News rounded out the top 10.

Though the top two papers saw a slight decline, with the Journal slipping 1% and USA Today dropping 2.5%, the New York Times' circulation soared more than 25%

The New York Times also had the top Sunday circulation, with 1.6 million readers, followed by the Houston Chronicle’s 911,000 readers.

Executives at the New York Times said the circulation spike had much to do with the online paywall instituted in March. As more readers shun print products in favor of digital content, newspapers are increasingly exploring options such as online subscription packages and editions distributed through e-readers such as Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook.

The Wall Street Journal brought in 537,000 digital readers, followed by the New York Times, the New York Daily News, Newsday and the Detroit Free Press.

RELATED:

Slide in newspaper circulation slows

L.A. Times circulation figures: Sunday up, daily down -- but overall, the best in 8 years

-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: A pedestrian looks at a Los Angeles Times news rack in Mar Vista on Tuesday. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

Consumer Confidential: Netflix down, food prices up, masks recalled

Netpic
Here's your turn-the-beat-around Tuesday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

-- Netflix is still smarting from its screwups. The company's shares plunged 35% after the one-time Wall Street favorite revealed a massive departure of subscribers angered by price increases and other questionable changes at the rental service that was created to make entertainment a snap. Netflix revealed late Monday that it ended September with 23.8 million U.S. subscribers. That's down about 800,000 from June and worse than what the company had hinted at before. In September, the company predicted it will lose about 600,000 U.S. customers. And it may get worse. Netflix said it expects more defections in coming months. Clearly this company better come up with some good news, and soon, or more people will jump ship.

-- Your grocery bill is still going up. The government says food prices are expected to climb by as much as 4.5% this year, an increase of one-half of a percentage point from its prior forecast, as higher commodity costs continue to filter down to consumers. The estimate comes after months of increases in individual items, particularly meat and poultry. Pork and beef prices have soared to record highs this year as surging export demand, particularly from China, has driven prices higher even while domestic demand remained sluggish. A jump in grain prices, which increases the cost of feeding livestock, has driven the broader jump in food prices this year.

-- Heads up: There's a recall of Halloween masks. Target is recalling about 3,400 children's frog masks because they lack proper ventilation. When secured in place across a child's face, the mask poses a risk of suffocation. The Chinese-made masks were sold at Target outlets nationwide from August through September for about $1. If you bought one, return the mask to any Target for a full refund.

-- David Lazarus

Photo: Netflix is getting slammed by investors for losing subscribers. Credit: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press

 

Consumer Confidential: Netflix says oops; iPhone orders

Netpic 
Here's your misfit-toys Monday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

-- Give Netflix points for knowing it was wrong. The company says it will drop plans to split its mail-order DVD and Internet-streaming services. The change is an acknowledgment of the anger that Netflix triggered in subscribers, first with Chief Executive Reed Hastings’ plan to raise prices and the subsequent Sept. 18 announcement detailing the split of the services. Customers will be able to access the streaming and mail-order services from Netflix.com, with one account and password, the company says. Netflix on Sept. 18 said people who wanted DVDs would have to sign up for a new service called Qwikster, requiring a separate account and billing. Now if the company could just do something about getting more up-to-date movies.

-- Dr Pepper prefers hanging out with guys. That's apparently the idea behind Dr Pepper Ten, a 10-calorie soft drink Dr Pepper Snapple Group is rolling out with a macho ad campaign that proclaims, "It's not for women." The soft drink was developed after the company's research found that men shy away from diet drinks that aren't perceived as "manly" enough. To appeal to men, Dr Pepper made its Ten drink 180 degrees different from Diet Dr Pepper. It has calories and sugar, unlike its diet counterpart. Instead of the dainty tan bubbles on the diet can, Ten will be wrapped in gunmetal grey packaging with silver bullets. And while Diet Dr Pepper's marketing is women-friendly, the ad campaign for Ten goes out of its way to eschew women. So there.

-- Apple took some heat for not unveiling an iPhone 5 but, instead, debuting an upgraded iPhone 4S. But apparently the company knew what it was doing. Apple says first-day preorders of the iPhone 4S topped 1 million, breaking the record set by last year's model. Apple and various phone companies started taking orders for the phone last Friday. It hits stores this Friday. First-day orders for the iPhone 4 were 600,000 when it launched last year. It was then sold in the U.S. only by AT&T. The iPhone 4S is also sold by Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel. The base model of the iPhone 4S costs $200 with a two-year contract. It has a faster processor and an improved camera compared to last year's model.

-- David Lazarus

Photo: Netflix is dropping plans for a Qwikster service. Credit: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press

 

Consumer Confidential: Self-checkouts, online videos, free checking

Supermarket checkout
Here's your mystic-pizza Monday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

--Do you find self-checkouts at the supermarket to be more hassle than they're worth? So do some supermarkets. Big Y Foods, which has 61 locations in Connecticut and Massachusetts, recently became one of the latest to announce it was phasing out the self-serve lanes. Some other regional chains and major players, including some Albertsons locations, have also reduced their unstaffed lanes and added more clerks to traditional lanes. Studies cited by the Food Marketing Institute found only 16% of supermarket transactions in 2010 were done at self-checkout lanes in stores that provided the option. That's down from a high of 22% three years ago. Clearly most shoppers still favor the human touch.

--There's more scrambling afoot in the online-video world. Netflix has inked a pact with DreamWorks Animation SKG giving it exclusive pay-TV distribution rights for first-run films starting with the studio's 2013 lineup, while Amazon.com landed a deal with 20th Century Fox to provide movies and TV shows to bring its Amazon Prime streaming service to more than 11,000 titles. Financial terms of the agreements were not disclosed. Netflix is struggling to retain subscribers after raising prices and splitting the company into two separate services. Last week, satellite-TV provider Dish Network resurrected its Blockbuster brand as a streaming service.

--Free checking has become an endangered species. But it's still out there. A new study by Bankrate.com finds that only 45% of checking accounts are free this year. That's down sharply from 65% last year and 76% two years ago. But the study also found that most banks are willing to waive monthly fees when customers meet certain conditions. For example, customers may have to set up direct deposit or maintain a certain balance. The study also found that the average cost for using an out-of-network ATM rose slightly to $3.81. That's including the fees charged by the customer's own bank and the ATM operator.

-- David Lazarus

Photo: Supermarket shoppers go through the traditional checkout. Credit: Damon Winter / Los Angeles Times

 

Consumer Confidential: Blockbuster, man caves, zodiac salaries

Blockbuster-Dish Network Internet video service
Here's your feelin'-groovy Friday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

--Heads up, Netflix. Dish Network is announcing an Internet video service that will try to woo away subscribers. The service will be offered through Blockbuster, the video-store chain that Dish Network bought out of bankruptcy court for $321 million five months ago. Netflix's success as a subscription service that mails rented DVDs and streams video over high-speed Internet connections played a pivotal role in Blockbuster's downfall. Now Dish and Blockbuster are apparently hoping for a little payback as Netflix faces a customer backlash triggered by changes to its prices and format. Dish says its Blockbuster service will be "a stream come true." We'll see.

--Good news, guys: A man cave in the basement won't detract from the resale value of your home. "As long as you don't make it too specific, there tends to be a resale market for man caves," said Stephanie Rauterkus, a professor of accounting and finance at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. "No matter how crazy you get, there tends to be at least one or two other people in the world who have that same kind of craziness." Still, she says there are some rules to follow if you want your man cave to be a true real-estate asset: First, stay sane with the cost. Only spend what you can afford. Second, stay sane with the decor -- in case you move or your team preferences change. Finally, stay sane with the decision. Sleep on it as you would for all major purchases.

--Which zodiac signs rake in the biggest bucks? A new survey by CareerBuilder finds that Virgos, Aries and Scorpios tend to score six-figure salaries, while Capricorns and Leos are often vice presidents or higher (although at the highest levels, Capricorns edge them out). Middle management is filled with Aries, while those who fall into the Aquarius category tend to swim at the bottom in entry-level positions. Libras and those born under Taurus are more satisfied on the job than others. Also, first-borns and only children tend to pull in bigger paychecks, and middle children are more likely to hold low-level jobs. Is there anything to this? Post your comments.

-- David Lazarus

Photo: Will Blockbuster get a little payback from Netflix? Credit: Rick Wilking / Reuters

Connect

Recommended on Facebook


Advertisement

In Case You Missed It...

Video




Categories


Archives