If journalism had a Goddess of Good Timing, she surely would have smiled on Pooley, whose piece on the News Corp. chairman hit Time's Web site on June 28.
At the time, Murdoch was the world's most newsworthy media executive. His company was trying to acquire Dow Jones (which it officially did a few weeks ago, making MarketWatch, the publisher of this column, a unit of News Corp.).
Everyone in the media world was obsessively predicting what he might do next. Our speculation became the media's great parlor game. For the record, lots of us are STILL fixated on this topic.
Pooley.s biggest accomplishment was getting behind the scenes and putting his readers in the room with Murdoch.
In retrospect, Pooley's timing seems even more fortuitous when you recall that News Corp. was also only a few months away from yet another audacious move: the October launch of the Fox Business Network.
FBN, in its own right, represents the most daring media start-up of 2007, edging out Conde Nast's Portfolio magazine. By executing either the Dow Jones takeover OR the FBN rollout, News Corp. would have been the dominant media story of the year.
Time's piece exemplified the perfect storm in narrative journalism: an accomplished storyteller profiling the most interesting media person of the year -- while taking advantage of the kind of access that reporters dream about.
Pooley's story also underscored the power of magazines by providing an extended narrative that many newspapers often can't do as well because of space or staff limitations. Web sites have no such worries about story length, but you don't normally see this level of ambition on the Internet.
Plus, there is no getting away from a home truth of journalism: It's still pretty cool to be on the cover of Time. Simply, no other magazine has that kind of cachet.
I have been very tough on magazines. Recently, I even wrote that the industry was all but dead because of a lack of a spirit of adventure and its ongoing failure to embrace the Internet as a legitimate partner. .
Magazines flourish when they give prospective readers something they can't get in any other medium. If more magazine writers accomplished what Pooley did, you wouldn't be reading about magazines' imminent death.
It came as a shock to the free world when Jamie Lynn Spears, Britney's "good-girl" 16-year-old sister, announced that she was pregnant. Complicating an already sticky situation, the younger Spears had been starring in "Zoey 101."
It's a program aired on Viacom's Nickelodeon channel, which famously gears its cable offerings to young children and their parents. Whoops!
Nickelodeon should be praying that none of the smart alecks in the media will ask these questions:
-- What was Nickelodeon thinking by hiring the sister of The Human Train Wreck in the first place? Answer: Britney is so famous that Jamie Lynn would bring in lots of viewers and was well worth any public-relations risk. (Sure she was.)
-- Could Nickelodeon have done a better job of monitoring a minor in its employ? The Spears family already gets lots of bad publicity, so the fallout for the young mother-to-be will be par for the course.
But Nickelodeon may not have a Teflon touch. I'd be surprised if it escaped criticism.
Nickelodeon would probably prefer that everyone regard Jamie Lynn as a modern-day "Citizen Ruth" to obscure its responsibility. In Alexander Payne's stinging 1996 movie, Laura Dern portrays Ruth, a young unwed mother caught up in a morality tale.
According to a passage found on the Internet Movie Database Web site: "Suddenly Ruth is thrust into the middle of the pro-choice/pro-life struggle, with each side wanting her to take their sie as a 'message' to others - and the situation escalates..."
Jamie Lynn, you're about to get your 15 minutes of fame. Use it wisely.
: 1) What was the best media story that you read this year? 2) How much of the blame for Jamie Lynn Spears' predicament should Nickelodeon shoulder?
: In the Internet age, a scoop simply isn't what it used to be. It used to take newspapers and television networks 24 hours to match rivals' exclusives. Today, of course, it can be done in seconds. So, instead of giving kudos for being first with news of an event like the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan's former prime minister, I'd prefer to see a news agency brag that it had the BEST coverage.
: "Good , right on the money, but I would hardly call this a disastrous season -- outside of Vick it had some of the best story lines ever -- Favre, Patriots, Bill (player) recovering from paralysis, Adrian Peterson, etc., etc., etc. -- Vick impact barely registered in the long run."
-- Chris Paladino
Jon's reply: Oh, really? I guess I -- and everyone else who was sickened by Vick's dogfighting ring -- was looking at a very long short run, then.
Media Web appears on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Feel free to send email to -- and Happy New Year! Let's hope 2008 is full of good news for us all. Thanks to all of the folks who read Media Web columns in 2007 and took the time to send in emails. Keep 'em coming.
By Jon Friedman