Posts Tagged ‘Michael Wolff’

LONDON | Boris Johnson, Londons borgmästare, har för andra året i rad blivit utsedd till Storbritanniens mest inflytelserika man.

GQ - februari 2013

I årets lista, sammanställd av det brittiska livsstilsmagasinet GQ, hamnar premiärminister David Cameron på tredje plats, efter sin kabinettssekreterare Sir Jeremy Heywood.

I en tid när minsta lilla misstag eller felsägning genererar publikstorm och krav på politikers avgång har den excentriske konservative borgmästaren lyckats överleva det mesta.

Vad som skulle ha tagit död på de flesta andra politiker har Johnson lyckats vända till sin egen fördel. Numera är Johnson ”Boris” med hela nationen.

Efter att ha lyckats bli omvald till borgmästare börjar allt fler nu också tala om honom som nästa premiärminister.

En undersökning har indikerat att Conservative Party skulle kunna radera ut det försprång Labour har haft i opinionen ifall partiet ersatte Cameron mot Johnson.

Michael Wolff, tidskriftens Contributing Editor, som känt Johnsson sedan 2004, har skrivet den medföljande artikeln till ”The 100 Most Influential Men In Britain”.

An ever-shrinking but stubbornly disbelieving core still thinks he is:

1) Not real – not cuddly, but in fact, remote, cold, impersonal.

2) A buffoon – a show-off and dangerously ridiculous figure.

3) A lazy sod – a disorganized rogue who doesn’t put in the hours.

4) Without beliefs or principles – he’ll say or do anything to please the crowd.

5) A toff – a class joke on the new Britain.

Most politicians, in the face of such resistance and “negatives”, re-calibrate and reposition.

But Boris is not so much a politician – with a quasi-scientific approach to the management of popular opinion – but a seducer. In the playbook of seduction, he amps it up, continues coming, keeps playing his hand, until you are seduces or he is rejected. It’s all or nothing.


He was the editor of a serious political magazine who became a television sensation (often a comic one). He was a media personality who became an MP. He was an MP who survived not only cascade of larger-than-life gaffes but seemingly nonstop sexual scandal. He was a Tory politician who became the mayor of lefty London. The Olympics, often a sinkhole for the cities and politicians that promote them, became his and London’s triumph.


It is not possible to exaggerate this: his time as mayor has turned Boris not just into a practised politician nor even a political star but, love or despise him, into a new political art form. There is no politician in the world so at odds with the standard presentation and behaviour as Boris. In a an age of political disenchantment he is, arguably, for better or worse, the first bona fide alternative.


Boris Is keenly recognizable, to me, as a modern writer at the top of his game (necessarily a performer and entrepreneur as well as scribe) humorous, hyperbolic, garrulous, seductive. Politics, which really is about the art of expression, ought to be a logical profession for writers (it’s very hard to explain to politics- and policy-addicted people that language is the basis of all ideas – if you can’t say it, you can’t think it), instead of a refuge for lawyers and apparatchiks.


One should point out that Boris does not, in fact, have the power to affect any of his ambitions for London. He cannot legislate; he cannot tax; he cannot re-destrict; he cannot build. All he can do is talk, appeal, convince, remonstrate, seduce – which, of course, is exactly what he does best (this may be the keenest definition of talent, to be able to only do what you do best).

In terms of political strategy, for Boris, London is the United Kingdom. He can make being the mayor of London being the real prime minister of Britain. Boris want 500,000 new jobs in four years and a new airport. He will get them by being the opposite of lazy, but instead, a whirling dervish of seduction. Seducing the world.

Bild: Tidskriftsomslaget är GQ, februari 2013.

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TIDNINGSDÖDEN: Alla med intresse för kvalitetstidningar följer noga The New York Times utveckling.

Att The New York Times fortfarande är USA:s – och för all del även världens – absolut bästa morgontidningarna betyder inte att tidning saknar problem. Tvärt om.

Tidningen brottas precis som alla andra kvälls- och morgontidningar med stora ekonomiska problem och den hårda konkurrensen inom tidningsvärlden och Internet. Till detta kommer att NYT har haft sin beskärda del av skandaler som urholkat förtroendet för journalistiken både internt och externt.

En av dessa skandaler beskrivs ingående av Seth Mnookin i boken Hard News: Twenty-One Brutal Months at the New York Times and How They Changed the American Media. Mnookin beskriver hur en av tidningens journalister – Jayson Blair – lyckades få en lång rad fabricerade artiklar publicerade innan någon reagerade på de varningssignaler som trots allt fanns från första början.

Men främst handlar problemen om dålig ekonomi och knivskarp konkurrens. Mark Bowden har beskrivit problemen för Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr. som är tidningens fjärde generation publisher och ägare;

For 10 years or more, Arthur’s signature phrase about this seismic change in the news business, the one he repeats to show that he gets it, has been platform agnostic (…) The phrase itself reveals limited understanding. When the motion-picture camera was invented, many early filmmakers simply recorded stage plays ( …)  But the true pioneers realized that the camera was more revolutionary than that. It freed them from the confines of a theater. Audiences could be transported anywhere (…) To be platform agnostic is the equivalent of recording stage plays.

“When I first heard Arthur talk about being platform agnostic, I knew he was trying to suggest that he was not stuck in a newspaper mind-set,” says Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. “But I thought there were two problems with that language. One is, agnostics are people who don’t—who aren’t sure what they believe in. That’s the first problem. And the second problem is, in practice, there is no such thing as being platform agnostic (…) If you really want to move to the Internet in a serious way, you need to change the culture of a news organization and decide that the Internet is the primary new thing. Platform agnostic means that all the online companies are going to zoom past you, because they’re going to exploit that technology while you’re sitting there thinking (…) You need to be, in fact, not platform agnostic but platform orthodox (…)”

Arthur’s argument, or his hope, is that the quality of the Times’s brand will prevail, that quality independent journalism is so obviously valuable that serious readers will continue to seek it out. He has been offering the Times content for free because experience has shown that subscriber-only stories leak—they are copied and e-mailed and rapidly proliferate for free anyway—and because Internet users, accustomed to getting information for free, are loath to pay for it. Do you remove yourself from the global conversation if you wall yourself off? Can you make enough money on subscriptions to survive? The Wall Street Journal has gone in this direction online, while offering some free content. The jury is still out. Arthur has continued to provide Times content for free, but is considering reversing direction. His brand remains the best in the business, but that hasn’t solved his revenue problems. Journalism costs. The revenue from Internet advertising is still only about a tenth of total revenue. Even if those millions of brief hits on nytimes.com continue to swell, the Times itself may be in bankruptcy court long before the Web site generates enough revenue to replace what Arthur has lost.

 In fairness, no one has the answer for newspapers.

Se även: End Times, Michael Hirschorn (The Atlantic, januari/februari 2009); Rupert To Internet: It´s War!, Michael Wolff (Vanity Fair, november 2009) och Slim’s Time, Lawrence Wright (The New Yorker, 1 Juni 2009)

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WASHINGTON: I USA brukar man kalla politikens Washington för ”Hollywood för the ugly”. Och för alla ”political junkies” med intresse av amerikansk politik är Politico platsen man går till för att få sitt ”fix”.

Michael Wolff, ”contributing editor” på Vanity Fair, har porträtterat männen bakom sajten som idag har cirka sex miljoner unika träffar varje månad. Den tryckta utgåvan med samma namn och med en cirkulation på 32000 står för cirka hälften av företagets inkomster idag.

[M]uch of the country may still find politics to be an execrable and mind-numbing proposition, but Politico has built a far-flung network of actual and armchair political professionals who find it not just exhilarating but habit-forming. They’re on the edge of their seats. Politics may not be the national sport again, but it’s a niche sport with the right audience. (…)

[T]his is a passionate conversation among quick and deeply knowledgeable folk. The habit and, perhaps, necessity of traditional news organizations to reduce and simplify and attenuate and, in the process, make news flaccid and often wrong have been superseded by these over-informed motormouths. It’s the raw stuff, before the family paper or knuckleheaded network news has watered it down.

It is perhaps useless to argue whether this is good or bad. Rather, the world is as it is. And Politico seems like a pretty credible version of what the world will be: obsessives everywhere in their particular narrow-focused areas of interest (“silos” is the modern information term), flashing ever more information, ever quicker, in ever shorter bites—the shorter you can make it, the more information there can be—to all the ships at sea.

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Barack Obama and Robert GibbsWASHINGTON: Är det någon som undrar hur president Barack Obama lyckats förbli så populär samtidigt som landets kris är så omfattande?

En förklaring ger Michael Wolff, krönikör på Vanity Fair, i sin granskning av hur Vita huset bearbetar media.

”The Obama presidency is striving to be the most open and available in modern history (…) But what it doesn’t want to be open about is the staging itself. [T]he Obama team doesn’t want to talk about the meticulous calibration of everything to do with retailing its image and message because it is all so meticulously calibrated.”

Mycket av detta handlar om god managementkultur. I Vita hustes finns fjorton personer som servar pressekreteraren Robert Gibbs. Ytterligare 47 (!) personer jobbar med andra aspekter av media, budskap och politisk kommunikation. Det är mer än vad många av de största amerikanska företagen har på sina informationsavdelningar.

En annan anledning till att administrationen har lyckats så bra är att traditionell media befinner sig i djup kris. Och med krisen följer dåligt självförtroende. Vita huset befinner sig i den avundsvärda situationen att kunna driva media framför sig.

Sen tillkommer att Vita huset kan kommunicera direkt med de miljoner människor som under valkampanjen gav olika typer av bidrag till Obamas valkampanj.

Even before formally taking possession of the White House and pressroom, the team began to talk about keeping Obama’s much vaunted peer-to-peer network of millions of small contributors in place, of making it a central outlet of its communications strategy. The implication seemed clear: newspapers and networks had a swiftly declining market, while the Obama administration had created an audience that it could reach through its own distribution prowess and that hung on its every word (…)

In fact, it almost seems as though the Obama people have abandoned that grail of all White Houses, to bypass the mainstream media and go directly to the people, to get the message out, pure and unfiltered—which, with their millions of e-mail addresses and Twitter followers, never seemed so possible as now.

Men istället för att helt ignorera traditionell media har Vita huset valt att behandla ”dinosaurierna” som om inget har förändrats.

Courting the dinosaurs, the Obama people feed the increasingly hungry new media the scraps—and manage, mostly, to have them thankful for them.

The Huffington Post has become an ideal back door for the most partisan stuff (…) It’s as obvious and as unfiltered. ”The Times, it appears, gets soft, thoughtful, and complicated stuff. HuffPo gets the mean and simplistic,” says Michael Tomasky, The Guardian’s Washington-based American editor-at-large.

In other words, the Obama people have purchase on both established media and partisan media. [T]he Obama people are running a message across numerous spectra of purpose and subtlety and payoff. Indeed, while the Times seems reserved for the more weighty exegesis, and the HuffPo for its attacks, Politico (…) has become the prime outlet for Obama White House gossip (…).

Michael Wolffs slutord är intressanta med tanke på bilden av hur media manipulerades under George W. Bush och att media då ansågs vara alltför obenägna att granska Bush-administrationen;

They have been handed a most remarkable historical moment—in which they get to remake the media in their own image. They have the power and they are the subject. These people in this White House are in greater control of the media than any administration before them.

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