Monday, February 20, 2012

HarperCollins: Perhaps This Explains Why Jonathan Burnham Was Inspired To Take Such A Seeming Risk

Posted by Peter Quennell

HarperCollin’s parent company News Corp itself continues to be a major news items, especially in the UK.

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp vehicles have had a history of racy reporting and and right-wing-party support, and now both are rather on the outer. The investigations in London into phone tapping and bribing of police for stories seem only to be getting worse.

As a result NYC-based News Corp and its minions, perhaps including HarperCollins (Jonathan Burnham is one of Rupert’s talented British imports to New York) might be making some risky or unwise moves.

Okay. Back to the stock charts once again to see what the collective voting wisdom of informed investors may be telling us about this.

News Corp cannot be compared directly to Lagadere the parent company of Hachette which is soon to publish John Kercher’s “Meredith” as the Paris-based Lagadere is not listed on the New York exchange,

So here above we show the stock for Penguin Publishing’s parent company Pearson instead. It is a good surrogate as Lagadere and Pearson are the world’s two most successful and fastest-growing publishing groups.

What does the chart above tell us? (Click it for a larger version.) The green curve is the Dow Jones index, which is the stock exchange’s large-company average.

  • Over the five years shown Penguin’s parent Pearson (red curve) is UP around 20% compared to the average.
  • Meanwhile HarperCollins’s parent News Corp (blue curve) is DOWN an amazing 30 percent compared to the average.

That 30 percent down represents a drop of over FIFTEEN BILLION DOLLARS in five years in the market value of the parent company. Very worrisome for the hard-pressed Mr Murdoch and the increasingly edgy News Corp stock holders.

And who knows? Maybe it helped inspired Mr Burnham in his office a few blocks away (he surely owns the News Corps stock and wants the whole company to gain) to go for broke on the Knox book with $4 million down.

Did any of the main media reporting on the book (over 200 hits on Google News) happen to mention this?!


Time and again these analyses of underlying value trends pay off. Especially when it comes to the media. At any one time more will be moving down than will be moving up, and it is those that are headed down that are the ones to watch.

We showed that the stock of CBS’s parent Viacom wasn’t doing so hot when the absurdly biased reporting of Paul Ciolino and Haldeman & Longhini and Peter Van Sant began.

We showed that the stock of CNN’s parent Time Warner was tanking when they ran the ludicrously biased Drew Griffin interview with Mr Mignin which ran only 4-5% of his answers heavily interspersed with negative voice-overs of their own.

The New York Times reporting has been a disappointment throughout, and as they fade somewhat they have fewer and fewer resources to thrown into coverage of a story like this. Crime has never been their best bet.

KUDOS TO THE DAILY BEAST AND THE SEATTLE PI for assigning resources to Barbie Nadeau and Andrea Vogt to do superb reporting. As expected, they are both owned by prospering concerns (IAC and Hearst). Hearst is privately held but IAC’s stock has DOUBLED in the past two years.  Take that New Corps!

QUALITY seems the better way to go than the Rupert Murdoch model, as Rupert is maybe figuring out, and the two great journalism schools in Manhattan (Columbia U and New York U) both think quality is the only sure way to survival and growth.

John Follain in case you are wondering works for Rupert Murdoch on the Europe beat for the Times, but his excellent Death in Perugia was published by Hodder & Stoughton which is (no surprise) owned by Hachette.

What are stock prices (hopefully) telling Jonathan Burnham? That the Marriott model is toxic. DON’T head off down that slippery slope. The nice book “Meredith” will proportionally make a LOT more for Hachette.

If you believe in gods it seems that the same god that watches over Meredith also watches over that part of the corporate world that is benign to her. And the exact opposite for Knox.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/20/12 at 05:20 PM | #

One thing is certain: such book deals will need some promotion - perhaps some serious promotion. And if there are open questions, the best answer (my guess) will be that “I cannot comment- the matter is sub judice”.

When you are in a hole, the best advice is to stop digging.

The focus on RS has been much less. I am curious to know what he is going to write about. Certainly not about his knives or his shoes!

It is not only the most difficult thing to know oneself, but the most inconvenient one, too.

Posted by chami on 02/21/12 at 05:32 PM | #

Hi Chami

Yes the devil sure is in those details! I’ve never in my life seen such a wide gap between the first-glance superficial picture and what all those hundreds of pesky details are saying.

Italian know the details because they saw much of the trial on TV and read Micheli and Massei in the original on the DOJ website. Very hard to fool them (except the Hellman jury which Dr Galati was misled by Hellman on their role and scope and what they got to see).

If David Marriott had even an ounce of competence he would never have allowed this to happen. Any competent PR expert will tell you that one NEVER makes the claim that black is white. The PR art is to come out with shades of gray as close as possible to the dark truth.

Instead Marriott has created a house of cards for Knox where any one card pulled out has the whole crashing down.  Get her on the stand under cross-examination and it will be all over in a morning, and we get the rest of the day off.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/21/12 at 06:09 PM | #

Judging by some of the photo’s of Knox doing the rounds these days she just wants it all to go away! As you’ve said Peter [it was confirmed by her warden and cell-mate] she had it fairly cushy in prison, she had no real worries. Now that the honeymoon is over and reality is biting things are turning rough. No sight nor sound of Sollecitto though - I don’t think we’ll be seeing him in Seattle, daddy wouldn’t allow it.

A question: could Knox be subpoenaed if sherefused to show up for the calunia trial?

Posted by Melanie on 02/21/12 at 06:20 PM | #

Question on Italian criminal law:

If Ms. Knox writes a book and if she commits herself to certain explanations about her whereabouts and non-involvement in the murder, AND, if the case is remanded by the Court of Cassation for a new appeals trial..

Then can her written positions be used against her in a new trial if evidence contradicts her story?

Posted by Gonzaga on 02/22/12 at 12:23 AM | #

One of the nicest points in this sorry excuse for innocence is that Knox is boxed in. She has to make money in order to pay back the million or so bucks, but by doing so she will have to tell something closer to the truth. Point is if she just says basically what she did at the trial, which is nadda, then any book of hers will not sell at all. Her ghost writer will be looking for something more salacious in order to sell the damn thing and I don’t think that sex with strange men will cut it

Posted by Grahame Rhodes on 02/22/12 at 01:06 AM | #

Just now noticed my earlier slip—which would have leapt up to Peter like a jack-in-the-box—in substituting Sollecito’s rather tangible ghost for Amanda’s publisher.

I do mean to say that Jonathan Burnham must be aware of the chance he is taking & may hope to “manage” it, maybe with his own PR machine.

But it’s Amanda who is taking a supreme risk here, even quite apart from the courts.  Certainly, we must hope for justice notwithstanding because that is the implicit demand. Something in our very nature demands justice at last.

Amanda’s first risk is that of intimacy: she will be working closely with the editor, an attractive & highly capable woman, & with a ghost who is so far anonymous but (when chosen) also highly capable.

The more intimacy, the greater risk of self-betrayal. If less intimacy, if a felt distance or remoteness—she loses credit. Her helpers begin to look on the job as a job, a chore, something to be got over with. Perish inspiration.

Psychologically, Amanda’s 9th inning home run which cleared the bases & won the game—because that’s the psychic value of her rape & murder within her so-largely unconscious psychosis—has to be left out of the tale. She wasn’t even playing that game.

Not to say that she is unaware of her act of rape & murder: that is out of the question.  My own hypothesis is that she derived a kind of pleasure or satisfaction from it, knowing well what she had done, throughout her first trial. Psychology of the psychopath, sometimes explicit in confessed psychopaths.

The risk of intimacy & her felt necessity of avoiding the Main Feature while inventing some sort of nondescript substitute portraying her innocence—sooner or later, the book will prove her undoing.

Posted by Ernest Werner on 02/22/12 at 08:10 AM | #

When i read what the Warden of the Women’s Jail had to say about Amanda regarding her attitude that she is a Princess and her lack of personal hygiene I thought this is a reflection on her home and in particular the Mother.

Girls learn from their Mothers how to take care of themselves. My own would talk to me about being clean and tidy and used to say CLEANINESS IS NEXT TO GODLINESS.  She also told me to guard my thinking and keep thoughts clean because bad thoughts are the road to destruction.

Am sure no one on this site was surprised to read that AK was the only woman in the jail who slept like a baby every night and did not need pills to sleep or for any anxiety. She was only concerned about herself all the time and did not give a damn about anyone else.

Posted by mason2 on 02/22/12 at 08:19 AM | #

Hi Melanie. It seems perps under the Italian system almost always only have to show up when convicted and headed to prison. But Knox would be foolish to simply sit this all out in Seattle.

Hi Gonzaga. Yes Knox’s writings if criminally defamatory could be used against her in one or more new calunnia trials. HarperCollins run the same risk and does Andrew Gumbel. They are unlikely to impact the Supreme Court (though that court sure is watchful) but if they are a belated attempt at a full scenario we might expect her team to follow through with it at any new appeal trial in Perugia.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/22/12 at 01:14 PM | #

More points on the strong case/economy connection.

1) Benign = growth and sharp-elbowed = decay and this is what zillions of people are saying in voting with their purchases and investments. Hopefully they can take control of the head of the parade. Then we will all have a fighting chance. 

2) Apple Corps has a very benign consumer image and is now the most valuable company in the world. It is worth more than the ENTIRE banking sector of the US which via its sharp-elbows model has shot itself in the foot.

3) News Corp via the highly partisan Fox News and the hacking and bribing being exposed in London has a sharp-elbowed image, and it is slow-motion tanking as described in the top post. 

4) Nobody here in the US doubts that the looney wing of the Republican Party (which seems to be all of it these days)  is proud to have sharp elbows. For many years the stock market has decayed when Republican presidents are in power, and taken off when the more benign and inclusive Democrats are in power.;

Not that Democrats have mastered all of the ultimate growth model but they have mastered a lot more of it than the sharp-elbowed wing of the Republicans.  The reasonable wing needs to come back.

5) The Arab world has essentially not grown in a decade and its entire GDP is equal only to the Netherlands. Its aggressive sharp-elbowed image driven by frustration and religious or military control is one it must get beyond. 

6) Europe including Italy is losing its safety net and growth-support net and under the uncomprehending sharp-elbowed guidance of the politicians and bankers and their ludicrous austerity, Europe is setting itself up for 15-30 percent joblessness and slow growth for as far as the eye can see.

7) The rudderless and offputting Amanda Knox has sharp elbows and was and probably still is going nowhere. The focused and charismatic and inclusive Meredith was benign, and seemed headed for what could have been an amazingly useful career.

I guess this tells us that for the good of the world (in our own small way) we need to continue to promote the qualities of Meredith, and not to give in to the chronic self-absorbed losers that will drag all of us down.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/22/12 at 02:21 PM | #

Hopefully and not without some anticipation the science of forensics will improve as it must given the passage of time. Therefore, and once more hopefully, true justice will be served. It must be this small worm of doubt that eats away at Knox’s mind particularly now that she is painted into a corner. She can’t refuse to participate in the writing of any book because if she did then all the blind believers in her innocence will be forced to take another look. I think she will find some excuse to delay for as long as possible facing that losing proposition. Gone forever is the innocent face she has used so successfully and with so much gain. That innocence she will try to use once more of course but to no avail. There is no time limit on murder and I believe that her house of cards will come tumbling down in the most spectacular way. Perhaps Guede for example for he has nothing to lose. Sollecito I predict to his detriment is still taking drugs which is a slippery slope at best.
All we can do is to keep the memory of Meredith alive and in view of the public on both sides of the Atlantic. Hopefully Knox will provided that focus herself

Posted by Grahame Rhodes on 02/22/12 at 05:36 PM | #

Peter thank you for explaining some points which I was unclear about (the AK parents vs the AK calumnia trials) and can you provide more information us on the parents’ calumnia trial which I believe takes place soon (March 19?) in Italy.  Are her parents required to be there?  You say the original prosecutors will not be there.  Who will represent the police and how many of them will testify?  Who will represent the parents?  What would happen if AK testifies and the ruling goes against her parents, then for sure it would show that she lied herself and could she then be arrested again (I doubt she will return to Italy for this trial despite her claims to the contrary).  How would it be proved that AK was lying as the defense will say that all of the police are lying to protect each other and how to prove they are not?  I also believe this is a critical time and perhaps that $4m book will not be written after all.  Or will have to be greatly modified from the original concept.

Posted by believing on 02/22/12 at 11:58 PM | #

Is this atrocious video clip really of Rudy Guede?  He looks completely on drugs as well as insane.  No wonder most people think he was the only perp if this is what they see.

Posted by believing on 02/23/12 at 12:39 AM | #

I just had a look at Rudy on youtube and i had to turn it off. He made me want to vomit

Posted by mason2 on 02/23/12 at 01:25 AM | #

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