The Weekly Wrap: Freelance & Creative News

Oshry Sisters’ Show Cancelled After Anti-Muslim Remarks

Verizon Oath canceled Claudia and Jackie Oshry’s social media talk show The Morning Breath after their anti-muslim and racist tweets surfaced.

Their troubles erupted from a Daily Beast story revealing their mother is Pamela Geller, who is reportedly a right-wing activist also known for hate speech.

Posts were then found on the sisters Twitter accounts (which are now gone) including one from Claudia  in 2014 that said: “I can’t but feel like I’m funding terrorism when I take a cab.”

In 2012, Jackie tweeted a New York Times story about President Obama’s potential visit to Israel with the comment, “No thanks! There are enough unwanted Muslims there already,” reported Variety.

Of course, the Oshry sisters apologized. They said their comments don’t reflect who they really are. They also said they don’t align with their mother’s ideologies, says People.

Question: If their tweets that attract negative publicity don’t reflect who they are, do their tweets that show decency reflect who they are?

I’m just asking how this works.

Gothamist, DCist and LAist To Reopen

Local news sites Gothamist, DCist and LAist have been resurrected by three public radio stations with funds primarily from two anonymous donors, CNN Money reported.

Gothamist will be run by WNYC in New York and DCist by the capitol’s WAMU. Both plan to relaunch in the spring.

KPCC in Southern California is hoping to successfully integrate LAist into its portfolio of services, according to Wired. But it’s not clear when it will relaunch.

If you missed it, Joe Ricketts, founder of online stock brokerage TD Ameritrade, shut down the sites in November, a week after the New York staff voted to unionize.

Facebook Spending $3 Million On Local News

The Facebook Journalism Project launched a $3 million, three-month Local News Subscriptions Accelerator to help metropolitan news organizations get more digital subscribers.

Publications that are participating include the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Chicago Tribune, Miami Herald, and Seattle Times, reported Adweek.

Little Things Shuts Down

LittleThings, a lifestyle website that published inspirational and how-to content for women, has shut down. The company blames Facebook’s algorithm change, says TechCrunch.

After Facebook started prioritizing posts from family and friends over content from publishers, Little Things’ web traffic fell 75%, said the company’s CEO.

That scared parties who were in talks to buy the company and put the website in a dire position with its debt.

Barnes & Noble Unveils “TurnAround” Plans

Last week I told you about Barnes & Noble’s massive job cuts.

This week, B&N’s CEO announced the company’s current stores are too big. Part of the turnaround plan includes opening five prototype stores that are about 12,000 sq. ft. smaller than the typical chain stores.

The small-format stores will focus on books and will have an assortment of nonbook items, but they will scale back on movies and DVDs. They’ll also have a cafe. The first prototype is scheduled to open in Hackensack, NJ this summer, reported Publisher’s Weekly.

Another part of the plan is allowing customers to buy a book online and pick it up at a local store within an hour.

So basically, B&N’s plan involves saving money on leases and labor. As far as the book ordering thing…I’m not quite sure why it’s a big deal to complete the transaction online if you have to go to the store anyway. But maybe I’m missing something. Does any of this make you more likely to shop at Barnes & Noble?

Newsweek Fires 2 More Editors

Newsweek fired Gersh Kuntzman. He’s the editor who grilled the magazine’s owners at a town hall meeting about the district attorney’s raid of Newsweek’s offices. The magazine also dropped national editor John Seeley.

Newsweek is currently battling allegations of ad fraud, IRS tax liens and publicity over shady dealings involving its ties to Olivet University, a California-based Bible college (You can catch up here).

Since the Manhattan DA’s raid on Jan. 18, at least five people have been fired and another 12 resigned. One insider said the bloodbath is not over, reported the New York Post.

Photographer Wins $89,000 in Lawsuit

Canadian Bride Emily Liao claims she was disappointed with her pre-wedding photos. So, she spent almost a year unleashing online attacks against freelance photographer Kitty Chan and her business Amara Wedding.

According to court documents Liao made her feelings known on English and Chinese social media platforms. And, she used terms such as “bait and switch scam”, “dirty tactics”, and “lying to consumers,” says BBC.

The crazy thing was Chan provided other services for Liao but still offered to refund a portion of Liao’s money and walk away from the outstanding balance.

Liao refused and sued. Chan counter-sued for the balance of the contract.

Liao’s case was thrown out. Chan gets $89,000. Unfortunately, due to the damage, she closed her shop in January 2017.

Africa’s Mona Lisa” Tutu Fetches Record Price

Tutu, a portrait of the Nigerian Ife royal Princess Adetutu Ademiluyi, sold for about $1.68 million in a London auction. That’s four times what auctioneers were expecting.

The painting, composed by renowned Nigerian artist Ben Enwonwu, was missing for over 20 years. It was found in an apartment last year in London, reported Quartz.

Movie Posters Getting Art Clout

Film producer Mike Kaplan has a life mission to see movie posters accepted as a legitimate art form.

Offering a step in that direction, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is presenting “The Art of the Movie Poster: Highlights From the Mike Kaplan Collection, ” the LA Times announced.

The installation will be divided into parts. The first exhibit runs through April 29 and includes the only known posters for D.W. Griffith’s 1921 “Orphans of the Storm,” John Ford’s 1939 “Stagecoach” and Archie Mayo’s 1935 “Bordertown.”

The second exhibit will run from May 12 – July 1.

Complex Media Sells Collider

Complex Media sold its Collider website to Marc Fernandez, an ex-Complex staffer who is now a cryptocurrency investor, and his silent partner. They plan to the turn the entertainment news site into a diversified media business, says the Hollywood Reporter.

Collider has set up shop in Burbank, with 18 staffers and a half-dozen freelancers. Fernandez hopes to boost the staff to 50 by the end of the year. Collider will continue to publish articles and produce short-form video series.

Ultimately, Fernandez hopes Collider can license its projects to distribution partners. He also told HR he’s looking for ways to incorporate blockchain technology into the business.

Meanwhile, Complex plans to focus on “deeply cultural driving brands.”

Hornet Mixes LGBTQ Social With Media

Hornet launched Hornet.com, a one-stop destination that provides access to the company’s gay social network and editorial for the LGBTQ community.

Hornet says the site will offer original content by award-winning LGBTQ journalists, breaking news, pop culture headlines and a curated LGBTQ guide to cities around the world. It’s also offered in several languages.

Combining the social network and digital magazine unifies Hornet’s brand presence and leadership position in LGBTQ media,” says Matthew Smith, Hornet’s SVP of Global Sales.

Research Suggests Standing Desks Have Drawbacks

Standing desks are often touted as a positive alternative to sitting at a regular desk. Benefits allegedly include promoting weight loss, reducing back pain, and keeping users more alert.

But, the Washington Post points to a collection of research that suggests standing desks aren’t a holy grail.

One small study found prolonged use causes “discomfort and deteriorating mental reactiveness.” A more extensive survey found standing too long actually causes back pain and swelling veins. And a third 12-year study found that people who mostly stand at work were nearly twice as likely to develop heart disease as people who mostly sit.

The bottom line is that popularity of standing desks has been driven more by commercial reasons than scientific evidence, says Alan Taylor, a physiotherapy expert at Nottingham University. “But the evidence is catching up, and it’s showing there are some drawbacks.”

Well, I’ve been thinking about buying a standing desk, and I still might.

Snapchat Offers Data To Elite Creators

Snapchat is offering analytics to members of it official Stories program. That data includes total story views, basic engagement metrics, and general geographic data, says Website Magazine.

Currently, this info is limited to that “very exclusive and limited” group of Stories members who have a substantial amount of followers. But it’s something that could appeal to social creators and advertisers on a broader scale, especially since it’s a feature Instagram doesn’t offer, the magazine added.

Facebook Becomes A Job Board Too

Facebook is going to help connect businesses with workers, and hopefully freelancers.

Businesses will be able to post job openings to a Jobs tab on their Page, a Jobs dashboard, the Facebook Marketplace, and the News Feed.

Those seeking work can auto-fill applications with their Facebook profile information, edit and submit their application, and communicate via Messenger.

If you’re worried about what potential clients may see on your page, you shouldn’t be, according to Facebook. They’ll only be able to see what’s public on your page, says TechCrunch.

Canadian Journalists’ Arrest Unresolved

Global News journalist Jeremy Cohn and freelance videographer David Richie were arrested nearly 10 months ago by Hamilton police while covering a fatal car crash in Waterdown, Ontario.

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression called for a public inquiry and says it’s “outrageous” and “completely unacceptable” that the investigation hasn’t been resolved.

But apparently, delays are limited to this case.

Camille Williams, a spokesperson for Ontario’s Office of the Independent Police Review Director, a police watchdog group, said they “endeavor” to complete investigations within a 120-day timeline but, on average, completing an investigation through the public complaints system takes about 144 days.

“But we have made a number of changes and expect that to improve,” Williams added.

Cohn has filed a $900,000 lawsuit.

Freelance Photographer Aids Burglary Arrest

Ken Branca, a freelance news photographer, was sitting at Poppy’s Pizza in Castle Hills, TX “waiting for news to happen” when it did. A car pulled up to Bike City and two people jumped out and smashed the door with a rock.

Branca called 911 and followed the suspects when they left the crime scene until the Castle Hills police caught up. One male jumped out of the car and was arrested, reported Spectrum News.

Freelance Photographer Nearly “Taken Out”

Loudlab’s photographer Victor Park was nearly “taken out” as police chased a suspected stolen SUV in Beverly Hills. Park was recording the whole thing and barely missed getting hit when the vehicle crashed and spun onto the sidewalk.

Watch it


Author Ryuho Okawa Sold Over 100 Million Books

Japanese author Ryuho Okawa says he has sold over 100 million books worldwide. The “spiritual thought-leader” and founder of the Happy Science movement, says he wrote seven titles that were released in the U.S. last year and he plans to release six more titles in 2018.

Last year’s releases include:


The American Legion is hosting an entrepreneur contest for poppy-themed merchandise. Veterans and their spouses can enter and the winner will receive up to a $10,000 order for a product.

The contest is open from February 28 to April 25.

So, if qualify and you wrote a book about poppies or take poppy photographs, go for it. Here are the details.

Dallas Observer is looking for freelance food writers to cover food and people in Dallas. Here are details.

Hills & Dales Estate photo contest runs March 1 – July 31. The objective is to get fresh perspectives on the estate, which is in Lagrange, GA. The grand prize is $250 and there are $100 category prizes. Find out more here.

Multihousing Pro, a magazine for apartment and rental professionals, announced that they have doubled digital and print circulation in the past few month and they’re planning to expand their special focus supplements.

Their website says they’re always interested in story concepts/proposals from writers and journalists. If they’re expanding at that rate, it sounds like now could be a good time to pitch your services. Here’s more info for contact.

What’s New:

GOAT, a digital sneaker marketplace, is launching a lifestyle magazine called Greatest. It’ll feature personal stories about creatives and industry veterans at the forefront of fashion, art, music, design, entrepreneurship.

The magazine will be published bi-annually and shared on goat.com and Instagram @greatest. Print distribution will be available in Tokyo, Los Angeles, Boston, New York, and Miami.

Modern Consensus, a cryptocurrency news site has arrived to offer coverage of the tech, people, and culture of the cryptocurrency and blockchain world. It was launched by two former New York Observer editors, Ken Kurson and Lawrence Lewitinn.

Author Ta-Nehisi Coates is writing the new “Captain America” comic series. Captain America #1 drops on the Fourth of July.

He’s the author who wrote the rebooted Black Panther series last year. He also wrote Between the World and Me, a winner of the National Book Award, and We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy, a collection of essays about Barack Obama’s presidency.

Remember when billionaire Peter Thiel threw his weight behind the Hulk Hogan lawsuit that bankrupted the Gawker? Well, there’s a new book about it called Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue.

In it, the author Ryan Holiday alleges there was 26-year-old who goes by “Mr. A” who concocted the plan for Thiel, says CNN.

A Primer for Poets and Readers of Poetry, a guide to poetry-writing by Gregory Orr, an award-winning poet and professor at the University of Virginia is available. “The book is revolutionary — despite its stodgy title — because it shows readers how to turn an occasional, burning impulse into a lifelong pleasure,” says a Washington Post article.

Schedule It

September 20 – 23

Authors Cheryl Strayed and Elizabeth Gilbert host Brave Magic: An Invitation to Curiosity, Creativity, and Courage, a weekend workshop that’s supposed to help you overcome fear, create a daring purposeful life, and start “the creative pursuits that most light you up.”

It will be held at 1440 Multiversity in northern California. It costs $550. Want more details? Here you go.

One More Thing…

Author Cynthia Heimel died at age 70. She’s described as an OG of feminism. She was a humorist, party girl and lifelong advocate for a woman’s right to have a good time, says Salon.

The book “Sex Tips for Girls” made her a literary celebrity and her resume included work as a sex columnist for the Village Voice and Playboy.

And that is your Weekly Wrap folks!

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