September 9, 2015 Last Updated 3:47 pm

Apple event may be packed with product introductions, but few expect many surprises

Morning Brief: Day after Labor Day packed with drama as Meredith sale to Media General is announced, Tribune Publishing reshuffles the deck, and CEO of United is ousted

The Apple iPhone event is today at 1ET /10PT and the rumor sites have thoroughly explained what is to be expected to be announced. The only real question in my mind is whether Apple has so given up on the iPad that it will end the practice of giving it its own event – that appears likely.

Apple-event-siriTo be unveiled today are new iPhone models, a new iPad mini and a larger iPad Pro, an updated Apple TV and a launch date (likely next week) for iOS 9. Apple, unable to get the broadcasters to sign up for a new streaming service, has pivoted and now want the new Apple TV to be seen as a gaming device. Gamers will have the last word.

It is amazing how little drama there is at these events. But it would displace selective memory to think that this hasn’t always been the case. The famous iPhone event is a case in point: everyone knew a smartphone would be introduced, the only reason the event has gone down in history is that Apple and Steve Jobs did such an amazing job with the introduction, and the iPhone has dominated the industry ever since. But how did that event end? It wasn’t the iPhone portion that ended it, it was the announcement that Eric Schmidt of Google and Jerry Lang of Yahoo were joining the Apple board of directors and that Apple was dropping “Computer” from its name and would from then on be called simply Apple Inc. That Apple was entering the phone business was not a surprise – and was, in fact, a disappointment to many who felt the company was losing its focus.

Because this is not a developer event, there may not be much talk if any about the new Apple News app. Apple continues to only allow a small group of publishers to have access to its new Apple News Format. Word is that Apple has brought on 50 partners, but I think what is meant by this is that Apple is actively working with 50 – after all, TNM is an approved Apple News publisher, but I doubt this site would be considered one of the 50. Because of this poorly executed roll-out, I’m not optimist about the new app.

Yesterday was a crazy day in the newspaper and magazine world in the US.

LAT-pub-storyEarly in the morning came word that Media General would be acquiring Meredith Corporation and together would form Meredith Media General. The new media company would the the third largest owner of local television stations in the US. But for publishing professionals it means a major shift as now magazine publishing will only represent about a third of the revenue at the company leading many to wonder if it were possible that one day Meredith Media General might decide to spin-off its magazine division. It might, especially if the new company needs to raise cash or rescue its stock price. (See story on merger here.)

At about the same time Politico was reporting that the publisher at the Los Angeles Times, Austin Beutner, was being thrown overboard by Tribune Publishing. The newspaper publisher was saying nothing, but not denying it either. Then came work of Beutner’s replacement, Timothy Ryan, and the company did not mind saying they had let the previous publisher go for “lagging financial performance and a series of expensive, politically connected executive hires.” Beutner was offended and went on to his Facebook page to explain himself. It was ugly.

But now it will be Ryan’s job to manage the Southern California properties which include the recently acquired San Diego Union-Tribune. Californians are leery of east coast newspaper executives, and there is a history of them struggling to succeed there, so Ryan has his work cut out for him. (See story on Ryan’s appointment here.)

The day ended with word that the CEO of United Airlines, as well as his communications team, were let go and replaced. That may be outside the world of media, but it is likely that the story will dominate the others for the next few days as it involves accusations that there were favors traded with the chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. (See NYT report on firing here.)

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