March 17, 2017 Last Updated 11:23 am

MP George Osborne named editor of the London Evening Standard; Tillerson does some saber-rattling in Asia

Morning Brief: Owner of Out and The Advocate, Here Media, said to be exploring a sale as media mergers and acquisitions continues to heat up

The journalism career of the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, has taken a definite turn for the better. Unable to secure a position in The Times trainee program in 1993, and rejected by The Economist, Osborne soon gave up on the idea of a journalism career and settled on politics – a profession which, as we can see every day, requires neither experience nor any obvious skills.

Osborne proved a natural, winning a seat in the House of Commons before being picked to lead the UK’s drive to austerity. But the Brexit vote led to the resignation of his champion, David Cameron, and he was soon sacked. But he remains an MP, which means he has time on his hands. What a still young bloke to do with all that time? Well, editing a newspaper seems like a fine idea.

That is what the son of the former First Chief Directorate of the KGB, Evgeny Lebedev, thought, as well. So, today Osborne was named as the new editor of the Evening Standard.

“This is such an exciting and challenging job and I’m thrilled to take it on,” Osborne said today. “The Evening Standard is a great paper, testimony to the hard work of Sarah Sands and the impressive team, and to the investment of its owners. I look forward to working with, learning from and leading this team of dedicated professionals.”

“In George, we have appointed someone of huge political achievement, and economic and cultural authority. Once he put himself forward for the position, he was the obvious choice,” Lebedev said, apparently not in jest.

Osborne said he’d work on the paper four days a week, but as the MP has no journalism experience what that exactly means is unknown.

“This appointment is bad news for the reputation of politics, journalism and the relationship between the two,” said Wes Streeting, MP for Ilford North. “He simply cannot continue as an MP while editing a daily newspaper and his appointment raises serious doubts about whether London’s Labour Mayor, MPs and councils will receive fair coverage under such an obviously partisan editor.”

As many journalists snarkily remarked, Osborne will finally come face to face with true austerity once he enters a newsroom.

Rex Tillerson, the former Exxon executive, and now Secretary of State, is off in Asia and apparently eager to gin up war with North Korea. That should be good for newspaper circulation, but so far one hasn’t heard that Tillerson wants to become a newspaper editor after he leaves the Trump administration.

The Washington Post, Anna Fifield and Anne Gearan:

Tillerson says diplomacy with North Korea has ‘failed’; Pyongyang warns of war

The Trump administration made a clear break Thursday with diplomatic efforts to talk North Korea out of a nuclear confrontation, bringing the United States and its Asian allies closer to a military response than at any point in more than a decade.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that 20 years of trying to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear program had failed and that he was visiting Asia “to exchange views on a new approach.”

Fox News, Rich Edson:

Tillerson refuses to rule out nuclearization of Asian allies to keep North Korea in check

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in an exclusive interview with Fox News, refused to rule out increased weaponization and even nuclearization of America’s East Asian allies to deter North Korean aggression.

“We’re exchanging views,” Tillerson said, while standing a few feet within what is technically North Korean territory inside what is known as the Joint Security Area.

“Nothing has been taken off the table,” he said, when asked whether he would rule out nuclearization of the peninsula, during the interview with Fox News.

Tillerson, who’s called the past 20 years of diplomacy toward North Korea a failure, has said the world needs a new strategy.

“Let me be very clear: the policy of strategic patience has ended,” said Tillerson in a later press availability in Seoul with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se.

I assumed this year would be a big year in media M&A due to the fact that few deals will get much resistance from the new administration, and several years of declining ad revenue would finally push a few owners to decide to sell.

The latest to be looking, according to the Post’s Keith Kelly, is Here Media, which looks to be shopping Out and The Advocate. It has hired the Century City based firm Houlihan Lokey (Here Media is also LA based).

NY Post, Keith Kelly:

Out, The Advocate rumored to be up for sale

While the magazines are said to barely break even, their gay and lesbian-themed Web sites are money makers, bringing a profit of about $3 million for the combined print and digital operation on revenue of about $15 million.

The titles since 2009 have been owned by Los Angeles-based Here, which operates it through Regent Entertainment Media…

…For the past decade, Here Media has outsourced production of the magazines to Aaron Hicklin’s Brooklyn-based Grand Editorial.

Hicklin is the former editor-in-chief of Gear and BlackBook magazines and helped revive Out after he took the top spot in 2006.

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