Click here to receive Mediabistro’s Morning Media Newsfeed via email.
Pro-Russian Separatists Seize TV HQ In Eastern Ukraine (Reuters)
Pro-Russian separatists took control of the regional prosecutor’s office and television center in the eastern city of Luhansk on Tuesday, having earlier seized the government headquarters, a Reuters photographer said. BBC News Activists went into the regional television station, but decided not to take it over after they were allowed to make a live broadcast. Following the takeovers, President Oleksandr Turchynov demanded the dismissal of the police chiefs in Luhansk and the other eastern city of Donetsk.Business Insider Pro-Russian separatists have now seized government buildings in at least 10 cities throughout the eastern part of the country. Pro-Russian activists have also shot the mayor of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city. All the while, journalists throughout eastern Ukraine routinely face intimidation amid the threat of kidnapping and assault. The Guardian About 3,000 activists — some in masks and military fatigues — stormed the regional government HQ and other key buildings. A pro-Russian militia had occupied the security service office in Luhansk, a town of 465,000, just 20 miles from the Russian border. In recent days, Kiev’s tentative grip on local law enforcement in the east appears to have slipped completely. In Luhansk, riot police stood passively in a courtyard. “The regional leadership does not control its police force,” Stanislav Rechynsky, an aide to the interior minister in Kiev said. “The local police did nothing.”WSJ The latest moves in Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region came despite a new wave of sanctions on Russia by the U.S. and European Union aimed at forcing the Kremlin to rein in the activists, who have echoed Russian President Vladimir Putin in denouncing Ukraine’s two-month-old government as illegal. The attacks on Luhansk’s regional police headquarters, administration building, prosecutor’s office and television broadcasting facilities mark the biggest advance for the pro-Russia rebels since early April, when militants took control of the regional building of Ukraine’s state-security service, the SBU.
Twitter Tops 250 Million Users, But Stock Tanks 10 Percent (Mashable)
Twitter beat earnings and revenue estimates for the first quarter, but users numbers came in at the low end of Wall Street estimates. Twitter reported breaking even on an earnings per share basis on revenue of $250 million for the March quarter, compared to Wall Street estimates for a net loss of $0.03 per share on revenue of $241.5 million. Re/Code Twitter reported 255 million monthly active users as of the end of March, coming in at the low end of the user growth range that Wall Street had anticipated. That’s a 5.8 percent increase from the 241 million users it had at the end of the fourth quarter, and a 25 percent increase from the year-ago quarter. GigaOMTwitter has experienced a consistent decrease in the pace of its user growth over the last year, but Q1 marks a rebound for the company — although it’s minor. Analysts were expecting “strong growth” that signaled potential — analysts expected 257 million users. THR Twitter stock was falling 9 percent in after-hours trading Tuesday.
Morgan Spurlock Strikes Deal With The Associated Press (Deadline Hollywood)
Award-winning filmmaker Morgan Spurlock has struck a landmark development deal with The Associated Press, which will grant the Super Size Me documentarian and his New York-based Warrior Poets production banner unlimited access to adapt the AP’s library of broadcast, digital and mobile content. Capital New York Spurlock is currently the host and executive producer of Inside Man on CNN, which is in the midst of its second season and has just been renewed for a third season by the cable channel. He will also host and executive-produce a new series on Showtime in June, Seven Deadly Sins. Both of those shows feature real people and real stories. The deal with the AP could ease the process of finding those story subjects, while also giving the production company access to the journalists that first reported on them. WSJ / Speakeasy Journalism has long been a wellspring of source material for documentary filmmakers and Hollywood studios alike. Now, some producers and news outlets are making more of an effort to streamline this relationship, given the growing demand for content, especially in television and online. Earlier this month, the Weinstein Co. and Gannett, which owns USA Today, announced a similar first-look agreement.
AP Names David Scott Political Editor (FishbowlNY)
David Scott has been named political editor for the Associated Press. Scott most recently oversaw the AP’s Central Region, which includes 14 states. He had served in that role since 2009. FishbowlDC Scott joined the AP in 1999 as a staff reporter before being elevated to North Carolina News Editor in 2005. He will move to Washington to take over his new duties and report to Washington Bureau Chief Sally Buzbee. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media He is expected to oversee the AP’s political coverage through the 2014 and 2016 elections. The AP has been without a stable political editor since Liz Sidoti left in December to join BP, the oil and gas company, as head of communications for its U.S. division. Washington news editor David Pace took over as interim editor while the AP conducted its search for a permanent replacement.
Disney Tried to Buy BuzzFeed (Fortune)
The Walt Disney Co. was in talks to acquire online content juggernaut BuzzFeed earlier this year. Talks apparently broke down over price — with BuzzFeed said to have sought upwards of $1 billion — and are not believed to still be active. Mashable Disney would later go with Maker Studios, the YouTube-centric video production company. Maker cost Disney $500 million, but could add another $450 million if the video producer hits certain incentive targets, bringing it close to the $1 billion asking price of BuzzFeed. The acquisition of BuzzFeed would have given Disney a serious digital beachhead, particularly if it had also gone through with the Maker purchase. CNBC “The only thing that I will say is we had some conversations with BuzzFeed months ago, there’s nothing active right now,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said when asked about the report. “I like BuzzFeed a lot. I think they have done a great job. I like that media space — it’s a truly new media platform in many respects — we ended up buying Maker Studios,” Iger said. “It’s not quite the same, but there are some similarities — short-form video, viral video. So, I think… at this point we have a full hand in that space.”
DreamWorks Animation Takes $57 Million Writedown on Mr. Peabody (Variety)
DreamWorks Animation SKG has taken a $57 million impairment charge against earnings due to the disappointing box office results for Mr. Peabody and Sherman. The company reported Tuesday a first-quarter loss of $42.9 million, or 51 cents a share, on revenues of $147.2 million. DreamWorks Animation posted earnings of $5.6 million, or seven cents a share, on revenues of $134.6 million during the 2013 first quarter. Deadline New York The write-down “is evidence of the current challenges we face within our feature film segment, and restoring the strength in our core business is my number one priority today,” CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg said. He adds that DWA’s next release – How To Train Your Dragon 2, set to open June 13 — “will put us back on-track to once again reach the levels of box office success that we’ve achieved historically.” TheWrap Peabody has grossed $261 million at the worldwide box office — a large sum, but not enough for a movie that cost $135 million to produce and millions more to market. The movie contributed just $3 million in revenue this quarter, but the costs accrue in the lead-up to the movie’s release. DreamWorks Animation said its main distributor, Fox, had yet to recoup its investment. DreamWorks Animation has taken a writedown on three of its last four movies – Turbo, Rise of the Guardians and Peabody. WSJ The company’s shares dropped 5.2 percent to $25 in after-hours trading. DreamWorks has been trying to focus more on generating results from its offerings beyond the multiplex, particularly with a deal it struck in 2012 with Netflix Inc.
Ethiopia Arrests Journalists in Press Crackdown (WSJ)
Ethiopian authorities have arrested nine journalists in what an international press-freedom group on Tuesday described as one of the worst violations of freedom of expression in the Horn of Africa nation. NYT Six bloggers for Zone 9, an Amharic-language website whose writers have criticized the government, and three freelance journalists were arrested. No formal charges have yet been filed. “The timing of the arrests — just days before the U.S. secretary of state’s visit — speaks volumes about Ethiopia’s disregard for free speech,” Leslie Lefkow, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Africa division, said in a statement on Monday. Getachew Reda, an adviser to Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, said the arrests had nothing to do with the journalists’ work. “The police have put under custody people who have been suspected of being involved in criminal activities,” he said.
TMZ, NBC Blow the Donald Sterling News (Politico / Dylan Byers on Media)
In an episode reminiscent of the media’s famous bungling of the Supreme Court’s healthcare ruling, both TMZ and NBC News inaccurately reported on the NBA’s punishment for Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling on Tuesday. Minutes before NBA Commissioner Adam Silver took to the lectern for a press conference, both organizations reported that the NBA would suspend Sterling “indefinitely” and fine him $5 million for racist remarks he had made in a phone conversation, audio of which was obtained by TMZ. Minutes later, Silver announced that the NBA would suspend Sterling “for life,” and that he would be fined $2.5 million. Poynter / MediaWire In a statement, NBC said: “Prior to [Silver's] press conference, we had information from our high-level NBA sourcing that proved to be inaccurate. We immediately corrected the error on all platforms of NBC News, including the special report that ran on our air.”
Adidas Reinstates Marketing Partnership With Los Angeles Clippers (WSJ)
In related news, Global athletic-wear maker Adidas is reinstating its marketing partnership with the Los Angeles Clippers following Silver’s decision to ban Sterling for life. The decision came just hours after Adidas decided to suspend its marketing partnership with the team following the airing of racially insensitive comments attributed to Sterling. Germany-based Adidas has marketing partnerships with both the Clippers team and the National Basketball Association. The latter deal extends through the 2016-2017 season.
And the Winners of the 2014 Webby Awards Are… (SocialTimes)
The winners of the 18th Annual Webby Awards were announced, with De La Soul taking Webby Artist of the Year, the Jamaican Bobsled Team taking Athlete of the Year for their ingenuity in crowdfunding their trip to the Sochi Olympics, and Kickstarter getting the award for Breakout of the Year. Medium won a Webby for both Best User Experience and Best Visual Design (Function). Tumblr won a Webby and People’s Voice award for both the Community and Social categories. Vine took the Social Media and the Best Use of Mobile Video Awards.
Robin Givhan Returns to The Washington Post (Washington Post)
The Washington Post’s executive features editor Liz Seymour announced Tuesday that Robin Givhan will return to the Post in early June as a fashion critic and writer. Capital New York In 2010, Givhan left the Post after a 15-year tenure and a 2006 Pulitzer Prize for criticism as a star hire to Tina Brown’s combined Daily Beast-Newsweek. She was laid off in late 2012 in a round of cuts that came as the property went digital only. Of late, Givhan has been contributing to New York magazine’s fashion site and section, The Cut, reviewing shows and writing on the culture of fashion.
Condé Nast to Launch New Digital Brand Aggregating Video (Variety)
Condé Nast Entertainment sees strength in numbers in the video space — even if that means mixing its high-class brands with those outside the company. The publishing giant has recruited a slew of brands to produce original video programming as part of a new aggregation venture in hopes the combined scale will unleash more advertising dollars. CNE unveiled a new brand, dubbed The Scene, at its newfront presentation Tuesday. That announcement features the participation of select partners that also includes ABC News, BuzzFeed and Major League Soccer, which will lead key verticals outside of the lifestyle and fashion areas dominated by Condé Nast’s own brands, which include Glamour, GQ and Vanity Fair.
NBCUniversal Dedicates West Coast News Center to Tom Brokaw (Variety)
NBCUniversal has dedicated its West Coast news center to NBC journalist Tom Brokaw. The Brokaw News Center, located on the Universal Studios lot, will be the home to the West Coast operations of NBC News, CNBC, MSNBC and Telemundo News and local stations NBC4 Southern California/KNBC and Telemundo 52/KVEA. Brokaw has a distinguished career from reporting on the subject including civil rights movement, Watergate, Tiananmen Square, the fall of the Berlin Wall and September 11. He has received a Peabody, Dupont and Emmy awards and was the first U.S. journalist to interview Vladimir Putin, Mikhail Gorbachev and the Dalai Lama. TVNewser“This is a singular honor and I am so grateful to Steve Burke and the Comcast team for making it possible,” said Brokaw. “I still remember the day I drove into the NBC News Burbank parking lot and thought, ‘My life is about to change.’ I had just turned 26 and now, almost a half century later, indeed it has changed in ways I could not have imagined.”
Bloomberg’s Jonathan Allen to Be Named Bureau Chief (Politico / Dylan Byers on Media)
Bloomberg News is planning to promote White House reporter Jonathan Allen to Washington bureau chief, sources familiar with the company’s plans said Tuesday. The move is part of Bloomberg’s larger effort to shore up its political coverage after a string of high-level departures from the D.C. office, including executive editor Susan Goldberg and managing editor Tim Franklin in January. Allen, who joined Bloomberg from Politico in January, is a co-author of the new Hillary Clinton biography HRC and is currently at work on a follow-up book, also with co-author Amie Parnes, that will document Clinton’s likely bid for the White House in 2016.
Peggy Conlon Retires as President, CEO of Ad Council (AgencySpy)
Peggy Conlon is retiring as president and CEO of The Advertising Council, board chair Debra Lee announced Tuesday. Conlon, along with the members of the board, have initiated the process of finding a successor who will transition into the role by early next year. Conlon joined the Ad Council back in 1999.