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Morning Media Newsfeed: AT&T to Acquire DirecTV | NYT Publisher Speaks | CNN Fires Editor

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AT&T to Buy DirecTV for $48.5 Billion (NYT / DealBook)
AT&T formally agreed on Sunday to buy DirecTV for about $48.5 billion, striking another transaction meant to overhaul the American telecommunications landscape. CNNMoney The boards of the two companies met on Sunday to approve the plan. “This is a unique opportunity that will redefine the video entertainment industry and create a company able to offer new bundles and deliver content to consumers across multiple screens — mobile devices, TVs, laptops, cars and even airplanes,” said Randall Stephenson, the chief executive of AT&T, in a statement. WSJ Just months ago, Comcast Corp. announced a $45 billion agreement to buy Time Warner Cable, a combination that would serve close to 30 million video subscribers, after proposed divestitures. Meanwhile, Sprint Corp. continues to work on a bid for smaller rival T-Mobile US Inc., people familiar with the matter say. The deal for DirecTV gives AT&T almost 26 million pay TV subscribers and a national footprint in the business at a time when the telecom carrier sees video delivery as core to its future. The Associated Press Dallas-based AT&T’s proposed combination could improve its Internet service by pushing its existing U-verse TV subscribers into video over satellite service, and thereby free up bandwidth on its telecommunications network. AT&T currently offers a high-speed Internet plan in a bundle with DirecTV television service. The acquisition would help it further reap the benefits of that alliance. DirecTV would continue to be based in El Segundo, Calif., following the merger. The companies expect the deal to close within 12 months following a government review.

New York Times Publisher Takes Media to Task for Abramson Coverage (FishbowlNY)
The spiraling debate and speculative coverage of Jill Abramson‘s departure from The New York Times as a pay-inequality issue finally became too much for her boss to bear. Saturday afternoon, Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. categorically denied the notion that Abramson was paid less than her male predecessors. Capital New York “Perhaps the saddest outcome of my decision to replace Jill Abramson as executive editor of The New York Times is that it has been cast by many as an example of the unequal treatment of women in the workplace,” Sulzberger said in the statement. “Rather than accepting that this was a situation involving a specific individual who, as we all do, has strengths and weaknesses, a shallow and factually incorrect storyline has emerged.” Following the announcement of Abramson’s firing Wednesday, The New Yorker’s Ken Auletta reported that Abramson had hired a lawyer after learning that her salary was less than that of predecessor Bill Keller. Mediaite Sulzberger insisted Abramson’s pay package was actually 10 percent higher than Keller’s. Sulzberger said “her management of the newsroom was simply not working out” and that’s why she had to go. Sulzberger cited conversations he had with Abramson’s colleagues, who cited “arbitrary decision-making, a failure to consult and bring colleagues with her, inadequate communication and the public mistreatment of colleagues” as issues they had with her. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media Additionally, New York Times Co CEO Mark Thompson sent a memo to a small group of colleagues on Friday after Auletta published another report late Thursday night revealing that Abramson’s annual salary had been less than that of Keller’s, and substantially less than that of her male counterparts for the last 14 years of her career, sometimes by as much as $100,000. Auletta’s report also stated that Abramson’s decision to hire a lawyer had been a factor in the Times’ decision to fire her. WSJ Abramson, 60, was named to her post in September 2011. She was the first woman to hold that position. Abramson was succeeded by Dean Baquet, 57. Baquet had been the paper’s No. 2 editor. He is the first African-American to hold the executive editor post.

CNN Fires Editor for Plagiarism (TVNewser)
CNN has dismissed Marie-Louise Gumuchian, an editor at CNN.com, after the network discovered multiple instances of plagiarism. Gumuchian covered international news from CNN’s London bureau. New York Post CNN, part of media giant Time Warner, said one problem story was flagged earlier in the month during routine editing, leading to the probe. Poynter / Regret the Error Using plagiarism detection software, CNN quickly turned up more examples and have so far found that Gumuchian plagiarized in roughly 50 articles. CNN leadership announced their findings and her firing in an editor’s note published Friday. “Most of what we found was [lifted] from Reuters, which she was previously employed by,” says a CNN source who asked not to be identified due to the fact that they were not cleared to speak publicly about the incident. “We also notified [Reuters]. She worked for us for about six months, so if we found that many in six months I can’t imagine the job Reuters has now.” Reuters is reviewing Gumuchian’s work, a spokesman said. She worked for Reuters for roughly nine years, according to the CNN source. Capital New York In addition to working for Reuters and CNN, Gumuchian has been published in other international newspapers. She appears to have recently deleted her Twitter account. Her last tweet was on May 6.

Barbara Walters: Her Story Delivers Two-Year Friday High for ABC (TVNewser)
Friday night, ABC’s Barbara Walters: Her Story was the highest-rated show in total viewers and the adults 25-54 demo viewers, delivering ABC’s highest total viewer audience on Friday from 9-11 p.m. ET in two years. About 9.3 million viewers and 2.3 million demo viewers watched as Walters answered questions about her life and career. Deadline Hollywood The special was tied with lead-in Shark Tank (1.6/7) for the far away highest-rated show of the night and pulled in 9.30 million viewers to make it the most-watched show of the night by a landslide. Needless to say, ABC cleaned up the night with a 1.6/6 among adults 18-49 overall and 8.38 million total viewers. THR / The Live Feed A potentially sports-preemption-inflated NBC saw steady outings of Dateline and Grimm pull a 1.3 rating with adults 18-49 — the latter airing its season finale. Hannibal improved two-tenths of a point for a 0.9 rating.

OWN Postpones Michael Sam Docuseries (THR / The Live Feed)
Oprah Winfrey’s OWN is postponing its Michael Sam docuseries. The news came amid reports that the NFL and the St. Louis Rams were unaware of Sam’s docuseries plans and just two days after the Discovery-owned cable network officially greenlit the reality show. Mediaite The show would have been about Sam’s journey and preparation for playing with the Rams, but a representative for Sam said they spoke to the team and decided to postpone the project. The Associated Press Sam’s agent, Cameron Weiss, added, “Everybody involved remains committed to this project and understands its historical importance as well as its positive message.”

National Journal Becomes Latest Publication to Eliminate Comments (Mediaite)
The National Journal announced Friday that it would become the latest publication to eliminate its comments section. While they remain committed to the noble calling of serving the public interest through the exchange of ideas, editor-in-chief Tim Grieve writes, the comments section of the venerable Washington insiders’ publication doesn’t live up to those standards. Poynter / MediaWire Comments are currently disappointing, he writes: “For every smart argument, there’s a round of ad hominem attacks — not just fierce partisan feuding, but the worst kind of abusive, racist and sexist name-calling imaginable.” Comments sections will stay “open and visible to National Journal’s members” and “[Its] reporters and editors will remain extremely active and accessible on Twitter,” he writes. You can also email your thoughts and occasionally NJ will open up comments sections on stories “where the unique perspectives and ideas and suggestions of individual readers can add immeasurably to our journalism.” HuffPost In April, the Chicago Sun-Times temporarily turned off reader commenting on its articles due to “negativity,” “racism” and “hate speech.” Many other websites, including Popular Science and Vox.com, do not allow reader comments either.

Emily Steel Headed to NYT (FishbowlNY)
Emily Steel, in the wake of Brian Stelter’s flight to CNN, will be moving over from the Financial Times to join the New York Times’ media desk. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media Steel spent two years at FT, prior to which she was a reporter at The Wall Street Journal. Stelter, the Times‘ former television industry reporter, joined CNN late last year as media reporter and host of Reliable Sources.

Arwa Damon to Receive Courage in Journalism Award (TVNewser)
CNN’s senior international correspondent Arwa Damon has been named a recipient of the 2014 Courage in Journalism Award by the International Women’s Media Foundation. Damon, who started at CNN in 2004 as a freelance producer in the network’s Baghdad bureau, is being honored for her “persistence, strength, and focus” in her war reporting. Poynter / MediaWire Damon “has traveled across the Arab world for more than a decade, reporting extensively on the on-going conflicts in some of the most war-ravaged zones, and in 2012 covered the civil war in Syria.”

Bill Buzenberg to Step Down as Executive Director of Center for Public Integrity (FishbowlDC)
Bill Buzenberg, executive director of the Center for Public Integrity, is set to step down from the nonprofit, investigative news organization at the end of 2014. According to a CPI release, Buzenberg told the center’s board of directors of his intentions in February. Poynter / MediaWire Buzenberg was named to the post in 2007 after a long tenure at NPR. He’s helped raise more than $50 million for CPI, the organization says, and he’ll stay on until a replacement is named. CPI just won its first Pulitzer Prize, for a series about black lung.

Financial Times Launches New York Video Studio (FishbowlNY)
In recent years, video contributions from reporters in Europe, Asia and Africa have overtaken U.S. video content. However, thanks to a brand new fiber-tethered studio launching Monday at the Financial Times’ New York offices, much more U.S. video content will soon be in the offing. In 2013, FT video views grew by 12 percent on the newspaper’s website and by 163 percent on YouTube compared to 2012. Even more importantly, revenue derived last year from video increased year-to-year by 66 percent.

Marcy Wheeler Leaves The Intercept (Capital New York)
Marcy Wheeler is leaving The Intercept, where she had been named senior policy analyst earlier this year. Wheeler announced the move on her blog, EmptyWheel. Wheeler, who writes regularly about national security and civil liberties on her blog, has only published one article to date on the First Look Media publication that was founded by Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill.

Mark Jackson Returns to ESPN With Multi-Year Deal (Deadline Hollywood)
The NBA veteran is heading back to the ESPN broadcast booth. Mark Jackson has inked a multi-year deal to return to the network and serve as an NBA game analyst, ESPN said Saturday. Jackson previously served as an ESPN NBA game analyst from 2006 to 2011. He left to coach the Golden State Warriors, a three-season stint that lasted from 2011 until earlier this month.

WWE Shares Tumble 43 Percent After TV Deal With NBCUniversal (THR)
Shares of World Wrestling Entertainment plunged 43 percent Friday on massive volume after the company said a day prior that it struck a deal to keep several shows on networks owned by NBCUniversal, though at a price analysts figure was well below what CEO Vince McMahon had been angling for.

Paraguayan Journalist Shot Dead, Hit by 17 Bullets (HuffPost / AP)
A Paraguayan journalist was shot to death in a crime-ridden northern city bordering Brazil, authorities said Friday. Police said 28-year-old Gabriel Alcaraz was hit by 17 bullets when returning home from work on Friday. He worked for radio station Amambay in the city of Pedro Juan Caballero, about 370 miles north of the capital of Asuncion.

Government Executive Names Katherine Peters Deputy Editor (FishbowlDC)
Government Executive EVP and editor-in-chief Tom Shoop announced to staff in a late morning memo Friday that Katherine Peters will join the media group as deputy editor. Peters was most recently a senior defense correspondent and launched Government Executive’s homeland security beat in print and online.

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