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Morning Media Newsfeed: ESPN/PBS Doc Fallout | Times Co. CEO Dishes | WaPo‘s MLK Snub


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Was ESPN Sloppy, Naïve or Compromised? (ESPN / Ombudsman)
So what’s more damaging to a corporate image: to be considered sloppy, naïve or compromised? Or all three? You get to pick in the wake of ESPN’s announcement that it was removing its brand from an upcoming two-part documentary by PBS’ Frontline that “reveals the hidden story of the NFL and brain injuries” (or so it claims in a controversial trailer). The ESPN action drew immediate media and mailbag accusations that the NFL had pressured the network into severing ties to the PBS films. I thought the best and briefest characterization came from Ombuddy Philip Berenbroick of Arlington, Va., who saw ESPN’s decision as an example of “the dueling journalism and profit motives [via protecting valued partners] at the network.” It’s hard to argue with that depiction. NYT ESPN’s divorce with PBS came a week after the NFL voiced its displeasure with the documentary at a lunch between league and ESPN executives, according to two people with direct knowledge of the situation. The meeting took place at Patroon, near the league’s Midtown Manhattan headquarters, according to the two people, who requested anonymity because they were prohibited by their superiors from discussing the matter publicly. It was a table for four: Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL; Steve Bornstein, president of the NFL Network; John Skipper, ESPN’s president; and John Wildhack, ESPN’s executive vice president for production. Deadline Hollywood The League Of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis trailer was screened at an Aug. 6 media panel and unveiled without Skipper’s or ESPN’s approval. Skipper complained the video was “sensational” and made him “quite unhappy.” He didn’t like the tagline, “Get ready to change the way you see the game,” or the trailer’s final quote from a neuropathologist on the extent of brain injuries in the NFL, “I’m really wondering if every single football player doesn’t have this.” Media watchers say pressure from the NFL led to ESPN’s sudden withdrawal and now Skipper admits he was embarrassed by the Frontline documentary. HuffPost In the wake of a report that ESPN bowed out of a joint investigative project with PBS on NFL player concussions, the union representing players said it was a “disappointing day for journalism” if the sports network caved on the series out of business concerns. “I think any time that business interests get in the way of telling an important story like the one Frontline was working on, I think that that’s a sad day, regardless of why or who or what the circumstances were,” George Atallah, spokesman for the NFL Players Association, told HuffPost. CJR / Full-Court Press Whatever the case, it looks bad for both parties. The NFL is being sued over its decades of “Don’t worry, it’s just a bruise” approach to medicine, a personal-injury lawsuit that has expanded to some 4,500 plaintiffs. Reports of the kind broadcast by ESPN and PBS not only damage the league’s brand equity, but have the potential to inflict further direct damages in existing and potential lawsuits. That’s not the sort of benefits promised by a broadcast partner when it agrees to pay more than a billion dollars in rights fees to the NFL.

How New York Times Co. CEO Mark Thompson Is Ushering in A New Era in The Newsroom (NY Mag / Intelligencer)
When Mark Thompson, a former director general at the BBC, was appointed president and CEO of the New York Times Company, the reaction inside the company was a mix of relief and apprehension. On the one hand, the chairman and publisher, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., had finally found a business leader for the long-rudderless Times. On the other, his new hire was fighting allegations that he had been negligent in handling a scandal involving a ­pedophile at the British network. But when Thompson arrived at the Times last fall, uneasiness over his problems overseas was soon overwhelmed by anxieties closer to home. Thompson began to appear frequently in the newsroom, and he made it clear he felt very comfortable there. The Atlantic Wire A just-published feature in New York magazine suggests that New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson and Thompson are often at loggerheads about the direction of the paper. TheWrap / MediaAlley Thompson and Abramson’s seemingly troubled relationship dominates much of the story, but there are a few good gossipy tidbits.

An Overlooked Dream, Now Remembered (The Washington Post)
Robert G. Kaiser: “The city of Washington had been on edge for days. Fearing a riot, mayhem or lord knows what, many left town to avoid the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The organizers predicted a crowd of more than 100,000 protesting Negroes, as we called black people then. Just the idea of such a horde seemed to scare the white residents of what was still a southern town. The main event that day was what we now call the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech of Martin Luther King Jr., one of the most important speeches in U.S. history. But on the day it was given, the Post didn’t think so. We nearly failed to mention it at all.” HuffPost Kaiser, who was then a summer intern, was one of 60 staffers assigned to cover the 1963 March on Washington. Many people expected a riot. When it didn’t materialize, the paper was caught off-guard. While the lead story stressed that participants had remained “orderly,” it failed to mention King or his history-making speech.

He’s Staying Put: Rush Limbaugh Announces New Three-Year Deal With Cumulus (Mediaite)
While his fellow conservative radio host Sean Hannity may ultimately opt out of his Cumulus deal, Rush Limbaugh announced that he has signed a new three-year deal with the radio operator, quelling all rumors that he was “on the way out.” For months, political media blogs have speculated as to whether Limbaugh would be leaving Cumulus amid what appeared to be tense negotiations.

Following NewsBeast Mess, What’s Tina Brown’s Next Act? (Adweek)
Now that IAC/Interactive has sold off Newsweek, can Tina Brown’s act be nearing its end? The experiment to combine Newsweek and Daily Beast was an acknowledged failure. Brown was the founding editor of the Beast before she added editorial oversight for Newsweek when the two merged; it’s conceivable she’ll go back to just editing the Beast. But it’s not hard to imagine her moving on. The question is, to where?

A Charge of Plagiarism, Verdict Uncertain (Politico / Dylan Byers on Media)
In late July, Daniel Flynn, a conservative author and columnist, submitted an essay to the Wall Street Journal‘s Weekend Review called “The War on Football,” which laid out the case against banning the sport at the youth level. Two days later, Flynn was informed that his piece had been turned down. Two and a half weeks later, on Aug. 17, Flynn went to the Journal’s website and found that the paper had published a column by another author, titled “In Defense of Football,” which included much of the same data presented in the same order and language similar to that presented in his own work.

Olbermann Set to Return to ESPN And Sports News (NYT)
Sixteen years after an acrimonious parting, Keith Olbermann and ESPN are putting on happy faces for their highly anticipated reunion, the premiere on Monday of Olbermann on ESPN2, the spinoff channel that he helped start, falteringly, in 1993. This time, both sides say, no faltering.

What Is Medium? (The Atlantic)
Just about a year ago, a new website from two of the founders of Twitter launched. It was called Medium. The new site was invite-only, but outsiders could read from various collections. Ev Williams announced the site in a post. Medium, he said, was “a new place on the Internet where people share ideas and stories that are longer than 140 characters and not just for friends.” While Medium might look like a standard blogging platform, a content management system, it had been “designed for little stories that make your day better and manifestos that change the world.” And yet “it helps you find the right audience for whatever you have to say.”

Disruptions: A Blogger Mocks The Denizens of Silicon Valley (NYT / Bits)
Sam Biddle may have one of the easiest jobs in technology journalism. That is, easy if you have the stomach for his line of work. Every morning, he wakes up in his Brooklyn apartment, checks Twitter on his smartphone, searches for social media posts percolating from Silicon Valley, and begins to write, his style combining Page Six dishiness with snark and surprising insight. In other words, his style is pure Gawker.

New York Times And Guardian Will Publish More Snowden Revelations (BuzzFeed)
The New York Times is in the Snowden game. The paper — which NSA leaker Edward Snowden deliberately avoided over his fear that it would cooperate with the United States government — is now working with The Guardian on a series of stories based on documents that detail National Security Agency cooperation with its British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters, known as GCHQ. FishbowlNY The discussions between the papers was carried out in person between Guardian editors and Jill Abramson, the Times’ executive editor. Rumor has it that Scott Shane, a national security reporter for the Times, is currently working on a set of stories based on Snowden’s information. The articles will be published jointly with The Guardian.

Col Allan Declares Himself MacArthur as The New York Post Roils (Capital New York)
“Like MacArthur I shall return.” That’s what Col Allan, the New York Post‘s pitbull of an editor-in-chief, wrote in an email to Capital earlier last week, likening himself to Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the World War II hero who escaped to Australia in 1942 as Japanese forces were bearing down on him, in order to regroup and lead the Allies to victory in the Pacific Theater. FishbowlNY Allan meanwhile, or “Col Pot” as Aussie media critics like to refer to him, is busy trying to revive a set of sister publications as a Sept. 7 national election looms.

Ali Velshi: Al Jazeera America Is A Lot Like ‘The Old CNN’ (HuffPost)
Ali Velshi joined HuffPost Live on Friday to talk about his new network, Al Jazeera America, and its place in the American cable news scene. “If you like something else, we’re going to fill that vacuum,” he said. “We’re going to be the news, the context, the analysis, the greater depth that you’re not getting from your major mainstream news outlets.”

Netflix Executive Upends Hollywood (LA Times / Company Town)
When Ted Sarandos put out the word that Netflix would begin producing original shows, he was swamped with story pitches that everyone else in Hollywood clearly had taken a pass on — including some scripts marked with coffee stains, smudged fingerprints and other telltale signs of rejection. That all changed in 2011 after Netflix bought the political thriller House of Cards from The Social Network and Fight Club director David Fincher. Overnight, the Internet video service began receiving A-list pitches, including the prison comedy Orange Is the New Black from Weeds creator Jenji Kohan, a mockumentary from The Office creator Ricky Gervais and a sci-fi drama from The Matrix‘s Andy and Lana Wachowski.

Documentary Claims Five New Salinger Books Are on The Way (Gawker)
A documentary and book, both set for release next month, claim that five unpublished books written by J.D. Salinger will be released, including stories that continue the arc of the Glass family and his most famous creation, Holden Caulfield. Salinger died in 2010 after living the majority of his life in famous near-seclusion, never releasing another published work for more than 40 years. The new documentary Salinger, claims that he left instructions to his trust to publish five more of his books, beginning as soon as 2015.

Reuters Dumping North American Freelance Sports Photographers (NPAA)
Freelance photographers who have been shooting sports on contract for Reuters in North America started getting phone calls Friday from Peter Jones, the North American sports photo editor at Thomson Reuters, who told them that their sideline services would no longer be needed as of Sept. 15.

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