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Morning Media Newsfeed: Ezra Klein Joins Vox | Gmail Goes Down | Vargas Comes Clean

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Ezra Klein Is Joining Vox Media as Web Journalism Asserts Itself (NYT)
After a week of speculation, it turns out that Ezra Klein, the prolific creator of the Washington Post’s Wonkblog, will be going to Vox Media, the online home of SB Nation, a sports site, and The Verge, a fast-growing technology site. His change of address could be read as the latest parable of Old Media cluelessness — allowing a journalism asset to escape who will come back to haunt them — or as another instance of a star journalist cashing in on name-brand success. But it’s more complicated than that. FishbowlDC The new website, ominously named “Project X,” will be housed within the fast growing Vox Media empire. Vox is a small but potent little Web company that clearly hopes to make a play for mainstream appeal with the addition of Klein to its roster. FishbowlNY Matt Yglesias will serve as executive editor of the new Vox Media venture founded by Klein, FishbowlNY has learned. Slate’s prolific economics blogger announced last week that he would join Klein. Klein, unsurprisingly, now has the title of editor-in-chief. According to Klein’s post, Yglesias, along with Wonkblog veteran Melissa Bell, has been involved with the planning process since early last year. Capital New York Klein didn’t allow for much detail of what new publication would look like in his post on The Verge, but was clear that his team will look for a format to provide readers with more context for news stories as they develop. A general job posting for the site on Vox’s listings page provided some more hints. “We’ll need writers who are obsessively knowledgeable about their subjects to do that reporting and write those explainers — as well as ambitious feature pieces,” the posting read, before providing a more telling detail: “We’ll need coders and designers who can build the world’s first hybrid news site/encyclopedia.” BuzzFeed Klein: “We’re not trying to build a ‘super Wonkblog.’ If we were doing that we wouldn’t go through all this trouble. We intend to be incredibly good at policy and politics but also sports and science. We are trying to build a full news site and in a better and more useful way for our readers.”

Gmail Was Down for Many Users Friday Afternoon (The Washington Post)
Productivity ground to a halt yet again as a brief outage at Google kept many users from being able to use Gmail on Friday afternoon. The worst of the outage lasted for approximately 10 minutes, though services remained unstable for about an hour. But it was long enough to send Gmail’s millions of users to Twitter to complain about not being able to check their emails. 10,000 Words Here’s what we learned about ourselves when email stops working: It was pretty frustrating. PC Mag Yahoo! took to its own Twitter account to post a helpful update for those unaware about the downtime. “Gmail is temporarily unavailable,” read the tongue-in-cheek tweet; the company later apologized. TechCrunch David S. Peck is getting a lot of emails. In a glitch possibly related to the massive Gmail outage, there’s an odd bug in Google search which is pointing users directly to his personal email address. The address appears in a “Compose” window that pops up when the top search result for Gmail is clicked. Yes, it’s bizarre. Very, very bizarre.

Elizabeth Vargas: ‘My Husband Said, You Have A Problem. You’re an Alcoholic’ (TVNewser)
It took several years, but one work assignment, for ABC News anchor Elizabeth Vargas to realize she was an alcoholic. Wine was her drink of choice. “On a Saturday afternoon I showed up for a 20/20 shoot and I was in no shape to do that interview,” Vargas told George Stephanopoulos Friday morning on Good Morning America. “I got out of the car I realized ‘What am I doing?’ And that’s when I knew I needed to get help.” New York Daily News The 51-year-old TV personality explained that she had done specials on 20/20 about alcohol abuse but was unable to see her own problem with drinking. “I started thinking ‘Well, you know, I’ll only drink, you know, on weekends. I’ll only drink, you know, two glasses of wine a night. I won’t drink on nights before I have to get up and do Good Morning America. But those deals never work.” HuffPost Vargas said her husband confronted her about it, but it wasn’t until last fall that she checked herself into rehab for alcohol abuse. She said she then left against the rehab center’s advice, only to return to complete the treatment. ABC News has expressed its support for Vargas and said that they would welcome her back when she was ready.

Dr. Oz Magazine Launch Set for Feb. 4 (NY Post)
Hearst’s joint-venture magazine with Dr. Mehmet Oz, one of the biggest launches of 2014, will debut on newsstands Feb. 4 with a respectable 66 ad pages in a 148-page issue. The popular syndicated talk show host, aka America’s Doctor, is the cover boy, as the Post first reported. With the industry slowly coming out of its long malaise, it may be the only big bet from a major publisher this year.

Friend Blames Timing of Gilbert Inventor’s Suicide on Fear of Impending Article (The Arizona Republic)
It was just after noon Oct. 18 when Gerri Jordan walked into the bedroom of her Gilbert home and found her ex-girlfriend and business partner, Essay Anne Vanderbilt, on the floor, curled into a fetal position with a plastic bag taped around her head. Jordan spoke with The Arizona Republic about the effect the reporting had on Vanderbilt and her. Vanderbilt had grown nervous about the story. She feared the reporter was focusing on intensely personal elements of her past that he had discovered, despite her request that he write only about “the science, not the scientist.”

No, Slate Hasn’t Hired Jeb Lund (FishbowlNY)
Nearly a year ago, Gawker writer Jeb Lund outed his real identity, having long blogged under the nom-de-plume Mobutu Sese Seko, the infamous Congolese dictator. Another revelation: He was leaving Gawker. On Thursday afternoon, the Florida-based writer tweeted that Slate had chosen him “to field a general blogger role.” Mediabistro — which owns FishbowlNY — linked to his tweet in Friday night’s Revolving Door newsletter, which announces new hires and departures in the journalism industry. Not to spoil Lund’s fun — he had some people, including this apparently gullible writer, fooled — but here’s what Slate said when asked if the blogger was joining the site: “Not true.”

Sam Champion on DirecTV Spat: ‘You Should Give People The TV They Want’ (TVNewser)
The nasty stalemate continues between TWC and DirecTV. The latter dumped TWC from its 20 million customers two weeks ago after the two parties couldn’t agree on a new carriage agreement. Several petitions have demanded that DirecTV reinstate TWC. Says Sam Champion of the controversy: “You should give people the TV they want… There’s a desperate need for images and understanding of weather that changes our lives every day.”

With Some Investing Help, Huffington Unveils A New International Venture (NYT / DealBook)
Arianna Huffington has long labored to make her online media empire a truly global one. Now she has enlisted an old friend with deep pockets to make a big step in that direction. Last week, Huffington and Nicolas Berggruen, a billionaire investor, unveiled the WorldPost, a splashy new venture under the Huffington Post umbrella aimed at covering a host of international issues. WorldPost, whose ownership is split between The Huffington Post and the Berggruen Institute on Governance, fits into the model of its media parent.

Thomas Friedman Cites Wikipedia, Again (NY Observer)
Three’s a trend, they say, but when it comes to New York Times journalists referencing Wikipedia entries in their opinion pieces, two times is probably enough to make eyebrows raise. In the Sunday Review, Thomas Friedman cites Wikipedia for what appears to be the second time in his tenure as an op-ed columnist. In an article titled “1; 5,000; 500,000,” about the unrest in the Arab world, Friedman refers to information he found on Wikipedia about Egyptian General Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi. “Wikipedia has a list of General Sisi’s medals,” Friedman writes, in what may be the most boring sentence ever printed in the op-ed pages of the Times.

Some Game Companies Pay for Play on Conan’s ‘Clueless Gamer’ Skits (Re/code)
The gaming world has been good to Conan O’Brien in the past year and a half. The late-night talk show host’s glib (and often hilarious) videogame reviews, “Clueless Gamer,” have become a viral sensation, racking up millions of views online. And he’s been good to the gaming world, in return. The intentionally uninformed reviews expose a variety of games, from independents to major releases, to big online and television audiences that might not otherwise take an interest. The popularity of “Clueless Gamer” has even taken Conan to the industry trade show E3 and Blizzard Entertainment’s annual geektastic BlizzCon convention. Unknown to viewers, however, is that some of the games that O’Brien features are actually paid endorsement deals with the game companies, a show spokesman confirmed.

SodaStream Super Bowl Ad Rejected Again for Calling Out Coke, Pepsi (Adweek / Adfreak)
In what has apparently become an annual tradition of feigned outrage, SodaStream says its proposed ad for this year’s Super Bowl has been rejected for mentioning Coca-Cola and Pepsi. The marketing team behind the do-it-yourself soda brewing machine tells USA Today that Fox is forcing the advertiser to remove a scene in which celebrity spokeswoman Scarlett Johansson says, “Sorry, Coke and Pepsi.”

No, The Washington Post Didn’t Buy A ‘Climate Conspiracy’ Blog (PandoDaily)
When Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post last Summer with $250 million of his own cash, there was no shortage of pessimistic predictions about how that might impact the quality of journalism at the 137-year-old newspaper. The New Republic’s Alec MacGillis wrote that “Amazon’s Jeff Bezos as the white knight provokes only slightly less shock and dolor” than if Craigslist’s Craig Newmark had bought the paper. Even Pando editor-in-chief Sarah Lacy, though ultimately optimistic about the purchase, admitted that journalism purists might be right to worry about Bezos’ predilection for short news hits. Happily, these doom prophecies have thus far gone unfulfilled. That is, unless you ask outlets like Grist and the Daily Kos, which are outraged that the same week the Post let Ezra Klein, a blogger who understands the seriousness of climate change, slip through its fingers, it launched a partnership with a site called the Volokh Conspiracy.

Valley of The Blahs: How Justin Bieber’s Troubles Exposed Twitter’s Achilles’ Heel (NYT / Bits)
At some point, Twitter and the rest of social media became less about wanting to share the news and more about wanting to be the news. Take Justin Bieber, for example. As reports of the once-angelic and deeply troubled Canadian pop star’s arrest began to make its way around the Web, reactions streamed onto Twitter, ranging from jokes to tongue clucks. But by far, the most common refrain was something like this: “Why is this news?”

Is Planet Hillary Ugly or Just Ahead of Its Time? (CJR / Behind The News)
Detractors have been calling the New York Times cover sexist offensive, and just plain ugly. In less than 24 hours in public, Hillary’s planet head has developed its own gravitational pull, satirized and photoshopped into further distortion, added to the cover of the children’s book Goodnight Moon and plastered like a spinning basketball into Barack Obama’s hand.

Two Sides to Every Story (Medium / Hamish McKenzie)
The world needs a new way of publishing and distributing longform journalism. We’re still stuck in the era in which the default mindset is that the “bundle” is the best way to share good stories with other people. Magazines, newspapers, homepages, blogs – these concepts make less sense than ever. Now, stories come to us in an ever diversifying number of ways: email, Twitter, Facebook, community sites, newsletters, chat apps. Stories that find us in these ways are necessarily dislocated from some of the context that would surround them in their “home” environments. They must therefore be strong enough to stand on their own, with nothing but the recommender’s credibility, the author’s byline and the publisher’s imprimatur as a first-glance indicator of quality.

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