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Morning Media Newsfeed: Fallon Debuts | Costas Returns | Roberts for Pre-Oscars

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Jimmy Fallon Powers Tonight Show Debut With Stars Like Tina Fey, U2 (LA Times / Show Tracker)
Heeeere’s Jimmy! Jimmy Fallon made his debut Monday as the new host of The Tonight Show in an inaugural broadcast that was heavy on star power and sought to capitalize on the franchise’s new digs in New York City after 42 years on the West Coast. Variety Rather than brag about the entire affair, Fallon, clad in a two-buttoned gray suit and black tie, approached his initial turn as host of NBC’s venerable Tonight Show with humility during a taping on early Monday evening. He talked to the audience as if many hadn’t watched him during his slightly less than five-year tenure on Late Night. He pointed out his parents sitting in the studio audience. And he told Will Smith, the first guest in what NBC dubbed “Show #0001” he was mindful of his place in the program’s long history: “This is a big deal, and it’s a lot of pressure,” he said. TheWrap Fallon kicked off the first Tonight Show to broadcast from New York in 42 years with a thank you to the past hosts: “Steve Allen, Jack Paar, Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno.” With that quick acknowledgement of the strange machinations that led to his hosting gig and returned the show East, Fallon got down to making a play for the biggest, broadest audience in late night. Hip-hop figured heavily in the mix: The Roots, his house band, is the first hip-hop group to anchor the most iconic show in late night. Capital New York NBC says that aircraft engine builder, kitchen appliance-maker and former NBC owner General Electric will be a launch sponsor of the new Tonight Show as it debuted Monday. As part of the deal, G.E. will sponsor a recurring segment on the show called “Tonight Show Fallonventions,” in which Fallon presents fun inventions created by kids. NYT NBC and its corporate parent, Comcast, have made a significant investment in reclaiming the Tonight Show for New York, though executives declined to give a figure beyond that it was many millions of dollars. The move brings with it jobs, not only on the show itself, but in related tourism businesses. TVNewser Before he left for Sochi, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams sat down with Fallon, who talks about the excitement of bringing the Tonight Show back to New York.

‘I’m Bob Costas, Sitting in Tonight for Matt Lauer And Meredith Vieira’ (TVNewser)
Bob Costas returned to NBC’s Olympic coverage Monday, dry eyes — and wit — intact. “I’m Bob Costas, sitting in tonight for Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira,” deadpanned the longtime Olympics anchor at the start of Monday’s coverage. Costas’ eye infection became one of the story lines of the first week of the Sochi games. “Too much attention spent on it,” Costas told Brian Williams earlier Monday. ”It just got to the point where they were so blurry and light sensitive, I couldn’t impose that on the public.” USA Today / FTW Costas’ eyes were noticeably healthier upon his return, though the glasses and a slight redness still remained. “I’m not 100 percent, that’s for sure,” Costas said on Monday’s edition of Today, “but if I waited until I was 100 percent, the Olympics would be over.” After delivering his opening joke, Costas previewed the night’s coverage on NBC, but briefly returned to the subject of his absence. He apologized to viewers for his “ill-timed affliction getting in the way” of the Olympics and expressed thanks to Lauer and Vieira, “two friends and true pros.”

Robin Roberts, Lara Spencer Back for Oscars Red Carpet Special (TVNewser)
Good Morning America anchors Robin Roberts and Lara Spencer, along with Jess Cagle, editorial director of People and Entertainment Weekly, will be back to host ABC’s pre-Oscar special Red Carpet Live. LA Times / Show Tracker Ryan Seacrest and the E! crew may cover the red carpet for hours before the Oscars, but the ABC show has the benefit of airing directly before the Oscars at 4 p.m. PT on March 2.

Snowden Documents Reveal Covert Surveillance, Pressure Tactics Aimed at WikiLeaks And Its Supporters (First Look Media / The Intercept)
Top-secret documents from the National Security Agency and its British counterpart reveal for the first time how the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom targeted WikiLeaks and other activist groups with tactics ranging from covert surveillance to prosecution. The efforts — detailed in documents provided previously by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden — included a broad campaign of international pressure aimed not only at WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, but at what the U.S. government calls “the human network that supports WikiLeaks.”

Backlash Builds Against CNN for Interviewing George Zimmerman (FoxNews.com)
George Zimmerman is stepping back into the media spotlight — and that is generating sparks of controversy. It’s understandable that plenty of people never want to see his face again. He is the man who killed Trayvon Martin, and while he was acquitted of murder in their fatal street encounter, the fact remains that an unarmed black teenager is dead. Since the Florida trial that became a media sensation, Zimmerman has had several run-ins with law enforcement. After his wife left him, his 27-year-old girlfriend called police and said he had aimed a shotgun at her, and authorities arrested him and temporarily confiscated a shotgun, assault-style rifle and three handguns. But whatever his polarizing behavior, is Zimmerman a newsworthy interview subject?

Mental Floss Big Winner After Facebook’s Mysterious ‘High Quality’ Algorithm Change (Poynter / Social Media)
When Facebook announced in December that it was altering its News Feed algorithm to focus on “high quality content,” speculation centered on which sites might be in danger of excommunication as Facebook took aim at the viral bubble. Was BuzzFeed’s silly clickbait a target, or would the site’s growing commitment to real news and longform save the domain from banishment? What about Upworthy, the viral site that ruled Facebook in November with its widely mocked and mimicked “You Won’t Believe ____” headlines? Meanwhile, some sites stood to gain, and one winner seems to be Mental Floss, a source of eminently shareable trivia, historical facts and answers to hundreds of questions you didn’t know you had.

Joe Berlinger to Direct Eight-Part Criminal Justice Series for Al-Jazeera America (TheWrap)
Award-winning filmmaker Joe Berlinger will direct and executive produce The System, an eight-part series on the criminal justice system, for Al-Jazeera America, TheWrap has learned. The series, produced by Radical Media, will examine subjects such as false confessions, mandatory sentencing and the treatment of juvenile offenders.


Slate Writer Amanda Hess Wins Sidney Award for Examining Online Sexism
(10,000 Words)
In her Sidney Award-winning essay last month in Pacific Standard: “The Next Civil Rights Issue: Why Women Aren’t Welcome on The Internet,” Slate staff writer Amanda Hess tackled yet another facet of cyber-bullying by focusing on the disproportionate abuse that female journalists endure online. The Sidney Awards are given monthly by the Sidney Hillman Foundation, in recognition of outstanding socially-conscious journalism.

Fashion Magazines Losing Their Identities (NY Post)
People, we have a crisis in this country. No, we’re not talking education, national defense or the lack of gold medals in skiing during the Winter Olympics — no, no, it’s much more serious than that. The crisis is in fashion — or more specifically, in the fashion magazines that cover fashion. They are losing their identity and for a huge chunk of their pages, you can’t tell them apart.

Reader’s Digest UK Company Sold for £1 (NY Post)
Reader’s Digest UK was sold for just £1 by Better Capital, a UK hedge fund to a venture capitalist that created Bob The Builder. Better Capital, run by Jon Moulton, bought the magazine out of bankruptcy for £14 million in 2010. Moulton, a distressed asset manager, pumped an additional £23 million into the company. In 2013 Reader’s Digest UK filed for a second bankruptcy, which saw massive layoffs, but allowed the publication to continue.

When Old Stories Go Viral (CJR / News Literacy)
Earlier this month, many Internet users were sharing a year-old Gawker item suggesting New York City might get 30 inches of snow in the coming weekend. This led to much confusion among readers who failed to check the date of the piece: My girlfriend’s roommate worriedly texted her wondering if our flight back from vacation on Sunday would be canceled. Gawker even put the story in its morning link roundup after seeing all the traffic it was getting without realizing, at first, that it was re-featuring old content. Stories going viral on social media long after their publication date, as readers mistakenly assume they break fresh news, has become remarkably common.

These Top Publishers Are Still Mobile Web Holdouts (Digiday)
It’s surprising for 2014, but there are still major publishers out there without mobile-optimized websites. On the sites of publications like TimeOut, PBS and MailOnline, the mobile Web experience is a painful exercise in pinching to resize content. Interestingly, all three have mobile apps, which have apparently taken priority over building a website people can simply visit from their phones. “There’s something sexy about [mobile apps] from a business standpoint,” said Dan Maccarone, co-founder of design firm Charming Robot.

Hearst Is Staking Its Future on an Editor Turned CEO (Adweek)
When SmartMoney made its debut in 1992, it was anything but another staid business magazine. A joint venture of Dow Jones and Hearst Magazines, it mixed humor with provocative stories, many of which regularly incensed advertisers. Founding editor Steve Swartz, a former Wall Street Journal Page One editor, embraced it all, taking meetings with angry executives. The magazine quickly asserted itself as a contender among personal finance titles and rocketed Swartz’s career when Hearst Corp. CEO Frank Bennack Jr. came calling in 2001, offering him the chance to help run Hearst’s newspapers. Swartz jumped at the opportunity.

The New Pando: ‘Speaking Truth to The New Power’ (PandoDaily)
Two years and one month ago, I officially founded PandoDaily. I had $2.5 million of investor money, an incorporated company, and a business card showing my job title: CEO. But it wasn’t until the last six months of 2013 that I felt I’d earned the title, with all the emotional scars to prove it. Elon Musk wasn’t kidding when he said you should only become an entrepreneur if the idea of “eating glass and staring into the abyss of death” sounds appealing. By year’s end, my mouth was scarred and full of blood.

Is it Time to Tie Journalists’ Pay to Revenue? (Digiday)
The days of editorial teams being quietly sheltered from the rigors of the sales team are long gone. Instead, journalists today increasingly double as numbers-crunching audience-hunting analytics wizzes, often paid based on the reach, not the quality, of their output. But the nature of incentives also tells us that when systems exist, those within them are going to try their best to manipulate them. While this reality isn’t lost on publishers, many are still pushing ahead, tying pay to performance and shoving writers into the world of pageviews, uniques, shares and, increasingly, engagement time.

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