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Morning Media Newsfeed: Ferns Plugs Obamacare | Sweeney Steps Down | Reporter Dies in Uganda

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White House: Obama’s Between Two Ferns Cameo Driving Traffic to HealthCare.gov (The Washington Post / Post Politics)
The White House said in a tweet early Tuesday afternoon that President Obama’s appearance on the Funny or Die Web series Between Two Ferns With Zach Galifianakis has made that website the top referrer to HealthCare.gov. Politico As of 1 p.m. ET Tuesday, the website had racked up more than 19,000 referral visits from Obama’s Between Two Ferns video, which was posted around 7 a.m., Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services spokesman Aaron Albright said. But those who clicked through from the video to HealthCare.gov represent just a small percentage of those who watched the video. Around 1 p.m., the video had drawn about 3 million views through Funny or Die’s video player. By 6 p.m., the total was around 7 million. Reuters In the video, Obama got the chance to urge the youth of America to get health insurance, but not until he’d been subjected to questions like “What is it like to be the last black president?” and “What should be done about North Ikea?” Youth participation is crucial to the success of the program, but U.S. government data released on Tuesday showed that while the number of people enrolled in private insurance under Obamacare reached 4.2 million by March 1, the proportion of adults aged 18-34 remained unchanged from January at 25 percent of total enrollment in private Obamacare plans. Variety At Tuesday’s briefing, White House press secretary Jay Carney was grilled by the White House press corps on whether the video demeaned the dignity of the office. “I think we made the right call here,” Carney said. “I think what it says is gone are the days when your broadcasts can reach everybody we need to reach.” He noted that Between Two Ferns videos average 6 million views, and that he expected the Obama interview would exceed that. He declined to say exactly which parts of the interview were scripted and which ones were not. THR During Obama’s six-and-a-half-minute back-and-forth with Galifianakis, the president played the role of a stern, sometimes irritated straight man as the comedian deadpanned a series of questions that were alternately outrageous and inane. “This is a perfect example of a great partnership with Funny or Die stepping up in a big way,” said Between Two Ferns producer Eric Ortner. “The site has a very robust traffic base of young men and women who are on the edge of the cultural zeitgeist.” PRNewser Will the people who hate the president’s health care law see this clip and change their minds? Of course not. The point, really, is that this appearance was far more valuable than any Sunday morning show discussion could be, no matter what Obama’s opponents think. We all know that the key to successful communication is to deliver the message to the right audience in the best possible format, which for young people is not Sunday morning on NBC with David Gregory.

Disney Shocker: Top Exec Anne Sweeney to Exit to Become TV Director (THR)
Anne Sweeney, co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president of Disney/ABC Television Group, is leaving the company she has called home for 18 years to pursue her passion of becoming a director. “What drives me now is… being immersed in the creative process,” said Sweeney, 56, who began her career at Nickelodeon and FX before joining Disney and growing assets that include such global brands as Disney Channel (107 channels, reaching 431 million households), the ABC broadcast network and studio, ABC Family and Disney’s share of digital player Hulu and a 50 percent stake in cable power A+E Networks. Last year, her divisions generated $11.9 billion in revenue and $2.6 billion in profit, making her the most powerful woman in Hollywood. TheWrap Sweeney is credited with much of Disney-ABC’s early adoption of digital platforms. It was one of the earliest of the media companies to put television content on new platforms, leveraging iTunes, an ad-supported full episode player online and the iPad. Among many accomplishments, she oversaw Nickelodeon’s international expansion, including launching the channel in the U.K., resulting in a joint venture with British Sky Broadcasting. TVNewser Sweeney’s departure will come three months before Bob Iger steps down as CEO of Disney, where he will remain executive chairman. “I am so thankful to Bob Iger for his leadership, guidance and his friendship over the years,” Sweeney said. Variety It’s understood that Sweeney was not seen as a contender to replace Iger when his contract ends in 2016. With no more room to advance, Sweeney has clearly opted to take a left-turn career-wise. Iger indicated in an interview with The New York Times that the successor would come from within the Disney/ABC ranks, with ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee mentioned as a strong contender.

Matthew Power Dies in Uganda (Facebook / Outside Magazine)
Outside has learned that journalist Matthew Power has passed away while on assignment in Northern Uganda. It is believed that he died of heat stroke and exhaustion. A regular contributor to Outside, Power was one of the brightest and most promising journalists working today. FishbowlNY Power was a contributing editor at Harper’s. His work has appeared in publications such as Men’s Journal, Wired, Businessweek, Outside, GQ, Slate and more. Men’s Journal Power was on assignment for Men’s Journal in Uganda — “a classic MJ story” is how he pitched it — accompanying a British explorer, named Levison Wood, while he attempted to walk the length of the Nile. He was only dropping in and walking with him for a week, but you got the sense that he’d trudge on as long as it took to get the story and to understand the man he was walking with. On Monday, Power fell ill, lost consciousness and died a few hours later. JimRomenesko.com Men’s Journal said the 39-year-old journalist “was a true adventurer and a principled, ethical journalist who never failed to put the accuracy of the story and the fairness in his depiction of a person, place, or situation above what worked for him as a writer.” HuffPost Power’s body of work — which ranges from a travel essay on a Philippine shantytown that survived off a massive trash heap, to a feature on a young American drone operator stationed in Nevada who helped kill more than 1,600 people in Iraq and Afghanistan — has been anthologized in textbooks and numerous volumes of Houghton Mifflin’s “Best American” series. An autopsy is expected later this week.

Jeff Gaspin, Jon Klein to Launch Online Video Platform TAPP (THR)
Two longtime television executives are making a bet on digital with the launch of online video platform TAPP. Jeff Gaspin, former chairman of NBC Universal Television, and Jon Klein, former president of CNN, announced on BloombergTV Tuesday that the subscription-based platform will be centered on personalities with super-fan followings. TAPP, which stands for “TV App,” will launch its first channel in the coming weeks. TVNewser TAPP will be made up of dozens of channels for which subscribers would pay $10 per month. Gaspin said TAPP is for “viewers and users who cannot get enough of these particular personalities to the point where they want a more intimate relationship… than current TV and online offerings afford.” Variety Former vice presidential aspirant Sarah Palin was identified as one such individual they were approaching. Such a venture is not unlike The Blaze, a successful subscription service launched by former Fox News Channel personality Glenn Beck. Gaspin and Klein have lined up well-known investors including Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt, Discovery Communications and Demarest Films, in addition to investment bankers Ken Moelis, Peter Ezersky and Michael Huber.

British-Swedish Journalist Shot Dead in Afghanistan (The Guardian)
Gunmen killed a British-Swedish journalist with a single bullet in an unusual execution-style attack on a civilian in Kabul’s heavily policed diplomatic district. Reuters The Swedish Embassy identified the victim as Nils Horner, 51, who worked for Swedish Radio. Horner had been waiting outside a Lebanese restaurant with his driver and translator when two men in Western clothes approached and one shot him at point-blank range in the back of the head, said Zubir, a guard at the restaurant who uses only one name. The Washington Post It is the same area where 21 people, mostly foreigners, were killed when a Lebanese restaurant was attacked in January. Both attacks sent shock waves through the international community in Kabul. Horner’s killing in broad daylight was particularly disturbing to Western journalists who do much of their work beyond the blast walls of military bases and diplomatic compounds. According to Afghan police, Horner was conducting an interview on the street when he was shot.

Disney Ponders The Biggest Big Media YouTube Bet Yet: Buying Maker Studios (Re/code)
Disney has been talking to Maker Studios about an acquisition that would value the YouTube network at $500 million or more, according to people familiar with the negotiations. THR There has been lots of talk in the online video industry of late about a need for consolidation. Should the deal go through, it would be the biggest bet that a traditional media company has made on the YouTube space. WSJ If certain performance goals are met, Disney could end up paying as much as $900 million, a source said. Maker Studios is among the largest of a new wave of so-called multichannel networks that make deals with amateur users who produce YouTube videos in areas like music or comedy. Maker, which boasts more than 5.5 billion video views a month and 380 million subscribers, runs popular YouTube channels including one starring Felix Kjellberg, a videogame commentator known online as PewDiePie, and Bart Baker, who makes music-video parodies.

Amazon Working on Music-Streaming Service (WSJ)
Amazon.com Inc. is hoping to offer an on-demand music-streaming service to customers of its Amazon Prime program, but it may limit how much a person can listen to any given song, according to people familiar with the matter. The Seattle-based company has held negotiations with record companies and music publishers seeking to license their music for the planned service, but it remains far apart from some record companies on financial terms, these people said. CNET The service would reportedly be available to Amazon Prime customers — who pay $79 per year for free two-day shipping and Amazon’s video-streaming service. The music service is said to be like iTunes Radio that plays music based on user preferences, rather than a subscription service like Spotify that gives users unlimited music access.

Sean Combs Said to Bid $200 Million for Fuse TV Network (Bloomberg)
Sean Combs, the hip-hop mogul now known as Diddy, has bid about $200 million for the Fuse cable-TV channel, said three people with knowledge of the situation. FishbowlNY Diddy reportedly plans to fold Fuse into Revolt, the network he founded last year. With the buy, Revolt would increase its distribution by more than 70 million homes. Currently, Revolt reaches about 22 million homes and is carried by Comcast and Time Warner Cable. Fuse, on the other hand, reaches about 74 million homes through DirecTV and Dish Network.

SoftBank Hires Bruce Gottlieb to Lead New D.C. Office (WSJ)
SoftBank announced Tuesday it has hired former publishing executive Bruce Gottlieb to lead a new Washington office. The Japanese telecom giant acquired Sprint last year and is said to be exploring a bid for T-Mobile. But U.S. regulators made it clear to SoftBank executives earlier this year that they would be skeptical of any attempt to combine the two companies. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media Gottlieb, who left National Journal last week saying he wanted to return “to his roots in policy and government affairs,” is a former FCC official and will be SoftBank’s new executive vice president for legal and regulatory affairs.

U.N. Denies That Syria Image Was Faked (NYT)
A United Nations photograph showing a sea of hungry Palestinians awaiting emergency food amid the detritus of their bomb-ravaged neighborhood near Damascus has been retweeted more than eight million times in the past few weeks, becoming such an arresting image of the Syrian civil war that some blogosphere skeptics have suggested that it was digitally faked. The suggestion provoked a passionate denial on Tuesday by the official responsible for distributing the photo. The official, Chris Gunness, the spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which administers aid to Palestinian refugees in the Middle East, said he was stupefied by the expressions of doubt about the photo.

Time Announces Four Promotions, Two Hires (FishbowlNY)
Time has announced four promotions and two hires. D.W. Pine has been promoted to creative director. Pine has been with Time since 1998, most recently serving as design director. Kira Pollack has been upped to director of photography and visual enterprise. She was most recently director of photography. Pollack has been with Time since 2009. Paul Moakley has been promoted to deputy director of photography and visual enterprise. He most recently served as deputy photo editor. Chrissy Dunleavy has been promoted to design director. She most recently served as deputy art director. Lothar Krause joins Time as newsroom developer. Krause comes to the magazine from The Daily Beast, where he worked for the last three years as a Web developer. Olivier Laurent comes to Time as LightBox editor. He most recently served as an editor and reporter at the British Journal of Photography since 2007.

Malaysia Airlines Dedicates All Media Channels to Missing Flight (PRNewser)
As the entire world follows the mystery of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 and its more than 200 passengers, you may wonder what the company’s communications team is doing to address the rapidly evolving story. The answer is, essentially, “everything.” The Malaysian blogger behind “Unspun” may be the best source for info on MA’s PR efforts at the moment, and he gives the company a general thumbs up on the crisis comm front.

SundanceTV Promotes Two Execs in Digital (Variety)
SundanceTV has upped two of its own. The cabler has tapped Drew Pisarra as VP of digital media and marketing and has promoted Mark Zadroga to director of online content. Both executives are based in New York. Prior to joining AMC Networks in 2007, Pisarra served as senior online editor for New York magazine. Zadroga joined AMC in 2011 as a senior producer for SundanceTV. Previously, he was a production director at Nickelodeon for five years, where he oversaw production of four network websites.

Mass Appeal: Pope’s Popularity A Blessing for Media (WSJ)
As Pope Francis approaches the first anniversary of his election this week, his popularity is generating a boom for a media niche that rarely gathers much notice. Revenue at CTV, which shadows the pope and supplies papal newscasts and images for both Catholic and lay broadcasters, leaped 40 percent in 2013, as broadcasters as far afield as Tanzania now want the recordings of the pope’s weekly audiences. Last week, Mondadori SpA launched a new weekly dedicated to the pope. A rise in subscriptions and newsstand sales allowed the Tablet, a British Catholic magazine, to spend more than €7,000 to send its Rome-based correspondent on the papal plane to cover World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro last July.

TWT Hires News Biz Pro as GM (FishbowlDC)
The Washington Times continued apace with its efforts to restock and revamp the paper Tuesday, announcing the hire of David Dadisman as general manager. Dadisman comes to TWT after three years as publisher and general manager of The Daily Herald in Everett, Wash., a unit of the former Washington Post Co.

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