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Morning Media Newsfeed: FiveThirtyEight Is Live | Sony Layoffs Begin | Carney to Resign?

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Statistician Nate Silver’s ESPN Site Kicks Off Amid Blog Frenzy (Bloomberg Businessweek)
Nate Silver, the New York Times blogger who jumped to ESPN last year, introduced his revamped FiveThirtyEight.com website Monday as more traditional media companies seek investments in online journalism. Poynter / MediaWire In an article welcoming readers, editor-in-chief Silver says the fact that he called the 2012 presidential election “was and remains a tremendously overrated accomplishment.” It only stood out “in comparison to others in the mainstream media,” Silver writes. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media The new site already features a number of articles and visualizations on topics ranging from the Crimean independence vote to the efficacy of toilet seat covers to Silver’s highly anticipated March Madness predictions. FiveThirtyEight will also produce podcasts and documentaries. GigaOM Silver said that he doesn’t want his site to replace or supersede traditional journalism, but to fill what he sees as a “need in the marketplace” for rigorous data-oriented journalism. The site’s logo, a stylized fox head, comes from what Silver says is an ancient Greek aphorism about how the hedgehog knows one large thing, while the fox “knows many small things.” Capital New York Remnants of Silver’s time as a data wonk at the Times remain. The site includes an archive of many, but not all, of the FiveThirtyEight articles published when it was a Times brand, dating back to 2009. Several are even bylined by the current head of the Times‘ impending data venture The Upshot: David Leonhardt. Times graphics editor Kevin Quealy also makes appearances in the archives, as well as Thomas Schaller, a professor of political science at the University of Maryland who contributed to the site when it was part of the Times, and Andrew Gelman, professor of statistics and political science at Columbia University. FishbowlDC FiveThirtyEight is back, baby. And for all of you in D.C. journo-land, this likely means you will have no jobs. The overwhelming and undeniable power of Nate Silver‘s math will render your quaint approaches to “newsgathering” as irrelevant as they are devoid of insight. Sorry.

Sony Layoffs Hit Interactive Teams, More Coming This Week (Deadline Hollywood)
Sony Pictures has begun its layoff process that will last through the week. Sony has cut the entire Sony Pictures Interactive (SPI) team tasked for the last 15 years with supporting the studio’s digital marketing. TheWrap The layoffs are across every division and will take place in California and in other Sony outposts in the U.S. and internationally, according to an individual with knowledge of the situation. The interactive division included 70 employees, but the cuts are more extensive. The interactive division’s work will be outsourced to third-party agencies, while other elements will be taken over by Sony’s in-house marketing team. Sony’s corporate information, technology team and digital operations will also pick up some of the slack, the individual said. THR The cost-cutting measures were announced last year and a round of layoffs in January brought the total to 50 since the process was initiated by heads Michael Lynton and Amy Pascal. Those cuts in January included the shuttering of Sony Pictures Technologies and jobs at the VFX house Imageworks. Variety The cutbacks at SPI won’t mean the studio will suddenly stop promoting its pictures online. Sony’s campaign for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has rolled out primarily online since the first marketing materials — from posters to trailers — began last year.

Source: Jay Carney to Resign in Spring; CNN Next Stop for Press Secretary? (Mediaite)
According to sources, White House press secretary Jay Carney will resign in the spring. An exact time is still fluid, as Carney is still in the negotiation stage of his next job. The Washington Post / In The Loop The jaw-dropping, yet short-lived, rumor that Carney was angling to trade the combative press room for an even more contentious post as the United States’ top diplomat in Russia was quickly squashed. The rumor was floated by Noah Pollak, executive director at the Emergency Committee for Israel in a tweet last week and buried in a Daily Beast story on Monday about the Russian government planning sanctions of U.S. senators. Carney, who worked in Moscow for Time in the early 1990s, denied that he wanted the job.

CBS Outdoor Expects IPO to Price at $26 to $28 A Share (WSJ)
CBS Outdoor Americas Inc. on Monday said it would offer 20 million common shares in its initial public offering, with pricing expected to be between $26 and $28 a share. The outdoor advertising company, which filed its IPO plans in June, said it had launched its so-called road show for the offering, in which bankers and executives will pitch the company to investors. THR The stock is expected to trade on the New York Stock Exchange under ticker symbol CBSO. After the IPO, CBS Corp., led by CEO Leslie Moonves, will own approximately 83 percent of CBSO, or approximately 81 percent if the IPO underwriters exercise their option to purchase additional shares in full. Reuters CBS Outdoor had about 330,000 displays in the United States and about 26,200 displays across Canada and Latin America as of Dec. 31. The company has displays in some of the most heavily trafficked locations such as the Bay Bridge in San Francisco, Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles and Grand Central Station and Times Square in New York City. Bloomberg CBS Outdoor, which announced plans last year to convert into a real-estate investment trust, or REIT, said Monday that proceeds from the IPO will be used to help complete the conversion later this year, according to the filing. REITs don’t pay federal income taxes, with the understanding that they distribute at least 90 percent of taxable earnings to shareholders as dividends. The structure has become a popular tool to improve returns for investors and lower taxes.

Vodafone to Buy Spain’s Ono for $10.03 Billion (Reuters)
Britain’s Vodafone has agreed to buy Spanish cable operator Ono for €7.2 billion ($10.03 billion) in a deal that was announced on Monday. Bloomberg The purchase gives Vodafone 1.9 million customers in Spain, complementing its mobile service and helping it challenge Telefonica and Orange. The deal will generate savings of about €2 billion and potential revenue addition of €1 billion . Financial Times Ono is the third acquisition in two years after the purchase of Cable & Wireless Worldwide in the U.K. and Kabel Deutschland in Germany. Vodafone is also building its own networks in Italy, Spain and Portugal.

Facebook, TED Team Up to Bring Exclusive Content to Paper App (Mashable)
Facebook and TED on Monday announced a content collaboration for Paper, the company’s standalone news reader and publishing app released in late January. VentureBeat The move is interesting because it marks the first time Facebook has worked with an outside content partner on the relatively new Facebook Paper platform. If successful, Facebook could make similar partnerships in the future. It could also become a lucrative source of revenue for Facebook Paper should the social network decide to go the content marketing route as well. TechCrunch The “Ideas Worth Spreading” TED conference will feed exclusive content from its 2014 summit in Vancouver into Paper from March 17 to 21. AllFacebook The exclusive content from TED 2014 will include status updates, photos and presentations from TED fellows, as well as posts from attendees, blog posts, TED Talks videos and posts from journalists and other public figures attending or covering the event.

Media Boss Desmond Eyes £700 Million Channel 5 Float (Sky News)
Media tycoon Richard Desmond is considering a stock market flotation of Channel 5 even as bidders firm up offers of up to £700 million for the terrestrial broadcaster. Reuters Media reports in January said Desmond had hired Barclays to look for buyers for the television network and was expecting to raise about £700 million ($1.16 billion) through the sale. THR The news comes as the auction process for the broadcaster continues. Discovery Communications, Viacom and Scripps Networks have been in the running for Channel 5, according to sources. U.K. pay TV giant BSkyB has also looked at the asset and considered a joint bid with Discovery. Variety Channel 5, which broadcasts CSI and Big Brother, was bought by Desmond’s Northern & Shell in 2010 for £103.5 million ($172 million).

Savannah Guthrie Pregnant With First Baby, She Revealed at Weekend Wedding (Today.com)
Wedding bells are ringing for Savannah Guthrie — and baby bells, too. “I — well, we — are four months pregnant,” Savannah announced to guests at the candlelit reception dinner after the NBC News “Special Report” music played. The crowd erupted in screams and cheers. TVNewser Guthrie and Mike Feldman were married over the weekend outside her hometown Tucson, she announced on the Today show Monday morning.

Could Robots Be The Journalists of The Future? (The Guardian / Generation Y Takeover: Media)
Is robot journalism the future? Media organizations are increasingly looking to developers to come up with smart ways to incorporate computer algorithms into the daily grind of the news industry. Forbes.com already uses an artificial intelligence platform provided by the technology company Narrative Science to generate automated news from live data sets and content harvested from previous articles. The Guardian wanted to test this out and challenged Will Franklin, a Guardian developer, to create GUARBOT — in a day. Poynter / MediaWire After the experiment, The Guardian reported, “Maybe we really do still need journalists, maybe articles really don’t write themselves… but realistically, it seems difficult to draw any conclusions from a badly researched, hastily coded and all round incomplete investigation. It was fun though.”

New Cash, New Questions for Business Insider (USA Today)
Business Insider, one of the sites at the forefront of creating a native digital publishing model, happily announced the other day an additional investment of $12 million, bringing its total to about $30 million. Started by former securities analyst Henry Blodget and DoubleClick founder Kevin Ryan, the site, along with The Huffington Post, Gawker, BuzzFeed and Forbes, has helped pioneer a mix of aggregation, free contributions and syndication, along with original reporting and commentary. It has coupled this editorial approach with aggressive traffic-building strategies. This past fall, Business Insider sought to sell itself for $100 million in cash and found no takers (there were merger proposals, but no cash offers). Its $12 million in new money comes from existing investors — Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos among them — meaning everybody merely contributed more money to keep their present ownership stakes, without raising the value of their shares. This lack of buyers and new investors may suggest a growing uncertainty about what the new publishing model is worth.

Like That Vase on TV? Tap Your Phone to Buy It (NYT)
About 87 percent of Americans watch television while using devices like smartphones and tablets, but most of that second-screen usage is unrelated to the show or movie, according to the NPD Group, a market research company. Now, in what could signal a new era for product placement, Target will feature dozens of products on a new episode of Cougar Town, the TBS comedy series, and, at the moment the products appear on television screens, encourage viewers to purchase them on their second screens.

Popcorn Time Reality Check: Usage of Piracy App Is Actually Tiny (Variety)
For all the buzz being generated by Popcorn Time, usage appeared relatively small Monday, compared with other piracy apps. The original Argentina-based developers behind this free app, which makes watching movies from pirate torrent sites as easy as clicking on the image of a movie poster, pulled the plug on the project last Friday. The group, in a statement, alluded to legal threats and said “we need to move on with our lives.” But since then, the software has appeared on multiple “mirror” websites. Still, while worldwide searches for “Popcorn Time” have skyrocketed since March 10, according to Google — peaking last Wednesday, relative to activity prior to last Monday — the amount of piracy traffic moving through it remains tiny compared with overall usage.

Nook to Launch Nook Press in U.K. (GalleyCat)
Barnes & Noble’s digital arm Nook has plans to introduce its self-publishing platform to authors in the U.K. Tuesday, according to reports. To support the launch, the retailer is a marquee sponsor at the Oxford Literary Festival this weekend where it will host self-publishing seminars, as well as a “Nook Experiential Area” where writers can explore the company’s products.

Fox News Launches Redesigned App for iPhone, Android (LostRemote)
Fox News has come out with a new app for iPhone and Android users, offering live streaming of Fox News and Fox Business. Users will be prompted to tap on Live TV, and then type in their cable, satellite or telco provider to gain access to Fox shows happening live. The app will also stream live coverage of breaking news events, original Web-only programming and on-demand clips from Fox News shows.

BBC Apologizes for North Korea Documentary (THR)
The BBC on Monday apologized for a documentary about North Korea that had last year caused a war of words between the U.K. public broadcaster and the London School of Economics (LSE) over using students to help get into the communist state. BBC journalist John Sweeney and other reporters snuck into the country posing as LSE students to gain access for an episode of the broadcaster’s flagship current affairs program Panorama, which a report on a probe by the BBC governing body on Monday said had breached key editorial guidelines. The LSE argued that the broadcaster had put its students at risk through its actions.

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