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Morning Media Newsfeed: Logan Back at 60 Minutes | Judge Questions NSA | USA Today Expands

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Lara Logan to Return to 60 Minutes (Politico / Dylan Byers on Media)
Lara Logan and Max McClellan, the 60 Minutes journalists who were put on a leave of absence following their now-retracted report on Benghazi, are set to return to the program early next year, Politico has learned. Logan and her producer, who had unfinished projects in the works when they left in November, have started booking camera crews for news packages, network sources said. Their return could come as early as next month. TVNewser CBS News chairman and executive producer of 60 Minutes Jeff Fager held a meeting with show staffers on Dec. 5, according to Politico, where he answered questions about the botched report and indicated he didn’t know how long Logan and her producer would be off-air. 60 Minutes spokesperson Kevin Tedesco tells TVNewser: “Lara Logan’s return has not been scheduled. Beyond that, we do not comment on speculation.” Mediaite This news came on a day when the long-running newsmagazine faces another round of flak for a piece on the NSA widely panned as uncritical. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media CBS’s 60 Minutes has had a terrible year: Logan’s now-retracted Benghazi report was the sort of black mark that will take the newsmagazine years to live down.

Judge Questions Legality of NSA Phone Records (NYT)
A federal district judge ruled on Monday that the NSA program that is systematically keeping records of all Americans’ phone calls most likely violates the Constitution, describing its technology as “almost Orwellian” and suggesting that James Madison would be “aghast” to learn that the government was encroaching on liberty in such a way. The Wire The decision, responding to a lawsuit initiated by Larry Klayman, the founder of Judicial Watch, was written by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon, a George W. Bush appointee. The lawsuit is a direct result of the leaks from Edward Snowden, the first of which came out one day before the suit was filed. AllThingsD In seeking to defeat a lawsuit challenging the legality of the bulk collection of phone records by the NSA, the federal government’s lawyers may have to prove that it’s really a necessary tool to help protect the country against terrorist attacks. Newspaper Alum The Guardian‘s initial report on the NSA has generated nearly 3.6 million page views since June.

USA Today Plans Countrywide Expansion (Politico / Dylan Byers on Media)
USA Today is planning to expand its coverage across the country, placing reporters in Miami, Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas and out in the Mountain West, editor-in-chief David Callaway wrote in an email to staff on Monday afternoon. The reporters, who will be both internal and external hires, will focus on breaking news and enterprise coverage in their regions and will “raise the flag” of USA Today in those areas, he said.

HLN Hires Three New Programming Executives (TVNewser)
The winds of change at HLN continue, as network president Albie Hecht announced three new senior level programming hires Monday. Former BET and Spike TV executive Keith Brown joins as senior VP for programming. Kari Kim becomes VP of programming development, coming from Worldwide Biggies, which produces content for Disney, Spike TV and more. Former Nickelodeon VP Adrienne Lopez has been named special projects director. Ad Age / Media News The hires are the latest move by Hecht, who has shaken up both primetime and daytime, canceling Raising America, Now in America and Evening Express. The shows were replaced by re-airings of Showbiz Tonight and News Now. CNN’s sibling network recently debuted a health and wellness programming block that is part of Turner’s Upwave, but initial ratings put HLN at a new low.

Here’s Digg Founder Kevin Rose’s Idea for A New Blogging Platform Called Tiny (The Next Web)
Digg founder, Google Ventures partner and Web personality Kevin Rose has a new blogging platform idea called Tiny. He published a prototype video on YouTube Monday which offers a glimpse into his thinking. In his mind, the idea would be to allow readers to get a glimpse at the author’s world as they’re “writing it.”

Liz Sidoti, Associated Press Political Editor, Joins BP (HuffPost / The Backstory)
Associated Press national political editor Liz Sidoti is leaving the news organization to become U.S. head of communications for BP, according to a memo obtained by The Huffington Post. Given that the AP covers BP, Sidoti will no longer be involved in any reporting, editing or news management, the memo stated.

AOL’s Hyper-Local Hubris: Patch Is Dying Because Local Journalism Is Artisanal, Not Industrial (GigaOM)
AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong is apparently scrambling to downplay the implications of a New York Times weekend piece on the company’s troubled Patch unit, which suggested that the hyper-local journalism business might be headed for the bone-yard. According to an internal memo, the AOL subsidiary is not shutting down — and while it has shed a number of staff, the company maintains that it is a going concern and is “talking with potential partners.” These protests aside, however, Patch is clearly a failure — in the sense that it has failed to meet the ambitious goals that Armstrong had for the unit when he first came up with the idea in 2007, before he became CEO of AOL. Adweek AOL is pushing back against rumors of Patch’s imminent shutdown, so much so that it seems to still be hiring aggressively for a property that is slated to close. In fact, Patch is actively recruiting on sites like Mediabistro.

Guardian U.S. Boss Out After A Year (Order-Order.com / Media Guido)
CEO of Guardian U.S. Michael Bloom has quit. He had only been in the job for just over a year but Guardian Media Group Monday announced he “will leave the company to pursue other opportunities.” Capital New York Launched in 2011, the goal of Guardian U.S. has been to capitalize on the growing audience of American Guardian readers and cultivate them as devoted users of the site by offering news that’s tailored to their worldview through a British lens.

CNN Films Adds an Acquisition Unit (LA Times / Company Town)
CNN is making a further push into the documentary film business with the creation of an acquisition unit. The cable news channel, which last year launched CNN Films to make and finance documentaries, will now also buy older documentaries for the network through its newly created CNN Films Presents banner. March of the Penguins, which won an Oscar for best documentary, and The Imposter are the first purchases of CNN Films Presents. Both will air on CNN in January.

Twitter to Let You Edit Tweets? You Wish (CNET)
In the heat of composing a tweet, you’d probably love not to fret over getting every detail right before firing it off, but sadly you’re out of luck — at least for the time being. That’s because Twitter is not actively exploring introducing an after-the-fact edit option for your tweets, despite a report to the contrary from blogger Matthew Keys. Keys reported, citing sources, that when released, an edit button would allow Twitter users to adjust their 140-character updates during a yet-to-be-determined window of time, but only once per tweet. Twitter declined to comment. PRNewser Keys’ exclusive came from “three sources close to the project” who figured that “it doesn’t count as a leak if we all do it.”

Olympics to Stream Live on Yahoo! Via NBC Deal? Not Quite (Variety)
NBCUniversal extended its pact with Yahoo! to promote live-streaming access to the 2014 Olympic Winter Games — but you’ll still need a cable or satellite TV subscription to watch the bulk of the action from Sochi, Russia. The Peacock’s deal with Yahoo! is aimed at driving pay-TV users to log in to NBCOlympics.com, where they will be able to access live streams of all 98 Winter Olympic events for the first time.

Now I Understand Medium (Slate / MoneyBox)
Like John Gruber and many other online media professionals I know, I’ve been puzzled for a while by Medium, which if you navigate over to the site looks like a publication. Except it looks like a publication whose selling point is design — specifically a very nice design that fits the contemporary trend toward things that are “clean” and “flat.” But they appear to have achieved this elegant design through sleight of hand. There are no ads and no revenue model. But that’s a trick anyone could pull off, until the money runs out. Meanwhile, aside from the design as a publication, Medium seems weird. What kind of publication is it? No kind that I recognize.

Better Location Data Equals Better Witnesses to News (Nieman Journalism Lab)
If you are standing in front of a plane crash wearing a torn pilot’s uniform, reporters would be justified in asking you questions about what happened. If you tweet about being onboard or seeing the plane come down, it’s extremely hard to know whether or not to believe you, because it’s so hard to know if you’re actually there. In 2014, expect both technology and attitudes to shift to make determining proximity to news events far, far easier.

If Time Inc Wants to Survive, It Should Create Its Own Ad Agency (The Guardian / Michael Wolff)
I keep thinking about the existential predicament of working for Time Inc in 2014, as it gets ready to spin out of Time Warner, away from the safety of luxe cable assets, and relaunch itself as a lonely print enterprise. The current state of print can be measured by Time Inc’s own emperor’s-new-clothes-like insistence that it isn’t just — or isn’t really — a print company. It is now … fill in the blank with some baloney about platforms.

Upworthy Is Watching You, And It’s Pissed You’re Not Watching Back (Gawker)
Back in the BlackBerry heyday, its messaging service was a huge source of contention since there was no way to opt out of letting the sender know you read their text. It led to a lot of awkward conversations — “So uh, I see you saw my note and ignored it” — but that mostly melted away with BlackBerry’s stock. Until Monday, when Upworthy sent a pretty passive-aggressive email with a subject line referencing the boom box scene in “Say Anything” — just to, you know, let you know that they know that you’ve been deleting their emails.

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