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Thursday, Jan 03

Morning Media Newsfeed 01.03.13

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Al Jazeera Acquires Current TV (NYT / Media Decoder)
Al Jazeera on Wednesday completed a deal to take over Current TV, the low-rated cable channel that was founded by Al Gore and his business partners seven years ago. Current will provide the pan-Arab news giant with something it has sought for years: a pathway into American living rooms. TVNewser Current TV has distribution in 60 million homes, giving Al Jazeera a large and immediate U.S. footprint. The result will be a new channel, not simply a simulcast of Al Jazeera English, the company's English-language cable news outlet. HuffPost Al Jazeera English launched in New York City last year, but has previously faced resistance from cable operators in other parts of the country. Though it remains controversial for many, its reporting from the Middle East during and after the Arab Spring gave it a vastly increased profile -- and a new credibility -- inside the US. LA Times / Company Town Originally a home primarily for documentary-style programming, Current spent the last two years trying to build a news-talk network that would appeal to a liberal audience. It spent heavily to woo commentator Keith Olbermann to its network, hoping that viewers and advertising dollars would follow. Forbes / Mixed Media Olbermann's history of clashing with employers repeated itself yet again, with the star and the network fighting over editorial control and resources. Olbermann, who was drawing a reported $10 million salary at Current, is now pursuing a lawsuit against the company while actively looking for a new job. San Jose Mercury News / AP Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Cenk Uygur are currently its lead personalities. Current signed Olbermann to be its top host in 2011 but his tenure lasted less than a year before it ended in bad blood on both sides. Current has largely been outflanked by MSNBC in its effort be a liberal alternative to the leading cable news network, Fox News Channel.

Andrew Sullivan Splits from The Daily Beast, Charges for Content (FishbowlNY)
Andrew Sullivan, one of the Daily Beast's biggest names, is leaving. Sullivan explained Wednesday that he and his blogging team are leaving the company and setting up their own (Dish Publishing LLC) and will ask readers to pay to view the content. The Daily Beast / The Dish Here's the core principle: We want to create a place where readers -- and readers alone -- sustain the site. No bigger media companies will be subsidizing us; no venture capital will be sought to cushion our transition (unless my savings count as venture capital); and, most critically, no advertising will be getting in the way. Adweek The biggest change will be a metered pay model, although Sullivan has already taken pains not to call the subscription-based plan a paywall. Readers will get an unspecified number of views for free on longer-form posts (quick posts and short blog links will remain free to help the Dish remain a formidable traffic referrer), but after that, those who wish to read the Dish will have to pony up $19.99 per year. NYT / Media Decoder Sullivan said in an email message that he could have remained at The Daily Beast under a new contract. But he said that as he and his two partners started negotiating, they "began to see the overpowering logic of real independence."

Greta Van Susteren Demands 'Prominent' Correction from Tina Brown (TVNewser)
Fox News host Greta Van Susteren has taken to her blog demanding a correction and apology from Daily Beast writer Lauren Ashburn. In a piece assailing Fox News hosts and analysts who'd mocked the illness of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton -- before it was revealed she had a blood clot -- Ashburn incorrectly attributed the quote, "immaculate concussion" to Van Susteren, when it was Laura Ingraham who'd said it. GretaWire The Daily Beast Needs to correct this pronto -- and do so in a big way (not hidden in some little footnote). Of course I will accept an apology but I'm more interested in the truth getting out and that I did not make this crack about the Secretary of State. HuffPost Clinton recently sustained a concussion the week before she was scheduled to speak in Congress about the Benghazi attack, and her testimony was postponed. Several Fox News personalities and guests suggested that Clinton was trying to avoid testifying. The Washington Post / Erik Wemple Justin Fishel is a Fox News producer/correspondent who covers the Pentagon and the State Department. In that capacity, he's known for his tough and often prickly questions. That reputation mounted on Monday, Dec. 17, when Fishel sat in on a State Department daily press briefing. It was just two days after news had broken that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had fainted and suffered a concussion. Doctors had prescribed rest, keeping her from her official duties for that week. The upshot: Clinton would be unable to keep an appointment to testify before Congress regarding the fatal Benghazi attacks. Fishel wanted to know more. So at the press briefing, he pressed. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland did the push-backing. The Daily Beast / Howard Kurtz In Ashburn's piece about those who made fun of Clinton's illness, I edited in a comment about whether she had suffered an "immaculate concussion" and attributed it to Van Susteren. In fact, it was said by Ingraham. What's more, as the piece noted, Van Susteren took to task those who mocked Clinton's illness, including her own Fox colleagues. For that, she deserves kudos, not an inaccurate account.

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Host Ty Pennington to Host Primetime Show on HLN (TVNewser)
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition host Ty Pennington has been tapped to host a monthly program on HLN. The new weekend primetime show, American Journey, will follow "individuals and communities who have found inventive and surprising ways to address today's challenges by applying the lessons of American pioneers." U.S. News & World Report / AP Each episode will air multiple times over the weekend on the network formerly known as CNN Headline News, with a new edition starting each month. Early episodes will focus on lobstermen and Delta blues musicians. Pennington said he wants to follow the growing subculture of entrepreneurs and creative thinkers trying to rebuild the country. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution / Radio & TV Talk Pennington broke it big in 2000 on TV with TLC's Trading Spaces, then moved to Los Angeles in 2003, landing a gig hosting ABC's hit show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Over eight years, megaphone in hand, he presided over more than 200 builds. The final episode hosted by Pennington aired December 2011. Early last year, he was on the cast of the now canceled Revolution ABC talk show, which lasted only six months.

David Carey is Excited About 2013 (FishbowlNY)
It's 2013, and David Carey, president of Hearst Magazines, is excited. In a memo to staffers, Carey lays out the plan for the company in the coming new year, and highlights some things that have gone right. Adweek While 2012 may have been all about digital expansion, print is far from dead, to hear Carey's plans for 2013. The coming year will see more brand extensions, following the launches of Cosmopolitan for Latinas and Delish, and the relaunched Elle Accessories. (All three will also increase their frequencies in 2013.) Internationally, 12 more magazines are set to debut this year. And Carey said that with continuing interest from outside media firms looking to partner with Hearst, the company might test another new magazine before the year's end.

TWT Editor Lays Out a 'Vision' (FishbowlDC)
Last month The Washington Times' new executive editor David Jackson announced to his newsroom that the publication would be taking things in a new, brighter direction that would involve reorganization and layoffs. Wednesday he released another letter, this time, a "vision" for what's to come. In it, no word as to which members of the newsroom will soon be let go. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media Jackson wrote in his "vision statement" that the paper will continue to print five days a week, but will become a "digital-first news organization." The publication's website will be redesigned this year, he noted. "As part of this transition, we will launch a re-designed website that will feature blogs and other tools that help us get breaking news stories to our audience faster," Jackson wrote. "We will be alert for ways to use interactive charts and graphics to make news and information easy to understand."

The Bestselling eBook of 2012: Fifty Shades of Grey (LA Times / Jacket Copy)
If you bought a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey for your e-reader, you are not alone -- not by a long shot. E.L. James' sexy novel about innocent college student Anastasia Steele and her love affair with handcuff-inclined billionaire Christian Grey was the bestselling eBook for all of 2012.

Tumblr: David Karp's $800 Million Art Project (Forbes / Mixed Media)
David Karp is in the midst of a rite of passage that seems universal for the young tycoons of the Internet's social era: He's buying himself a proper swank pad. And like Mark Zuckerberg's luxe but dowdy $6 million manse in Palo Alto and Sean Parker's Greenwich Village carriage house-cum-party palace, Karp's choice says a lot about him -- and Tumblr, the blogging platform he founded nearly six years ago.

Stay Tuned: A Self-Published Book About TV Gets a Major Publishing Pick-Up (NYT / Arts Beat)
In the course of chronicling the modern-day history of television, author Alan Sepinwall has made a bit of history himself, becoming the rare self-published author to be picked up by a major press. On Wednesday, it was announced that the Touchstone imprint of Simon & Schuster had acquired his well-regarded book The Revolution Was Televised, which Sepinwall put out late last year.

Snow Job? (CJR)
Local broadcasters like KUSA are emerging as the biggest financial winners in the free-for-all following the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision, which allowed unlimited checks to flow into political campaigns from donors who often remain secret. Yet each misleading ad that aired also made it a little tougher for stations to do the job they were granted monopoly of the public airwaves to perform: serving the needs of their communities by accurately informing and educating voters. And as the number of ads has grown in each election cycle, the danger is that they'll set the political agenda in the future.

Bye, Bye Byline (Milwaukee Magazine)
But the simultaneous explosion and implosion of media may be especially dispiriting for the would-be lifers: If journalism is all you ever wanted to do, what happens when the craft changes so much it seems unrecognizable, or the ranks of working journalists become so decimated that you have no choice but to explore something new?

Fiscal Cliff Bill Includes Showbiz Boost (Variety)
The legislation passed by Congress on Tuesday to avert a fiscal cliff includes a sweetener for Hollywood: the extension of a tax provision that is designed to boost U.S. film and TV production.

Journalism Is Not Narcissism (Gawker)
Every year, thousands of fresh-faced young aspiring journalists flood our nation's college classrooms, in order to learn how to practice their craft. What should we tell them? This, first: Journalism is not about you.

For Newspaper Stocks, 2012 Was a Surprisingly Good Year (Poynter / Biz Blog)
Total revenues are not yet headed in the right direction, but investors still liked what they saw in the newspaper industry last year and bid up share prices accordingly.

From Mobile to Taking on Newspaper Paywalls, Three Big Moves for Local TV in 2013 (LostRemote)
Local television remains a good business, but most station execs agree that tough, uncertain times lie ahead. As we enter 2013, it's the ideal opportunity for TV station groups to make bold moves to invest in future growth -- or just protect the current bottom line.

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