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Monday, Mar 04

Morning Media Newsfeed: 03.04.13

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New York Times Kills its 'Green' Blog (Grist / Gristmill)
Less than two months ago, The New York Times dissolved its environment desk, eliminating its two environment editor positions and reassigning those editors and seven reporters. Now the paper is swinging the hatchet again, shutting down the "Green" blog that had been home to original environmental reporting every weekday. A Times insider tells Grist that the decision probably means an end to the significant amount of freelance reporting that appeared in the "Green" blog: "I'm not 100 percent sure that we're going to spend as much time on the environment as in the past." CJR / The Observatory The masthead editors should be ashamed of themselves. They've made a horrible decision that ensures the deterioration of the Times' environmental coverage at a time when debates about climate change, energy, natural resources, and sustainability have never been more important to public welfare, and they've done so while keeping their staff in the dark. Readers deserve an explanation, but I can't think of a single one that would justify this folly. InsideClimate News Masthead editors reassigned Nancy Kenney, the deputy environment editor, who was running it, to the culture desk. NYT / Dot Earth From a logistical standpoint, the shutdown of "Green" was probably inevitable once the environment desk was closed in January. The two editors have new duties, and a blog is a lot of work. The news side of the Times has nine sports blogs; nine spanning fashion, lifestyles, health, dining and the like; four business blogs; four technology blogs (five if you include automobiles as a technology); and a potpourri of other great efforts; I would like to have thought there was space for the environment in that mix, even though these issues are still often seen by journalists weaned on politics as a sidenote.

Covert Malaysian Campaign Touched a Wide Range of American Media (BuzzFeed)
A range of mainstream American publications printed paid propaganda for the government of Malaysia, much of it focused on the campaign against a pro-democracy figure there. The payments to conservative American opinion writers -- whose work appeared in outlets from The Huffington Post and San Francisco Examiner to the Washington Times to National Review and RedState -- emerged in a filing this week to the Department of Justice. The filing outlines a campaign spanning May 2008 to April 2011, led by Joshua Trevino, a conservative pundit, who received $389,724.70. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media The filing also lists 10 others who were provided with stipends for their writing, including Ben Domenech, the Transom blogger and former Washington Post writer, who received $36,000. Atlanta Journal-Constitution / Jay Bookman This is pretty damn scummy. You take secret, undisclosed money from a foreign government to write hit pieces in U.S. media against a man, in this case Anwar Ibrahim, who is struggling to bring democracy to his country and was beaten and imprisoned for years for daring to challenge the dictatorial government? Paid agents of foreign governments masquerading as American journalists takes things to a dangerous level and says a lot about the character of those involved. NY Mag / Daily Intelligencer "This is a clear violation of HuffPost's blogging policy that requires disclosure of payments and conflicts of interest," said a spokesperson. "As soon as we learned of this conflict, we removed the posts from our site." paidContent The Malaysia episode also reflects another example of how BuzzFeed, best known for cat photos and titillating viral fare, is rapidly climbing the serious media firmament.

Sources: NBC Discussing Jay Leno Exit Plan (THR)
Is NBC preparing to announce Jay Leno's departure from The Tonight Show? The network says categorically no, but two high-level industry sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that NBC is moving toward a May announcement that the 2013-14 television season will be the last for Leno as host of the long-running late-night show. Sources expect the network to move Jimmy Fallon from his Late Night spot into the coveted 11:35 p.m. time slot with a soft launch during the summer of 2014 before a formal fall kickoff. Baltimore Sun / Z On TV What network wouldn't take a second- or third-place finish overall in late night with a comedian young people talk about online and on the radio in the morning? And that's Fallon, not Leno. Fallon has buzz, edge and young viewers. And with ABC having recently moved Jimmy Kimmel into its 11:35 p.m. time slot by bumping Nightline back, NBC needs to get younger. Hollywood.com All should be revealed in May during the TV upfronts. Let's just hope it doesn't turn into a nasty war of the words. Can anyone say Conan O'Brien?


Ann Romney: 'I Am Happy to Blame the Media' for Mitt's Loss (TVNewser)
Former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney appeared on Fox News Sunday alongside his wife Ann. While there was plenty of talk about politics and what the couple is doing next, media coverage also came up as a topic. When asked by Chris Wallace why Mitt lost, Ann said that while the campaign could have done a better job, "It was not just the campaign's fault, I believe it was the media's fault as well, in that he was not giving -- being given -- a fair shake, that people weren't allowed to really see him for who he was... I'm happy to blame the media," she added. The Washington Post / Erik Wemple There's a mound of contradiction in Ann's critique. On one hand, she confirms her frustration that the campaign kept too tight a lid on the candidate. On the other hand, she complains that he wasn't portrayed more completely in the media. Problem: The campaign controlled the media's access to the candidate, so blaming them both at the same time is a touch precious.

ZDNet Cuts U.S. Bloggers as it Refocuses on Global Coverage (VentureBeat)
Business technology news site ZDNet has cut five bloggers from its staff in the past few weeks as it continues to realign its organization into a global one. In July, ZDNet decided to combine all of its international sites into one editorial team (and one budget) and since that time, it has been focused on expanding into a global network.

Keith Olbermann Returns to ESPN (TVNewser)
Former MSNBC and Current TV host Keith Olbermann got his big break in TV at ESPN, where, alongside Dan Patrick, he turned SportsCenter into "The Big Show." Olbermann left ESPN in 1997, not on the best of terms. Now, however, Olbermann is returning to ESPN... sort of. In a short film that is part of ESPN's 30 for 30 series, Olbermann appears to talk about the legendary T-206 Honus Wagner baseball card. NYT At various times over the last year, Olbermann and his representatives have expressed interest in his return to ESPN. His expressions of interest included dinner at New York's Four Seasons Restaurant with John Skipper, ESPN's president. In the months since that dinner, Olbermann's representatives have campaigned at ESPN for possible opportunities, according to a senior executive at the network and someone directly involved with Olbermann's efforts.

Washington Post Eliminates Ombudsman Position (The Wrap / Media Alley)
The Washington Post has confirmed its own ombudsman's hunch and announced on Friday that it has cut the 43-year-old position. "We have been privileged to have had the service of many talented ombudsmen (and women) who have addressed readers' concerns, answered their questions and held the Post to the highest standards of journalism," publisher Katharine Weymouth wrote in a message Friday to Post readers.

New York Lawmakers Want to Tweak Tough New Gun Law for Movie, TV Shoots (Deadline Hollywood)
Following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. state legislators in New York rushed the nation's toughest gun control measure into law. Now the state is looking to tweak the law with an exemption that will allow movie and TV producers to film gun battles on New York City streets, the AP reports.

Vanity Fair Pulled Jessica Chastain Criticism While she Chased Best Actress Oscar (Deadline Hollywood)
Vanity Fair deputy editor Bruce Handy wrote one brief but hardly brutal column dissecting Jessica Chastain's body of work. "I'm surprised it's being hailed as one of the year's great performances, and that it has earned her an Oscar nomination for best actress," Handy opined. Although he included much praise, Handy also said Chastain was an "empty vessel." The piece posted on the Vanity Fair website Jan. 25 at a pivotal point in Oscar campaigning: just before final paper ballots went out and online voting began. Within a day, the analysis was gone.

The Dangerous Logic of the Bradley Manning Case (The New Republic)
After 1,000 days in pretrial detention, Private Bradley Manning offered a modified guilty plea for passing classified materials to WikiLeaks. But his case is far from over -- not for Manning, and not for the rest of the country. To understand what is still at stake, consider an exchange that took place in a military courtroom in Maryland in January. The judge, Col. Denise Lind, asked the prosecutors a brief but revealing question: Would you have pressed the same charges if Manning had given the documents not to WikiLeaks but directly to The New York Times? The prosecutor's answer was simple: "Yes Ma'am." paidContent So if handing documents over to a media entity that subsequently publishes them qualifies as "aiding the enemy" in the eyes of the government, then giving them to The New York Times would fit that description just as well as giving them to WikiLeaks. And if providing classified documents to a publisher can qualify, then wouldn't the entity that actually published them be guilty as well -- regardless of whether it's WikiLeaks or the Times?

At AMC, Zombies Topple Network TV (NYT)
During its run last fall, The Walking Dead was the highest-rated show among viewers 18 to 49, the most-sought age group, with a bigger audience than network winners like The Big Bang Theory, American Idol, The Voice and Modern Family. Now the zombies are back for the second half of the show's third season, and they continue to gnaw on everything in their path, including the broadcast networks' historical claim to being the only place to find a mass audience.

Chelsea Clinton and Judy Blume: NBC 'Correspondent' Turns to Fluff (Daily Download)
Remember when Chelsea Clinton and NBC News launched this misadventure featuring her as a "special correspondent" on Rock Center with a fanfare of hype and outright lies about what she and the journalistically-challenged NBC News were up to?

Arnold Schwarzenegger Returns to Bodybuilding as Magazine Editor (THR)
The former Mr. Olympia will lend his personal and professional insights via monthly columns for American Media, Inc. publications Muscle & Fitness and Flex.

First Lady's Dance Moves Catch Fire on the Web (NYT / Media Decoder)
Mrs. Obama came to New York on the Friday before the Oscars to perform a comedy sketch with Mr. Fallon called "The Evolution of Mom Dancing." It was an instant hit, picked up and replayed by numerous other television shows. But the sketch's real impact can be assessed by its popularity on YouTube. As of Saturday, a video of it had racked up nearly 13.6 million viewings.

What's on Amazon: The E-tailer's Quest to Make TV Hits (Reuters)
Amazon, along with Netflix, Google, Apple, Intel, Microsoft and others, aims to play a major role in the Internet-driven transformation of Hollywood. Like Netflix, it has decided that it must move beyond being a distributor of others' shows to producing top-drawer programming of its own.

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