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Tuesday, Dec 04

Morning Media Newsfeed 12.04.12

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News Corp. Shuts Down The Daily (FishbowlNY)
The first great iPad newspaper experiment is over. News Corp. has announced that it is shutting down The Daily on Dec. 15, and that some staffers will head to the New York Post. LA Times / Company Town The Daily was introduced nearly two years ago as the first news application for Apple Inc.'s iPad and was designed to dazzle a generation of young readers who found print publications too dated and stodgy. But in the end, News Corp.'s expensive endeavor violated an old-school media tenet: Don't be boring. WSJ / Digits In a statement Monday, Rupert Murdoch said "Unfortunately our experience was that we could not find a large enough audience quickly enough to convince us the business model was sustainable in the long term." The Associated Press News Corp. had hoped The Daily would lure both paying subscribers and advertisers to a digital newspaper that included news, gossip and opinion. The publication's intended audience included people who don't read traditional newspapers or watch TV news while still consuming media through other means. But The Daily never caught on. Poynter / Mobile Media Being the first-of-a-kind is as dangerous as it is exciting in the technology world. With few or no prior examples to learn from, you're left to try stuff and learn the hard way. With the benefit of hindsight, there seem to be at least two other major lessons from The Daily's failure. Reuters / Felix Salmon The news is not particularly surprising, but it would be wrong to simply dismiss it as a Murdoch folly which holds few lessons for anybody else. Rather, I think that The Daily has taught us all an important lesson -- which is that tablets in general, and the iPad in particular, are actually much less powerful and revolutionary than many of us had hoped. Specifically, far from being able to offer richer content than can be found on the Web, they actually find themselves crippled in unexpected ways. FishbowlNY It is hard to believe now, but at the time there was quite a bit of optimism around the product. As a public service, FishbowlNY looks back at the good, the bad and the ugly...

New York Times Seeks Buyouts from 30 in Newsroom (NYT / Media Decoder)
Aiming to cut costs in an increasingly troubled advertising environment, The New York Times announced on Monday morning that it would offer buyout packages to newsroom employees. While the primary goal of the buyout program is to trim managers and other nonunion employees from its books, the company is offering employees represented by the Newspaper Guild the chance to volunteer for buyout packages as well. FishbowlNY "There is no getting around the hard news that the size of the newsroom staff must be reduced," Jill Abramson, the Times' executive editor, said in the memo. The staffers have until Jan. 24 to decide if they want to take the offered severance package. If not enough people decide to take the Times' offer, we all know what happens next. Just in case you don't know what we mean, here's Abramson again: "I hope the needed savings can be achieved through voluntary buyouts but if not, I will be forced to go to layoffs among the excluded staff." MediaPost / Media Daily News The NYT's newsroom staff is currently about the same size it was in 2003, according to a report in the newspaper, while the business side has reduced its workforce by more than 60 percent. International Business Times The economic downturn coupled with the migration of readers from print to the Internet has been devastating for the Times Co., which also owns the Boston Globe and the International Herald Tribune. The paywall enacted on in 2011 has been, by most measures, a success. Adweek Despite the New York Times Co.'s continued success with its online paywall, advertising revenue is still falling. According to a third-quarter earnings statement, while digital subscriptions were up 11 percent, ad revenues dropped 8.9 percent. The Week There is so much competition for digital ads that advertisers can pay newspapers tiny rates that are only getting smaller. That means the Times is stuck between a rock and a hard place: Digital subscription growth is not enough to make up for losses from the print business, and neither is digital ad revenue.

Dow Jones Promotes Gerard Baker, Robert Thomson to Lead New Publishing Unit (FishbowlNY)
A couple big changes at Dow Jones & Company are taking place. Effective Jan. 1, 2013, Gerard Baker will be the editor-in-chief of Dow Jones and managing editor of The Wall Street Journal, and Robert Thomson will be CEO of News Corp's publishing unit. Chicago Tribune / Reuters Thomson will now oversee a stable of assets that includes TV stations and newspapers in Australia, The Wall Street Journal, New York Post, the Times of London, as well as book publisher Harper Collins and a nascent education group. His ascension comes at a difficult time for print media. Newspapers face tough challenges as advertisers look elsewhere and people increasingly prefer smartphones and tablets to ink and paper. TVNewser News Corp.'s TV and film businesses, which include Fox News Channel, Fox Broadcasting and 20th Century Fox, will become part of what is now called "The Fox Group." The Fox Group will be led by Rupert Murdoch as CEO, and Chase Carey as president and COO.

Bob Costas Uses NFL Halftime Commentary to Advocate for Gun Control (TVNewser)
NBC Sports anchor Bob Costas used his weekly halftime commentary segment during Sunday Night Football to advocate for something that had little to do with sports: gun control. The impetus was a tragic shooting in Kansas City, when Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend, drove to the team's training camp, and shot himself in front of his coaches. NYT / Media Decoder But Costas says he has been given the freedom by NBC to editorialize on subjects related to football and sports -- views that the network neither specifically endorses nor opposes. And he was convinced, he said in a telephone interview on Monday, that "it was likely that these two people would not be dead" if there hadn't been a gun available that made it easy to take a life in a moment of anger. The Washington Post / AP Above a headline "Advocacy Gone Awry?" the hosts of Fox's morning show Fox & Friends read letters from viewers criticizing Costas' stance. On Megyn Kelly's afternoon show, there was a debate on whether Costas should be fired. New York Daily News / Bob Raissman Costas has angered a lot of people. Good for him. See, many moons ago the NBC Sports voice figured his audience had the depth and capacity to handle opinions on issues not entirely sports-related. Issues touching the world of sports, which is comprised of everyday people. This fact is totally lost on those now calling for Costas to be fired.

J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy Coming as BBC TV Show (GalleyCat)
BBC One and BBC Drama have teamed up to create a television adaptation of The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling. The series should be released in 2014. Chicago Sun-Times / AP The novel is Rowling's first full-length book since she finished the Harry Potter saga in 2007. It was published in September to mixed reviews but topped best-seller charts. BBC drama controller Ben Stephenson called the book "an extraordinary tapestry of modern Britain" full of "humor, social commentary and above all fantastic characters." Indiewire / The Playlist No word yet on writers, stars or directors, but we'll likely hear more in the New Year. But it seems Rowling isn't done yet in bringing her stories from the page to the screen.

Sinclair, Newport Television Close Seven-Station Deal (TVSpy)
Sinclair Broadcasting officially took the reins Monday at six stations it acquired from Newport Television: WKRC in Cincinnati, WOAI in San Antonio, WHP in Harrisburg-Lancaster, WPMI and WJTC in Mobile and KSAS in Wichita. B&C There's another general manager shakeup upon Sinclair's closing of its Newport TV deal, as Holly Steuart was dismissed from her spot at WHP Harrisburg-Lancaster. Sinclair closed on the six Newport stations Dec. 3, resulting in the departures of three general managers: Les Vann at WKRC Cincinnati, Jackie Rutledge at WOAI San Antonio, and Steuart in DMA No. 43. Bloomberg Businessweek / AP The company is one of the largest TV broadcasting companies in the U.S. with 84 television stations in 46 markets.

Massive Worm Hits Tumblr, Spams Big Blogs Like USA Today (CNET)
A massive bug swept Tumblr Monday and infected some of the biggest blogs -- including USA Today, Reuters, The Verge, and CNET -- until Tumblr resolved the issue shortly before 10:30 a.m. PT. GNAA, a hacker group, claimed responsibility for the attack. The group's Twitter profile earlier Monday said 8,600 unique Tumblr users were affected. Adweek The group overtook Tumblr accounts with a 184-word diatribe that ended by threatening affected consumers and companies that deleting the post would delete their account on the site. Such posts were tagged with the keyword "bronies," which is a group of adult fans of the animated TV show for children, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Tumblr appears to have fixed the security hole, and the site seemingly has returned to normal. Slate / Future Tense GNAA is a trolling group that has been around since 2002, and in that time it has targeted everyone from conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and CNN to Barack Obama's campaign websites. Internet watchers may remember the name GNAA when the group pranked media outlets during Hurricane Sandy with fake tweets claiming that they were looting evacuated houses.

Matt Damon, Alec Baldwin, Don Cheadle Sign on for James Cameron's Climate-Change Doc (The Wrap)
James Cameron's climate-change documentary Years of Living Dangerously has lined up some high-level talent to get its message across. Matt Damon, Alec Baldwin and Don Cheadle have signed on to narrate the documentary, Showtime -- which will air the project over multiple episodes next year -- said Monday. Politico Arnold Schwarzenegger is reuniting with Cameron for the new documentary series on climate change. The series will air on Showtime in 2013 and "will explore the human impact of climate change," according to a statement from the network. It will consist of six to eight one-hour episodes. THR / The Live Feed "The recent devastation on the East Coast is a tragic reminder of the direct link between our daily lives and climate change," said Showtime Networks' president of entertainment David Nevins, who has been vocal about his desire to bulk up the network's documentary portfolio. "This series presents a unique opportunity to combine the large-scale filmmaking styles of James Cameron, Jerry Weintraub and Arnold Schwarzenegger -- arguably some of Hollywood's biggest moviemakers -- with the hard-hitting, intimate journalism of 60 Minutes veterans Joel Bach and David Gelber. I believe this combination will make for a thought-provoking television event."

Sundance: Ashton Kutcher's Steve Jobs Biopic Leads Premieres (BBC News)
A biopic about the late Apple boss Steve Jobs and the directorial debut from actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt are among the 18 premieres announced for 2013's Sundance Film Festival. jOBS, starring Ashton Kutcher, charts the entrepreneur's rise from wayward hippie to charismatic inventor and will officially close the indie festival. USA Today "My hunch is he got the job because he bears such a striking resemblance to Jobs physically," Trevor Groth, the festival's director of programming, says. "But (Kutcher) really owns the performance." The festival, which usually draws some of Hollywood's biggest names, will present gala premieres of 29 documentaries and dramas, whose subject matters include everything from former vice president Dick Cheney to the works of Beat author Jack Kerouac.

Rebrand for TeleFutura (Variety)
Hispanic media giant Univision Communications is rebranding its TeleFutura broadcast network as UniMas. The rebranded network will feature programming from Univision's longtime programming supplier/partner Televisa as well as Colombia's Caracol TV and RTI, former content providers to NBCU's Telemundo.

Jim Axelrod Eyed as Permanent Anchor of CBS Evening News Saturday (TVNewser)
CBS News is closing in on a new full-time anchor for the Saturday edition of the CBS Evening News. TVNewser hears that CBS News national correspondent Jim Axelrod is the man that will get the gig.

Hello to Symbolia: New iPad-Only Comics Journalism Magazine Launches (CJR / The News Frontier)
In the first issue of Symbolia, a publication that launched on the iPad Monday, you'll find a dispatch from Iraqi Kurdistan, a profile of a Zambian psychedelic rock band, and an article about environmental devastation in California's Salton Sea. All of these stories are told with comics.

First Issue of CR Fashion Book Sells Out at Newsstands (WWD / Memo Pad)
Carine Roitfeld's CR Fashion Book has enjoyed a solid reception on newsstands and has sold out of its initial print run of 50,000 copies -- at $15 a pop, according to its publisher, Fashion Media Group LLC.

Sherman Oaks TV Series Creator Minting Brave New Distribution Model (FishbowlLA)
There are a number of remarkable things to note about Jon Hotchkiss' science-experiment TV series This vs. That: he turned down deals with a couple of U.S. networks in favor of funding the program himself; he edits on a pair of Avids in his Sherman Oaks garage; and his triumvirate of male hosts connects to everything from Improv comedy to the old FOX game show Studs. But most remarkable of all is the fact that Hotchkiss has already sold his first batch of six one-hour episodes to TV channels in a dozen countries (Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Japan, Israel among them).

Kate Middleton Pregnant: How Media Covered the News (HuffPost)
The world released a collective squeal when it was announced Monday that Kate Middleton is pregnant. Buckingham Palace confirmed the news in an official statement, after much speculation that the royal couple is expecting. The news broke on Twitter shortly after 11 a.m. ET. Some websites splashed the story across their front pages, while others -- like The New York Times and NBC News -- took a more subtle approach.

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