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Morning Media Newsfeed 12.07.12

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George Zimmerman Sues NBC over Edited 911 Tapes (TVNewser)
The man accused of killing teenager Trayvon Martin is suing NBCUniversal and three former NBC staffers over the deceptively edited 911 calls that aired on Today. HuffPost He is suing for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and seeks unspecified damages as well as a trial by jury. The news was announced on GZvsNBC.com, a website established by George Zimmerman's legal representatives on their client's behalf. NYT / Media Decoder A spokeswoman for NBCUniversal said in response to the suit, "We strongly disagree with the accusations made in the complaint. There was no intent to portray Mr. Zimmerman unfairly. We intend to vigorously defend our position in court." ABC News The suit claims the network pounced on the story in large part to help aid the ailing ratings of its morning program, the Today show. It centers around "manipulated" exchanges between Zimmerman and a non-emergency dispatcher shortly before unarmed teenager Martin was shot and killed. The audio aired a few times on several NBC platforms beginning Mar. 19. New York / Daily Intel Various versions of the clip played on NBC's Today show and Nightly News, and included Zimmerman stating of Martin, "There is a real suspicious guy. Ah, this guy looks like he is up to no good or he is on drugs or something. He looks black," but omitting the part where the dispatcher asks, "Is he white, black, or Hispanic?" The network later apologized and fired the Miami-based producer responsible, along with two additional employees, while categorizing the misleading edit as "a mistake, not a purposeful act." THR "Zimmerman has suffered greatly, with death threats, a bounty placed on his head, threats of capture, and a constant, genuine fear for his life resulting in his need to, among other things, live in hiding and wear a bullet proof vest," the lawsuit states.

Newsweek Layoffs Coming (FishbowlNY)
When Newsweek announced it was folding, we knew there would be cuts made. According to a memo sent out by Tina Brown and Baba Shetty, those layoffs came Thursday. Bloomberg Businessweek "Employees in the affected positions will be notified today," Brown said in the memo. "Much of this has already happened on the business side, and today we will be letting staff on the editorial side know where we will be eliminating positions. This is a very difficult day, and one that we approach with enormous regret." Capital New York On the bright side, no one will be sent packing before Dec. 31. But there's also been some further voluntary attrition. Sources said that Melissa Lafsky, Newsweek's iPad editor, is leaving for a job at a startup, and that commentary editor Damon Linker has resigned for a teaching gig at the University of Pennsylvania. Additionally, Newsweek design director Lindsay Ballant, who stepped into the role after Brown lost Dirk Barnett to The New Republic, is leaving for a fellowship. Adweek Meantime, it's exploring the possibility of moving the Daily Beast to a metered access model, à la The New York Times, Adweek has learned. The Beast's traffic grew considerably when it merged with Newsweek in 2010 and added its traffic, but then fell after Newsweek let its traffic deal with MSNBC expire. In recent months, though, Brown has been talking up the Beast's traffic growth. New York Observer As we wait for final details of the Newsbeast staff cuts, we came across an impassioned case against layoffs that ran in the pages of Newsweek almost three years ago. The article, which was published before Tina Brown took over the magazine and merged it with her Daily Beast website, explained "our over-reliance on downsizing is killing workers, the economy -- and even the bottom line."

Washington Post Plans a Paywall (WSJ)
The Washington Post, one of the last holdouts against the trend of charging readers for online access to newspaper articles, is likely to reverse that decision in 2013, according to people familiar with the matter. HuffPost The Post has previously spurned a paywall despite competitors like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal adopting such revenue streams. Even amidst staff cuts and declining circulation, the paper did not turn to charging for its online content. Mashable Currently, more than one-fifth of U.S. newspapers require a paying subscription for full digital access, twice the number that did a year ago. Washington City Paper / City Desk A paywall could increase revenue at the Post, which has been bleeding money and reducing employee benefits lately. On the other hand, it could reduce the traffic it gets from being one of the last American papers without a paywall. Before his exit, Marcus Brauchli pointed to that advantage at a journalism conference, saying that the Post was "quite content being the largest free premium newspaper online.” Maybe not so content anymore, though.

ABC News Launching GMA Live Web Show (TVNewser)
ABC News is launching a live daily Web show tied to its Good Morning America franchise. The 15-minute program GMA Live will stream on goodmorningamerica.com and ABCNews.com at 9:15 a.m. every weekday starting on Monday, Dec. 10, and will be available on-demand afterward. HuffPost The segment will be anchored by co-hosts Josh Elliott, Lara Spencer, Sam Champion and Amy Robach, and feature guests and contributors from the network. Deadline Hollywood "This is a chance for our gang to put their feet up and bring everyone backstage right after we get off the air," said Tom Cibrowski, GMA senior executive producer, in announcing the Web show. "We are going to have a great time pulling back the curtain a bit."

Huffington Post Names AOL Executive Jimmy Maymann as CEO (Reuters)
The Huffington Post Media Group, which publishes the Huffington Post news site, said on Thursday it named Jimmy Maymann chief executive. Maymann, who previously headed AOL International, will report to Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief, as well as chair of the Huffington Post Media Group, the company said. Adweek As CEO, Maymann will focus on the development and growth of both the Huffington Post Web property and the still-young HuffPost Live streaming network. Maymann will also continue efforts to grow the brand overseas (The Huffington Post currently has editions in Canada, France, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom). The Wrap / Media Alley Prior to joining AOL, Maymann co-founded goviral.com, a branded content distribution company acquired by AOL for $96.7 million in January 2011. Prior to Goviral, he ran Neo Ideo, a digital consultancy he launched in 1995 and later sold to the advertising agency Leo Burnett in 2000.

Reports: UK Publicist Max Clifford Questioned on Sex Abuse Claims (CNN)
Celebrity publicist Max Clifford was arrested Thursday by police investigating sex abuse allegations sparked by a scandal involving a now-deceased TV host, British media reports said. Surrounded by media as he left Belgravia Police Station later that night, Clifford said the claims against him are "very damaging" while insisting they are "totally untrue." Daily Mail "Anyone who really knew me all those years ago and those who have known me since will have no doubt that I would never act in the way that I have today been accused. I have nothing more to add." Asked when the allegations dated from, he replied: "1977, 35 years." PRWeek U.K. Clifford is one of the UK's highest profile PR practitioners. He established his agency Max Clifford Associates in 1970 and has represented a vast array of celebrity clients including Simon Cowell, Jade Goody and Mohammed Al Fayed.

At Random House, Employees Will Enjoy 5,000 Shades of Green (NYT / Media Decoder)
Random House had its corporate Christmas party Wednesday night in New York and word is that Santa likes bondage. A lot. Markus Dohle, the chief executive of Random House, promised employees -- from top editors to warehouse workers -- a $5,000 annual bonus to celebrate a profitable year. The cheering went on for minutes, according to people in attendance. New York Observer This, after all, is the year that Random House published Fifty Shades of Grey, the mega-bestselling S&M book, as well as two equally lucrative sequels. It's been a good year -- the first book has been No. 1 on the bestseller list for 37 weeks and shows no sign of stopping.

Rachel Maddow Nominated for Grammy Award (TVNewser)
MSNBC host Rachel Maddow has been nominated for a Grammy Award. Maddow is a nominee for the audio version of her book Drift in the "Spoken Word Field." She is up against some steep competition, including President Bill Clinton and comedian Ellen DeGeneres. Mediaite If she is victorious, Maddow would be the first cable news anchor to win the Grammy. In the past, however, several television personalities have won: Comedy Central's Jon Stewart took home the prize in 2011 and Edward R. Murrow won in 1967.

Jon Stewart Blasts Chris Christie over Fickle Friendship with Obama (New York / Daily Intel)
Chris Christie might have expected that in his first appearance on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart would focus on commiserating about their shared love of Bruce Springsteen and their storm-battered home state. While there was some lighthearted banter about the Boss, Stewart quickly transitioned into highlighting the hypocritical nature of Christie's bromance with President Obama.

Jack Cafferty No Longer with CNN (TVNewser)
Jack Cafferty, resident curmudgeon on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, whose TV news career began 52 years ago in Reno, has left CNN, TVNewser has learned. Cafferty has provided commentary and insight for The Situation Room since 2005. Previously at CNN, he was co-host on American Morning, and of a weekend business show. Before joining CNN, Cafferty was with the now shuttered CNNfn business channel.

OnScreen Summit: Moonves Says CBS News-CNN Merger Not Likely with Zucker at CNN (B&C)
CBS CEO Leslie Moonves says he isn't expecting a call from new CNN boss Jeff Zucker suggesting they talk about combining news operations -- and doesn't plan to call Zucker, either. Speaking at the B&C/MCN OnScreen Media Summit in New York on Thursday, Moonves was asked if Zucker's appointment made it any more or less likely CBS and Time Warner Inc.-owned CNN would join news forces. He said the same control issues and other obstacles that have stood in the way over the years haven't changed.

Does Apple's Tim Cook Want an Apple Television? (NYT / Bits)
Apple customers have been yearning for it for years. And now, it seems, the chief executive of Apple, Timothy D. Cook, wants one too: an Apple-made television. In an interview broadcast Thursday on Rock Center With Brian Williams on NBC, Cook slid a tiny hint across the table that such a product could exist someday.

The Changing Role of PR in the Era of 'Pageview Journalism' (ZDNet)
The focus on Pageview Journalism is a product of the hard economic realities of the media industry. But its rise represents a capitulation of editorial direction and voice to the fickle whims of pop culture. The result is what we have today: a bland me-too media landscape which publishes huge numbers of the same stories.

Ask Ms. Politico: 'They Did What?!' (FishbowlDC)
FishbowlDC has obtained an 11-page internal handbook handed out to Politico reporters about a week ago. It's called "The Right Thing to Do: Ethics at Politico." Those who didn't do the "right thing" in the past year and a half include Joe Williams, who was dismissed for racially tinged Twitter rantings and TV commentary, but allowed to stay until he found another job while finishing up probation for assaulting his ex-wife, and Kendra Marr, who was fired for plagiarism.

'Benched' Karl Rove Announces New Fox News Appearances (Washington Post / Erik Wemple)
Listen to the mediablabbo-complex these days, and word is that Karl Rove is "benched" at Fox News, thanks to his Ohio-denial act of Election Night on Fox News' air. A quick look at www.rove.com/appearances, however, may suggest otherwise.

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