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Media Spotlight Seen as a Blessing, or a Curse, in a Grieving Town (NYT)
Wolf Blitzer understands that his presence here is not appreciated by some local people, who wish that the TV satellite trucks, and the reporters who have taken over the local Starbucks would go away and leave them to ache, grieve and mourn in peace. But he also knows that the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School ranks with the epic national tragedies he has covered: Sept. 11, Oklahoma City, Virginia Tech. So for now the most intimate and heartbreaking of catastrophes and the insatiable, unwieldy beast of global media are locked in an awkward union in a bucolic New England town that never expected to encounter either. TVNewser One of the most controversial elements of Friday's coverage of the tragic shooting in Connecticut was the interviewing of frightened children outside the school. The Week / Matt K. Lewis Meanwhile, others staked out the young survivors, and then proceeded to conduct on-air interviews with these young children. This was unseemly and superfluous. As Time's James Poniewozik wrote, "There is no good journalistic reason to put a child at a mass-murder scene on live TV, permission of the parents or not." I don't blame the individual reporters or producers. They are merely players in a screwed-up game. And don't fool yourself: The media is responding to market demand that you help fuel. But if you're wondering why the public dislikes the media, scummy behavior like this doesn't help. The Daily Beast / Lauren Ashburn As journalists we all know these feelings -- and the need to contain our feelings. Instead, we stick microphones in the faces of grieving relatives and neighbors. In my television reporting days, I was as dispassionate as the next news gal. I felt like I had something to prove. I had to do what I saw others doing on TV. But in the wake of what happened in Newtown, it's now clear that too much restraint fails to match the moment when kids are being killed. PolicyMic Perhaps tighter gun control measures could have prevented Friday's horrific attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.; perhaps not. For a few weeks, partisan debate will funnel into this topic. But one measure that would almost certainly diminish the frequency of such attacks is getting almost no public attention at all. It is a measure that would require no legislation and very little effort: zero publicity for mass murderers. Bloomberg Businessweek Misinformation on the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, is being posted on social media websites, and that will be prosecuted, Lieutenant J. Paul Vance said in a televised briefing. CBS News In addition to people pretending to be the shooter or other principals in the investigation, Vance said other posters are putting up information purported to be from the Newtown city police or the Connecticut state police. Neither of those agencies are posting information via Twitter or other social media, he said. New York Daily News "All information relative to this case is coming from these microphones," Vance said. Officials are currently working to identify and question those responsible for the spread of misinformation, he added.
Gun Rights Advocates Steer Clear of Sunday Talk Shows (LA Times / Show Tracker)
Pro-gun voices were scarce on Sunday's political talk shows, where the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., was virtually the only subject of conversation. It wasn't for lack of trying. Politico / Politico Now NBC's David Gregory said Sunday that not a single pro-gun rights senator accepted a Meet the Press invitation to appear on the show. HuffPost "We reached out to all 31 pro-gun rights senators in the new Congress to invite them on the program to share their views on the subject this morning," he said. "We had no takers." Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) joined the show to discuss a greater need for gun control. She announced that Senate Democrats would introduce a new bill banning assault weapons on the first day of the new Congress in January. CBS News Face the Nation invited on politicians who oppose gun control, including representatives from the NRA, but they declined the program's requests. The Washington Post / The Fix Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), who does not sit on the Judiciary Committee, but was previously scheduled to appear on Face the Nation, had to cancel her appearance because of a case of laryngitis, a show spokeswoman said. The Sunday shows were dominated by discussions about the deadly shooting at a Connecticut school on Friday in which a gunman killed 20 children and six adults.
Saturday Night Live Ratings Rise with Martin Short, 'Silent Night' Tribute (THR / The Live Feed)
The Christmas episode of Saturday Night Live, featuring host Martin Short and musical performances by The New York City Children's Chorus, Paul McCartney and Nirvana, matched its second-highest rating of the season. In metered market households, SNL scored an easy win among broadcast networks with a 5.1 rating and 12 percent share. That matched its second-highest rating of the season (the Nov. 17 episode hosted by Jeremy Renner), falling shy of the Oct. 20 outing with Bruno Mars. It marked an 11 percent increase over the previous week's episode hosted by Jamie Foxx. Deadline Hollywood The Christmas-themed show kicked off with a moving tribute to the victims of the Connecticut elementary school killings, with a cold open featuring The New York City Children's Chorus performing "Silent Night." The skit highlights included a stage production of You're a Rat Bastard, Charlie Brown with Larry David (spot-on Short) as Linus, Edie Falco's Nurse Jackie (Kate McKinnon) as Lucy and Al Pacino (Bill Hader) as Charlie. Rolling Stone Saturday's episode of SNL opened without introduction on the smiling faces of The New York City Children's Chorus singing a stunning, beautiful rendition of "Silent Night." Regardless of whether the performance was written as a last-minute salute to the youngsters lost on Friday, or a pre-planned bit meant to bring cheer to the show's Christmas episode, the tone was pitch perfect.
Colorado Governor Points to Violence in Video Games (CNN / Political Ticker...)
Violent video games and a "culture of violence" found in the media could be contributing factors to mass shootings, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said Sunday. "There might well be some direct connection between people who have some mental instability and when they go over the edge -- they transport themselves, they become part of one of those video games," Hickenlooper said on CNN's State of the Union. "Perhaps that's why all these assault weapons are used." Washington Monthly / Political Animal How has this theory not already been relegated to the annals of concern trolling history? In 2002, Michael Moore did a fine job of deconstructing it in Bowling for Columbine. He pointed out that violent video games are also played in countries where gun violence occurs far less frequently.
Hunt for bin Laden More Than Just One Woman's Fight (NPR / Weekend Edition Sunday)
So was there a female CIA analyst at the center of this hunt? "I think it's a literary device. It's not inaccurate, but it's not wholly accurate," says writer Peter Bergen, who himself has spent many years tracking Osama bin Laden. Bergen has written four books about al-Qaida, the most recent one being Manhunt, about the hunt for bin Laden. He told Weekend Edition Sunday host Rachel Martin that the lead analyst identified in his book is named John. The Atlantic Wire Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow could have changed the gender of the character for her movie. We're not sure who got which wires crossed, but it's clear someone has some explaining to do. The Wrap The filmmakers behind Zero Dark Thirty labeled as "preposterous" the idea that their dark, intense portrayal of the killing of bin Laden was an argument for torture, in a wide-ranging interview with The Wrap responding to criticisms being leveled at their film, which opens on Wednesday.
A Look at Newspapers Turning a Profit -- Yes, There Are Some -- and Those That Are Not (Ad Age / Media News)
Speculation surged last week that Michael Bloomberg, New York's billionaire mayor and founder of Bloomberg LP, might buy the Financial Times, after The New York Times reported he'd been thinking about it. The paper's not for sale, but the report begged a related question: Should smart businesspeople be buying newspapers in 2013? USA Today / Michael Wolff Bloomberg's future is about to become a new chapter in the relationship of rich men to the media business. The New York Times reported last week -- lending an air of inevitability to rumors that many others (including me) have previously noted -- that Bloomberg is out to buy the Financial Times. This was portrayed as a synergistic acquisition. But, in fact, it may be more about one man's restless and opportunistic effort to stay in the game and build a new base of prominence and leadership.
Group Aims to Be a Conduit for WikiLeaks Donations (NYT / Media Decoder)
A group advocating a more transparent government has formed a nonprofit organization called the Freedom of the Press Foundation to serve as a conduit for donations to organizations like WikiLeaks. The goal is to insulate those groups' fund-raising efforts from political and business pressures. HuffPost / The Backstory The Freedom of the Press Foundation board includes writers and advocates for press freedom and transparency, including Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald, actor and activist John Cusack, Boing Boing co-editor Xeni Jardin, Free Press' Josh Stearns, and documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras. Rainey Reitman, founder of a support network for suspected WikiLeaks leaker Bradley Manning, serves as chief operating officer.
Peter Jackson Funds Documentary Worlds Away from Hobbit Fantasy (WSJ)
While making high-profile films such as The Hobbit, Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson has also quietly funded a personal project: a documentary called "West of Memphis" that is aimed at clearing the names of the men known as the West Memphis Three. Distributed by Sony Corp.'s Sony Pictures Classics, West of Memphis -- which opens in limited release on Dec. 25 in New York and California -- was produced by Jackson and his partner Fran Walsh, along with Damien Echols, one of the West Memphis Three, and his wife, Lorri Davis. It was directed by Amy Berg.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Cuts Back on Editorials, Focuses on 'Other Views' (JimRomenesko.com)
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel -- Wisconsin's largest news organization -- told readers in late October that it had decided to "get out of the political endorsement business" and focus on explaining issues to readers. Editorial page editor David Haynes said on NPR's Talk of the Nation on Nov. 5: "I think in an era of diminishing resources for newsrooms, we all have to make decisions about where to put our priorities. I'd put it on sticking with issues, and I would not put it on doing endorsements." In Saturday's Journal Sentinel, Haynes announces that the editorial page will have a new look, starting Monday.
For Publishers, Social Media Still Stingy on Monetization (Ad Age / Media News)
Atlantic Media this month plans to introduce a new opportunity to its clients: Twitter ads. The publisher will be able to target advertiser messages in several Twitter apps to @TheAtlantic's 190,000 or so followers, as well as a broader group chosen based on keywords and people they follow. It's the latest attempt among publishers to mine something as financially concrete as advertising or circulation revenue from social media, which has been so beneficial for many sites' traffic. But after years of experiments, social media is still stingy about giving up anything but eyeballs.
Watching Searches by Content Fleet Seen Saving Newspapers (Bloomberg)
Since May, the data analysis company Content Fleet GmbH has delivered tips to publishers for $1,500 a month in each of 18 topic areas. The company says the stories on its lists, updated as often as every minute, are likely to receive top rankings on Google searches, attracting readership -- and ad income.
Candy Crowley, Lloyd Siegel to Receive RTDNF First Amendment Award (TVNewser)
CNN's Candy Crowley and NBC's Lloyd Siegel have been named recipients of the 2013 RTDNF First Amendment Award. Crowley, the anchor of State of the Union, will receive the Leonard Zeidenberg First Amendment award, named for the late senior Washington correspondent for Broadcasting & Cable. Siegel, vice president of NBC News Partnerships, will receive the First Amendment Service Award, presented to a person who works in an off-air management capacity.
Making a Case for Retiring TV Annual-Best Lists (Variety / BLTv)
Variety generally doesn't approve of putting out "best" lists, and reading the year-end rosters from TV critics in The New York Times and Los Angeles Times, I have to say I agree. In fact, while I can see the obvious merit of (or at least rationale behind) year-end film "best" lists -- everybody is focused on winnowing down candidates for the Oscars -- trying to do the same for television seems every bit as arbitrary as the traditional September-through-May TV season was.
'Gone Are the Notions That Digital Media Will Cannibalize TV,' Meet the Four-Screen TV World (LostRemote)
Tremor Video is a leading video technology, advertising and publishing platform that's "bringing the certainty of science" to the brands and companies they help deliver multi-screen experiences to. Over the past year, the New York-based company has grown its footprint in not just creating marketing solutions for the second screen, but for the "four-screen agnostic" planning process they know advertisers program across. We interviewed Waikit Lau, Tremor's head of business development (who also founded ScanScout, which Tremor acquired), Andrew Baisley, director of business development, and Kate Stientjes, their northwest sales manager, about the four-screen TV world.
The Future of Streaming Video -- Four Predictions for 2013 (GigaOM)
Last week's multi-year licensing agreement bombshell between Disney and Netflix was a capper to an already dynamic year for streaming media. Clearly we're at an exciting crossroads, fueled by "make-ups and break-ups" that constantly reshape the industry. Given the activity of the last four quarters, here are a few things to look for in 2013.