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Thursday, Dec 20

Morning Media Newsfeed 12.20.12

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At News Conference, Reporters Skip Past Gun Control and Face Instant Criticism (NYT / Media Decoder)
The harshest judges of those in news media are often others in the news media, and, with the benefit of Twitter, that intrajournalistic watchdog role can be performed simultaneously with the journalism being criticized. Case in point was the White House news conference on Wednesday afternoon, when President Obama made a forceful announcement in response to the massacre of children last week in Newtown, Conn. TVNewser As predicted, the vice president, along with cabinet officials and outside agencies, will present proposals "no later than January." The president suggested that access to mental health care, a "culture that glorifies guns" and access to certain types of weapons may be places to start. "If there is even one thing we can do to prevent any of these events, we have a deep obligation -- all of us -- to try," Obama said. Obama would take a handful of questions; the first was from the AP's Ben Feller who asked about the fiscal cliff negotiations. Question two came from Carol Lee at The Wall Street Journal, who also asked about the fiscal cliff. Question three was also about the fiscal cliff, and came from Politico's Carrie Budoff Brown. Mediaite After announcing a task force headed by Vice President Joe Biden and calling on the American people to help this move, the conference quickly devolved into reporter questions on the fiscal cliff. Many on Twitter immediately exploded with negative reactions. Piers Morgan led the charge, asking immediately, "Sorry, is any White House journalist going to ask Obama about guns, rather than taxes????" MSN Now Media-watchers weren't happy, and a sarcastic #DCPressQuestions hashtag was soon spawned. @jacbrubaker tweeted, "Mr. President, what do you think about last night's The Voice finale? #DCPressQuestions." The conference eventually shifted into gun-control gear. HuffPost / The Backstory So why did the first three reporters focus on the fiscal cliff? AP Washington bureau chief Sally Buzbee, in an email to The Huffington Post, said it was "perfectly fine for AP White House correspondent Ben Feller to pose a question about the fiscal cliff." Feller had the first question Wednesday. "The president had just spoken at length about gun control, but had not yet said a word about the other huge issue of the day affecting the nation, the fiscal cliff," Buzbee continued. "We ask questions intended to ensure that big news is covered. We do this all this time. We aim to cover the uncovered ground."

Martha Stewart Living CEO to Resign (NYT / Media Decoder)
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia announced on Wednesday that its chief executive, Lisa Gersh, a co-founder of Oxygen Media who joined the company last year, will resign. The company said it would start the search for a new chief executive who would concentrate on building the company's merchandising business. Gersh will remain in her role until a new chief is found. NY Post / Media Ink The struggling company is said to be weighing a new strategy in an attempt to transform itself into one more focused on merchandising across a range of products. For months, there also has been talk of tension between Gersh, an experienced media executive, and the company's namesake founder and chief creative officer. The Washington Post / AP The company said last month that it would downsize its magazines, and cut publishing jobs to focus on online video and other digital content. Martha Stewart will stop putting out its monthly Everyday Food magazine as a stand-alone publication, instead periodically wrapping it into the company's flagship Martha Stewart Living magazine. It will make Everyday Food content available on the company's website, a YouTube channel and through a daily video newsletter. THR A former NBCUniversal cable executive who was instrumental in NBCUni's acquisition of The Weather Channel, Gersh joined MSLO as president and COO in May 2011. She became CEO in July, replacing Charles Koppleman (whom TV viewers know from the 2005 Martha Stewart iteration of NBC's The Apprentice). Adweek Gersh's short tenure has been a rocky time for the company, which has been facing questions about the continued cultural relevance of its namesake founder. Stewart built a multimedia empire on her devotion to domesticity. But her readers have aged, and people are favoring less expensive, easier tastes and design.

Final NBC News Crew Member Escapes Syria (TVNewser)
The final member of the NBC News production team that had been kidnapped in Syria has escaped the country, NBC News says. In the firefight that resulted in NBC News correspondent Richard Engel and his team being freed, technician Ian Rivers was separated from his colleagues. His whereabouts were not known until Wednesday, and he has since crossed the border into Turkey, where he will receive a medical evaluation. NBC News / WorldNews "Now that Ian Rivers has been reunited with Richard Engel's entire production team, all of us at NBC News can breathe a huge sigh of relief and express our deep appreciation to all who helped secure their freedom. At the same time, our thoughts and concerns are with those who remain missing inside Syria and we hope for their swift and safe release," said NBC News president Steve Capus. NYT / The Lede Late on Tuesday, Rivers said in a video message to his family posted online by Syrian activists that he was in safe hands, with a Syrian rebel brigade, and expected to cross into Turkey on Wednesday. Several hours later, the rebel media activists posted a second clip of Rivers at the border crossing into Turkey, in which he thanked the fighters for taking care of him after he had become separated from the rest of the team "in the confusion of some sort of handover" on Monday. THR Syria remains among the most dangerous locations for journalists where civil unrest and the brutal crackdown by the al-Assad government -- which has targeted journalists -- has raged since 2011. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 28 journalists have been killed in Syria in 2012, either in combat or targeted for murder by the government or opposition forces. The number of fatalities related to the Syrian conflict approached the worst annual toll recorded during the war in Iraq, where 32 journalists were killed in both 2006 and 2007, said the CPJ.

2012 Person of the Year: Barack Obama, the President (Time)
"You do understand that as President of the United States, the amount of power you have is overstated in some ways," President Obama says. "But what you do have the capacity to do is to set a direction." He has earned the right to set that direction and has learned from experience how to move the country. After four of the most challenging years in the nation's history, his chance to leave office as a great president who was able to face crises and build a new majority coalition remains within reach. CBS News / Political Eye Four years after he first won the award as president-elect in 2008, President Obama has again been named Time magazine's Person of the Year in 2012. Time's short list included Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, Apple CEO Tim Cook, and Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager who was the target of an assassin for advocating girls' education. The Atlantic One thing these lists are not, however, is news. By definition, they are simply a rehash. The worst offender in treating them otherwise is without question Time's Person of the Year, which was announced Wednesday. Look, more power to the House that Luce Built: Time manages to get everyone to treat its warmed-over sweepstakes as a major news event, year after year. In doing so, it converts the press into a gigantic public-relations arm of Time Inc. (This is how it's done, Tina Brown.)

Karmazin Leaves Sirius XM Earlier Than Expected (NYT / Media Decoder)
Sirius XM Radio has appointed James E. Meyer as its interim chief executive officer, the company announced on Wednesday, as Mel Karmazin steps down from the top spot earlier than expected. THR Karmazin had been expected to leave Sirius XM for several months because Liberty Media has been seeking control of the company, and it is on the brink of doing so. After Liberty CEO Greg Maffei indicated on a few occasions that a management change could be in the offing and Karmazin insinuated his reign was nearing a close, he put an end to the speculation by declaring in October that he'd step down Feb. 1, 2013. The Washington Post / AP Liberty rescued Sirius XM from bankruptcy in 2009 with $530 million in exchange for a 40 percent equity stake. Liberty has been buying shares for months in its quest for a controlling stake in the company. It has amassed a stake of just under 50 percent, according to its website. The Federal Communications Commission must approve Liberty's takeover.

Reuters Creates Integrated Business Unit (FishbowlNY)
Reuters is forming a new business unit which is essentially a combining of existing editorial and news-centric sales and marketing operations. As part of the shift, Stephen Adler, editor-in-chief of Reuters, will run the business unit and add "president" to his role. Steven Schwartz will also become managing director for Reuters' News Agency. Schwartz was most recently head of Reuters' media strategy, marketing and business development. WSJ Adler has run Reuters' news operations since February 2011. Previously he was editor-in-chief of Businessweek, and before that spent 16 years at The Wall Street Journal. In a memo to staff describing the changes, Thomson Reuters chief executive Jim Smith said the combination "gives us an opportunity for much better operational and strategic alignment and a sharper commercial edge."

Candy Crowley and Martha Raddatz Make THR's List of Rule Breakers 2012 (THR)
The presidential and vice presidential debate moderators, two of the Hollywood Reporter's 2012 Rule Breakers, open up about the dreaded "girl" question, getting the candidates to stop talking and why they'd do it all over again. TVNewser Also on the list: NBC's Bob Costas and Jim Bell, who helmed NBC's coverage of the 2012 Olympics, and ABC's Good Morning America team, who overtook Today to become the top morning show in 2012. The list was a topic of conversation on GMA Wednesday morning, with Lara Spencer calling the show "the bad boys of morning TV."

Sam Donaldson Busted for DUI (TMZ)
Sam Donaldson -- the veteran ABC newsman and political correspondent -- was arrested for DUI in Delaware earlier this month. According to law enforcement, 78-year-old Donaldson was pulled over just before 8 p.m. on Dec. 1 after he had driven onto the shoulder of the road. TVNewser Donaldson was twice ABC's White House correspondent, and also served as co-anchor of PrimeTime Live with Diane Sawyer and This Week with Cokie Roberts. He is retired from ABC, though he still serves as a contributor to ABC News programming.

BBC America Expands Nerdist Talk Show with Full-Season Order (THR / The Live Feed)
Chris Hardwick is getting a full season at BBC America. The podcast guru's comedy/variety talk show, The Nerdist (named after his popular podcast and website), has expanded from numerous pop-culture specials to a 10-episode season that will kick off in spring 2013 as part of the cable network's "Supernatural Saturday" programming block. Episodes will continue to be 60 minutes long. Deadline Hollywood BBC America aired a collection of Nerdist-branded specials this year; Matt Mira and Jonah Ray, Chris' partners in the podcast, will return as contributors. The Nerdist will continue to be produced by Nerdist Industries and Comcast Entertainment Studios, with Hardwick, Alex Murray, Jay James, Gary Snegaroff and K.P. Anderson executive producing.

Vantage Press Closes (Publishers Weekly)
Vantage Press, one of the original "vanity" publishing businesses, has closed three years after its acquisition by media investment banker David Lamb. In a letter to creditors received by PW, law firm Hendel & Collins of Springfield, Mass. writes, "Vantage does not have sufficient revenue to sustain itself as a going concern. It has, therefore, ceased all business operations."

2012 Business News Ratings: CNBC Declines, FBN Grows (TVNewser)
CNBC, which in April will celebrate 24 years on the air, is not having a stellar 2012 in the ratings department. And while it still doubles or even more than triples the viewership of its only rated competitor Fox Business (Bloomberg is not publicly rated), CNBC is declining while FBN is showing growth. The 2012 ratings year ends Dec. 30, but here's how the networks are stacking up as we go into the holidays.

The New Breed of Children's Book Authors (Digital Book World)
The children's book business is changing -- so much so that it might not be completely accurate to call it a "book business." Between apps, enhanced eBooks and online social communities (see: 39 Clues), just to name a few of the new kinds of products children's book publishers are producing, it might better be called the "children's content business." Whatever you call it, it has given rise to a new kind of children's author.

The Return of Sentiment (Nieman Journalism Lab / Zizi Papacharissi)
Change is gradual. We see more of certain trends and less of other tendencies over time, punctuated by bursts of innovation. It is these latter bursts that we interpret as change, even though they are not. They present reactions to the long durée of change. For this reason, I checked my crystal ball at the door when I entered academia -- I don't believe in and am not interested in predicting the future. I would rather be surprised. That disclaimer made, here is what I would like to be surprised by in 2013: The return of sentiment to news reporting, co-creating, curating.

A Christmas Story Bully Fights for His Image in Court (THR / Hollywood, Esq.)
One of the holiday season's enduring franchises is set for a legal showdown. A Christmas Story, Warner Bros.' 1983 movie about a kid who pines for the perfect toy, plays nonstop on TBS and has spawned a mini-empire ranging from merchandise to a Broadway show. But the film's success also has provoked a lawsuit scheduled to go to trial in January.

A Multimedia Journalist's Holiday Wish List (Poynter / Chip on Your Shoulder)
Technology has filled the journalistic toolbox with an array of innovative gadgets that enable journalists to gather and deliver the news with speed and sophistication. But which ones does a multimedia journalist need? It's an apt question to ponder given the time of year. That way, if family, friends, perhaps even a wise boss, ask, "What do you want for the holidays?" you'll be prepared.

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