Morning Media Newsfeed: AJA Countersues Gore | Time Inc. Guild Talks Break Down

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Al Jazeera America Countersuing Al Gore (TVNewser)
It looks like Al Jazeera America isn’t taking the lawsuit levied by former Vice President Al Gore lying down. The company countersued Gore and Joel Hyatt Friday. The Associated Press The parties are fighting over money that is being held in escrow. The former vice president and Hyatt, the founder of Hyatt Legal Services, sued the network last month saying that it was improperly withholding tens of millions of dollars placed in escrow when Al Jazeera bought Current TV for $500 million. THR / Hollywood, Esq. According to Gore and Hyatt, Al Jazeera squandered those favorable distribution rights by making an “ill-advised, one-sided” agreement with Time Warner Cable, which set off “most favored nation” obligations to other distributors. According to Al Jazeera, it’s Gore and Hyatt who shoulder the blame — and responsibility — for what later happened by failing to get TWC on board in the first place. New York Post Friday’s countersuit insists that AJA, as Current TV’s buyer, did not “make phony claims” but had a “contractual right to be indemnified.” “Al Jazeera America rightfully seeks compensation from an escrow fund that was established solely and specifically to protect Al Jazeera against any harm resulting from these inaccurate representations,” the countersuit claimed. In the countersuit, Al Jazeera stated it made five claims on the escrow money, relating mostly to disagreements it had with distributors following the sale. Variety The purchase price was reportedly $500 million, and, although that figure also was redacted from Al Jazeera’s filing, the company noted that Gore is “reported to have made between $70 and $100 million from the sale.” Gore and Hyatt contend that they initially harbored “serious reservations” about selling the network to Al Jazeera, but decided to entertain the idea of such a sale after performing due diligence and consulting with former senior U.S. government officials.

Time Inc. Labor Negotiations Break Down (FishbowlNY)
The Newspaper Guild of New York, which represents about 200 Time Inc. staffers, has announced that labor negotiations with the publishing giant have broken down. New York Post The biggest stumbling block appears to be Time Inc.’s desire to have the right to export some of the journalism jobs offshore. The union covers employees, mostly on the print side of the company’s core titles — Time, People, Fortune, Money and Sports Illustrated. Time Inc.’s latest offer would allow as many as 160 of those jobs to be sent overseas, according to the union. Capital New York At a bargaining session held Wednesday, the union had been pushing for a limit on subcontracting at 25 percent of its members. The union’s last contract with Time Inc. expired in early 2013, but the parties agreed to extend it to Aug. 27, 2014. Regular bargaining sessions began this January, once the details of Time Inc.’s spin-off from parent company Time Warner had been finalized. WWD / Memo Pad The Guild, which represents more than 2,800 journalists and other employees in the New York area, said that it would likely file unfair labor practices charges with the New York Labor Relation’s Board against Time Inc. this week.

British Media Breathes Sigh of Relief as Scots Reject Independence (HuffPost)
The overwhelming majority of the British media celebrated on Friday morning when the Scottish people voted to remain part of the U.K. The sense of relief was palpable across the nation’s front pages. THR Sky News called the results of the referendum just after 6 a.m. GMT, with the BBC then also predicting that the “no” voters were on course to succeed. All networks reported the final result at 8:15 a.m. local time. It showed that 55 percent of Scottish people at the polls, or just more than 2 million, had voted in favor of remaining part of the U.K. Variety For media types, particularly the BBC, the “no” vote was mostly welcome news. Throughout the two-year independence battle the U.K. pubcaster had remained conspicuously silent on the impact an independent Scotland was likely to have on its own fortunes. The BBC noted primly that any comment on how a “yes” vote would affect itself risked compromising its role as an impartial news organization reporting on the referendum. It was therefore unable to challenge the Scottish Nationalists’ claim that a newly independent Scotland would have a new Scottish pubcaster and still be able to keep BBC programs without having to pay more than the current BBC license fee.

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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell: ‘These Activities Must Be Condemned And Stopped’ (TVNewser)
Broadcast networks provided special coverage Friday afternoon as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell held a news conference to answer questions and announce that he won’t resign. PRNewser In short: he knows that domestic violence exists, he will establish a conduct committee, he has never considered resigning and he’s “proud” of the “opportunity” to do a better job. Goodell said that “domestic violence has no place in the NFL” and “nothing is off the table” except his own credibility. Deadline Hollywood Goodell said he will mandate the education and training of players and staff for all of the league’s 32 teams about how to prevent domestic violence and child abuse. The news conference came as word surfaced that defense secretary Chuck Hagel has asked his staff for detailed information about the U.S. military’s relationships with the NFL in the wake of the scandal over how the league is handling domestic abuse allegations against players.

AP’s Sally Buzbee Outlines Eight Ways The Obama Administration Blocks Coverage (The Associated Press / Blog)
The fight for access to public information has never been harder, Associated Press Washington Bureau chief Sally Buzbee said recently at a joint meeting of the American Society of News Editors, the Associated Press Media Editors and the Associated Press Photo Managers. The problem extends across the entire federal government and is now trickling down to state and local governments. FishbowlDC A few examples: “As the U.S. ramps up its fight against Islamic militants, the public can’t see any of it” and “Day-to-day intimidation of sources is chilling.” TVNewser Additionally, Buzbee said, “The White House once fought to get cameramen, photographers and reporters into meetings the president had with foreign leaders overseas.” The list goes on to cite court filings the public can’t see, the Freedom of Information Act coming “under siege,” and the administration trying to exert control over what information state and local governments give out.

Reader’s Digest Cutting to 10 Issues for 2015 (New York Post / Media Ink)
Reader’s Digest Association, after first returning to 12-times-a-year frequency for its flagship magazine two years ago, is dropping back to 10 for 2015. The change, detailed in the October issue, is being made in part because the company found, like many others in publishing, that the digital editions that some were looking to as an inexpensive alternative to sending print editions did not quite live up to their early hype. FishbowlNY “We were one of the first publishers to go after digital subscriptions with the iPad and the Kindle, but they plateaued,” Liz Vaccariello, RD’s editor-in-chief, said. The change will begin with the December/January 2015 issue.

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NYT’s Trip Gabriel to Political Team, Jennifer Steinhauer Named Mid-Atlantic Bureau Chief (FishbowlDC)
The New York Times’ Washington Bureau chief and political editor Carolyn Ryan and national editor Alison Mitchell announced to staff Friday that national correspondent for the Mid-Atlantic region Trip Gabriel will join the outlet’s political team and that Jennifer Steinhauer has been promoted to Mid-Atlantic bureau chief. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media Gabriel previously covered the 2012 presidential race and, earlier in his career, launched the Times Styles section.

Vice, OurTime Team Up for Voter Registration (Politico / Dylan Byers on Media)
Vice Media is partnering with OurTime.org for an online voter registration effort ahead of the midterms, the companies announced Friday. In 2012, OurTime.org said they registered more than 350,000 voters through their widget in partnerships with media companies like Tumblr and Huffington Post, as well as celebrities like Jessica Alba, Usher and Sarah Silverman. FishbowlDC Included on Vice political coverage will be an embedded tool to assist Americans in registering to vote, with a goal of “250,000 young voters before the November elections,” Vice and OurTime said.

Naomi Zeichner Named Editor-in-Chief of The Fader (FishbowlNY)
Six months after losing Matthew Schnipper to The Verge, The Fader has its new editor-in-chief. Naomi Zeichner, who previously worked with The Fader as an associate editor and senior editor, is coming back to take the lead. Zeichner most recently served as BuzzFeed’s music editor. Capital New York Launched by founders Jon Cohen and Rob Stone as an independent print magazine in 1998, The Fader is known for its coverage of up-and-coming artists across musical genres.

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Mike Taibbi Leaving NBC News (TVNewser)
After more than 40 years in TV news, first at local stations in Boston and New York and later at ABC News, CBS News, and most recently, NBC News, Mike Taibbi is leaving the business. Taibbi, 65, joined NBC News in 1997 as a correspondent for Dateline NBC. Prior to that he was a correspondent for CBS’ 48 Hours, and before that he was a London-based correspondent for ABC News.

Joan Hamburg Returns to New York Radio Airwaves (FishbowlNY)
Fans of Joan Hamburg were very unhappy with WOR 710 AM when the station unceremoniously dumped her earlier this year, without the chance to do a farewell show. But after a summer recharging, the veteran radio personality has returned. The 79-year-old “First Lady of New York Radio” will host a two-hour weekly show on WABC 770 AM Saturdays at 1 p.m.

Hearst Forms Digital Product Group (WWD / Memo Pad)
Hearst Corp. has formed what it’s calling a “Silicon Valley” digital product development group. The group is meant to accelerate the company’s digital media offerings and will work across Hearst’s businesses to extend the reach of its titles. Rick Marini, formerly chief executive officer of BranchOut, and the product, UX and engineering teams from BranchOut will form the core of the new group. According to Hearst, Marini’s group brings experience in building large-scale consumer-facing services and has previously launched a host of cross-platform services.

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Congressional Conservatives Tip Scales to The Right on Sunday Shows (NYT / The Upshot)
The parade of politicians on the Sunday morning talk shows veers to the right, not the left. Conservative members of the current Congress have appeared more often on the network talk shows than their liberal counterparts. Senators and representatives from the conservative end of the ideological spectrum have made 57 percent of the appearances, compared with 42 percent for liberals, according to an Upshot analysis of data collected by American University. This slightly lopsided distribution is primarily the result of three Republican senators’ frequent visits to the network shows: John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell.

BuzzFeed Names Andrew Gauthier Head of Video Division (Variety)
BuzzFeed has appointed Andrew Gauthier to executive producer of BuzzFeed Video, overseeing all short-form and episodic video content for the fast-growing Internet media company. In his new role, Gauthier, who is based in Los Angeles, will oversee a team of 40 producers. His promotion is part of a reorg coming after BuzzFeed announced the formation last month of BuzzFeed Motion Pictures, after the company raised $50 million in funding from venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.

NYT Mulls New Round of Buyouts (Politico / Dylan Byers on Media)
The New York Times‘ leadership is currently considering a new round of buyout offers that is likely to slash at least 50 positions from the company, and possibly several more, sources at the paper said. The official plan is being hammered out at the Times Company board meeting on the West Coast, the sources said. Executive editor Dean Baquet, who is attending the meeting, is expected to make an announcement as early as this week. The buyouts are likely to affect both the newsroom and the business side.

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