Morning Media Newsfeed: AOL Sells Patch | Yahoo! COO Out | News Corp. Ices Pensions

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AOL Unloads Controlling Interest in Patch (Capital New York)
AOL all but unloaded its embattled local news network Patch to investment firm Hale Global on Wednesday. Patch will act as a new limited liability company majority owned and operated by Hale. The hyper-local network was a pet project of AOL CEO Tim Armstrong. It hired hundreds of reporters and ad sales staff in a bid for a local advertising market that has yet to materialize, eventually leading Armstrong to promise AOL investors that it would break even by the end of 2013. That did not happen, and the company began to seek buyers. NYT Hale Global, an investment company that specializes in turning around troubled companies through technological innovation, would essentially take over the operation, AOL said. Hale’s intention for now, the companies said, is to keep operating all of Patch’s 900 sites. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Forbes / Jeff Bercovici On its bare-bones website, Hale Global describes itself this way: “We specialize in creating value operationally in businesses facing strategic, financial, product and other challenges. In addition to capital, we bring to these troubled situations extensive turnaround skills, deep operational benches, in-house software and mobile development teams, extreme transactional speed and certainty of close.” Re/code In 2012, Patch lost $35 million; by the end of last month, it was still losing money. Now it’s someone else’s problem. TechCrunch Despite whatever downsizing may have taken place, Patch is still large, possibly too unwieldy to steer into better waters as it is today. But on top of that, it’s seeing decent traffic of 16 million people monthly according to figures from comScore. So now, the plan going forward will be to focus on a few changes to convert some of that traffic into revenues: new technology for community participation; more mobile-first and social experiences; better advertising tools and more geo-targeting for ad products, according to AOL’s announcement.

COO Henrique De Castro Out at Yahoo! (Re/code)
As has long been rumored, Yahoo! COO Henrique De Castro is departing the company. I had reported last week that he was in big trouble — he was not in attendance at any major events at CES that Yahoo! had at the high-profile event, as he had been last year — and was working on a story about his expected departure. Yahoo! had declined to return a number of emails this week about his status. Re/code Here it is, the internal memo to Yahoo! staff about the sudden — though it was not sudden, by any means — leave-taking Wednesday of De Castro, courtesy of one of my 10,563 sources left at Yahoo! Adweek Called Mayer’s $56 million man, De Castro’s tenure has been rocky, almost from the start. The COO failed to impress agencies and brands, and reported clashed with Mayer and her team regularly.

News Corp. Freezes Pensions in Cost-Control Measure (Capital New York)
News Corp. employees were told Wednesday that their pensions are being frozen, Capital has learned. The change in the company’s retirement-plan contribution scheme applies to certain employees at the New York Post, News America Marketing and News Corp. corporate headquarters, according to a source familiar with the matter, who said that approximately one-third of the employee population for those three segments will be affected.

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Politico’s Jonathan Allen Joining Bloomberg News (FishbowlNY)
Bloomberg News has hired Jonathan Allen to cover the White House and Hillary Clinton’s likely presidential bid in 2016. Allen most recently served as Politico’s White House bureau chief. He is also the co-author of the forthcoming book HRC: State Secrets And The Rebirth of Hillary Clinton. FishbowlDC HRC is a behind-the-scenes look at Clinton’s time at the State Department based on dozens of interviews with insiders and others. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media “In his time in Washington, Jonathan Allen has covered the White House, carried out a prize-winning investigation into favoritism in how Congress doled out taxpayer money and been a frequent contributor on many TV shows. And in his spare time, he co-wrote a book about Hillary Clinton’s political rebirth at the State Department, due out Feb. 11,” Craig Gordon, Bloomberg’s deputy managing editor in Washington, wrote.

Capital New York to Introduce Monthly Print Magazine (Ad Age / Media News)
Capital New York, the Politico sibling that covers politics and media in New York, is rolling out a small monthly print magazine starting this month, according to parent company Allbritton Communications. The first issue, due out Jan. 27, will have a run of about 8,000 copies, the company said, with plans to distribute about 6,000 copies in Manhattan and 2,000 in Albany. Copies will be delivered to the state capitol building in Albany, City Hall in Manhattan and key individuals in the industries the website covers, according to Roy Schwartz, chief revenue officer at Capital New York and Politico.

Vanity Fair Launches Hollywood Vertical (Capital New York)
Last year, Vanity Fair hired Mike Hogan from The Huffington Post as digital director, and charged him with a familiar task at many legacy magazine publishers these days. “The idea was to grow over the course of the next year, and so my suggestion was that we zero in on a few areas where we really have authority and we can win,” Hogan said in an interview Tuesday. Cue the website’s new Hollywood vertical, “Vanity Fair’s Hollywood,” which launched Wednesday. FishbowlNY Vanity Fair, a magazine about Hollywood, has launched a new vertical. About Hollywood. “Vanity Fair’s Hollywood” debuted Wednesday, and unlike Vanity Fair, it… OK, it’s the exact same thing as Vanity Fair.

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Joe Johns Promoted to Senior Washington Correspondent at CNN (TVNewser)
Joe Johns has been promoted to senior Washington correspondent at CNN, Washington bureau chief Sam Feist announced Wednesday. Johns, who marks his 10th anniversary with CNN this month, has most recently been the network’s justice correspondent. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media “It has become clear that with a midterm election campaign and a presidential campaign on the horizon, we will need Joe’s storytelling and reporting in areas that extend far beyond the Justice Department,” Feist wrote to the staff.

Glamour Heading in Right Direction (WWD / Memo Pad)
Glamour magazine is back — at least according to its high-profile publisher Connie Anne Phillips. What else would a turnaround publisher be expected to say? In this instance, the numbers appear to be trending in the right direction. Phillips, who before coming to Glamour in June sat in the same seat at InStyle, where she gained a sort of rainmaker publisher status during her four-and-a-half-year tenure, pointed to her new pub’s shiny results. Those include Glamour’s strongest first quarter in five years, with advertising up 12 percent, or 34 pages, for the first quarter of 2014 versus the prior-year period.

HBO Orders Another Season of Real Time With Bill Maher (THR / The Live Feed)
HBO is staying in the Bill Maher business. The talk show host, who will be joined on the cable network’s schedule by a new effort from John Oliver, has reupped for a 13th season of his series to air in 2015. Real Time With Bill Maher, which returns to the schedule on Jan. 17, will again run for 35 episodes over the course of the year — which will coincide with the beginnings of the debate cycle leading up to the 2016 presidential election. Variety “Bill Maher has been a treasured member of the HBO family since the late ‘80s, and his irreverent wit and fearless insights make him the perfect observer for these unpredictable times,” said HBO topper Michael Lombardo.

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Jim Rutenberg Joins New York Times Magazine (Capital New York)
Jim Rutenberg has been named chief political correspondent for The New York Times Magazine, filling the spot created when Matt Bai jumped to Yahoo! News in November. He leaves the newspaper-side role of national political correspondent. Deputy magazine editors Joel Lovell and Lauren Kern gave their staff the news in an internal memo that emphasized Rutenberg’s breadth as a reporter during his 14 years at the paper—from Obama to Snooki to “Vows.” FishbowlNY Rutenberg has been with the Times since 2000, most recently serving as national political correspondent. During his time at the paper, he has also served as city hall bureau chief.

How A Free Email Newsletter Turned A Computer Programmer Into A Newsweek Columnist (Nieman Journalism Lab)
Being on Twitter can sometimes feel a little like being in a high school cafeteria. There’s chatter all around you, and there’s always a joke you’re not in on. On Twitter, everyone’s always mad about something, laughing about something or arguing about something and it’s up to you to backtrack through the timeline and figure out what it is. Enter Rusty Foster, the man behind Today in Tabs, an email newsletter powered by TinyLetter and republished daily by Newsweek that tells you exactly what to hate.

Jana Winter Voices Support for Bill Seeking to Strengthen Colorado Shield Laws (TVNewser) reporter Jana Winter has submitted a written statement of support to the Colorado Senate Judiciary committee for a bill that would strengthen the state’s media shield laws. BuzzFeed Winter cited unnamed sources in her exclusive story about a notebook the Aurora shooting suspect allegedly sent to a psychiatrist. A Colorado judge subpoenaed Winter to return to Colorado from her home in New York to testify in the suspect’s case and reveal who had given her the information. A New York court ruled in December she did not have to. Colorado’s media shield law is much weaker than New York’s.

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Wall Street Journal Reporter Goes Missing in New Jersey (WSJ)
A search involving hundreds of people is under way for a Wall Street Journal reporter who has been missing since he left his New Jersey home Saturday afternoon, saying he was stepping out for a short walk. Authorities have said they don’t know what happened to David Bird, 55 years old, last seen leaving his home in the Millington section of Long Hill Township.

WBUR’s Kind World Series Shows Power of Small Acts of Kindness (IVOH)
When he started his job as a social media producer at WBUR, Nate Goldman had negative news fatigue. A lot of us have probably experienced it: the feeling that news stories are too heavy and make the world seem cold and callous. Goldman saw news stories about violence, crime and despair on news sites. But while on social networks, he came across different stories — about small acts of kindness people had experienced. Many people on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit were not only sharing these stories but having lively conversations about them.

Gawker Media’s Nick Denton to Marry at Hayden Planetarium (NY Post / Page Six)
Gawker Media founder Nick Denton is getting married to his partner of just over a year, actor Derrence Washington, on May 31 at the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History. Save-the-date notices to guests went out this week. Denton proposed in May.

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