Morning Media Newsfeed: Journalists Cover Ferguson Grand Jury | Sony Pictures Hacked

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Ferguson Grand Jury Decision: How The Cable Networks Covered It (THR)
White Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson was not indicted in the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown. The cable networks have been covering the lead-up since Monday afternoon and carried the announcement live. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media Nearly every major news organization had reporters on the ground, some with upward of two dozen staffers. High profile anchors like Jake Tapper, Don Lemon and Chris Hayes have also been dispatched to cover the grand jury decision and any resulting turmoil. The major broadcast and cable networks, The Washington Post, The Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Huffington Post, Reuters, USA Today, The Daily Caller and BuzzFeed all have reporters on the ground, and some have sent additional photographers and videographers as well. TVNewser As President Obama called for calm, angry protesters tried to flip a police cruiser. Less than an hour after the President’s remarks, that police cruiser was on fire. Police told CNN correspondent Jason Carroll and his crew to leave the scene as live rounds in the cruiser started going off. Mediaite Before St. Louis prosecutor Bob McCulloch announced that there would be no indictment for Wilson in the shooting death of Brown, he spent a few minutes railing against the media for its role in the process leading up to Monday night’s announcement. “The most significant challenge encountered in this investigation has been the 24-hour news cycle and its insatiable appetite for something, for anything to talk about,” he said, “following closely behind with the non-stop rumors on social media.” TVNewser As CNN coverage from Ferguson moved into the 10 p.m. ET hour, Anderson Cooper passed off to Don Lemon, who appeared on camera wearing a gas mask on his forehead. Within moments, canisters of gas were thrown into the streets as police moved in and pushed away crowds of protesters. Chris Cuomo, who was live with gas flowing toward his camera position, threw back to Lemon, who was wearing the mask over his face — gas swirling in the air behind him — and was unable to continue. He asked for water. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos is currently poised to land the first interview with Wilson. TVNewser The announcement came a day after CNN’s Brian Stelter reported a collection of network news anchors had met privately with Wilson. Variety Stephanopoulos prepared to offer a special report on ABC News Monday night. NBC News’ Brian Williams and CBS News’ Scott Pelley anchored special reports covering the announcement.

Sony Pictures Targeted by Widespread Hack (THR)
Sony Pictures has been targeted by a widespread hack that has staffers logged off their computers while the studio investigates. Computers across the studio were breached Monday by a group calling itself #GOP. Deadline It basically brought the whole global corporation to an electronic standstill. The message began with a skull appearing on screens, and then a strangely ominous message telling users they’d been hacked by #GOP. It gets more bizarre as the message claimed this is just the beginning and then threatened to release documents by 11 p.m. Monday evening. There were no specific demands. Variety According to a source at Sony Pictures, the company is telling employees that the situation may take anywhere from one day to three weeks to resolve. Sony’s information-technology departments have instructed employees to turn off their computers as well as disable Wi-Fi on all mobile devices. It isn’t clear at this point which individual or groups are responsible for the attack, or specifically what the hackers’ aims are. The Verge Dozens of Sony Twitter accounts were also commandeered to tweet out similar messages, although Sony seems to have regained control of those accounts. The group appears to have obtained a number of sensitive documents from Sony Pictures, many of which are named in a .zip file shared at the posted URLs, and is threatening to release them if Sony pictures does not comply with the group’s demands. The documents named in the .zip file are widely varied, suggesting the attackers pulled the full contents of an employee server. Dozens of podcast mp3 files are named alongside potentially sensitive records and password files, the latter of which would explain how the group was able to commandeer so many Twitter accounts at once.

WGA East Files Labor Charges Against ITV Unit (THR)
The Writers Guild of America, East has filed unfair labor practice charges against Kirkstall Road Enterprises at the National Labor Relations Board, alleging that the U.K.-owned television production company has failed to bargain in good faith and has violated federal labor law, the union announced Monday. Kirkstall Road is a unit of ITV Studios America, a guild spokesman said. Variety The filing alleges that ITV has reduced Guild-represented employees’ compensation by $300 a month and implemented a health insurance plan with deductibles so high that employees would never get paid any actual benefits except if they were hospitalized for long periods. Employees would also pay $130 a month in premiums for this “largely illusory coverage.” Deadline The charges follow years of frustration at the bargaining table where ITV has refused to enter an agreement with the Guild despite repeated requests by elected officials at federal, state and city levels; by the labor movements in the U.S., the U.K. and globally; and by ITV’s writer-producers themselves. Most recently, British Member of Parliament Helen Goodman, the Shadow Minister for Culture, the Creative Industries and Communications, wrote to ITV CEO Adam Crozier expressing concern about ITV’s refusal to follow standard U.S. labor practices.

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Sunday Night Football Dominates Ratings as American Music Awards Dip (Variety)
NBC’s Sunday Night Football reclaimed its spot as the top-rated program of the night, with its Cowboys-Giants matchup producing the franchise’s best ratings in five weeks and contributing to year-over-year declines for ABC’s telecast of the American Music Awards. Deadline After beating Sunday Night Football three weeks in a row and four times this season, AMC’s The Walking Dead came up just a little short. Walking Dead got a 7.0 among adults 18-49, while the Dallas Cowboys’ incredibly dramatic 31-28 nail-biter win over the New York Giants had a 7.1 in fast nationals — a number that likely will rise. LA Times According to preliminary Nielsen numbers, the American Music Awards averaged 11.6 million viewers and scored a rating of 3.8 in the key 18-to-49-year-old demographic. Though it was the most watched non-sports program of the night, the AMAs saw a 16 percent decline in ratings from 2013.

Tom Brokaw Receives Medal of Freedom (FishbowlDC)
President Barack Obama presented the nation’s highest civilian honor to 19 journalists, artists, public servants and activists Monday afternoon. Recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom will include legendary NBC anchor Tom Brokaw, Ethel Kennedy (widow of the late Sen. Robert Kennedy), singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder, actress Meryl Streep and composer Stephen Sondheim. TVNewser CNN and MSNBC promoted they would be covering the Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony from the White House, but coverage from the grand jury in Missouri changed those plans. “You’re going to want to see this Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony,” Wolf Blitzer, who was to anchor CNN coverage, teased around 1:20 p.m. ET. Even MSNBC, which had one of its own inducted in Brokaw, passed on taking the ceremony on the cable channel. FNC’s Gretchen Carlson dipped into coverage and mentioned it was livestreaming on FoxNews.com.

Travel + Leisure Names Digital Director (FishbowlNY)
Travel + Leisure has named Sarah Firshein its digital director. Firshein comes to T+L from The Wall Street Journal, where she oversaw online content for the paper’s Personal Journal and Off Duty sections. She previously served as the founding editor for Curbed’s national site. Capital New York Firshein is the latest in a series of hires by new Travel + Leisure editor-in-chief Nathan Lump, who replaced his longtime predecessor Nancy Novogrod in September. Earlier this month, Lump named Gretchen Smelter the magazine’s creative director, Jesse Ashlock features director and Jane Bishop style director.

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Today Firing: Jamie Horowitz Wanted Savannah Guthrie Out, Natalie Morales Demoted (THR / The Live Feed)
“What are you doing here?” joked Tamron Hall on Nov. 20 on NBC’s Today, when she joined Natalie Morales at the anchor desk. Just 24 hours earlier, Us Weekly ran a false report that both Morales, 42, and colleague Willie Geist, 39, had been fired — another round of negative publicity for NBC News after the abrupt axing of Today senior VP and GM Jamie Horowitz earlier in the week. Morales and Geist still have jobs, though the future of the show is far from clear as internal politics continue to hamper NBC’s effort to reclaim No. 1 status from ABC’s Good Morning America. Mediaite The decision to let Horowitz go reportedly came after a presentation he gave that included some bold direction changes for Today, including the firing of lead co-host Savannah Guthrie.

Time Warner Reportedly Drops Out of Auction for Australia’s Ten Network (THR)
Discovery Communications and Australian pay TV giant Foxtel look like the frontrunners in the auction for Australian broadcaster Ten Network Holdings after Time Warner and private equity group Hellman & Friedman dropped out of the bidding process, according to a report in the Australian Financial Review. Australian Financial Review Discovery and Foxtel are preparing to offer shareholders in Ten Network Holdings a potential interest in any turnaround in its financial performance in an effort to win the takeover auction for the troubled company. Variety Foxtel, which is owned by News Corporation and Telstra, would only be allowed to hold a 14.9 percent stake in Ten due to media ownership rules.

ESPN Gets Ready to Launch Its First Web Video Subscription Service — for Cricket’s World Cup (Re/code)
ESPN’s efforts to sell streaming video subscriptions for some sports programming — without requiring viewers to pay for cable TV — could start early next year. Sources say the Disney-owned cable giant wants to sell U.S. viewers live digital access to the Cricket World Cup, which begins in February. GigaOM Plans for the online service aren’t finalized yet, according to the report, but the move seems to be part of a bigger strategic shift toward online programming for the network. Up until now, ESPN has only carried live sports events on its WatchESPN online service, which is only available to viewers that also have ESPN as part of their pay TV line-up.

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Oyster Launches New Online Literary Journal (GalleyCat)
The executives at Oyster have initiated an online literary journal called The Oyster Review. According to the press release, the editorial team for this new venture plans to publish “content related to books” and “new pieces featured on an ongoing basis — essays, interviews, profiles, humor pieces, illustrations and more.”

Marie Claire Names Site Director (FishbowlNY)
Jessica Pels has been named site director of MarieClaire.com. Pels comes to Marie Claire from Teen Vogue, where she most recently served as online deputy editor and features editor. Pels starts Dec. 8 and will report to Kate Lewis, Hearst Magazines Digital Media’s VP, content operations and editorial director.

Dateline Gave NBC Some Big Wins Over The Weekend (TVNewser)
Dateline gave NBC some big wins over the weekend. Friday’s show gave the network its best adults 18-49 demo number (excluding Olympics) in four years.

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Where’s CNN’s Bill Weir Been? Turns Out, Just About Everywhere (TVNewser)
When Bill Weir left ABC News for CNN more than a year ago, the speculation immediately involved what Weir’s show would look like, and where in the CNN lineup it would land. The results of his work will be a CNN series, The Wonder List With Bill Weir, which CNN announced Monday would air in 2015.

Vladimir Putin Criticizes Russian State-Run TV Networks (THR)
Vladimir Putin has criticized Russia’s state-run networks’ content and denied government interference with their editorial policies. According to Putin, Russian federal stations are focused too much on making money and therefore broadcast a lot of poor-taste content that is profitable, including what he referred to as “defectives,” making fun of crime and detective TV series.

China’s BesTV, Oriental Pearl Merge to Create New Media Giant (Variety)
Shanghai Media Group, a Chinese state-controlled conglomerate, has merged two of its listed subsidiaries to form a new group that it claims will be the largest Internet media conglomerate in China. SMG is one of the largest media and entertainment conglomerates in China and last week announced an expansion of its relationship with Disney.

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