Morning Media Newsfeed: Martha Stewart Axes 100 | Twitter Faces Backlash | SNL Seeks Black Comic

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Martha Stewart Axed 100 Staffers (NY Post)
The ax started swinging early Thursday morning as home-entertainment diva Martha Stewart fired about 100 people from her namesake company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. It is the first major move since scrap-metal executive Daniel Dienst was tapped to be the new CEO in late October, sparking speculation — now realized — about major cutbacks. NY Post / Media Ink The layoffs, coming only a week and a half before Christmas, unnerved employees, many of whom left in tears, carrying their belongings in Martha Stewart bags. Stewart spent last week in Miami at Art Basel, the winter playground of the beautiful people, where dozens of private jets landed to party and peruse the international art market. FishbowlNY The downsizing will impact about 25 percent of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia’s workforce. So if you work there, and were planning on getting Dienst or Stewart a present, perhaps a better idea would be donating money in their names to The Human Fund. WSJ The job cuts follow years of weak financial performance at the company, which has lost money in all but one year of the past 10 due to declines in its TV business and print magazine ad revenue. One person familiar with the layoffs said they were made to bring the company more in line with its current revenues, which have declined sharply in recent years. Adweek One Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia staffer described the current office atmosphere as “really awful,” adding, “It’s really scary and terrible right before the holidays.”

Twitter Reverts Changes to Blocking Functionality After Strong Negative User Feedback (TechCrunch)
Twitter has reverted the changes to blocking functionality that it made earlier Thursday. After the changes, an outpouring of negative user feedback appeared on Twitter, blogs and other services. We hear Twitter executives began hashing this one out in internal discussions almost immediately after negative sentiment started to rise and Reuters reported that an emergency meeting was held to discuss the changes. Twitter / Blog Earlier Thursday, we made a change to the way the “block” function of Twitter works. We have decided to revert the change after receiving feedback from many users — we never want to introduce features at the cost of users feeling less safe. Any blocks you had previously instituted are still in effect. Reuters The humbling reversal on one of the most sensitive policy issues facing the social network came as Twitter encountered user revolt for the first time as a public company. Under the short-lived change on Thursday, a blocked Twitter user could view or tweet at the person who blocked him or her, but that activity would have been rendered invisible to the victim as if the offending account did not exist.

SNL to Add Black Female Performer (NYT)
How seriously did Saturday Night Live take the furor around its lack of a black female performer? Seriously enough to hold a special audition Monday night on the SNL stage for seven or eight candidates, one of whom will be hired and will join the cast for shows beginning in January. The show’s creator and executive producer, Lorne Michaels, said in an interview on Thursday that he had committed to that timetable to add the show’s first black woman since Maya Rudolph left the series in 2007. New York Daily News The show has faced mounting pressure from critics about the lack of a black female cast member, a topic that the show skewered on a recent, Kerry Washington-hosted episode. With cast member Seth Meyers exiting in 2014 to anchor Late Night, there’s an opening for a player.

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Chris Hayes Attends Secret Union Meeting With Unhappy NBC Workers (Salon)
Amid workers alleging union-busting by an NBC Universal-owned company, MSNBC’s primetime host Chris Hayes recently met privately with a group of them to hear their concerns, according to several people present at the meeting. Hayes is one of five primetime MSNBC hosts — along with Rachel Maddow, Al Sharpton, Lawrence O’Donnell and Ed Schultz — whose support the Writers Guild of America-East is seeking in an ugly labor struggle with Peacock Productions, which is owned by NBC Universal and has produced programming for MSNBC. TVNewser The report says Hayes is the only MSNBC primetime host to meet with the workers, who have been battling with Peacock Productions managers to form a union for more than a year. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media Schultz, the MSNBC host who frequently champions union causes, was paid $252,000 by union groups between 2012 and 2013, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor. Those payments — which came from AFL-CIO electrical workers, postal workers, and others — were designated for either “political” or “representational” activities.

Flickr Crashes Following Massive Yahoo! Mail Outage (Mashable)
On the heels of a massive outage that has left some Yahoo! Mail users without email access since Monday, Yahoo!’s photo-sharing platform Flickr temporarily crashed. Many Flickr users were unable to access the site for nearly two hours on Thursday, starting at about 11 a.m. ET, but it was inaccessible worldwide for 10 minutes. Flickr’s signature “Bad Panda” error message appeared for some, while others were told it couldn’t load due to “inactivity timeout.” TechCrunch This has been a bad week for Yahoo! with Yahoo! Mail’s ongoing outages and its overwhelmed customer service staff dealing with the numerous requests to reactivate websites that small business owners never wanted shut down. Yahoo!’s public response has been minimal. AllThingsD Yahoo! said that it had restored access to the accounts of most affected users, although it warned that some might still have issues. “Most affected users should now be able to access their Yahoo! Mail accounts on the Web and our apps for iOS, Android and Windows 8,” the company wrote on its help blog. SocialTimes The Web is flooded by protests from disgruntled Yahoo! Mail users. More than 40,000 people have signed a petition on to bring back the old Yahoo! Mail, which used to be the most popular email service in the United States.

Orange County Register Owner to Launch Daily LA Newspaper (Orange County Register)
The co-owner and publisher of the Orange County Register announced Thursday that the company will move broadly into Los Angeles County early next year and publish a new, seven-day-a-week newspaper, the Los Angeles Register. “We will be delivering a Los Angeles Register to the entirety of Los Angeles County,” Aaron Kushner told Orange County Register staff at a town hall meeting. Kushner said specifics of the expansion are being worked out but that the new newspaper will be launched “soon” and will emphasize local Los Angeles news just like the Orange County Register covers its communities.

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Business Insider Inks 150 Fifth Ave. Sublease (NY Observer / Commercial Observer)
Business Insider, master of the slideshow, has signed a 20,646-square-foot sublease of the entire eighth floor at 150 Fifth Ave., The Commercial Observer has learned. The subtenant will pay rent in the low-$50s per square foot in a deal expiring in early 2018, according to data from CompStak.

Lea Gabrielle Joins Fox News (TVNewser)
Lea Gabrielle is joining Fox News as a general assignment reporter for Shepard Smith Reporting, TVNewser has learned. Gabrielle will make her Fox News debut Dec. 16. For the past two years, Gabrielle has been a military reporter for KNSD, the NBC-owned station in San Diego. Before that, she was a digital journalist in the Washington bureau of NBC News. TVSpy During her time as a military reporter at the NBC-owned station in San Diego, Gabrielle was known as Lea Sutton. From 1997 to 2009, she was a fighter pilot and intelligence operations officer in the U.S. Navy.

Washington Examiner Gets Apology From Michigan Newspaper After Being Plagiarized (Washington Examiner)
Note to Glenn Gilbert, executive editor of the Oakland Press: Please don’t plagiarize your former interns. Five paragraphs of our reporter Zack Colman’s Dec. 6 story, “Lawmakers Look to End Wind Energy Credits,” were picked up and used verbatim in Gilbert’s blog post from Wednesday titled “Public Needs to Know Who Opposes Wind Tax Credit.”

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The Second-Most Shared Website in The World Is Run by One Guy
(Esquire / Just Now Ago)
There are people that are good at the Internet, and then there are people like Abraham Piper. You may or may not have heard of his site Twenty Two Words. It’s largely an aggregational site with a human edge, not entirely unlike the bane of current-day journalism that is Upworthy (“At First I Was Sick Of Reading Headlines Like This, Then I Read This One,” etc). Yet Twenty Two Words has more articles shared on Facebook than Rolling Stone and Gawker combined.

Did Bill Marimow Ask for $1 Million to Leave The Inquirer? (Philadelphia Magazine)
The two sides in the dispute among owners of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and got hung up on one issue in last-ditch settlement talks: the fate of Inquirer editor Bill Marimow. According to a person with knowledge of the negotiations, Marimow requested four years salary, equal to about $1 million, to vacate his editor’s position.

Megyn Kelly, Fox News’s Brightest Star (The Washington Post / Style)
The anchor who might beat Bill O’Reilly gets her eyelash extensions applied one at a time, with tweezers and dabs of glue, about 90 minutes before showtime, right after a motorized gun sprays foundation over her face, neck, shoulders, collarbone and sternum, wiping out a galaxy of light freckles that spreads across her — Let me stop you right there. Would you write this way about a man? About O’Reilly himself? At least that’s what Megyn Kelly might ask at this point. TVNewser Kelly transitions from Fox News’ rising star to Fox News’ “brightest star” with a long profile in the Post‘s style section this week. Kelly, a “recovering perfectionist,” talks about how she relates to her audience, how Roger Ailes convinced her to be herself on the air and how her upbringing influenced her career. The Washington Post / The Style Blog After my profile of Kelly went to print, the Fox News anchor stirred up a little controversy — controversy that’s still spinning on the hamster wheel of the Internet. On her 9 p.m. show The Kelly File she had a quadruple split-screen segment on a Slate essay titled “Santa Claus Should Not Be A White Man Anymore.” Media Matters, the progressive non-profit watchdog of what it calls “conservative misinformation” that has covered Kelly vigorously, posted video of Kelly’s segment underneath the headline “Megyn Kelly Wants Kids at Home to Know That Jesus And Santa Were White.”

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Against ‘Long-Form Journalism’ (The Atlantic)
I have had it with long-form journalism. By which I mean — don’t get me wrong — I’m fed up with the term long-form itself, a label that the people who create and sell magazines now invariably, and rather solemnly, apply to their most ambitious work. Reader, do you feel enticed to plunge into a story by the distinction that it is long? Or does your heart sink just a little?

How The Media Can Improve Its Coverage of Newtown Anniversary, Tragedies (IVOH)
There’s been a lot of talk about Newtown’s request that the media “stay away” on the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Newtown selectman Pat Llodra recently told journalists: “We are on a grief journey and we are healing and the media can be an impediment to that healing because it creates some barriers that are difficult for our community.” Newtown’s request that the media stay away reflects a common belief: Journalists get in the way of things, and in the wake of tragedies, their presence does more harm than good.

A Message That Tries to Blend in (NYT)
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