Morning Media Newsfeed: MSNBC Cancels Farrow, Reid | NYT Retires Page 1 Pitching

MSNBC cancels Farrow, Reid. NYT eliminates Page 1 pitches. These stories and more in today's Morning Media Newsfeed

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MSNBC Shifts Ronan Farrow, Joy-Ann Reid; Thomas Roberts Returns to Dayside (TVNewser)
A year-old experiment at MSNBC is coming to an end. The Reid Report is being canceled, and we can now confirm that Ronan Farrow Daily is also being shelved. Both Reid and Farrow will take on new roles with the network. TVNewser Reid joined MSNBC as a contributor in 2011 and was given her own show in the 2 p.m. timeslot, The Reid Report, as the result of the last programming shake-up in early 2014. Variety The NBCUniversal cable-news outlet, which has suffered significant ratings declines in recent years, said it would transition Farrow into a role as a special correspondent who will contribute to primetime specials and other programs rather than host his own show, while Reid will take on a national correspondent position. THR From 1-3 p.m. ET, Thomas Roberts now will anchor a two-hour block of news programming every weekday. The new role, which starts March 2, will have Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski pinch-hitting at MSNBC’S Way Too Early until a permanent replacement is found. Tamron Hall is staying on at 11 a.m., as is Andrea Mitchell at noon. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media Earlier this month, MSNBC registered its lowest full-day rating in nearly a decade, drawing an average of 55,000 viewers in the all-important 25- to 54-year-old demo. In January, MSNBC’s daytime ratings were down 20 percent in total and 37 percent in the demo when compared to the previous year. In primetime, total viewership was down 23 percent, while the demo dropped by 39 percent.

Dean Baquet: NYT Will Retire ‘System of Pitching Stories for The Print Page 1’ (Poynter / MediaWire)
New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet announced Thursday the Times is retiring its system of pitching stories for page one of the print edition in a memo to staff that outlines the paper’s growing emphasis on digital journalism. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media The changes, Baquet wrote, “are intended to ensure that our digital platforms are much less tethered to print deadlines… This new system will, in particular, give us more flexibility in targeting readers on mobile (which now receives more than half of our traffic) and on platforms like Facebook (where we are rolling out new strategies for presenting our journalism).” HuffPost In the memo, Baquet said Times desk editors would “pitch their best enterprise pieces for digital slots on what we’re calling Dean’s List.” Each day, he wrote, the Times masthead editors would select which stories from this list “will receive the very best play on all our digital platforms — Web, mobile, social and others yet to come.” WWD / Memo Pad “It’s worth noting that the tradition of selecting page one stories under the old system has long made the Times distinctive,” the editor said, adding that this new system does not include news stories. “We are seeking to preserve the rigor of this process, but update it for the digital age. Desks will compete for the best digital, rather than print, real estate.” The Times will still have its afternoon meeting for page one, but that process will “play a less prominent role,” he offered.

Allison Williams Defends Her Dad (PRNewser)
Allison Williams spoke at an event at New York’s 92nd Street Y about recent events involving her father Brian. Allison Williams noted that the past weeks have been toughest on her dad, but she defended him via her own experience: “One thing this experience has not done is shake my trust and belief in him as a man. He’s a really good man. He’s an honest man, he’s a truthful man. He has so much integrity, he cares so much about journalism.” TVNewser The actress, who mentioned several times during an interview with Late Night host Seth Meyers that she is extremely close with her family, said the past weeks have been hard on all of them, but “toughest on my dad.” TVNewser It was announced Thursday that Brian Williams has resigned from the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation board of directors, according to a message on the foundation’s website. He had served the position since 2006. Mediaite Brian Williams stepped down just weeks after NBC News suspended him for six months for embellishing war stories. His ultimate fate is unknown at this point, as NBC has scrubbed his name from the newscast and there’s been some speculation he may not come back at the end of the six months.

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Yahoo! Launches Mobile Developer Suite (SocialTimes)
Yahoo! announced its new Mobile Developer Suite Thursday at the company’s first Mobile Developer Conference. The platform is designed to help developers understand, measure, advertise, monetize and enhance their apps. Mashable The new set of tools for app makers combines Yahoo!’s Flurry analytics platform, the BrightRoll and Gemini ad networks, and Yahoo! search. The star of the suite is Flurry, the mobile analytics platform that Yahoo! acquired last year. More than 200,000 developers use Flurry, but the suite also leverages Yahoo!’s native advertising and marketing tools. WSJ / Digits The event reflected the growing importance Yahoo! is placing on mobile ads as chief executive Marissa Mayer seeks to remake the Internet portal for the smartphone era. Now the most important driver of Yahoo!’s growth, mobile sales excluding commissions were $254 million in the fourth quarter, or about one-fifth of the company’s total revenue. That figure jumped 23 percent from the previous quarter, while overall sales continued to stagnate.

Parks And Recreation Co-Executive Producer Harris Wittels Dead at 30 (TMZ)
Harris Wittels, one of the executive producers of Parks And Recreation, died at his home Thursday from a possible drug overdose. According to law enforcement sources, Wittels was pronounced dead around 1 p.m. We’re told the 30-year-old was found lying on his couch and there was drug paraphernalia in the house. There were no signs of trauma to his body. Time “Today, I lost a friend,” Parks star Amy Poehler said at a Variety charity event Thursday, unite4humanity. “I lost a dear, young friend in my life who was struggling with addiction. I’m sharing it with you because life and death live so close together, and we walk that fine line every day.” USA Today In addition to his TV work, Wittels is credited with coining the popular term humblebrag, a word defined on Amazon.com as brags that are “ever-so-thinly disguised as transparent humility.” He wrote a 2012 book, Humblebrag: The Art of False Modesty, based on a Twitter feed dedicated to such boastings. Besides Parks, Wittels’ other writing credits include Eastbound & Down and The Sarah Silverman Program.

Bill O’Reilly Shoots Down Mother Jones War Report: ‘A Giant Piece of Defamation’ (TVNewser)
Mother Jones calls it “Bill O’Reilly‘s Brian Williams Problem.” In a piece by Washington bureau chief David Corn published late Thursday afternoon, the left-leaning news site claims the right-leaning Fox News Channel host has told false stories about his reporting nearly 33 years ago, when he was a correspondent with CBS News. THR O’Reilly responded, saying Corn is a “liar,” who “saw an opportunity to smear” him and took it. O’Reilly adds that there is video evidence to back up his recollections. “If he is reporting that I have exaggerated, embellished or lied, then he’s the liar,” O’Reilly said. “Everything I said is verifiable. You can see the video tape.” Deadline In its report, Mother Jones cites Susan Zirinsky, a longtime CBS News producer who helped manage the network’s coverage of the war from Buenos Aires, who is quoted saying, of American reporters, “Nobody got to the war zone during the Falklands war.” She is cited as telling Mother Jones she does not remember what O’Reilly did during his time in Argentina. “But she notes that the military junta kept U.S. reporters from reaching the islands: ‘You weren’t allowed on by the Argentinians. No CBS person got there,’” Mother Jones reported.

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Discovery Q4 Net Income Falls 13 Percent After Sluggish Results at U.S. Networks (Variety)
Discovery Communications said tepid performance at its flagship U.S. networks resulted in a 13 percent dip in the fourth quarter, even as revenue increased. The Silver Spring, Md. owner of TLC, Discovery Channel and Investigation Discovery said net income in the period came to $250 million, or 38 cents per share, compared with $289 million, or 41 cents per share, in the year-earlier quarter. THR The company cited “higher restructuring costs and lower equity earnings” as drivers behind the lower profit. Discovery was also affected by lower U.S. ratings and foreign-exchange headwinds in the latest quarter. Deadline Discovery reported revenues of $1.68 billion, up 9 percent. The revenue number is below the Street’s $1.70 billion consensus estimate.

DirecTV Reports Lower Fourth-Quarter Profit, Improved U.S. Subscriber Growth (THR)
DirecTV on Thursday reported lower fourth-quarter earnings, but exceeded Wall Street expectations, and said it added more U.S. subscribers in the final quarter of 2014 than in the year-ago period. The satellite TV giant posted earnings of $778 million, compared with $810 million in the year-ago period. Variety As of Thursday, according to DirecTV and Disney, DirecTV subs can at long last access WatchESPN — the sports programmer’s Internet streaming-video service, launched more than four years ago — along with other Disney and ABC digital-video services. The No. 1 satcaster’s activation of Disney TV Everywhere services follows the omnibus deal it reached with Disney/ESPN in December.

Warner Bros. Leads $24 Million Investment in Machinima (THR)
Warner Bros. is building on its relationship with gaming-centric digital media firm Machinima. The studio has led a $24 million financing round in the company, which also operates a YouTube network. Deadline Other previous investors in Machinima, including Redpoint Ventures, MK Capital, Coffin Capital and Machinima chairman Allen DeBevoise, also participated, said company CEO Chad Gutstein. The company’s network of online video creators has more than 430 million subscribers. According to comScore, that traffic ranks Machinima ninth in the U.S. among online-video entertainment sites and fourth among males.

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Tea Party News Network Staffers Resign en Masse, Citing ‘Despicable Practices’ (Mediaite)
Thursday, a chunk of staffers from the Tea Party News Network, a news site with nearly 12 million unique visitors per month, sent in their resignations over the company’s “despicable practices.” Politico / Dylan Byers on Media The resignations came after a Daily Beast report showed how the three-year-old conservative news site fell into posting click bait smut, like videos of fights and burning cars.

60 Minutes Down 10 Percent in Last 11 Years (TVNewser)
CBS would like you to know that compared to the 2003-2004 season the network has increased its viewership by 3 percent. As for the newsmagazines, 60 Minutes is down 10 percent and 48 Hours is down 25 percent.

ABC News Becomes First U.S. News App to Launch on Xbox One (LostRemote)
There is an ongoing battle between news properties on over-the-top platforms. CBSN has the upper hand on Roku, and now, ABC News has the upper hand on Xbox One. ABC News is the first U.S. news app to become available on the gaming console, and will feature a mix of live streaming and on demand content.

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Former Bloomberg Correspondent Files Pregnancy-Bias Suit (National Law Journal / Legal Times)
A former Washington correspondent for Bloomberg is suing the company, claiming she faced discrimination after becoming pregnant and was unlawfully fired after taking maternity leave.

Rachel Van Dongen Returns to WaPo (The Washington Post)
Rachel Van Dongen will return to The Washington Post to lead a new initiative for the National desk. Van Dongen has spent the last three years at Politico, most recently as a deputy managing editor in charge of the print edition.

RT Host Who Criticized Russia’s Ukraine Invasion Is Leaving The Network (BuzzFeed)
Abby Martin, the RT America host who made headlines last year for publicly criticizing Russia’s takeover of Crimea, is leaving the network, she said in a blog post.

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