Morning Media Newsfeed: Reuters Axes ‘Next’ | Kucinich Meets Assad | Facebook Apologizes

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Reuters Next Canceled (NY Observer)
Reuters has decided to cancel Next, the consumer-facing website that had been in the works for more than two years, chief executive Andrew Rashbass announced Wednesday morning in a staff email. “Next is a long way from achieving either commercial viability or strategic success. In fact, I believe the existing suite of sites is a better starting point for where we need to go,” Rashbass wrote. TheWrap The wire service on Wednesday said it was losing new Reuters Digital executive editor Jim Roberts and design director Daniele Code, promoting Bill Riordan to publisher of and canceling its Next project after it failed to meet deadlines or stay within its budget. Roberts’ departure after just seven months is especially surprising — he left The New York Times after 26 years with the paper in January, taking a voluntary buyout. Shortly afterwards, he landed at Reuters as its site’s executive editor. FishbowlNY Roberts tweeted his departure, explaining “Yes, I’ll be leaving @Reuters, though not right away. & I’m not leaving news. Stay tuned.” BuzzFeed / Business Reuters insiders said Rashbass began asking skeptical questions about Next — which had at one point been slated to launch on the first of this year, and was nowhere near ready — as soon as he started. And many of the questions focused on how to make money off a venture that many inside saw as more about turning Reuters into a prestigious news brand than about generating cash flow. NYT Joshua Benton, director of the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard, said he was surprised by Reuters’s decision because the preview version of Next had been generating such interest. “There were a lot of really exciting ideas in Reuters’ Next,” he said. “What we saw in the preview was very forward-looking in terms of both content and technology. It generated a fair amount of excitement as a news organization doing something that looked digitally savvy.”

Fox News Interviews Assad at Palace (Politico / Dylan Byers on Media)
Fox News interviewed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday at the presidential palace in Damascus, and aired the conversation Wednesday as part of a two-hour edition of Special Report with Bret Baier. “The interview, shot by agreement by a Syrian camera crew, was conducted with no restrictions on the questions that could be asked,” Michael Clemente, Fox’s executive vice president of news, said in a statement. TVNewser On Sept. 7, Fox News Channel contributor and former Rep. Dennis Kucinich told his bosses at Fox News that he was confident he could get an interview with Assad. Kucinich, in his capacity as a member of Congress, had met Assad before. Fox News then had to decide how to produce an interview, using an interviewer who isn’t a journalist, but rather a politician-turned-pundit. So they called up Palkot. The Washington Post / Erik Wemple And so, the questions: 1) If Kucinich wasn’t there in the capacity of a journalist, what was he doing “beside” Palkot? 2) If Kucinich wasn’t representing Fox News “in that role,” what role was he representing? 3) Is Fox News saying that a Fox News contributor isn’t a journalist? If not, what is a Fox News contributor? Isn’t the pursuit of an interview an act of journalism? TVNewser Following the FNC interview, the network’s State Department correspondent James Rosen said equal time might be in order for the Syrian opposition. “I predict that you may see calls from viewers, from critics, et cetera, for us to give a like amount of air time to the Syrian opposition,” said Rosen.

Facebook Apologizes for Ads Featuring Photos of Suicide Victim (Mashable)
Two online dating ads featured on Facebook this week included photos of a teenager who committed suicide. The social network has since apologized for the ads, which promoted a Canadian online-dating site by including images of Rehtaeh Parsons. Parsons, 17, hanged herself in April after pictures showing her alleged rape circulated online. The Toronto Star The company said it removed the ad and permanently deleted the account of “We apologize for any harm this has caused,” the Facebook statement said. Ad Age / The Media Guy has gone offline. Registration records show that the URL was only created on Aug. 3; the administrator named on the account is Dung Nguyen of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (I’ve emailed him for comment and will update if I hear back). The presumably clueless use of Parsons’ photos by such a fly-by-night operation underscores the hazards of Facebook’s self-serve advertising business, which assumes a certain level of competence among its users that was obviously lacking in this case.

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Brand Suffers Most From Spat Between Owner And Hollywood Blogger (NYT)
For her detractors, and there are many, the turnabout is delicious: Nikki Finke, the blogger who squeezed Hollywood with her rabid trade reporting for, is now being squeezed. Jay Penske, the media entrepreneur who bought her website in 2009, has Finke in a difficult spot. For her supporters, and there are many, the public, yearlong spat between Finke and Penske — it centers on his purchase of Variety — has been an ill-timed distraction that has made her site bland. The Atlantic Wire It doesn’t seem like Finke’s escape attempt is going very well. Penske appears to have no plans to either sell Deadline back to Finke, especially after her plans to partner with a private equity executive fell through, or let her strike out on her own. The ordeal has been enough that it has occasionally brought the usually thick-skinned Finke to tears.

Shane Smith, Vice’s $400 Million Man, Is New York’s Newest Media Mogul (Forbes / Mixed Media)
When Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox invested $70 million in Vice Media in return for a 5 percent stake, it set the value of the company at $1.4 billion. That makes Vice CEO Shane Smith worth about $400 million, by our estimate. FishbowlNY And assuming Jeff Bercovici’s calculations are correct, that puts Smith way ahead of Tumblr wunderkind David Karp.

NYT’s Howard Beck Exits Paper for Bleacher Report (TheWrap)
New York Times NBA beat reporter Howard Beck is leaving his longtime home for the Bleacher Report. Beck, who began at the Times in 2004, tweeted his announcement Wednesday. He’ll be the site’s national NBA lead writer. Bleacher Report was acquired by Turner Networks just over a year ago for nearly $200 million. Though popular, it’s known more for its slideshows than its in-depth reporting. FishbowlNY As any Knicks fan will tell you, Beck was the man for team news, and he’ll be missed.

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Ann Curry Scoops Christiane Amanpour in Interview With Iranian President (TVNewser)
NBC’s anchor-at-large Ann Curry got the first U.S. interview with newly-elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. CNN has already been promoting an interview Christiane Amanpour will get with Rouhani when he travels to New York later this month for the annual gathering at the U.N. Curry’s interview, conducted at the presidential compound, aired on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams.

Zuckerberg: No Plans to Get Into News Business (USA Today)
While founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is buying The Washington Post, fellow digital icon Mark Zuckerberg has no plans to get into the news business. “I can’t see us getting into producing our own content,” the Facebook CEO says, particularly since there’s already so much “awesome” material out there.

Obama Got Ranted at By Ed Schultz, Was Enraged by Bad NYT Coverage: New Book (HuffPost)
President Obama had to listen to a rant from Ed Schultz about his leadership and was constantly complaining about the New York Times‘ critical editorials about him, a new book says. Richard Wolffe’s The Message details some of the problems the White House had with Obama’s liberal supporters in the media during the 2012 campaign.

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Quartz to Reach Profitability by 2015 With Native Ads And Open Web Focus (TheMediaBriefing)
Business news site Quartz is on course to reach profitability in 2015, three years after its launch by The Atlantic Media Company. Quartz publisher Jay Lauf, who also runs the 150-year-old magazine The Atlantic, revealed the target for the first time in an interview with TheMediaBriefing this week, and he says he’s confident Quartz can achieve it.

Grand Theft Auto V Muscles Its Way to Sales Record
(NYT / Bits)
Grand Theft Auto V, one of the most anticipated video games of the year, has beaten sales figures posted by previous installments in the violent and controversial adventure game series. The new game generated more than $800 million in sales Tuesday on its first day on store shelves.

What Jonathan Franzen Misunderstands About Me (New Republic)
Last week, Jonathan Franzen, the best-selling, award-winning literary novelist who’s known for the excellence of his books and his bold stands against Oprah, Facebook, eBooks, iPhones, and overly generous assessments of Edith Wharton’s looks, unburdened himself of a rant. The dense, lengthy piece, excerpted from his new book, was modestly titled “What’s Wrong with the Modern World?” In it, Franzen bemoaned high-class writers like Salman Rushdie succumbing to Twitter. The literary world, Franzen lamented, rewards “yakkers” and “braggers.” Not even his peers are safe, not with prestigious writers being “conscripted” into “Jennifer Weiner-ish” self promotion.

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Joanna Coles, Wendy Williams And The Inside Story on The New JFK Book (FishbowlNY)
Forget about having to dig out a coat for the first time this season to ward off morning’s chilly temps: The real sign fall is here is that the power lunch scene is back in full swing at Michael’s. Wednesday the dining room was full of famous faces (Al Roker and wife Deborah Roberts at separate tables, Wendy Williams, Star Jones); entertainment bigwigs (Tad Smith, Nick Verbitsky); social swans (Margo Nederlander and pals); and more spinmeisters than there are Kardashian tabloid covers on any given week.

Meet Miranda Henely, 23, The ‘Cord Never’ of TV’s Nightmares (Ad Age)
Miranda Henely spends four hours in front of the TV every day — but she doesn’t pay a dime on cable or satellite programming. Henely, 23, instead watches shows and movies streamed from Netflix, Amazon or directly from broadcasters’ websites, using a computer hooked up to the TV in her home. She’s known in industry parlance as a cord never, meaning she hasn’t ever subscribed to pay TV: channels from a cable company, such as Comcast, or a satellite provider like DirecTV, or phone companies — and she doesn’t ever intend to.

Yes, It’s Still A Problem Your Story Contains No Women (Medium / Alison Dame-Boyle)
San Francisco magazine’s website published a piece on “Silicon Valley’s Geek Chorus,” ostensibly profiling the leaders of the more-mainstream-but-still-tech-journalist movement. Because life is basically an eternal recurrence of the same myopic list articles, all six journalists are men. Five are white. Predictably, there was an online kerfuffle (we tech-adjacent feminists are really good at the Internet, although apparently not good enough that anyone notices before they write their list), and editor Ellen Cushing wrote a follow-up explanation.

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