WaPo Reporter, Other Journalists Appear to Have Been Detained in Iran (The Washington Post)
Three American citizens, including the Washington Post’s correspondent in Iran, appear to have been detained this week in Tehran, U.S. officials and the newspaper said Thursday. FishbowlDC Jason Rezaian and his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, are among four individuals — including two unnamed American freelance photojournalists — detained without explanation. Mediaite Salehi, an Iranian citizen, works for a paper out of the United Arab Emirates. The Post does not know why they were detained or by whom; Rezaian’s family has not issued a comment. The State Department said it was aware of the incident but revealed no further information. HuffPost Rezaian has been based in Iran since 2008 and with the Post since 2012. He most recently reported Friday from Vienna on talks over Iran’s nuclear program. Laura Rozen, a reporter with Al Monitor, tweeted that she saw Rezaian on Saturday and that he was planning to fly back that night to Tehran. NYT Hamid Babaei, a spokesman for Iran’s mission to the United Nations, said it, too, was “following up on the case” and would notify reporters when it had any news. The Committee to Protect Journalists, a press freedom advocacy group, called on the Iranian authorities to explain their actions, and to release those it was holding. The U.S. does not have diplomatic relations with Iran. The Swiss government, which has an embassy in Tehran, acts on behalf of American citizens in the country.
Bloomberg Hires a Founder of The Verge to Lead Online Initiatives (NYT)
Josh Topolsky, the co-founder of technology website The Verge, will join Bloomberg as the editor of a series of online ventures it is introducing as part of a revamped journalism strategy. FishbowlNY Topolsky’s appointment is effective Aug. 4. He’ll report to Businessweek editor Josh Tyrangiel and Bloomberg Media’s CEO Justin Smith. Capital New York Topolsky joins a growing roster of high-profile journalists flocking to Bloomberg. The company is diversifying its reputation as a financial news and information provider by building out a multiplatform journalism operation meant to appeal to readers outside the core audience of traders who subscribe to its flagship data-terminal technology, which makes up the bulk of Bloomberg’s profits. Poynter / MediaWire Topolsky co-founded The Verge in 2011. Verge co-founder Nilay Patel left the publication in March to become acting managing editor of Vox.com, which, like The Verge, is published by Vox Media. Patel will become The Verge’s new top editor.
Fox’s Europe Deal Means Cash for Time Warner Bid (USA Today)
Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox entered a deal Friday to sell all of its stake in Sky Italia and a majority stake in Sky Deutschland to BSkyB, raising more than $8 billion cash to fortress its rebuffed Time Warner bid. Variety Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox owns a 39 percent stake in BSkyB, 100 percent of Sky Italia and 57 percent of Sky Deutschland. The proposed deals will see BSkyB acquire Fox’s stakes in Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland. It also will bid for the remaining Sky Deutschland shares. The Telegraph BSkyB’s longer-term strategic rationale for Sky Europe is to gain access to pay-TV and broadband markets that are less developed than the U.K., where its satellite subscription business has reached saturation point. The merged company will have an addressable market of nearly 100 million households, of which only 20 million are currently customers, 10 million of those in the U.K.
Amazon Stock Plummets After Q2 Earnings Miss (Deadline Hollywood)
Shares were down 10.2 percent in post-market trading after Amazon reported a far bigger Q2 loss than investors expected. Amazon lost $126 million, up from a $7 million loss in the period last year, on revenues of $19.3 billion, up 23.2 percent. Re/code The company, which launched its first smartphone, the Amazon Fire phone, a few weeks ago, posted a loss of 27 cents per share. Analysts had been expecting on average a loss of 15 cents per share on $19.34 billion in revenue. THR “We continue working hard on making the Amazon customer experience better and better,” said CEO Jeff Bezos, noting that the company launched a number of new products or services during the second quarter, including Sunday delivery, music streaming service Prime Music and eBook subscription service Kindle Unlimited. WSJ The big idea in Amazon’s first smartphone is that you can control the screen just by moving your head. But in reality, the Fire is the grown-up equivalent of a 9-year-old riding a bike with his hands in the air. “Look, Ma, no hands!” It’s a neat gimmick, but it won’t get you very far. The phone is packed with a number of such technological bells and whistles that seem clever, for about a day. Amazon has taken worthwhile steps to simplify using the Android operating system, but on the smartphone fundamentals, the Fire stumbles. Mashable Investors had shown faith that Amazon’s massive revenues would eventually translate into profits. After missing analysts’ estimates, shareholders are beginning to wonder just when Amazon will deliver. Amazon shares have struggled in 2014, down just over 10 percent for the year before the earnings announcement.
Journalist Working for CNN Detained in Ukraine (CNN)
A Ukrainian journalist working as a freelancer for CNN remains in detention two days after he was detained by pro-Russian separatists. Armed men from the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic seized Anton Skiba outside a hotel in the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk after he had worked for one day with a CNN television crew. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media The separatists have reportedly given multiple reasons for detaining him, from claiming he was offering cash rewards for the killing of separatists, to saying he was being held for having multiple forms of identification with different names. No progress has been made thus far, so the network has decided to go public in asking those who are holding Skiba to release him immediately. Poynter / MediaWire Graham Phillips, a British blogger working as a stringer for Russia Today, has also gone missing along with three others. “The agency cites anonymous sources, saying the group of four was taken hostage by Ukrainian troops.” In May, RT reported that Phillips was detained by the Ukrainian National Guard.
FCC Approves Sinclair’s Allbritton Buy (TVSpy)
The FCC has approved Sinclair Broadcast Group’s purchase of Allbritton Communications. The 16-page document released by the FCC also denied several petitions against the merger. TVSpy Thursday, in a press release, the station group announced Sinclair Television Group, a subsidiary, had closed its private offering of $550 million worth of senior unsecured notes due in 2024. Sinclair said it plans to use the money from the funds along with $400 million in loans, a revolving credit line and cash to pay for the deal. Last July, Sinclair announced it was buying Allbritton for $985 million. WSJ Sinclair won approval from the FCC after agreeing to restructure the deal to resolve the FCC’s concerns about so-called sidecar arrangements, which broadcasters use to sidestep the FCC’s limit on owning one of the top-four broadcast stations in a local market. Sinclair has become the largest TV station owner and operator in the U.S. in part through the use of such arrangements.
Hillary Clinton Acknowledges She’ll Have to ‘Work on’ Media Expectations (TVNewser)
She’s already provided ample cable news fodder for months, and Thursday, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton acknowledged she might need to reexamine her media outlook. In an interview with NPR’s On Point, Clinton responded to former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson‘s criticism in a Politico interview. Abramson said Clinton is “incredibly unrealistic about journalists,” expecting too much loyalty. FishbowlDC Clinton admitted Thursday that she might expect more than she should from her relationships with members of the media. “I think maybe one of the points Jill was making is that I do sometimes expect perhaps more than I should,” Clinton said. Politico “And I’ll have to work on my expectations, but I had an excellent relationship with the State Department press that followed me for four years and enjoyed working with them, and whatever I do in the future, I look forward to having the same kind of opportunities.” Clinton, asked whether she feels “so scalded” by her history with the press that it might be difficult to communicate in a possible presidential bid, said she didn’t think so.
BuzzFeed Editor Caught Lifting Text From Yahoo! Answers (Gawker)
Two pseudonymous Twitter users pointed out Thursday that BuzzFeed’s Viral Politics editor, Benny Johnson, has periodically lifted text from a variety of sources — Wikipedia, U.S. News & World Report, a random press release — all without credit. The users supply convincing evidence that Johnson slightly reworded various sentences to make them his own. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media In the most egregious instance, Johnson copied an 18-word sentence from Yahoo! Answers and added three words to the end. BuzzFeed later changed the sentence and added a correction stating, “This piece included a sentence that was not attributed to its source.”
Activists Invest in Interpublic (AgencySpy)
Thursday morning, the New York hedge fund Elliott Management confirmed via an SEC filing that it had acquired a 6.7 percent interest in Interpublic. This news follows earlier speculation that Elliott aimed to play the role of “activist investor” by scooping up a stake in the group (which includes McCann, Weber Shandwick and FCB among “almost 100 different firms”). WSJ Elliott believes IPG’s assets would be attractive in an industry that has acknowledged consolidation is needed, as seen in the collapsed $35 billion merger deal between Publicis Groupe and Omnicom Group Inc. Interpublic has long been seen as a takeover target, a view that only increased after the Omnicom-Publicis merger was abandoned.
AP Makes Changes Within Its Video Leadership (FishbowlDC)
The Associated Press Thursday announced several changes within its video leadership. Denise Vance, deputy director of U.S. video, will be head of U.S. video and radio, and Vaughn Morrison, a former CNN and Fox executive, was named earlier this month head of U.S. video production. Both are based in D.C. FishbowlNY The Associated Press also announced the promotion of Derl McCrudden to head of international video news. McCrudden was previously head of video newsgathering. He has been with the AP since 2010. Previously, McCrudden was on the launch team of Al Jazeera English and helped run the channel’s Asia operation.
Google’s $1 Billion Purchase of Twitch Confirmed — Joins YouTube for New Video Empire (VentureBeat)
Google has signed a deal to buy game-livestreaming firm Twitch for $1 billion, confirmed sources familiar with the matter. We don’t know everything about this deal, such as when it will be announced and the exact purchase price. The deal underscores the value of live Internet streaming and the rise of competitive gaming as a spectator sport — something that draws millions of viewers, can offer prize pools that surpass pro golf’s marquee events, and provides a multi-billion dollar opportunity for advertisers.
Former News of The World Reporter Gets Suspended Sentence Over Phone Hacking (HuffPost / AP)
A former British tabloid reporter was given a 10-month suspended prison sentence Thursday for his role in the long-running phone hacking scandal that shook Rupert Murdoch’s media empire. Dan Evans, 38, had pleaded guilty to eavesdropping on voicemails of some 200 celebrities between 2003 and 2010 in pursuit of scoops on their private lives for the Murdoch’s News of The World and the independently owned Sunday Mirror newspapers. Evans also admitted to making a false witness statement and conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office.
Twitter Diversity Statistics: 70 Percent Male Globally, 59 Percent White, 29 Percent Asian in U.S. (AllTwitter)
Twitter has released data that reveals the company’s ethnic and gender diversity, and it makes for interesting reading. Globally, 70 percent of Twitter employees are men, and that number skews even higher for those who work in tech, with a 90/10 split. Non-tech roles are 50-50, whereas the perhaps most important leadership category is 79 percent male (Twitter has been heavily criticized for not putting women in senior roles in the past). For ethnicity — and this is U.S. only — 59 percent of employees are white and 29 percent are Asian. In leadership roles, 72 percent are white.
Pandora Media Profit Forecast Below Analysts’ Estimates, Shares Fall (Reuters)
Pandora Media Inc. forecast current quarter adjusted profit below analysts’ estimates as it plans to plow money back into the business. The company’s shares fell about 6 percent in extended trading. Pandora forecast adjusted profit of 5-8 cents per share on revenue of $235-$240 million for the third quarter ending September. Analysts on average were expecting 8 cents per share in profit on revenue of $234.6 million.
Observer Names Alexandra Peers Culture Editor (Capital New York)
The New York Observer has named a new culture editor amid a shakeup on its arts desk. Alexandra Peers, a veteran arts writer and former long-time Wall Street Journal reporter and editor, is moving into the role. This will be Peers’ second stint at the weekly paper. She was brought on as a contributing editor in early 2010 under Kyle Pope and oversaw the paper’s arts coverage. FishbowlNY She comes to the Observer from Flyer Labs, where she served as executive director of content and strategy.