Morning Media Newsfeed: Angelou Dies at 86 | Williams Interviews Snowden | Amazon Talks Hatchette Dispute

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Medal of Freedom Recipient Maya Angelou Dies at 86 (FishbowlDC)
Poet and author Maya Angelou died Wednesday at the age of 86, according to her literary agent Helen Brann. Angelou received the country’s highest civilian honor — the Medal of Freedom — in 2011 from President Obama, and is most widely known for her award-winning memoir I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. NYT The cause of death was not immediately known, but Brann said Angelou had been frail for some time and had heart problems. GalleyCat In addition to writing, Angelou proved to be an accomplished Renaissance woman who worked as an activist, entertainer, streetcar conductor, magazine editor, college professor and lecturer. CNN Angelou’s legacy is twofold. She leaves behind a body of important artistic work that influenced several generations. But the 86-year-old was praised by those who knew her as a good person, a woman who pushed for justice and education and equality. In her full life, she wrote staggeringly beautiful poetry. She also wrote a cookbook and was nominated for a Tony. Reuters Literary and entertainment figures, politicians and fans mourned her passing on Wednesday. Obama said his sister, Maya, was named for the author, whom he called “a brilliant writer, a fierce friend and a truly phenomenal woman.” Media mogul Oprah Winfrey, who frequently threw lavish birthday parties for Angelou and considered her a mentor, said she would remember her friend most for how she lived her life. “She moved through the world with unshakeable calm, confidence and a fierce grace,” Winfrey said.

Traitor or Patriot? Edward Snowden Sits Down With Brian Williams (NBC News)
In his first American television interview, Edward Snowden defended his disclosure of the American government’s use of surveillance programs to spy on its own people and described himself as a patriot for trying to stop violations of the Constitution. Snowden met for about five hours last week with NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams at a hotel in Moscow, where Snowden is living in exile while facing U.S. felony charges. An hour-long special program based on the interview aired Wednesday on NBC News. KSDK.com The interview revealed Snowden’s motive for leaking the documents: He wanted to be able to sleep at night. He said he feels he did the right thing and is proud. Snowden also revealed he misses his family, home and the work he used to do. He wishes he could go home. The Washington Post / Morning Mix Asked directly by Williams whether he was looking for “clemency or amnesty,” Snowden said, “I don’t think there’s ever been any question that I’d like to go home. I mean, I’ve from day one said that I’m doing this to serve my country. Now, whether amnesty or clemency ever becomes a possibility is not for me to say.” Mediaite “This is an enigmatic guy,” Williams said of Snowden. “We’ve only seen him in video from Skype appearances and the video he did from a hotel in Hong Kong.” He added, “He is blindingly smart. Pay no attention to the fact that he only has a G.E.D. from high school. I joked about how, here we were, two guys with high school degrees, both dropouts from the otherwise great American community college system.” Baltimore Sun / Z on TV Overall, the questions Williams asked in the interview conducted in a Russian hotel room were probing, contextualized and consistently elicited revealing answers from Snowden.

Amazon Breaks Silence on Hachette Dispute (GalleyCat)
Amazon has finally come out and commented on its ongoing dispute with Hachette on a Kindle forum page. In the post, the retailer admits that it is buying less print inventory of Hachette titles and no longer taking pre-orders on Hachette books that are not out yet because of changes related to its contract and terms with the publisher. NYT / Bits The online retailer, perhaps unnerved by the way it is being denounced all over the Internet, said the dispute was blown out of proportion, misunderstood and likely to last quite a while. “We are not optimistic that this will be resolved soon,” the statement said. If people really want a new book by James Patterson or another Hachette author, Amazon suggested going to “one of our competitors,” Barnes & Noble, presumably, or an independent store. Amazon has been telling customers it will take as long as a month to ship books published by Hachette. Mashable Last week, Amazon began to block pre-orders of upcoming books from the publisher. The dispute is the most recent example of problems in the eBook industry. In 2010, Hachette supported fellow publisher Macmillan in a price dispute with Amazon. Amazon claimed that its interests align with those of customers in seeking to keep prices low. The company did seek to extend a small olive branch: a pool of funds for authors affected by the dispute that would be funded equally by Amazon and Hachette. WSJ Hachette hit back at Amazon, rebuffing the retailer’s suggestion that the two jointly compensate authors. Among the forthcoming titles from Hachette now affected by the disagreement is The Silkworm, written by J.K. Rowling under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.