Morning Media Newsfeed: Attkisson Resigns | John Cook to First Look | ESPN Launches Exit 31

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Sharyl Attkisson Resigns From CBS News (Politico / Dylan Byers on Media)
CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson has reached an agreement to resign from CBS News ahead of contract, bringing an end to months of hard-fought negotiations, sources said. Attkisson, who has been with CBS News for two decades, had grown frustrated with what she saw as the network’s liberal bias, an outsized influence by the network’s corporate partners and a lack of dedication to investigative reporting, several sources said. She increasingly felt like her work was no longer supported and that it was a struggle to get her reporting on air. The Washington Post / Erik Wemple Rumors of Attkisson’s stormy relations with her superiors at CBS News have made the rounds for months. In conversations from last year, CBS News sources said that Attkisson was frustrated that more of her reporting on Benghazi and other investigative pieces didn’t make The CBS Evening News with greater frequency. HuffPost The Emmy-winning reporter also made headlines in 2013 after CBS News confirmed that her computers had been hacked. Attkisson had suggested that “there could be some relationship” between the suspicious activity and the government’s probes into the Associated Press and Fox News’ James Rosen. The Department of Justice denied that possibility, and the network also addressed it in a statement in August, saying, “To be clear, the federal government has not been accused in the intrusion of Attkisson’s computer; CBS News is continuing to work to identify the responsible party.” The Washington Times Attkisson began negotiating with CBS News president David Rhodes as early as last April about getting out of her contract. She announced her resignation to her 41,000 Twitter followers Monday with the simple message: “I have resigned from CBS.” TVNewser Attkisson, a Washington-based investigative correspondent, called her time at CBS News “one of life’s great privileges” and said she is “grateful for the many opportunities I’ve had.”

Gawker’s John Cook Joins First Look Media (Re/code)
First Look Media, the independent news organization created by Pierre Omidyar, has poached Gawker editor John Cook, Gawker staffers were informed Monday. Cook is First Look’s latest high profile addition in recent months. The Washington Post / Erik Wemple Cook is headed to the Intercept, the online “digital magazine” of First Look, a general-interest news site bankrolled by eBay founder Omidyar and featuring the journalism of Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media Other recent high-profile hires by First Look include Rolling Stone‘s Matt Taibbi, who will head a new publication focused on financial and political corruption; Peter Maass, who has written about war, media and national security for The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker and The Washington Post; Marcy Wheeler, an independent journalist who covers the legal side of counterterrorism programs; and Ryan Gallagher, a Scottish journalist who has written about government surveillance technologies for Slate, The Guardian and the Financial TimesFishbowlNY Max Read, Gawker deputy editor, will succeed Cook, who had been with Gawker since 2009.

ESPN Creates New Unit for FiveThirtyEight, Grantland And ESPN Films (THR / The Live Feed)
ESPN is combining Bill Simmons’ Grantland, Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight and ESPN Films and Original Content under one unit, the newly created unit called Exit 31. Capital New York The new unit, named after the exit off of Interstate 84 in Bristol, Conn. where ESPN is based, will combine resources to cover stories, the sports network said in a statement Monday. The division will also “continue to expand into content beyond sports when appropriate,” noting that FiveThirtyEight and Grantland already cover topics such as entertainment and politics. FishbowlNY The Exit 31 group will be led by Marie Donoghue, ESPN’s senior VP, global strategy, business development and business affairs. Nate Silver (editor-in-chief, FiveThirtyEight); Connor Schell (VP, ESPN Films); David Cho (senior director, strategy and business development, Grantland and FiveThirtyEight); and Bill Simmons (editor-in-chief, Grantland) will all report to Donoghue. Variety The move illustrates how the Walt Disney-owned sports-media juggernaut is quietly working to broaden its horizons beyond sports content. “Formally combining these teams will create a collaborative studio environment whose mission will be to take risks and experiment with editorial approach, visual presentation and programming across platforms,” Donoghue said in a prepared statement.

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Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos Premiere Ratings Not So Stellar on Fox (LA Times / Show Tracker)
A reboot of Carl Sagan’s 1980 smash science series on PBS, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, premiered on Fox on Sunday, this time with outspoken astrophysicist and science educator Neil deGrasse Tyson as host and — of all people — Family Guy writer-producer Seth MacFarlane as executive producer along with Sagan’s widow, Ann Druyan. (Sagan died in 1996.) But despite heavy promotion and curiosity, Cosmos did not exactly deliver a big bang, with 5.8 million total viewers, according to Nielsen. THR / The Live Feed The show brought in 8.5 million viewers across 10 networks. It’s a modest haul, given the scope of the launch, but Fox cited global projections north of 40 million viewers for the first week. Among adults 18-49, Cosmos grossed a 2.9 rating. Variety The under-50 audience was comprised of roughly 60 percent men. The other Fox networks airing the premiere were National Geographic Channel, FX, FXX, FXM, Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2, Nat Geo Wild, Nat Geo Mundo and Fox Life.

Wall Street Journal Embraces Native Ads (Capital New York)
The Wall Street Journal announced the launch of a new content division Monday: WSJ. Custom Studios, which global head of advertising Trevor Fellows described in an announcement as “an innovative, intelligent and flexible suite of capabilities that will help market-leading brands develop even deeper relationships with their clients and our readers.” FishbowlNY The paper has announced that WSJ. Custom Studios will create the ads labeled as “Sponsor-Generated Content,” and they’ll be embedded among other editorial content. The first native ads, from Brocade, will debut Tuesday. Each ad will be created by staffers hired specifically for WSJ. Custom Studios. No Journal staffer will be involved in the ads. Adweek As a new publishing company spun off from Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, News Corp., parent of WSJ, faces new pressure to adapt its newspapers to readers’ increasingly digital habits and advertising’s shift to online formats, and the studio is a significant move in that direction.

‘The Upshot’ Is The New York Times’ Replacement for Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight (Quartz)
“The Upshot.” That’s the name The New York Times is giving to its new data-driven venture, focused on politics, policy and economic analysis and designed to fill the void left by Nate Silver, the one-man traffic machine whose statistical approach to political reporting was a massive success. FishbowlNY The Upshot will be led by David Leonhardt. He’ll be overseeing a team of 15, including three graphic designers. Numbers and analytics can be intimidating, so The Upshot is going to do its best to present them in an easily digestible format. New York Mag / Daily Intelligencer Leonhardt said that the Times chose the name because “we are trying to help readers get to the essence of issues and understand them in a contextual and conversational way,” and the venture has an unspecified spring launch date. Of his competition, Leonhardt said, “I think the audience for this journalism is large, growing and underserved. I think we are going to see multiple ventures in this area succeed… because they will foster demand for this type of writing.”

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Comcast Cable Head Unveils House of Cards, Sony Film Deal (THR)
Comcast plans to hit the ground running if and when its planned acquisition of Time Warner Cable is approved and closes, Neil Smit, president and CEO of Comcast Cable, told an investor conference Monday. Smit said that after Comcast recently agreed to add Warner Bros. film and TV shows, it has now added Sony content under a Monday morning deal. Comcast already had content deals with Fox, Lionsgate and its own NBCUniversal. Entertainment Weekly / Inside TV The agreement with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will allow Comcast to sell the studio’s titles through the Xfinity On Demand digital store. In the coming weeks, Xfinity TV customers will be able to purchase Sony Pictures movies and TV shows to own and access anytime on any device, kicking off with American Hustle, timed to the film’s DVD release. The Comcast/Sony deal will also allow Comcast subscribers to purchase episodes of Netflix shows, such as House of Cards, even if they don’t have a Netflix subscription.

New York Public Radio Receives Grant for $10 Million (NYT)
New York Public Radio announced Monday that it has received a $10 million grant from the Jerome L. Greene Foundation, which it says is the largest single gift ever made to a public radio station. The foundation had previously given New York Public Radio two gifts totaling $11 million. The majority of the new grant, $8 million, is earmarked to support the development of digital operations, including a new feature called “Discover” on the WNYC mobile app. FishbowlNY The grant also allows New York Public Radio to keep the development of its new digital tools in-house. The remainder, $2 million, will go towards the radio group’s Jerome L. Greene Performance Space, which opened in 2008. New York Public Radio operates WNYC, WQXR and New Jersey Public Radio and nationally distributed public radio programming.

CQ Roll Call Nabs Bloomberg’s David Ellis (Politico / Dylan Byers on Media)
The congressional news organization CQ Roll Call has hired Bloomberg’s David Ellis to serve as vice president of news, overseeing CQ Roll Call’s newsgathering operations, chief content officer David Rapp announced Monday. Rapp also announced the appointment of Benton Ives, the director of legal products for CQ Roll Call, to editor-in-chief of the CQ Weekly, the organization’s weekly magazine. FishbowlDC Ellis is currently the editor-at-large at Bloomberg’s Washington Bureau, where has written about government transparency and whistleblowers at the Justice Department. He previously worked for Moneywise in the U.K., as well as Time and People. Ives started his career at CQ in 2002, and had served as an editorial assistant and economics editor before becoming director of legal products. He also helped set up and run a partnership between CQ Roll Call and Thompson Reuters, covering securities, banking, energy and immigration.

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VHX Goes Big With Public Launch of Distribution Service (GigaOM)
From social video community to robust media distribution platform with over 300 active titles, VHX has had an impressive journey over the past two years. On Monday, it took a new step towards the democratization of content distribution by opening the platform to anyone who has a video they want to sell directly to consumers. Features available to uploaders include the ability to send out coupons and screener copies of their work, plus control pricing and geoblocking. In addition, VHX is lowering the rates it charges creators, now taking 10 percent (plus a $0.50 fee per transaction) instead of the previous cut of 15 percent.

Warner Bros. Is Buying A Stake in Struggling YouTube Net Machinima (Variety)
Warner Bros. is leading an $18 million investment in Machinima, the once-dominant videogame-focused YouTube multichannel network that has been bleeding money and losing millions of viewers. The funding round, which was announced Monday, includes participation from previous investors Google, MK Capital and Redpoint Ventures. That brings Machinima to about $67 million raised following the $35 million round led by Google in May 2012.

New York Magazine Launches Vulture Festival (Adweek)
New York magazine is extending its entertainment site Vulture to its first live event. The Vulture Festival, announced Monday, will consist of 16 events for consumers that are meant to bring the site’s pop culture sensibility to life. It will be held May 10-11 at New York’s Milk Studios. Since its launch as a standalone site three years ago, Vulture has grown to more than 8 million monthly uniques, per New York magazine, citing Omniture, making a live event a logical place to take the brand.

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Alisyn Camerota Leaving Fox News (TVNewser)
Fox News is parting ways with longtime anchor Alisyn Camerota. Camerota, a 16-year Fox News veteran, currently co-anchors the 1 p.m. ET hour with Bill Hemmer. Over the years, Camerota has been co-host of Fox & Friends Weekend and often filled in on the weekday show. As a correspondent, Camerota reported on the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections, she reported from Ground Zero following the Sept. 11 attacks and anchored ’round-the-clock coverage of the start of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Newsweek And ‘Trust Us’ Journalism (CJR / The Audit)
Leah McGrath Goodman tells Felix Salmon this about her controversial Newsweek piece on the founder of Bitcoin: “If I read my own story, it would not convince me,” she says. “I would have a lot of questions.” And that sums up the problem with Newsweek’s piece claiming to out Satoshi Nakamoto: Newsweek, by its own admission, didn’t prove its assertion promised on its cover that this Satoshi Nakamoto is the Satoshi Nakamoto. Goodman has been taking the heat on this, and some of it is truly vile. Whatever else happens, the Goodman experience should be added to a growing file of cases demonstrating why the Internet is a more hostile place for women journalists than their male counterparts. But let’s be very clear: The Newsweek story is an editing problem, not a reporting problem.

Jamie Gangel Leaves NBC News After 31 Years (TVNewser)
Veteran NBC News correspondent Jamie Gangel has left the network after 31 years. For the last two decades, Gangel served as national correspondent for Today, and also contributed reports to Nightly News. In those 31 years, she interviewed six presidents, celebrities from Eric Clapton to rapper 50 Cent, conducted the only interview with actor Robert Downey Jr. from prison, and reported extensively from Europe, Africa and South America.

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