Morning Media Newsfeed: Facebook Buys WhatsApp | First Look Hires Taibbi | Greenwald Vows Return

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Facebook’s Latest Acquisition? That’s WhatsApp! (AllFacebook)
After its unsuccessful bid for photo-messaging application Snapchat last November, reportedly valued at more than $3 billion, Facebook opened up the vaults and announced its acquisition of cross-platform mobile messaging company WhatsApp for $4 billion in cash and some $12 billion in Facebook shares, also announcing that WhatsApp co-founder and CEO Jan Koum will join Facebook’s board of directors. CNNMoney Buying WhatsApp will only bolster Facebook’s already strong position in the crowded messaging world. Messenger, Facebook’s standalone messaging app for mobile devices, is second only to WhatsApp in its share of the smartphone market. The Verge In a press release announcing the monumental buyout, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, “WhatsApp is on a path to connect 1 billion people. The services that reach that milestone are all incredibly valuable.” He also shared news of the deal on his personal Facebook page, saying, “WhatsApp will complement our existing chat and messaging services to provide new tools for our community.” Over 450 million people use WhatsApp each month, according to statistics in the press release, with 70 percent of those users active on a given day. GigaOM Facebook is going to end up competing with apps like Line and WeChat in many markets for the consumer’s mobile minutes and WhatsApp gives the Menlo Park-based company a strong competitive weapon. While potential monetization remains a bit of a head scratcher, there are more options for the company to think about, like new native advertisements in the near future. Forbes Koum picked a meaningful spot to sign the $19 billion deal to sell his company WhatsApp to Facebook Wednesday. Koum, co-founder Brian Acton and venture capitalist Jim Goetz of Sequoia drove a few blocks from WhatsApp’s discreet headquarters in Mountain View to a disused white building across the railroad tracks, the former North County Social Services office where Koum, 37, once stood in line to collect food stamps.

First Look Hires Matt Taibbi (NYT)
Matt Taibbi, who made a name as a fierce critic of Wall Street at Rolling Stone magazine, has joined First Look Media, the latest big-name journalist to leave an established brand to enter the thriving and well-financed world of news start-ups. Pierre Omidyar has pledged $250 million to the project. “It’s obvious that we’re entering a new phase in the history of journalism,” Taibbi said. BoingBoing Taibbi will lead his own publication focused on financial and political corruption. The new magazine does not yet have a name or a precise launch date. FishbowlNY On Twitter, New York Times reporter John Schwartz quickly surmised that vanguard journalism funder Omidyar “likes vampire squid,” while colleague Ravi Somaiya closes out his brief exclusive item with the lineage of this Taibbi allegory.

Glenn Greenwald: ‘No Question’ I’ll Return to The U.S.’ (HuffPost)
Glenn Greenwald told HuffPost Live on Wednesday that there is “no question” that he will try to return to the U.S. soon and that he may use his recent receipt of the prestigious Polk Award to “force the issue” of whether or not he will face legal action if he comes into America. With the director of national intelligence suggesting that journalists who used material leaked by Edward Snowden could be seen as his “accomplices,” Greenwald could be justified in sensing some level of legal danger if he chose to enter the U.S. But he told HuffPost Live’s Alyona Minkovski that he refused to be “exiled from my own country.” FishbowlDC “I’m going to force the issue just on principle, and I think coming back for a ceremony like the Polk Award or other forms of journalistic awards would be a really good symbolic test,” Greenwald said.

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The Washington Post Hires Two for Wonkblog (Politico / Dylan Byers on Media)
The Washington Post announced two new hires for Wonkblog on Wednesday: Emily Badger from The Atlantic Cities blog and Jason Millman from Politico Pro’s health care team. Badger and Millman join the blog in the wake of Ezra Klein’s departure to Vox Media, where he will create an independent news site. Capital New York Earlier Wednesday morning, the Post announced that it had hired Katie Zezima away from the Associated Press, where she had been covering Chris Christie and Cory Booker, to cover the White House with a focus on breaking news for the digital side. FishbowlDC Zezima has also spent several years working for The New York Times in Boston, and was a 2011-2012 Knight-Wallace fellow at the University of Michigan.

Jury Told to Find Rebekah Brooks Not Guilty on One Charge in Hacking Trial (The Guardian)
The jury in the phone-hacking trial has been directed to find Rebekah Brooks “not guilty” in relation to a charge that she unlawfully authorized payment to a public official for a photograph of Prince William in fancy dress. It was ordered to do so by Mr. Justice Saunders just before Brooks opened her defense on Thursday morning at the Old Bailey phone hacking trial. He told jurors there was “no case to answer” in relation to count four, one of the five counts against Brooks.

James Patterson Giving Cash to Bookstores (NYT)
Independent bookstores, with their paper-thin profit margins and competition from Amazon, have found themselves a Daddy Warbucks. The best-selling author James Patterson has started a program to give away $1 million of his personal fortune to dozens of bookstores, allowing them to invest in improvements, dole out bonuses to employees and expand literacy outreach programs. More than 50 stores across the country will begin receiving cash grants this week, from Percy’s Burrow in Topsham, Me., to Page & Palette in Fairhope, Ala., to A Whale of A Tale in Irvine, Calif.

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Women Still Underrepresented in U.S. Media (CJR / The Kicker)
American media is nowhere near achieving gender parity when it comes to who gets hired. According to the Women’s Media Center’s 2014 Status of Women in U.S. Media report, released on Wednesday, sports journalism remains one of the biggest offenders, as a white, male-dominated field, though the bigger picture isn’t much brighter, with the percentage of women of color dropping in newspaper and magazine newsrooms overall. This year’s Status of Women report is the third annual one released by the WMC. FishbowlNY The Center’s latest report showed that the percentage of women on newsroom staffs was a dismal 36 percent, where it has been since 1999. Also, among America’s “three most prestigious newspapers and four newspaper syndicates,” male op-ed writers outnumber women four to one.

Utah Federal Judge Halts Aereo in Salt Lake City, Denver (Variety)
A federal judge in Utah has imposed a preliminary injunction on Aereo’s operations, a win for broadcasters as they seek to halt the startup streaming service in Salt Lake City and Denver. “Based on the plain language of the 1976 Copyright Act and the clear intent of Congress, this court concludes that Aereo is engaging in copyright infringement of Plaintiffs’ programs,” wrote U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball in a ruling issued on Wednesday.

CNN International Reporter Held at Gunpoint in Venezuela (TVNewser)
As protests escalate in Venezuela, CNN reporter Karl Penhaul was held up at gunpoint by a motorcycle gang believed to be plain-clothed police. Penhaul and his crew were in the middle of pro-government and anti-government altercation Monday night when a group of armed men riding motorcycles ran into the anti-government protestors, next coming at Penhaul and his crew. “The next thing I knew, I was staring down the barrel of a chrome-plated 9-mm. pistol,” Penhaul said, with the thugs then robbing him and his crew of camera and transmission gear.

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