Morning Media Newsfeed: FBI Backs Agent, Fake AP Story | Reuters Ends Comments

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FBI Chief Backs Agent Who Posed as Reporter (Mashable)
An FBI agent tells an anonymous suspect online that he is a reporter with the Associated Press. He sends a link to a fake news story, and the suspect clicks. The trap is set, and a 15-year-old accused of making bomb threats is captured. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media Two weeks ago, The Seattle Times revealed that the FBI had written the fake Associated Press story and used a fake Seattle Times-like Web address in order to catch the suspect in the bomb threat. Kathy Best, the editor of the Times, said the newspaper was “outraged”; the AP and Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, wrote letters to attorney general Eric Holder expressing concern. NYT Then, James B. Comey, the director of the FBI, in a letter published Friday in The New York Times, defended the practice and said that an agent had impersonated an AP reporter in the email. The disclosure caused further outrage at the news organization. The Associated Press / The Big Story “That technique was proper and appropriate under Justice Department and FBI guidelines at the time. Today, the use of such an unusual technique would probably require higher-level approvals than in 2007, but it would still be lawful and, in a rare case, appropriate,” Comey wrote. Kathleen Carroll, executive editor of the AP, said the FBI’s actions were “unacceptable.” New York Daily News “No actual story was published, and no one except the suspect interacted with the undercover ‘AP’ employee or saw the fake draft story. Only the suspect was fooled, and it led to his arrest and the end of a frightening period for a high school,” Comey added. But the AP said the “unacceptable tactics undermine AP and the vital distinction between the government and the press.”

Reuters Kills Comment Sections (Reuters)
During the past few years, much has changed about how readers interact with news. They find coverage in diverse places and in new ways. They watch video, use graphics and calculators and relate to content far differently than in the past. Considering these dynamics, Reuters.com is ending user comments on news stories. SocialTimes Dan Colarusso, executive editor of Reuters Digital, links to the Reuters Facebook and Twitter handles for readers to discuss news there and explains that comments will remain open on opinion pieces so that columnists and readers can “exchange ideas on interesting and controversial topics.” But general discussion of the news is to be had elsewhere. Poynter / Top Stories Comments will still be allowed on opinion pieces and blog posts, the notice says. The Huffington Post announced last year it would end anonymous comments. Some sites have eliminated comments altogether: Popular Science doinked them last September, and the Chicago Sun-Times eliminated them this summer, saying they contributed to a “morass of negativity, racism, hate speech and general trollish behaviors that detract from the content.” The Drum Recently, Guardian chief executive Andrew Miller called on Google, Facebook and Twitter to take more editorial responsibility over what their platforms publish. Meanwhile in September, YouTube’s most followed account, PewDiePie, also ditched comments as he felt it was predominantly spam and self-promotional content.

Lionsgate Shares Jump Amid Talk of Alibaba Deal (THR)
As stock in Lionsgate soared in morning trading on Friday, top execs at the mini-studio did little to discount speculation a major stake could be sold to Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. Deadline Hollywood Lionsgate execs wouldn’t bite Friday when analysts invited them to address the most important question facing the independent studio: Whether there’s anything to the report that its largest investor, co-chairman Mark Rachesky, is considering selling his 37.4 percent stake to Alibaba. But they don’t seem to mind having a closer relationship with the Chinese e-retail colossus — its partner there in a new subscription streaming service, Lionsgate Entertainment World, which features Lionsgate’s movies and TV shows. Variety Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer was in Hong Kong recently to deliver an address at the CASBAA Convention 2014, an engagement that was scheduled six months ago. Alibaba is flush with cash following its $25 billion IPO and CEO Jack Ma met with Hollywood studio execs two weeks ago.