Morning Media Newsfeed: MSNBC Fires Staffer | Executive Travel Folds | Zynga Lays Off 300

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MSNBC Fires Author of ‘Unacceptable’ Tweet, Phil Griffin Apologizes to RNC Chair (TVNewser)
Responding to RNC chair Reince Priebus‘ demand for an apology over an offensive tweet suggesting conservatives are against interracial marriage, MSNBC has fired the author of the tweet, and network president Phil Griffin has apologized to Priebus. Griffin’s apology comes after Priebus banned all RNC officials from appearing on MSNBC. THR / The Live Feed The full tweet, sent Wednesday at 8:06 p.m. from the MSNBC Twitter account, read: “Maybe the rightwing will hate it, but everyone else will go awww: the adorable new #Cheerios ad w/biracial family.” In an email to “interested parties,” RNC communications director Sean Spicer noted that Priebus and Griffin spoke by phone on Thursday. “We appreciate Griffin’s admission that their comment was demeaning and disgusting, and the chairman accepted his apology,” wrote Spicer, adding that the RNC “will aggressively monitor the network to see whether their pattern of unacceptable behavior actually changes.” Politico / Dylan Byers on Media Shortly before 11 p.m. ET Wednesday, MSNBC apologized for the tweet, which it called “offensive,” and announced that it would be deleting it. “Earlier, this account tweeted an offensive line about the new Cheerios ad. We deeply regret it. It does not reflect the position of msnbc,” the network wrote on Twitter. The Washington Post / Erik Wemple Note, too, the wording in the apology regarding the firing: “We have dismissed the person responsible for the tweet.” It doesn’t say that they’ve dismissed the person who wrote the tweet, merely the person “responsible” for it. As argued earlier on the Erik Wemple Blog, “responsibility” for that tweet could well encompass many different folks at the network.

Time Inc. Is Shutting Down Executive Travel Magazine (Skift)
Time Inc. will shut down Executive Travel magazine, which it acquired in October when it purchased American Express Publishing, Skift has learned. Time Inc. is the largest magazine publisher in the U.S. and is preparing to spin off from parent company Time Warner Inc. in the first quarter of 2014. FishbowlNY Executive Travel was founded in 2002 and published six times per year. The title was pretty much exactly what it sounds like — a magazine about traveling in luxury. The magazine was sent to American Express Platinum cardmembers, but the high class target audience didn’t translate to readership or ad sales. Executive Travel’s ad revenue declined by 20 percent last year; ad pages dropped by 12 percent.

Zynga Shuts Down Seattle Office Amid Company-Wide Layoffs (GeekWire)
Zynga announced Thursday that it is laying off 314 workers and it looks like the company is shutting down its Seattle office in the process. A company spokesperson wouldn’t offer any specific details past what Zynga’s press release noted, which was a 15 percent reduction in workforce that was a “global reduction impacting multiple locations.” However, a source told GeekWire that Zynga’s Seattle engineering outpost is closing, and a quick look at the social media stream indicates the same. The Seattle Times San Francisco-based Zynga opened its Pioneer Square office in 2011 with about 50 employees. Zynga has already made significant cuts to its workforce. It has about 2,100 employees, down from a peak of 3,300 in 2012. Seattle Post-Intelligencer / AP Zynga has been cutting jobs and posting losses as game players increasingly turn to smartphones and tablets. The company’s biggest hits, including FarmVille and Mafia Wars, have mostly been played on desktop and laptop computers. By buying NaturalMotion, it hopes to bolster its mobile games as its core business deteriorates., the maker of the popular Candy Crush Saga, has replaced Zynga as the No. 1 maker of games played on Facebook.

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CNN to Relaunch Inside Politics With John King (TVNewser)
CNN is bringing back Inside Politics with John King as anchor. The revamped show, which will feature a rotating panel of political reporters, will debut Sunday at 8:30 a.m. ET. Inside Politics ran for more than 20 years on CNN. It ended in 2005 when then-host Judy Woodruff decided not to renew her contract with the network. THR / The Live Feed King — who popularized the much-imitated election season “magic wall” — is no stranger to Sundays. He launched CNN’s Sunday public affairs program State of The Union before segueing to his own weeknight show, John King USA, which was canceled in 2012.

AP Writers Go on Byline Strike in Fight for ‘Fair Contract’ (HuffPost)
Associated Press writers are stepping up their fight for affordable health care benefits and fair contracts by omitting bylines from their articles Thursday. Members of the News Media Guild are taking action against the AP’s new health care proposals that the Guild says are largely unaffordable to most staffers.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal Decries CNN Coverage
(Politico / Dylan Byers on Media)
Republican Georgia governor Nathan Deal criticized CNN’s coverage of the storm that has paralyzed the Atlanta area, saying after a press conference Thursday he wouldn’t do an interview until the network apologized. When asked by CNN’s Martin Savidge if he’d do a one-on-one interview after the press conference, Deal said, “I don’t know, if they don’t treat me any better than they treated the mayor, I’m not so sure I will.”

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Tim Franklin Is Poynter’s New President (Poynter / MediaWire)
The Poynter Institute announced Thursday that its new president will be Tim Franklin, the Washington managing editor for Bloomberg News. Franklin was director of the National Sports Journalism Center at the Indiana University School of Journalism before that and has edited The Baltimore Sun, Orlando Sentinel and Indianapolis Star. “My professional passions are for journalism and education,” Franklin said in a phone interview Thursday. “This is the perfect fit for those two passions.” FishbowlNY Franklin is succeeding Karen Dunlap, who is retiring after 10 years with Poynter. Franklin will become just the fifth president of Poynter since it was founded in 1975.

Outside Magazine Gets Into The Travel Business (Folio:)
Mariah Media’s Outside magazine has launched a new division that will begin booking the kind of adventure travel it’s long been writing about. Called Outside GO, the group is planning about 25 trips per year with varying degrees of luxury, fitness and experiential elements. The group was formed through a partnership with adventure travel company Uncharted Outposts. The agency will continue through November this year due to committed travel bookings before fully merging under the Outside umbrella.

Hong Kong Paper Ousts Top Editor, Stirring Concern (NYT)
Hong Kong’s Ming Pao newspaper has long stood for sober independence in a media market that is both brashly commercial and buffeted by political winds from China, its reporters pursuing and often breaking stories that irk the territory’s overseers in Beijing. So when the paper’s chief editor, Kevin Lau Chun-to, told employees this month that he was being moved aside by its owners, the suspicion spread that he had been sacrificed to appease the Chinese government and its local loyalists. Shock rippled through the newsroom. Noisy protests broke out among residents who fear that Lau’s abrupt departure represents an alarming advance in the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to subdue the territory’s independent media.

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Is National Review Doomed? (The Week)
National Review, founded by William F. Buckley Jr. in 1955, has had an enormous impact on the nation’s politics. Its writers formulated the ideology that animated the quixotic Barry Goldwater campaign of 1964, and then Ronald Reagan’s successful run for the White House in 1980. In the years since, National Review has often worked to keep Republican presidents focused on implementing its vision of conservatism, while bucking up the conservative troops when the movement has found itself out of power. Today the magazine enjoys circulation roughly equivalent to that of The Nation, the American left’s leading journal of opinion, and more than twice that of William Kristol’s The Weekly Standard, its primary competition on the right. And now, National Review may be fighting for its life.

Time Warner Cable Subscriber Figures Called ‘Dismal’ (WSJ)
Time Warner Cable reported weaker fourth-quarter subscriber numbers and, under takeover pressure from Charter Communications, said it would sharply increase capital investment. NY Post Time Warner Cable CEO Rob Marcus may be the most optimistic boss in cable-land. Pursued by a takeover-hungry Charter Communications, Marcus on Thursday reported a stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter profit and projected one million new subscribers as part of a rosy three-year operating plan. The double-barrel upbeat forecast, which also included $3.7 billion in long-term investments, was aimed, in part, in getting Charter to up its $132.50 a share offer for TWC. It remains to be seen if Marcus’ forecast was justifiably rosy — or just seen through rose-colored glasses.

Fox News Repeats as Most/Least Trusted News Network (TVNewser)
For the third consecutive year, Fox News was found to be both the most trusted and least trusted news network, according to a new Public Policy Polling poll. The poll found 35 percent of Americans trust Fox News more than other TV outlets, with PBS (14 percent), ABC (11 percent), CNN (10 percent), CBS (9 percent), MSNBC and Comedy Central tying at 6 percent, and NBC (3 percent) rounding out the list. The poll suggested Fox’s wide margin as most trusted is in large part due to overwhelming Republican viewership, with 69 percent of Republicans citing it as their most trusted news network.

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U.S. Newspapers Fall Out Over ‘Dead Peasant’ Insurance (The Guardian / Greenslade Blog)
Two weeks ago, the publisher of two Californian newspapers — the Orange County Register and Riverside Press-Enterprise — laid off 39 employees, including eight full-time newsroom staff and four part-time sub-editors and designers. It was part of a restructuring program by Freedom Communications, following 42 redundancies in December, as it seeks to centralize Press-Enterprise production at the Register‘s offices. Then Freedom followed up that bad news by sending an email to the staff who remain, informing them that the company wishes to buy life insurance for them. But the beneficiaries of the million-dollar-plus policies will not be the employees or their families, but the company’s pension scheme.

The Trust-Fund Newspaper (CJR / The Audit)
The Guardian, which until not that long ago was respected but little-read outside the U.K., is now in the front ranks of English-language newspapers and one of the most important and influential journalistic organizations in the world. Led by its seminal editor, Alan Rusbridger, the paper broke the Murdoch hacking scandal, led the Snowden revelations last year, and played a prominent role in the Wikileaks wave of 2010, among other blockbusters. Despite its journalistic excellence, and also because of it — the paradox of modern reporting-heavy media — The Guardian has lost hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Fortunately The Guardian is a trust-fund kid, subsidized by earnings from the Scott Trust’s investments, which more than offset the news division’s $51 million loss last fiscal year and has kept it afloat during the newspaper collapse.

The Secret to Having A Successful Paywall Around Your News Is Simple — It’s About Community (GigaOM)
Everyone likes to point to The New York Times as the model for a news outlet with a successful paywall or online-subscription model, but as the authors of Columbia University’s report on “post-industrial journalism” noted last year, there is only one New York Times — just as there is only one Wall Street Journal. The only real lesson that these publishers have to teach other news outlets when it comes to paywalls is: “Too bad you aren’t The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal.”

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