Morning Media Newsfeed: Nate Silver to Join ESPN | Helen Thomas Dies | Shuster to Al Jazeera?

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Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight Blog to Join ESPN Staff (NYT)
Nate Silver, the statistician who attained national fame for his accurate projections about the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, is parting ways with The New York Times and moving his FiveThirtyEight franchise to ESPN, the sports empire controlled by the Walt Disney Company, according to ESPN employees with direct knowledge of his plans. At ESPN, Silver is expected to have a wide-ranging portfolio. Along with his writing and number-crunching, he will most likely be a regular contributor to Olbermann, the late-night ESPN2 talk show hosted by Keith Olbermann that will have its debut at the end of August. In political years, he will also have a role at ABC News, which is owned by Disney. Politico / Playbook Early this year, the Times laid out a plan that would give Silver a staff of six to 12 bloggers to focus on a variety of topics, modeled on Ezra Klein’s Wonkblog at The Washington Post. The plan was so specific that it named Megan Liberman, an up-and-coming deputy news editor at The Times, as Silver’s editor. As recently as last month, some executives at the Times were confident Silver would stay, mainly because they had given him everything he had asked for. New Republic ESPN has been trying to land Silver for at least five years. Gary Belsky, a one-time editor-in-chief of ESPN The Magazine and now a content consultant and contributor to Time, told me Saturday the original effort had been spearheaded by Gary Hoenig, then the general manager of ESPN Publishing, and that the original plan had been for Silver to write for the magazine and ESPN Insider, a collection of paywall-protected premium content on the Web. Daily Beast One thing that is clear, however, is that Silver’s move marks a potentially big loss for the Times. “He was doing something that is fairly rare in journalism — he was doing the math. I say that not entirely jokingly. Journalists are notoriously bad at this,” says Dan Gillmor, a journalism professor at Arizona State University. “For people who care about this sort of thing, it was pretty delicious to watch someone doing the math and to see pundit after pundit make fools of themselves with their ‘intuition.’”

Helen Thomas Has Died (TVNewser)
Helen Thomas, who covered every president from Eisenhower to Obama, has died. Thomas, 92, was born in Kentucky to parents who were immigrants from Lebanon. Her first job in journalism was as a copygirl for the Washington Daily News. She joined United Press in 1943 where she would remain for 57 years. NYT Colleagues called her the unofficial dean of the White House press corps. Her blunt questions and sharp tone made her a familiar personality not only in the sometimes parochial universe inside the Beltway but also to nationwide television audiences. Forbes / Mixed Media She was famed in journalistic circles for her refusal to be awed by the power of the presidency, asking forthright — some would say rude — questions of the sort commanders of chief are seldom called upon to answer. Some of her questions seemed to come pre-loaded with judgment, like one that all but accused the second President Bush of having decided to go to war in Iraq even before taking office. That editorializing streak found more direct expression in the twilight of her career, when she took up writing opinion columns. Poynter / MediaWire Thomas had a front-row seat in the White House press room for years. In 2000, she wrote a book about her career, titled Front Row at the White House: My Life and Times. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media Thomas’ career in journalism ended abruptly in 2010 when controversial remarks she made about Israeli Jews to a rabbi were caught on camera. Thomas, a daughter of Lebanese immigrants, told the rabbi that Israel should “get the hell out of Palestine,” and that the Jewish people should go home to “Poland, Germany… and America and everywhere else.” USA Today / The Oval “Helen was a true pioneer, opening doors and breaking down barriers for generations of women in journalism,” President Obama said in a statement. The Washington Post / She The People Thomas had planted the “first woman” flag on just about everything she did. She was the breacher of barriers formal and informal: the first woman to cover the White House fulltime for a news service, the first woman to be elected an officer of the White House Correspondents Association (and later, its president), the first woman to be tapped for the all-male Gridiron Club (also for its presidency). What Thomas figured out early — and what she taught us — was that there was value in making powerful people uncomfortable. It was a sign we are doing our jobs right. Still, it is still something that women in particular struggle with.

David Shuster Joining Al Jazeera America: Source (HuffPost / The Backstory)
David Shuster, a veteran of MSNBC and Fox News, is joining Al Jazeera America as an anchor, according to a source familiar with the deal. Shuster is the latest high-profile journalist to land at Al Jazeera America, which is expected to launch Aug. 20. The Qatar-owned Al Jazeera Media Network is pouring resources into a United States-based cable news network that will replace Current TV. So far, Al Jazeera America has reportedly hired 689 staffers –- about 200 of whom are coming from Current — while still searching for a top news executive.

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Court Tells Reporter to Testify in Case of Leaked CIA Data (NYT)
In a major ruling on press freedoms, a divided federal appeals court on Friday ruled that James Risen, an author and a reporter for The New York Times, must testify in the criminal trial of a former Central Intelligence Agency official charged with providing him with classified information. In a 118-page set of opinions, two members of a three-judge panel for the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va., ruled that the First Amendment does not protect reporters who receive unauthorized leaks from being forced to testify against the people suspected of leaking to them.

Why The Boston Bomber Cover Controversy Helps Rolling Stone (TheWrap / MediaAlley)
Rolling Stone is riding an Internet backlash over a cover portrait of the accused Boston Marathon bomber all the way to the bank and proving the old adage that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Despite the furor, any hit to sales won’t last much longer than the next news cycle, experts and media analysts told TheWrap. In fact, it could help boost the profile of a magazine that has not been at the epicenter of public debate for some time. HuffPost Most Americans think Rolling Stone‘s “The Bomber” cover featuring accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is inappropriate, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll. By a 65 percent to 15 percent margin, respondents to the poll, who were shown the cover image before answering questions about it, said that the cover was inappropriate.

Regional Bias And How NPR Covers America (NPR / Ombudsman)
It is a persistent complaint among listeners: NPR has a regional bias, and it favors the East and West coasts. “It is past time that NPR relocated its headquarters away from Washington, D.C.,” admonished Gregory Elmes, a professor at West Virginia University, where he teaches geology and, fittingly, geography. “Somewhere like St. Louis, Mo. or Denver, Co. might provide your reporters, analysts and hosts with a wider perspective representative of a much broader sweep of the United States.”

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Discover’s New Look (CJR / The Observatory)
It’s been a tumultuous year for Discover magazine, after uprooting its offices from New York to Wisconsin, hiring an almost completely new staff, and, at the apex of the commotion, revamping its website. On Thursday the 33-year-old popular science magazine announced yet another big change: a complete redesign of the print magazine.

Brits Who Want Internet Porn Will Soon Have to Ask for It (NY Mag / Daily Intelligencer)
Drastic new anti-porn laws that UK Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to announce Monday will outlaw “extreme” varieties (such as scenes simulating rape), and make all content deemed “adult” subject to filters unless users specifically ask for it. Those likely to be celebrating: Adult magazine publishers and 24-hour porno shops, where people can still buy porn anonymously. Sometimes it pays to stay analog. paidContent Even without getting into slippery-slope arguments about censorship, proposals to force porn viewers to register with their Internet service providers fail miserably on a technical level.