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Government says Sotloff video is real

mediawiremorningGood morning. Here are 10 media stories.

  1. Steven Sotloff video is real: National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden says a video showing the journalist’s execution by Islamic State “is authentic.” (AP) | Sotloff “began many of his articles with personal anecdotes and sprinkled his reporting with mundane details like the precise price of bread, reminding readers that faceless forces like Syria’s civil war and Egypt’s military coup were fundamentally altering the lives of real people, in divergent but no less devastating ways.” (The Atlantic) | President Obama: “His killers try to claim that they defend the oppressed but it was Steven who traveled across the Middle East risking his life to tell the story of Muslim men and women demanding justice and dignity.” (Politico) | Time Editor Nancy Gibbs: Sotloff “gave his life so readers would have access to information from some of the most dangerous places in the world.” (Time) | “It appears from chatter on ISIS forums that the initial video release was an unintentional leak from within ISIS circles” (Vocativ)
  2. Fred Ryan meets Washington Post newsroom: The news organization’s new publisher declined to say how he got the job, said “a key for Wapo is winning the morning.” (@erikwemple) | Washington Post reporters figure out how he got the job: He told Jean Case he was interested, and she introduced him to Post owner Jeff Bezos. (WP) | Ryan “likewise preferred to remain vague about his vision for the Post, saying it was too early to get into strategy specifics.” (Capital)
  3. News orgs ask oversight board to investigate effects of government surveillance: Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, 24 signatory news organizations “have asked the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) to investigate whether journalists’ confidential sources and other newsgathering is being compromised by widespread national security surveillance programs.” (RCFP)
  4. AOL content shakeup: Susan Lyne steps down from running brand group. Luke Beatty will “get the tech, automobile and entertainment brands,” Kara Swisher reports, and Maureen Sullivan will continue to run “AOL.com and the various lifestyle and money content brands.” Also: “no shockeroo, Arianna is still in charge of Arianna.” (Re/code) | “When I asked if the brand group is being scaled back as AOL invests more on the ad-tech side of the business, another AOL spokesperson on the call jumped in, saying that even though AOL has shut down some existing sites (and it spun out hyperlocal news effort Patch), it’s investing more in its existing brands.” (TechCrunch)
  5. Florida International University credentials Miami Herald reporter after all: David J. Neal “attended Saturday’s 14-12 loss to Bethune-Cookman with a ticket and sat in the stands, but did not write a game story or post-game blog, as he would have were he credentialed.” (Miami Herald) | “What good is a football team nobody covers? Chances are, FIU didn’t want to find out.” (Deadspin)
  6. Boston Globe launches site covering Catholicism: “The problem with the Vatican as a beat is it’s too far away, too weird, and utterly unlike any institution people cover,” John Allen says. “It’s hard to penetrate and it’s expensive to have someone who has the luxury to focus full time on that beat.” (Nieman)
  7. Dept. of Irony: Study about how misinformation spreads becomes the star of a poorly informed story. (CJR) | Related: The Huffington Post is running a multipart series on V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai, who claims to have invented email. “Huffington Post is either not disclosing a paid-for series of posts (which would be a massive ethical breach) or they’ve been taken for a ride.” (Techdirt)
  8. New York’s shield law protects another journalist: Wall Street Journal reporter Gregory Zuckerman won’t have to deliver his notes to Sue Ann Hamm, who is divorcing Harold Hamm. (Village Voice) | The Hamm divorce “appears it will be the most expensive divorce in history.” (CNN)
  9. Newspaper front of the day, selected by Kristen Hare: The South Florida Sun-Sentinel fronts the murder of Steven Sotloff, who was from Pinecrest, Florida. (Courtesy the Newseum)

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  10. Job moves, edited by Benjamin Mullin: Fred Ryan has been named publisher of The Washington Post. Previously, he was president of Allbritton Communications Company. (Poynter) | John Reiss is now executive producer of “Meet the Press.” Previously, he was executive producer for “Hardball with Chris Matthews.” (TV Newser) | Emily Bazelon will be a staff writer for The New York Times Magazine. Previously, she was a senior editor for Slate. (New York Times) | David Weigel is joining Bloomberg Politics. Previously, he was a political reporter for Slate. (Slate) | Chuck Culpepper will be a college football reporter for The Washington Post. Previously, he was a staff writer for Sports on Earth. (The Washington Post) | Susan Lyne will join AOL’s venture division to run the Build Fund. Previously, she was CEO of AOL’s brand group (Recode) | Craig Silverman will be a fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University. He is an adjunct faculty member for Poynter. (Poynter) | Zach Wolf is now managing editor for digital at CNN Politics. Previously, he was managing editor for news at Politico. (Fishbowl DC) | Job of the day: Women’s Wear Daily is looking for a copy editor. Get your résumés in! (Journalism Jobs) | Send Ben your job moves: bmullin@poynter.org.

Suggestions? Criticisms? Would like me to send you this roundup each morning? Please email me: abeaujon@poynter.org. Read more

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Career Beat: Vox Media gets new marketing vice president

Good morning! Here are some career updates from the journalism community:

  • Jonathan Hunt will be global vice president for marketing and partnerships at Vox Media. Previously, he was global marketing director at Vice. (Adweek)
  • Kimberly Pierceall is now a gambling industry reporter for the Associated Press. Previously, she covered Irvine, California for the Orange County Register. (AP)
  • Ellen Crooke is now vice president of news for Gannett Broadcasting. Previously, she was news director for WXIA in Atlanta, Georgia. (Gannett)
  • Robert Christie is now vice president of international media for Alibaba Group. Previously, he was senior vice president of corporate communications for The New York Times Company. (Capital)
  • Kim Segal will be an attorney for Broward County. Previously, she was a supervising producer at CNN. (Romenesko)
  • Brian Balthazar will be co-executive producer at “The View.” He was head of programming at AOL. (TV Newser)

Job of the day: The AP is looking for a breaking news journalist in San Francisco. Get your résumés in! (Journalism Jobs)

Send Ben your job moves: bmullin@poynter.org Read more

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How AOL maintains editorial independence in Ford-sponsored ‘This Built America’ series

When an AOL team with an editorial vision joined a video production team with an artistic vision to launch an ambitious 50-week series about people and companies rebuilding America, it was clear they needed a brand to help fund it.

They found a top-dollar one in Ford Trucks.

But despite the sponsorship (worth just under $10 million, Ad Age reports), “This Built America” is journalism through and through, said AOL’s Fara Warner, the project’s editorial director. Read more

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Tim Armstrong: AOL will keep ‘meaningful minority interest’ in Patch

AOL | Business Insider

AOL announced Wednesday that it has given up its majority ownership of Patch. In an email to staffers, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong said the new majority owner, a company called Hale Global, will be responsible for Patch’s “pivot.”

That means the network of sites “isn’t AOL CEO Tim Armstrong’s problem anymore,” Nicholas Carlson writes.

Patch employees will have a call this afternoon to discuss what this all means. In an email to Patch folks, Patch CEO Bud Rosenthal said anyone who has questions should “please feel free to speak to your HR representative anytime.”
Full memo: Read more

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David Carr reported Sunday in The New York Times on the future of Patch and the vision that’s kept it alive so far. In a phone interview with Carr, Tim Armstrong, AOL’s CEO, continued defending the project he first envisioned.

At the end of the day, could Patch have been run better? We don’t know,” he said. “We were doing this while we navigated turning around the rest of the company. Patch was one of the big bets that we made, among others, and I still believe local will be a big opportunity whether it is Patch or someone else.”

David Carr

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Ad revenue rises at AOL, but Patch weighs on results

Reuters | Forbes

AOL announced its third quarter earnings Tuesday. Ad revenue grew at the company, but expenses related to Patch weighed on results.

Ad revenue grew 14 percent over the third quarter of 2012 and, as Reuters reports, “the digital media and entertainment company said on Tuesday it took a pre-tax restructuring charge of $19 million and an impairment charge of $25 million, both related to Patch, sending operating income down 61 percent to $16.7 million.”

“AOL’s Q3 results are another step forward in our long-term plan,” Tim Armstrong, AOL Chairman and CEO, said in a news release. “The Q3 results highlight the strength of AOL’s strategy and the consistent execution of our team in delivering great consumer experiences and successful customer results.”

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Layoffs hit Patch

AOL CEO Tim Armstrong told Patch employees in a conference call Friday the widely reported layoffs at the site will occur today. 60 percent of Patch sites had “real traction,” he said, 20 percent had “significant traction” and another 20 percent would be sold or consolidated. Armstrong said he’d had meetings with major media companies about the Patch sites. Employees were told to await an email, apparently with details about another conference call.

I’ve also heard that some Patchers were fired in a separate phone call at 11 a.m. and told their last paycheck would be Aug. 23. Darrell Etherington says he’s confirmed that with another source. Several people who are staying have told me Patch bigs told them they were on the “go forward team.”

Peter Kafka’s sources say “AOL will immediately let go of about 350 Patch employees.

Up to 150 more will be told their jobs are in limbo while AOL tries to find other media companies to operate some underperforming Patch sites. If it can’t find partners, those employees will also be out of work.

I’ve asked Patch for comment. Read more

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Tim Armstrong apologizes for publicly firing Abel Lenz

“I acted too quickly and I learned a tremendous lesson and I wanted you to hear that directly from me,” AOL’s CEO Tim Armstrong writes in a note to staffers. He says he apologized to Lenz, who he says he’d spoken to previously about not recording confidential meetings.

The email’s subject line is “Accountability starts with me.”

Jim Romenesko published audio of the call on Saturday. Read more

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No layoffs at Patch today

AOL CEO Tim Armstrong told Patch editors Friday there would be no “impacts,” or layoffs announced today. The “impacts” will arrive on a rolling basis over the next week, he said.

Armstrong said in an earnings call earlier this week that AOL would sell or close as many as 300 underperforming Patch sites.

In the call Friday, Armstrong said Patch would spend the next week looking at options for 400 of the local news initiative’s 900 sites. They’ll fold or Patch will find partners to run them. “We’re going to become a fast-moving company and fast-moving partner company,” Armstrong said.

Nicholas Carlson reported Thursday that AOL wouldn’t address a rumor that Patch CEO Steve Kalin and Chief Content Officer Rachel Feddersen were leaving the company. TechCrunch’s Darrell Etherington is reporting that Armstrong “will be running the show along with new CEO Bud Rosenthal.” Read more

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AOL will close or sell unprofitable Patch sites

Forbes | Street Fight

In AOL’s earnings call, CEO Tim Armstrong talked about Patch, revealing “how he plans to keep his promise to make the network of local news websites profitable by the end of 2013: by closing, selling or finding partners for the 300 or so Patch sites that, in the company’s estimation, aren’t on a course to break even anytime soon,” Jeff Bercovici reports.

Newspaper sites may be potential suitors, Armstrong said in Bercovici’s account.

Armstrong didn’t say exactly what Patch’s revenues or costs would look like after disposing of the bottom third, but, in response to an analyst’s question, he did say that the average cost of a Patch site is “much, much lower” than the $150,000 it peaked at two years ago.

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