Morning Media Newsfeed: Mandela Dies | AOL Lays Off 20 | Rolling Stone Expands

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Nelson Mandela Dies at 95
Anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, the first black president of South Africa, has died at the age of 95. His death was announced by Jacob Zuma, the current president of South Africa. NBC News and CBS both produced special reports beginning at 4:45 p.m. ET, with Brian Williams anchoring on NBC and Scott Pelley anchoring on CBS. David Muir anchored a special report on ABC News at 4:46 p.m. ET. On the cable networks, CNN joined Zuma’s press conference at 4:44 p.m. ET. MSNBC began broadcasting NBC News’ special report at 4:45 p.m. ET, and Fox News joined Zuma’s press conference at 4:46 p.m. ET. Variety The news cablers went into wall-to-wall coverage mode. CNN bumped the planned premiere of its documentary An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story for a primetime block anchored by Anderson Cooper. CNN also has correspondent Robyn Curnow on the ground in Johannesburg. Poynter / MediaWire The Associated Press sent a “flash” alert to members Thursday about Mandela’s death. Such alerts are used “on the rare occasion when an APNewsAlert represents a transcendent development — one likely to be a top story of the year,” the AP Stylebook says. THR The death of Mandela dominated headlines on newspapers and newscasts around the globe Friday as the world mourned one of the history’s greatest freedom fighters and statesmen. UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon honored Mandela as a “giant for justice,” German chancellor Angela Merkel called him a “shining example,” while Indian media compared the late South African leader to Mahatma Gandhi. HuffPost Reporters swarmed Mandela’s home before Zuma’s announcement, according to ITV’s Rohit Kachroo. Lydia Polgreen, the New York Times‘ Johannesburg bureau chief, tweeted that “news broadcasters are deeply emotional, holding back tears as they speak about Mandela’s death.” National Journal The New Yorker, like the vast majority of global media outlets, was ready for Mandela’s death Thursday night. And they prepared a powerful cover tribute to the late South African president. The cover, which will appear next week, is titled “Madiba” and was drawn by Kadir Nelson. Nelson is also the author of a children’s book about Mandela. GalleyCat The activist and world leader was an inspired writer and the author of dozens of books.

Layoffs at AOL: 20 Slips, Mostly on Homepage Side (Capital New York)
Layoffs hit AOL this week, Capital has learned. The majority of impacted employees worked on the editorial side of the homepage, according to sources with knowledge of the cuts, who put the total number of pink slips around 20. The culling, one of numerous that have hit different areas of the Web portal in recent months, comes amid AOL’s hiring Wednesday of HGTV executive Brian Balthazar to oversee the content strategy for the homepage, and the recent appointment of longtime marketing executive Maureen Sullivan to manage FishbowlNY AOL, of course, doesn’t comment on dropping people because it’s not exactly a fun thing to talk about. Instead, it issued this statement to Capital: “We are working hard to make sure remains a valuable and meaningful product for its millions of daily viewers. It will continue to evolve in 2014 — showcasing stories from our brands and partners that inform people as their day unfolds.”

Rolling Stone Plans A Standalone Website to Cover Country Music (Ad Age / Media News)
Rolling Stone plans to introduce a new website called Rolling Stone Country in the second quarter of 2014. The new standalone site’s aim is to cover the country music scene in the same way Rolling Stone does rock and pop music, according to Gus Wenner, director of Rolling To that end, the magazine is opening an office in Nashville with 10 to 15 editorial staffers, said Wenner, whose father Jann is the co-founder of Rolling Stone and parent company Wenner Media. To coincide with the site’s introduction, the magazine is planning a country-themed print issue, a first for Rolling Stone.

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NBC Sports Radio Twitter Makes Tasteless Joke About Jameis Winston News (Sports Illustrated / Extra Mustard)
Informing its followers that police declined to charge Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, accused by a former student of rape last December, the (possibly now unemployed) person managing the NBC Sports Radio Twitter handle simply could not resist injecting a joke. PRNewser So the “joke,” if you could call it that, is that this QB pulled a “talk to the hand.” To their credit, the feed’s managers quickly deleted the tweet and responded: “We regret the poor choice of words and in no way meant to minimize the seriousness of the situation.”

Buy Tech Influence in NYC for Just $850 (ValleyWag)
For years, Ambiguous New York media person par excellence Rachel Sklar has maintained a private email list for her close friends. It’s a power cluster of well-connected-on-paper women in media, technology and the blurry outskirts of each, a ceaseless mill of congratulations and networking. Now, you can buy your way inside for just $850 every year.

Can Politico Take Manhattan? (Bloomberg Businessweek)
Since its launch in 2007, Politico, the D.C. upstart covering national politics in print and on the Web, has hosted presidential debates, won a Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning, established a distinctive, breathless style of breakneck political reporting, grown to a staff of almost 300, pioneered a genre of morning tipsheets, attracted millions of dollars from advertisers seeking influence on Capitol Hill and, in general, upended the Washington media market, entertaining, baffling, and enraging the other players along the way. It has also become the voice of and mirror to a certain class of reader—the self-styled influencers, decision-makers, fixers and emcees of a city that never tires of itself, and that takes its serious business very seriously. It’s a publication where “The strange thrill of covering Chris Christie” might be a hit with readers. Now, Politico is expanding beyond the Beltway, heading for a destination almost as obsessed with itself as Washington and with just as many self-appointed know-it-alls: New York. FishbowlNY It’s always an impressive sign when someone like VandeHei can rise through the ranks to a point where a former boss, Roll Call‘s Susan Glasser, is now an employee (Glasser is the editor of Politico’s print magazine). While it’s obviously too early to tell whether, in the words of semi-skeptic David Carr, the “incrementalism” that made Politico a must-read on D.C. BlackBerrys will transfer to the needs of iPhone-toting New Yorkers, one thing from Businessweek staff writer Felix Gilette’s article is clear. Allbritton has hired in VandeHei someone who is up for the challenge.

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People at CNBC Are Relieved That Maria Bartiromo Left (Business Insider)
The entire financial TV industry is in a state of flux. The Wall Street Journal recently reported on the dismal ratings at CNBC, Fox Business and Bloomberg. Bloomberg, meanwhile, is in the midst of some kind reassessment of its TV business, and there’s widespread apprehension there about what the next direction is for the network. And the big momentous event was the recent departure of Maria Bartiromo from CNBC to Fox Business. Bartiromo is the biggest star in financial TV history, and her leaving the biggest network to go to a much smaller rival is a major moment. So what’s the mood at CNBC following this departure?

A Settlement Between Fox News And A Former Top Executive? Perhaps (NYT)
The Fox News Channel has long been described as insular and buttoned up, a reputation that has been reaffirmed in recent days over the question of whether it has reached a settlement with Brian Lewis, the former longtime chief spokesman for and close adviser to Roger Ailes. Lewis, who was fired from the network last July, was the executive vice president who led the aggressive communications and public relations arm of Fox News. A former colleague and current worker at the channel — who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of being fired — revealed two weeks ago that Lewis had agreed to a deal that would pay him a sizable sum to remain quiet about whatever he knows about operations at the notoriously secretive company. The truth, as is often the case with issues involving Fox News, is difficult to verify.

Rachel Maddow: Newtown 911 Tapes Have ‘No News Value’ (TVNewser)
Rachel Maddow weighed in on the debate over airing audio of the 911 calls from the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on her MSNBC program. “There is no news value to the content of those tapes,” she said. “The actual audio is of no news value at all unless you want the thrill of hearing the sound of the actual individual gunshot that might have killed a 7 year old.” Maddow’s thoughts on the subject are consistent with the NBC News policy. The network has pledged not to air audio from the tapes on any of its broadcasts.

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More Revelations About The Time Inc. Spinoff (Fortune)
There are some dishes, like homemade beef stew, that get increasingly flavorful the more times you cook them. Some documents are like that, too — the more you look at them, the more interesting they get. The recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing by my current employer, Time Inc., is like that. Time Inc., like Time Warner Cable and AOL before it, is being spun out of its parent company, Time Warner, and is scheduled to become a separate, publicly-traded company sometime next year. The Nov. 22 filing is the beginning of the regulatory process to get that done. That’s presumably why Time Inc. filed a document before some key information was available. Among the most important missing pieces: how much debt Time Warner will get Time Inc. to take on.

Five Things Jessica Lessin Needs to Keep in Mind About Paywalls as She Launches The Information (GigaOM)
Former Wall Street Journal writer Jessica Lessin has launched a subscription-only news site called The Information, but there are a few things about hard paywalls that she should keep in mind.

On Smarm (Gawker)
Last month, Isaac Fitzgerald, the newly hired editor of BuzzFeed’s newly created books section, made a remarkable but not entirely surprising announcement: He was not interested in publishing negative book reviews. In place of “the scathing takedown rip,” Fitzgerald said, he desired to promote a positive community experience. A community, even one dedicated to positivity, needs an enemy to define itself against.

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Dallas Morning News‘ ‘Girl in The Closet’ Series Shows The Power of Hope (IVOH)
Dallas Morning News reporter Scott Farwell spent nine months playing laser tag, shooting hoops, and bowling with one of his sources. It was his attempt to make the interview process less painful for Lauren Kavanaugh — a 20-year-old girl whose mother and stepfather tortured, sexually abused, and starved her for six years. They locked her away in a closet, where she was held prisoner. At age 8 when she was rescued, she weighed no more than a 2-year-old. Farwell had tried reaching out to Kavanaugh for a year before she finally agreed to meet with him. But even then, when on the court or in the bowling alley, she was reluctant to talk to him about what happened. When he would ask her questions, she would typically say “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember.” Then one night, she called him.

Where in The World Is BuzzFeed? Building Foreign News Around Themes Rather Than Geography (Nieman Journalism Lab)
The past decade has mostly seen the retrenchment of American news organizations’ reporting staffs abroad. As BuzzFeed moves more into international news, it’s trying to mix up how its reporting resources are structured.

Financial Times Ready for Global Transformation Under Hughes (MediaWeek)
As the FT prepares to launch a single global edition, its deputy chief executive and global commercial chief tells Arif Durrani why the newspaper is as relevant as ever.

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