Andrew Sullivan exits the Beast; a kidnapping in Syria; CNBC silent on ‘fiscal cliff’ brown-out

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James Foley in Aleppo, in August. (Nicole Tung)
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The Lineup collects the media stories, big and small, that are on our radar each day.

MISSING IN SYRIA

The name James Foley may sound familiar to readers who recall the 39-year-old freelance journalist's dramatic capture and near-death experience while covering the conflict in Libya in the spring of 2011.

And so today's news that Foley was recently kidnapped in Syria is especially troubling. He was actually kidnapped Nov. 22, according to Agence France Press, for which Foley was on assignment. But his family had, like others before, asked reporters not to break the news in case it jeopardized potential negotiations with Foley's captors. The family has reversed its strategy now, which is possibly not a good sign. 

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From the AFP story:

Foley who last supplied AFP with video material the day before he disappeared, was picked up in the town of Taftanaz by four men who later released his driver and translator, the witnesses said.

The reporter was travelling with another journalist who has also been reported missing, but whose family has requested that he not be identified.

No group has claimed responsibility for the abductions, in a country which has been racked by bitter civil war since the start of an uprising by rebels opposing President Bashar al-Assad's regime nearly two years ago.

Foley's family, which had earlier asked media groups not to report the abduction in the hope that a low profile would assist in efforts to free him, broke their silence Wednesday to reveal his plight.

Syria proved to be the most dangerous assignment for war reporters in 2012, accounting for 28 of the 67 journalist deaths worldwide that were recorded last year, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

You can read AFP's full statement about Foley's capture below.

FIRST IN BUSINESS WORLDWIDE?

Last night, as the House of Representatives was voting on the overly-dramatized fiscal cliff deal, all but one of the cable news networks went live to cover the story.

CNBC U.S., the most-watched of the three business news networks, stayed in tape with an episode of "American Greed," even as its international sister channel, CNBC World, and its lower-rated rivals, Fox Business Network and Bloombeg TV, were doing wall-to-wall fiscal cliff coverage.

"Once again this network re-enforces [sic] the theory that it just can’t get it going for breaking news on a weekend or a holiday," wrote the anonymous blogger at Inside Cable News.

Did CNBC think the House vote wasn't news? It was widely expected to play out as it did and it made for somewhat slow-moving television, after all, and most of the world's markets were closed. But it was also surely the biggest finance story of the moment.

We asked a spokesperson for the network, who declined to comment.

ANDREW SULLIVAN LEAVES THE BEAST

In a post on The Dish today, Andrew Sullivan announced that he and his team are not renewing their contract with The Daily Beast. Instead, Sullivan writes, they're going out on their own, on a paid subscription, advertising-free model that'll be found at andrewsullivan.com.

Tina Brown and IAC chairman Barry Diller, according to Sullivan, supported the move; metering starts Feb. 1. From the post:

Hence the purest, simplest model for online journalism: you, us, and a meter. Period. No corporate ownership, no advertising demands, no pressure for pageviews ... just a concept designed to make your reading experience as good as possible, and to lead us not into temptation.
So for the next month, we're going to offer you advance membership of the Dish for $19.99 a year, which translates to $1.67 a month, which is around a nickel a day. The meter won't start until February, and the price won't change then, but by pre-subscribing, you give us a crucial financial bridge to get to independence - and you'll never notice a thing when the transition happens.

In other news...

It was a long day for the other cable networks covering the fiscal cliff deal. [TV Newser]

Hearst magazines have nearly 800,000 U.S. digital subscribers, according to C.E.O. David Carey. [paidContent]

The Journal News is in a "new legal standoff" over its publication of New York gun owners' addresses. [Politico/On Media]

Ann Curry is reportedly trying to get out of her NBC contract to jump ship to CNN. [Radar Online]

Michael Hastings has an e-book coming out about the 2012 campaigns. [NYT/Arts Beat]

How The New York Times made "Snow Fall." [Source]

A paparazzo was killed while trying to get photos of a car he believed was carrying Justin Bieber. [TMZ]

Quotes of the day...

One of the great sports of the New Year is going to be watching Rupert Murdoch de-hitch his newspapers from his entertainment companies. Seldom, in a business context, has a man of such stature and accomplishment and at so advanced an age been asked not just to reinvent himself, but to prove himself all over again.

Michael Wolff

The extent to which we train a generation of young writers to become robotic insta-memoirists is the extent to which a generation of stories from the wider world does not get told. The real tragedy of journalism-as-narcissism is not the general pettiness of the stories it produces; it is the other, better stories that never get produced as a result.

Hamilton Nolan

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Christiane Amanpour chats with Media Bistro about her first big break:

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Here's AFP's statement on James Foley's kidnapping in Syria:

Agence France-Presse (AFP) expresses its full solidarity and is liaising closely with the family and friends of freelance journalist James Foley, who was abducted six weeks ago in northern Syria after making a valuable contribution to coverage of the conflict in the region.

James Foley, a U.S. citizen, was abducted by armed men on November 22 in Taftanaz, a town in northern Syria. There has since been no claim for responsibility.

After respecting his family’s initial decision to remain silent about the abduction, AFP now fully supports its choice in making the news public and wholeheartedly calls for the journalist’s release. So far, no news of James has been received.

“We remain in constant contact with the journalist’s family and friends. In addition, we are multiplying contacts and taking every measure in our power to facilitate his release”, said AFP CEO Emmanuel Hoog.

“James is a professional journalist who has remained totally neutral in this conflict. His captors, whoever they may be, must release him immediately”, he added.

James Foley is familiar with war zones, and his work has considerably enriched coverage of the Syrian conflict provided by the AFP’s special correspondents and bureaux in the region. Since the end of March 2012, James Foley had provided AFP with around thirty video reports.

Newly-christened Wall Street Journal top editor Gerard Baker will be the guest of honor at this year's Deadline Club Awards:

The featured speaker at the 2013 Annual Awards Dinner will be Gerard Baker, the newly-appointed Editor-in-Chief of Dow Jones Newswires and Managing Editor of The Wall Street Journal, who stepped up into the top role at the Journal at the beginning of this year. He succeeded Robert Thomson, the guest speaker at our Annual Awards Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in 2010, who was recently named Chief Executive Officer of the newly-formed News Corporation after its spin off.

Baker is a veteran English newsman, with decades of experience at the BBC and on Fleet Street. Yet his career began in finance. After graduating with honors from Oxford in 1983, he served stints as an analyst at the Bank of England and an economist at Lloyds Bank. He shifted careers in 1988, becoming a BBC producer, and later, the broadcaster’s Economics Correspondent for TV and Radio.

From 1994 to 2004, Baker worked for the Financial Times, first as the correspondent to Tokyo, where he wrote about the country’s financial crisis, and then, from 1998 to 2002, as Washington Bureau Chief, leading a team of 10 correspondents and providing extensive reporting and analysis of the Federal Reserve. From 2002 to 2004, he was the FT’s Chief U.S. Commentator and an Associate Editor. He then became the U.S. Editor and an Assistant Editor of The Times of London, where he wrote news and commentary for Britain’s longest continuously published newspaper and oversaw U.S. coverage for the print and online editions. Since 2009, he has been the Deputy Editor-in-Chief of The Wall Street Journal, which is the largest U.S. newspaper. In his new role, Baker will oversee Dow Jones’ global news staff of 2,000 journalists in more than 80 bureaus worldwide.

Baker’s appearance at The Deadline Club Annual Awards Dinner in May will be one of his first opportunities to directly address hundreds of New York journalists and editors.