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Comcast-owned NBC News boosts media coverage, competing with CNN, Fox

Bob Fernandez, Staff Writer

Updated: Tuesday, September 19, 2017, 3:47 PM

Claire Atkinson is the senior editor of the new team covering media for NBC News.

The New York Post’s Claire Atkinson — a fount of rumors and breaking news in the media industry for the Murdoch-owned tabloid — will head a new team covering the media industry for NBC News and cable network MSNBC, competing with Howard Kurtz’s “Media Buzz” on Fox and Brian Stelter’s “Reliable Sources” on CNN.

Atkinson’s first story was an “NBC News exclusive” on speculation that online retail giant Amazon is negotiating to acquire small cable networks, which would bring it into more direct competition with her new parent company, Philadelphia-based Comcast Corp.

Amazon already operates one of the nation’s largest streaming businesses with its Amazon Prime service. Analysts believe that Amazon Prime has 66 million subscribers who pay $99 a year for it.

Philadelphia is one of several cities that has said it will bid for Amazon’s second U.S. headquarters, a massive project that could bring 50,000 jobs, Amazon has said.

NBC News has not said how it will brand its muscled-up media coverage, but an announcement is expected soon. The expansion comes as media coverage — and cable news ratings — have exploded during the Trump presidency. Comcast acquired NBC News, along with its cable-news sister, MSNBC, in its deal for NBCUniversal in 2011. MSNBC is now often challenging Fox News for the most viewers.

Atkinson, a senior editor, is the only new hire for now but will be supported by other NBC News staffers and outside contributors. Among them will be Gabriel Sherman, now at Vanity Fair, who wrote a biography on Fox News head Roger Ailes titled The Loudest Voice in the Room, and Hollywood reporter James Rainey, an NBC News staffer who covered the entertainment industry for Variety and the Los Angeles Times.

Atkinson, a Brit who is a U.S. citizen, launched her career at Advertising Age and is the latest newspaper reporter to cross over into media coverage on cable television. Kurtz had been with the Washington Post and Stelter with the New York Times.

“Media is one of the biggest stories of 2017, cutting across the busy intersection of politics, techology, business and culture. From Silicon Valley to the White House to your smartphone, the landscape is changing dramatically,” wrote NBC News top brass — NBC News president Noah Oppenheimer, MSNBC president Phil Griffin and NBC News head of digital Nick Ascheim — in a memo late last week. “We see it every day. Competition for attention on screens is fierce.”

Bob Fernandez, Staff Writer

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