The embattled social media platform last week suspended the accounts of journalists from the Times, Post and CNN, among other outlets, who had been critical of owner Elon Musk. This came on the heels of similar actions against accounts tracking private jet flights by government agencies and billionaires, including Musk. Several recent reports of Twitter’s death have been greatly exaggerated, but the muzzling of journalists, who form one of the site’s most active and followed demographics, may just come to be seen as the decisive moment in the platform’s tumble into irrelevance.
Wall Street Journal ➡️
The naming of Emma Tucker as the Journal’s new top editor makes her the first woman to ever hold the position. That’s welcome news in itself, and her appointment could relieve the considerable tension between her predecessor, Matt Murray, and the paper’s publisher. Yet some in the newsroom are weary on account of Tucker’s close ties to News Corp, the WSJ’s Rupert Murdoch-owned parent company. They fear that, should a potential News Corp.-Fox Corporation merger go through, Tucker’s News Corp affiliations could hasten a rightward editorial tilt and narrow the gap between the Journal and Fox News.
Fox News ⬇
All Russia State Television and Radio Company (V.G.T.R.K) ⬇
Chinese state media ⬇
Thousands of leaked internal documents from Russia’s main state-controlled media apparatus showed producers insisting on airing footage from Fox News (and Tucker Carlson, in particular) and of CCP apparatchiks in order to sow disinformation about its invasion of Ukraine. It was a jolting reminder that in a globalized and digitally interconnected media ecosystem, social media platforms are far from the only actors in muddying the waters of international geopolitics.
Post publisher Fred Ryan last week announced layoffs that would amount to a single-digit percentage of staff, but be offset by hiring in other areas. That might count for good news these days. However, Ryan’s exiting the stage during a raucous town hall meeting without taking questions from increasingly disgruntled staffers was a galling example of poor leadership and extended a grim stretch of news for one of America’s most important publications.
National Association of Broadcasters ⬆
A big cheers for the NAB for encouraging readers to lobby congress for passage of the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act. The JCPA would give big and small news organizations alike more negotiating power with the social media giants who play an outsize role in distributing the content these outlets work so hard to produce. Jeers for Facebook, which has responded to the legislation and its potential to cut into earnings Facebook makes off other people’s journalism with a threat that news, and especially local news, would simply disappear if the bill becomes law.
New York Times ⬆
Fort Worth Star-Telegram ⬆
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ⬆
Over 1,000 Times journalists went on a 24-hour strike last week in the first walkout in 40 years at the Paper of Record. They were in solidarity with news staffers at the Post-Gazette and Star Telegram, many of whom have been on strike since October and November. Such actions should be seen as a last resort and are especially unnerving given today’s fragile media landscape. But they’re an encouraging sign of the recent labor organization by journalists across the country fighting for better work protections, benefits and salaries.
HBO Max ⬇
In yet more turbulence for the Warner Brothers Discovery merger, the company’s main streaming platform started removing dozens of films and series with little or no warning. That’s common practice at Netflix, but those removals are announced in advance and, unlike at HBO Max, rarely touch the streamer’s own IP. HBO Max had become a favorite of discerning viewers. As Vulture eloquently explained, the sloppy management of the platform until it’s likely replaced by a new one incorporating Discovery series has made it feel like less of a reliable home destination for movie buffs.
Canada’s Online Streaming Act ➡️
The proposed act, also known as Bill C-11, aims to ensure that a predetermined ratio of content streamed by Canadians would feature Canadian creators. It’s a well-intentioned proposal that mimics similar quotas for Canadian broadcasters. However, streaming experts fear that it could actually harm the creators it’s meant to benefit if platforms like TikTok rework algorithms to “downvote” the protected material and thereby promote the work of international stars. It’s a story we’ll be following in more detail soon.