July’s Baker’s Dozen

A monthly roundup of media winners and losers.

Russian Press Freedoms 

A new report by Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto has found that Russian internet censorship has increased thirtyfold in the nearly 18 months since the invasion of Ukraine. Its analysis of hundreds of court orders by the Kremlin against the Vkontakte social media platform also found that the frequency of takedown mandates went from one every 50 days to nearly daily. That silencing joins propaganda campaigns and a beefed up surveillance system that’s only compounding vast human suffering. 


Netflix users did not take kindly to the streamer’s plans to crack down on password sharing and introduce tiered subscription packages, including a cheapie option with dreaded advertisements. Yet the 6 million jump in subscribers in Q2 assuaged fears of an exodus. Another bright spot: Netflix’s deep bench of foreign hits could help it better weather the storm of the dual actors’ and writers’ strikes bringing LA backlots to a standstill. 

Senate hearings on AI 

EU-US collaboration on tech regulation 

Hearings of the Senate subcommittee on intellectual property don’t often draw big, boisterous crowds. But the Post’s Cristiano Lima reports in an amusing piece that spectators are lining up outside the door for the panel’s meeting’s on AI policy. What’s more, the audiences are young, and bringing some of what passes for rock concert energy on the Capitol when it gets down to hashing out regulations for the technology du jour. 

That process could get a very welcome boost if moves by European AI regulators to get closer to their American counterparts come to fruition. 


Facebook’s answer to a Twitter in disarray has yet to figure out how to monitor often misleading content posted by accounts linked to the Russian and Chinese governments. Facebook and Instagram have long flagged such accounts, so the Threads delay is disconcerting as the site continues to be one of the fastest growing in history. 

The BBC 

The broadcaster central enough to British life to be called “Auntie” by generations of viewers has found a sense of permacrisis extended by headline-grabbing allegations (broken by the conservative Sun) that top presenter Huw Edwards paid a teenager for sexually explicit photos. Police quickly concluded that Edwards had not indulged in criminal behavior, and the BBC is being spare with details as it conducts an internal investigation into its delayed reaction to the initial report. Whatever the outcome of this latest scandal, reminiscent of the sordid downfall of BBC mainstay Jimmy Saville in 2012, it underscores the broadcaster’s increasingly fragile standing with viewers, and vulnerability to attack by the right. 

The Stanford Daily 

The Daily Northwestern 

The apocalyptic forecast for journalism–and dimming hope that young people might find their news somewhere other than TikTok–might lead you to believe that student newspapers are an endangered species. But reporting by college journalists spurred this month’s resignations of Stanford’s president, Marc Tessier-Lavigne, over shoddy research, and Northwestern’s head football coach, Pat Fitzgerald, for hazing that happened under his watch. Both show that even the youngest journalists can, and should, hold powerful institutions to account, no matter how closely bound to them they are. 


“Barbenheimer” briefly returned Hollywood to the red hot center of the pop culture zeitgeist, and resulted in the fourth biggest box office weekend ever. But showbiz elation is likely to be fleeting as talks between the studios and striking SAG and WGA members remain at an impasse, throwing into doubt the fall film festival, an important barometer of awards season buzz (and the cash it can generate) and imperiling the still-nascent comeback of theaters should new releases again dry up. 


Another head-scratching move by Elon Musk has shorn Twitter of its famous blue bird logo, a rather ominous X perched in its place. Is the rebrand an act of desperation to start fresh? Mere corporate mumbo jumbo? A purposeful step by Musk to turn Twitter into an all-encompassing mega platform akin to China’s WeChat? Time will tell, but for now the site remains bogged down in uncertainty. 

Bob Iger 

Despite superstar scabs including producer Ryan Murphy getting blowback, it’s Iger who’s thus far emerged as public enemy number no. 1 during strike season. The Disney chief’s dismissal of the picketers’ demands as “unrealistic” and “disturbing” engendered fierce backlash and mockery. Iger’s potential $27 million compensation this year makes him a somewhat lacking messenger of such sentiments. That he delivered them at a PJ-clogged billionaire summit in Sun Valley made matters worse. 


Iger was on a roll in Sun Valley, and his declaration that media conglomerates were no longer interested in propping up declining linear assets was applied by media commentators to Warner Bros. Discovery and CNN. The news network’s reputational value is still considerable, albeit battered, but that’s not enough to ward off chatter about David Zaslav possibly unloading it as early as next year as he, per the grapevine, pursues a merger with NBCUniversal and its own mighty news organization.