A monthly roundup of media winners and losers.
The Times’ recent profile of Timchenko, the editor of Russian alternative news site Meduza, made even clearer the staggering accomplishments of a woman the Committee to Protect Journalists last year awarded the Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award. Timchenko’s tenacity in evading Vladimir Putin’s censorship apparatus, even after being labeled a “foreign agent,” involved a combination of foresight and adaptability that had Meduza ready to publish across 8 platforms, from TikTok to newsletters to Youtube, upon the launch of the Russian invasion. The story is a welcome reminder that journalism can find ways to endure even under the harshest circumstances.
The news organization announced layoffs totaling 10% of its 1,100-person staff, becoming the latest major outlet to shed workers in the face of a persistently gloomy global economy.
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)
Bill C-11, which would ensure that a set ratio of content streamed by Canadians would feature Canadian creators, came one step closer to passage this week. The legislation is well-intentioned and rooted in the desire of the 1968 Broadcast Act to strengthen Canada’s cultural tapestry. Yet it’s causing considerable consternation among TV viewers fearing subscription spikes to cover the cost of compliance and social media producers worried that algorithms would downvote their material on the grounds that it’s unfairly protected.
Elon Musk’s impulsive moves at Twitter have faded from the headlines, but the site is a mess of glitches, bugs and outages: there were four widespread outages just last month, compared to nine in all of 2022, per NetBlocks. The likely culprit is Musk’s continued layoffs (there are now 2,000 employees compared to 7,500 when he took over in November), including those of dozens of engineers meant to keep it running.
Text messages between Carlson and colleagues Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham released this week show Fox News’s biggest star privately calling election fraud claims “shockingly reckless” and “absurd” in the aftermath of the 2020 vote. He would go on to become among the most strident and influential media figures in perpetuating the lie and provoking the January 6 insurrection.
The texts were the latest embarrassing pieces of evidence that prominent Fox News anchors deliberately lied to viewers about the election. Whether or not they’re capable of embarrassment remains unproven, but at least the revelations resulted in a rare personal rebuke by the White House, which labeled Carlson “not credible.” We’ll see what other court filings emerge from Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion defamation suit against Fox. I can’t say I imagine them changing the content and tenor of the network, but it will hopefully cost them some viewers at the very least. Perhaps Donald Trump (Carlson: “I hate him passionately”) will be among them?
Although civil unrest in the wake of Mahsa Amini’s death has subsided, Iranian officials continue to crack down on journalists. A recent target was the reformist Sazandegi newspaper. Its “crime”? Reporting on rising meat prices. With the government nervous that economic hardships could trigger more demonstrations, Iranian media has reason to fear reporting on some of the most basic and tangible daily realities.
The beleaguered Vice named two new chief executives, Bruce Dixon and Hozefa Lokhandwala, as it limps toward a sale. But despite their predictable assurances to employees that the former wunderkind was prepared to meet a “pivotal time for our industry,” it remains clear that Vice should have put itself on the market when the going was better for digital media, which lost another pioneer, Gawker, last month for the second time…
…meanwhile, a legacy media publisher reported good, though hardly spectacular news in the form of 1% revenue growth last year, to just under $2 billion, with CEO Roger Lynch saying the steady cash flow would go toward growth areas like video.
Tax police recently raided two BBC offices in India after the broadcaster aired a documentary critical of Prime Minister Modi’s handling of a deadly 2002 clash between Hindus and Muslims in Gujarat. As the FT reported, such scare tactics have become depressingly common of late, as religious tensions and other problems roil the country of 1.4 billion. India is far from alone, with 85% of the world’s population having experienced a decline in press freedom in their country between 2016 and 2021, according to a UNESCO survey.