The Washington Post
The Post announced on October 10 that it would slash 240 jobs, nearly 10% of its total workforce. Interim CEO Patty Stonesifer cited “overly optimistic” projections for traffic, subscriptions and ad growth. All of those, especially digital ad revenue, are industry-wide concerns. Another broad issue facing news outlets is the audience erosion that followed Donald Trump’s White House exit. But there are more WaPo-centric problems, including complaints of a stifling newsroom culture under recently departed CEO Fred Ryan, that continue to spell trouble, and generate gossip (officially denied) about a potential sale by Jeff Bezos.
With great audience reach comes fierce scrutiny, and TikTok has found itself at the center of it over AI-generated deep fakes, specifically those which rely on eerily accurate voice reproductions. This will be a major point of concern regarding AI technology, and not just for politicians, but also average citizens vulnerable to increasingly sophisticated scams.
The BBC’s refusal to label Hamas a terrorist group in its on-air coverage of the Israel-Palestine War drew criticism from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and culture secretary Lucy Frazer, among others. The controversy worsened angst within the venerable organization’s news services division, which will soon face budget cuts as more money goes to digital and streaming services.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, in nearly four hours of congressional testimony, described the ubiquity of Google’s power in the online search sphere in stark terms, saying the internet was really the “Google web” and conceding that even the $2.4 trillion behemoth he heads simply could not compete. Nadella is, to this point, the government’s star witness in the marquee monopoly trial, the first of the modern internet era. No matter what role the longstanding rivalry between the two Big Tech giants played in his testimony, Nadella’s statements should prove hugely consequential in a case that could augers Washington’s ability to regulate Silicon Valley.
In other Microsoft news, the company closed its $69 billion takeover of the video game maker Activision after a bruising 18-month battle with an international array of regulators. A win for the company as it seeks growth in the booming gaming sector, but a loss for government curbs on the tech oligopoly.
Monday, October 9 marked the end of an era for Canadian radio when CBC Radio One played the long dash time signal at 1 pm for the last time.
The time beep, which for over 80 years united Canadian radio listeners across the vast country, and kept the nation’s shipping and railroad networks synchronized in the pre-digital age, delighted many—CBC’s report mentions homesick Canadians abroad who’d stay up past midnight just to hear a reminder of home—as it occasionally annoyed a few. (I had a beep inserted into WNET’s schedule, to the chagrin of cultured New Yorkers watching the symphony and opera live.)
The time signal is admittedly less necessary now that smart phones and watches keep us within easy reach of perfect timing. Still, the loss of the CBC Radio beep is another poignant reminder of a vanishing analog era, and of endangered communal experiences.
The music streamer, where growth had until recently stalled, continued its comeback effort with an expansion into the fast-growing audiobook market. Paid subscribers in Britain and Australia now have access to 15 hours of audiobook content per month. US users will get access this winter. Let’s see if Spotify can make Amazon’s sector-leading Audible platform nervous.
Nearly 99% of 8,500+ Writers Guild of America voting members moved to ratify the union’s new contract with Hollywood studios, bringing an end to a five-month conflict that exposed serious turmoil and anxiety in the movie industry over matters ranging from AI to residuals. Unfortunately, backlots won’t be back up and running any time soon as talks collapsed between striking actors and studio execs.
The German broadcaster upset many within its ranks by strengthening its ties to MediaForEurope, the media group founded by the late Silvio Berlusconi and now headed by his son. MFE has been seeking pan-European collaboration for ages, but insiders at the beleaguered ProSieben wonder how the new alignment will benefit an organization with a tight focus on German and Austrian news.
In good news for movie theaters, pop megastar Taylor Swift’s “The Eras Tours” concert film delivered the biggest box opening since “Barbie.” Although it raked in slightly less than analysts had predicted, the strong showing offered theaters a lifeline amid the ongoing production stoppage. Expect a number of concert movies to fill theaters in the coming months as so much traditional fare remains on hold.