MRC Weekly Digest – 21st May 2021
By Media Reform Coalition / Friday May 21, 2021
Hi everyone, Eliz Mizon here with the Media Reform Coalition blog every Friday.
For even more media news and analysis, plus the latest campaigns, content, and UK media jobs, follow me at Chompsky: Power and Pop Culture.
For now, here’s your media news digest!
Who Owns the Media?
Today’s headline post at Chompsky is ‘Who Owns The US and UK Media?’
Off the back of the release of the US Media Index, a map of America’s 3000+ newsrooms by Harvard researchers, and the third iteration of the Media Reform Coalition’s Who Owns The UK Media? report, I thought I’d put together an introductory piece to highlight the great work that these media campaigners have been doing. Get to know who owns what!
Our event on ‘Protest, Dissent and the Media’ last Friday was really brilliant – if you missed it live you can watch it back on the MRC Youtube channel, along with all the others in these series.
We have more events planned in June focusing on public media in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Details will be announced soon on the MRC social media and in this newsletter!
And remember, you can contribute to our Manifesto for a People’s Media on the BBC and Beyond website.
This Week’s Media News
- Home secretary Priti Patel has blocked a report from the independent panel investigation into the murder of private detective Daniel Morgan in 1987 until it can be ‘reviewed’ by the Home Office. Morgan is believed to have been murdered due to information he had about police corruption. The panel has said this is “inconsistent with their independence”. (Byline Times)
- A merger between WarnerMedia and Discovery was announced this week by WarnerMedia owner AT&T, with a view to creating a new ‘streaming giant’ to rival Netflix and Disney+. AT&T is a “telecommunications giant” in its own right, owning CNN, HBO (and its streaming platform HBOMax), and Warner Bros. as a result of its ~$100 billion purchase of Time Warner in 2018. (BBC)
- The BBC has issued a public apology after the publication of the Dyson Report, which confirmed that Martin Bashir used “deceitful” methods to secure his famous 1995 interview with Princess Diana. It also found that a BBC probe into the situation at the time was unsatisfactory. Both William and Harry have made public statements, Harry’s noting “practices like these – and even worse – are still widespread today. Then, and now, it’s bigger than one outlet, one network, or one publication.” (CNN/The Guardian)
- The Future of Media project at Harvard has created a map of the 3000+ newsrooms in America (defined as major print, digital, and broadcast outlets, not including podcasts, blogs etc.), their reach, and information as to who owns and funds them. (Nieman Lab)
- As the RWDSU continues its misconduct filing against Amazon after the corporation’s victory in the Bessemer union fight, new allegations continue to be revealed. This week a worker testified at a hearing that Amazon security guards had keys to the mailbox that the company encouraged workers to use to mail their votes. (Al Jazeera)
- Members of the NewsGuild of New York, the largest local NewsGuild union chapter, are opposing an increase in dues by the guild. The chapter has had to dip into its reserves for funds after a recent spate of successful organising in the city, including many of the US’ most prominent newsrooms. (Vanity Fair)
- After a one day walkout was met with “indifference and inactivity”, 97% of the Ziff Davis Creators Guild (representing PCMag, Mashable and Ask Men) voted to authorize a strike. The workers are seeking “a fair contract for our membership after over two years of negotiations.” (Ziff Davis Creators Guild on Twitter)
- The NCTJ has released a new diversity report into the makeup of the UK journalism workforce. It includes statistics around race, gender, disability, and age as well as the number of journalists in the country. The data shows women now hold a slight majority in the UK’s journalism workforce, but not what proportion of them hold senior positions. The workforce is 92% white, down from 94% a few years ago. (National Council for the Training of Journalists)
- Facebook says it now removes 97% of hate speech before it’s reported, up from 24% in 2017 when metrics were first recorded. The company has rolled out a new ‘Transparency Centre’ this week: “a single destination for information on its integrity and transparency efforts.” (AdWeek)
- Reporters Without Borders has launched an online app that allows media outlets to “check, disclose and promote compliance of their editorial processes with best practices.” The self-reporting tool encourages media outlets to align to global editorial standards, and promote themselves as trustworthy and ‘verified’ sources. (Reporters Without Borders)
- Peter Thiel and other conservative venture capitalists have invested in a new right-wing video platform, Rumble, whose branding is reminiscent of Parler: it attracts users looking for looser restrictions on hate speech. (Wall Street Journal)
- Google will bring back a version (with some limitations) of its much-loved Google Reader. The RSS feed was mourned by many when it was shut down; now the company will introduce a similar ‘Follow’ function to Android’s experimental new Chrome Canary browser. (TechCrunch)
- Fox News is moving to dismiss the $1.6 billion lawsuit against them by voting-technology firm Dominion. The company, which makes digital voting machines, filed a defamation suit after Fox claimed they had rigged the 2020 election. Fox is now saying it simply “provided a forum for the losing side”. (Variety)