MRC Weekly Digest – 23rd April 2021
By Media Reform Coalition / Friday April 23, 2021
Hi everyone, Eliz Mizon here with the Media Reform Coalition blog every Friday.
For even more content on media, work, and politics, you can follow me at Chompsky: Power and Pop Culture. For now, here’s your media news digest!
The Media Reform Coalition is in the news! Tribune has done a feature on Britain’s media monopoly, with MRC’s Who Owns The UK Media? report as its central feature.
READ: Britain’s Media Monopoly is a Threat to Democracy
“The Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare the serious challenges facing British media institutions. Traditional broadcasters are locked in fierce competition with global streaming services, and the BBC—between attacks on its independence, cuts to its services, and threats to its funding—faces a political reckoning. The pandemic has intensified concerns about the role of social media platforms in spreading misinformation and fostering online abuse, while the ‘anti-woke’, ‘anti-metropolitan’ GB News and Rupert Murdoch’s News UK look tailor-made to further polarise audiences when they launch later this year.
Trust in news organisations is already precipitously low, with research by the Reuters Institute suggesting just 28 percent of the public feel they can trust the news. Worse still, the latest Eurobarometer figures place UK journalists as by far the most distrusted out of 33 European countries.”
The Liberalism Inc conference starts today!
It’s the Guardian’s bicentennial next month, and the good folk at the Leverhulme Media Research Centre at Goldsmiths, University of London (who also run the MRC) have written a book about the paper’s past and present to mark it.
They are also holding today’s free online conference exploring the topics raised in the book, and wider industry issues. The lineup includes Gary Younge, Priya Gopal, Alan Rusbridger, Brian Cathcart and many other interesting journalists, campaigners, and academics.
This Week’s Media News
- Four people arrested in Bristol for peacefully protesting in support of the Colston 4 will receive substantial damages and a public apology from Avon and Somerset police. The force has admitted its blanket ban on protest was unlawful. This comes shortly after police retracted a statement earlier in the month that had claimed several of their officers were seriously injured after Kill the Bill protests in Bristol. (The Guardian)
- An exposé of ‘megaproducer’ Scott Rudin, one of only 16 people to have won an Oscar, Grammy, Tony, and Emmy, gives yet another insight into decades-long industrial tolerance of abuse. His ongoing abuse of staff has been called ‘an open secret’; 33 of his assistants have gone on the record to discuss their experiences of “bullying and physical intimidation”. (Vulture)
- Stats show a record number of journalists unionised during the pandemic. So far in April, I’ve added 3 unions to Chompsky’s running tally for 2021. (Axios/Chompsky)
- Conservative MP David Davis has criticised the Freedom of Information process, saying that the government’s avoidance of answering FOI requests has become a “political strategy in its own right”. (Press Gazette)
- A new survey into class diversity in the UK screen industries by the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre shows that the majority are from privileged backgrounds. 53% of those surveyed qualify as from a privileged background – which is 15% higher than the 38% average across all industries – and 25% of the workforce are working class compared to 38% of people across all industries. (Screen Daily)
- Antitrust activist Lina Khan, who gained influence with her research into Amazon’s business practices in 2018, is reported to be a favourite for a Federal Trade Commission seat. This would send a clear sign that President Biden plans to make considerable changes to how government deals with Big Tech, and monopolies in general. (NYT)
- Reporters Without Borders says that the pandemic has caused a “dramatic deterioration” in press freedom across the world. The UK jumped two places in their World Press Freedom Index 2021, from 35th to 33rd. (Press Gazette)
- It has been reported that Minnesota police officers assaulted journalists at protests over the killing of Daunte Wright. Governor Tim Walz said: “Apologies are not enough; it just cannot happen.” (NYT)
- Eighteen local news organisations, including a number of “hyperlocal” outlets, have been awarded the next round of BBC local democracy reporter contracts. (Hold The Front Page)