Hi everyone, Eliz Mizon here with the Media Reform Coalition blog every Friday.
For even more media news and analysis, the latest media reform campaigns, and intriguing content from around the web, follow me at Chompsky: Power and Pop Culture.
For now, here’s your media news digest.
Voting has opened for New York Times’s tech staff, who will decide whether to ratify their union: the Times Tech Guild. Reports over the last few months have shown that NYT management are making it clear (arguably illegally) this does not work for them.
I’ll tell you who does work for them, though: people they hired to be better than them at using technology, something that Tech Guild workers demonstrated beautifully this week in response to management urging workers to vote ‘no’ on the union.
BBC Arabic owes journalists ‘thousands of dollars’ after three years’ unpaid fees
I wrote a piece for openDemocracy last week:
“Journalists, analysts and correspondents have alleged that BBC Arabic owes them thousands of dollars for work dating as far back as 2019.
BBC Arabic, part of the UK licence fee-funded World Service, is accused of withholding money from a reporter in a war zone as well as experts and commentators in the US.
It comes after veteran US-based analyst and broadcaster Mehdi Eliefifi interrupted his latest interview with BBC Arabic to make an on-air protest.”
Please read and share to help promote the journalists’ request for payment.
This Week’s Media News
- The UK’s upcoming Online Safety Bill will include “joining digital pile-ons, sending threatening social media posts and deliberately posting hoax bomb threats among the new criminal offences that could result in jail sentences.” In addition, where previously platforms were required to take content down, they will now be legally bound to prevent exposure at all. They will also “be required to prevent users from being exposed to content such as revenge porn, fraud and the sale of illegal drugs, or face the threat of substantial fines”. In response to Jimmy Carr’s jokes about the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community in his latest Netflix special, culture secretary Nadine Dorries also said this week that the bill will contain laws to hold streaming sites to account for offensive content. This is in contrast to previous comments she has made saying that “leftwing snowflakes are killing comedy”. (The Guardian)
- Meta will create mandatory distances for avatars in its ‘metaverse’ as a response to claims that online harassment is likely to substantially increase in virtual reality settings. (Oculus, a Meta Company)
- Energy corporation Chevron has taken ‘advertorials’ (advertisements in article form that many news sites have incorporated as a revenue stream) to a new level: they’ve started their own ‘newsroom’, for which they are hiring ‘journalists’. (LA Times)
- The BFI has announced it will provide funding for Wellbeing Facilitators on projects it backs, in partnership with non-profit 6ft From The Spotlight. The aim is to “champion and facilitate a positive working culture” on set, and provide “an independent point of contact for any issues – including stress, bullying and harassment, discrimination, and adult safeguarding – throughout the lifecycle of the production.” (Televisual)
- 19% of Spotify users have said they have cancelled, or plan to cancel their subscriptions as a response to the company’s decision to continue platforming Joe Rogan’s podcast. The podcast host has repeatedly promoted vaccine and covid misinformation and used the n-word. This week Spotify deleted more than 110 episodes deemed “controversial”. (Variety/The Independent)
- This week, while filming the new series of The Masked Singer, judges Ken Jeong and Robin Thicke got up and left the studio when it was revealed Rudy Giuliani was one of the elaborately disguised performers. (Deadline)
- The Church of Scientology is going back to court in California to petition a decision in January that said church members “cannot be bound to a perpetual agreement to resolve disputes before a religious arbitration panel” after they have left the faith. This comes in response to the upcoming trial of Scientologist Danny Masterson, who acted in “That ’70s Show”, and is facing numerous rape charges. (Variety)
- As phone-hacking cases continue to come to court after 15 years, lawyers are now seeking financial records relating to Piers Morgan’s time in charge of The Mirror in the early 2000s. They said Morgan “must have known” how detailed information on people’s private lives was being gathered and paid for for the stories it published. (The Guardian)
(written by Eliz Mizon, edited by Cleo Celeste)