MRC Weekly Digest – October 15th 2021

By Media Reform Coalition / Friday October 15, 2021 Read More
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.

Don’t Forget to Read Our New Report: Funding Journalism

Researcher Leo Watkins has released his report, supported by the Media Reform Coalition and the Central European University, on the financial, engagement, and power dynamics of the UK’s media industry.

It’s not simply raw data and dry facts, although it contains plenty of useful information for anyone looking for stats; it also tells the story of the changing face of UK media over the last few decades. 

Read the report.  

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Check out Brandalism UK on Instagram, “subvertisers” (a new word for ‘culture jamming’) who “confront corporate persuasion architectures”.     “A 17-year-old snorkeling instructor in Australia recently called out @hsbc’s greenwashing adverts about the Great Barrier Reef. We teamed up with @fossilfreelondon to create a spoof ad campaign in solidarity. Artwork by #MattBonner HSBC indirectly supports the Carmichael mine in Australia, which threatens local communities, the Great Barrier Reef and the planet 🌏 #StopAdani”

This Week’s Media News

  • Social media companies operating in the EU could face significant fines if they fail to publish detailed information on political ad buyers. The move is intended to protect people from microtargeting and prevent undue influence on elections, seemingly a direct response to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. (Politico)
  • ‘Hacker X’, the much-written about programmer behind one of the largest fake news operations in the US, has revealed himself: Robert Willis was hired by Koala Media to ‘maximise security’ for their sites which spread conspiracy theories about ‘chemtrails’ and ‘lemons curing cancer’, as well as promoting Donald Trump’s campaign in 2016. (Ars Technica)
  • A data leak from Twitch has revealed that the top 1% of streamers made over half of all money the company paid out this year, while three-quarters of monetised users made less than $120. (WSJ)
  • More than 100 Sony employees in Australia have alleged decades of abuse by Denis Handlin, the former CEO of Sony Music Australia and Sony’s longest-serving employee. Handlin is accused, amongst other things, of ritual humiliation, firing women for “not smiling at him”, and hiring private investigators to follow staff. Whistleblowers have balked at the response by Sony HQ in New York, who claim they’ve only now discovered this. (ABC)
  • A memo sent to Netflix staffers by co-CEO Ted Sarandos regarding the latest Dave Chappelle furore, published in full by Variety, defended the company’s decision to host The Closer, claiming that transphobic jokes don’t “directly translate to real-world harm.” (Variety)
  • In return for his confession of guilt, charges have been dropped against Shehroze Chaudhry, a Canadian man who lied to the New York Times’s Caliphate podcast about working with ISIS. Chaudhry’s information heavily informed the podcast’s narrative; the judge noted that Chaudhry’s actions were driven by immaturity rather than sinister or criminal intent, and the now-26-year-old claimed he “wanted to finish school and turn his life around”. (NYT)
  • Artificial Intelligence is being used to dub foreign films. Rather than hire voice actors, producers and programmers are developing programmes that allow the original actors’ voices to be developed and incorporated into international language versions. (WSJ)
  • A US report has revealed that 30 former CIA officials are claiming the agency discussed abducting and assassinating Julian Assange in London, during the Trump administration. (The Guardian)
  • A new law signed by California’s governor Gavin Newsom requires that journalists “be given unfettered access to closed-off protests, and prohibits law enforcement officers from assaulting, interfering or obstructing journalists from covering such events.” (The Sacramento Bee)
  • Facebook’s global safety chief has confirmed that the company will now count activists and journalists as ‘involuntary public figures’, meaning they will benefit from laws and protections against harassment and bullying. (Reuters)
  • Ben Shapiro’s media company The Daily Wire is starting a publishing arm. Its first publications will be books from Shapiro, actor Gina Carano, and a project by one of the officers involved in the Breonna Taylor shooting that was previously dropped by a distributor. (AP)
  • The Investigative Journal (TIJ) has closed after a court case in which its former editor-in-chief claimed she was “misled about its intentions and funding”. Launched in early 2019, TIJ claimed to be an objective, public interest, long-form journalism outlet funded by broadcaster Yousri Ishaq but was in fact set up to “covertly support and advocate for deeply authoritarian regimes in the Middle East, in particular, those in power in Egypt and the UAE.” (Press Gazette)
  • Novelist Sally Rooney has declined a bid by the Israeli company that translated her previous novels into Hebrew, to work on her latest. In line with boycott, divestment and sanctions guidelines, she will seek a company from another country for the Hebrew translation. (The Guardian)
  (Written by Eliz Mizon, edited by Cléo Celeste)