Weekly Digest

The Fix Weekly Digest: Old Problems, New Models

Welcome to The Fix’s weekly news digest! Every Friday, we bring you five important news stories from the world of media — and try to put them in a wider context.

Is the media under attack in the US? The vast majority of Americans, 80% according to a recent poll, agree the news media is under attack politically (correctly). 

That’s hardly news. What’s interesting is the high level of polarization about whether these attacks are justified. To put it simply, liberals think it’s not justified, and conservatives believe it’s justified. Only 16% of Democrats think the attacks on the media are justified, while almost two-thirds Republicans — 61% — hold this position. 

As the report’s authors put it, “Democrats appear more concerned with those who are attacking the news media and its adverse impacts on both journalists and our democracy writ large, while Republicans tend to believe the problem lies with the media itself”.

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Economia, one of the largest Czech publishing companies, announced this week it would be donating 200,000 euros to newcomer independent Hungarian outlet Telex.hu. Telex was started by former employees Index.hu, which was the largest independent online newspaper in Hungary until this summer, when most journalists quit the publication in protest of censorship.

Telex announced its pre-launch in early September, starting a crowdfunding campaign aimed to help get the outlet off the ground. So far, some 32,000 people donated. The outlet will be led by Veronika Munk, a former deputy editor-in-chief at Index.

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As pandemic-related misinformation spreads on social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube, YouTube is expanding its fact-checking features to Europe. The platform will start displaying verified third-party information on queries related to the pandemic and elections.

The feature, which has been available in the US and several other countries, will now be rolled out in the UK and Germany. According to CNBC, YouTube will rely on local media companies to conduct fact-checking, specifically BBC and Full Fact in the UK, as well as Correctiv and BR24 in Germany.

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This week, Apple showed an example of how privacy concerns and publishers’ revenue models might collide. According to Digiday, the anti-tracking changes brought by Apple create a headache for the media advertising market.

The problems arose in the recent update of iOS 14, which “comes with two new surprise anti-tracking features that once again have the potential to further disrupt publishers’ ad businesses”. The changes decrease the effectiveness of ads by decreasing the amount of information publishers receive about their users.

Aidan White, the former General Secretary of the International Federation of Journalists, has launched a new outlet in Newham, a borough in east London. Most importantly, the newspaper relies on an original funding model of community journalism.

White has concluded that journalism should “increasingly be not-for-profit” and that “there is no evidence” journalism can bring big money anymore. Thus, the new community newspaper Newham Voices will rely mostly on community journalists who will volunteer for the newspaper. To train volunteers, the outlet will conduct trainings on community journalism. Operational expenses will be covered by donations, grants, and advertising revenue from local business.

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