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Weekly Digest: Big Tech, Local Media

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.

As 2020 draws to an end, advertisers view the last quarter with “guarded optimism”, Digiday reports. According to the publication, “pullbacks and cancellations to media spending over the next three months won’t be as drastic as they have been”. 

While the economic crisis is still a reality, the business community is prepared for a potential lockdown better than it was earlier in the year.

According to one survey of global companies, over a half of them are no longer deferring ad campaigns. More marketers feel positive about the macro-economic environment than back in June. Of course, a lot will depend on the course of the pandemic, on the economic measures taken by industrialized countries, and, in the US, on the results of the presidential election.

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Last week, we reported on the concerns over potential appointment of Charles Moore, a prominent critic of the BBC, as the corporation’s chairman. This week, though, he ruled himself out of the race to replace the outgoing Sir David Clementi.

According to reports, Moore’s was a strong candidacy, but he declined to be considered because of family health issues, The Guardian writes. A new chairman will assume their duties for “for the part-time job, which is appointed by the government and comes with the power to fire the director general” in February.

On Thursday, a court of appeals in Paris confirmed the decision of the country’s Competition Authority that Google must open talks with news publishers to strike a deal over paying for their content. The ruling will likely prompt the company to reach an industry-wide deal in France.

Last week, Google announced it would pay news publishers $1 billion over the next three years. According to Reuters, the French court’s ruling differs from this plan in that it “involves finding a sustainable methodology to remunerate publishers and news agencies”. This case is particularly interesting because it can set a precedent for other countries.

Irina Slavina, a chief editor of a local media outlet in Nizhny Novgorod, a city in Russia, died last Friday after setting herself on fire. She blamed her death on the Russian Federation — her friends and colleagues explain it as a result of the continuous harassment of the law enforcement connected to her professional activity as a journalist.

This week, Slavina’s death caused a strong reaction among her colleagues and calls for an unbiased investigation of its causes, as well as nationwide and international attention. 

The importance of local newspapers for good governance is not surprising, but this week we’ve seen more interesting evidence.A report commissioned by the UK government shows a link between local press circulation and voter turnout.

For every additional 1% of local newspaper daily circulation turnout rate increases by 0.37%. Every additional local media outlet gives a 1.27% boost to turnout. According to the government official quoted by Press Gazette, “the direct correlation between local newspaper provision and electoral turnout proves that a healthy democracy, even at a grassroots level, needs high quality local journalism to thrive”.

Bonus — Five more stories you might want to check out:

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