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Weekly Digest: Scandals and Regulations

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.

EU authorities are considering tighter regulations on political advertising, the Financial Times reports. A draft plan includes restrictions on microtargeting, user profiling, and other techniques that can amplify disinformation.

According to the Financial Times, “the new rules come as Brussels increases its efforts to curb the power of big technology companies.” Although the 2020 US presidential election seems to have been less prone to being impacted by misinformation than the previous one, the 2016 election’s implications are still fresh in memory both in the US and in Europe. The wave of pandemic-related misinformation also informs a growing interest in regulating tech platforms.

More from The Fix: Weekly Digest: All Eyes on the Platforms 

A federal judge in the US ruled that Michael Pack unconstitutionally interfered with Voice of America.

Appointed by President Trump, Pack serves as CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), which oversees Voice of America (VOA) and other state-funded broadcasters. Since his appointment in June, he has been embroiled in scandal following his attempts to investigate VOA’s journalists for bias against Trump.

According to NPR, Pack has “turned the agency upside down, firing and suspending top executives, reassigning Voice of America’s top standards executive and initiating investigations of journalists for individual stories about the political campaign between Trump and Joe Biden.”

Voice of America and its sister networks reach hundreds of millions of people worldwide, and they play an important role in countries with limited press freedom, including in Europe.

Late last week, Vox’s editor-at-large Ezra Klein announced he would be leaving the publication he co-founded for The New York Times. The news came just a week after Vox’s other co-founder, Matthew Yglesias, left to pursue his own newsletter on Substack.

As The Fix wrote this week, this news story is important not only due to its significance for Vox, a pioneer in digital explanatory journalism, but also because “the two co-founders’ paths are exemplary of recent trends in the US news media industry, namely the dominance of The New York Times and the flourishing of Substack newsletters.”

More from The Fix: Two co-founders are leaving Vox for New York Times and Substack 

To the topic of high-profile resignations, The Guardian’s columnist Suzanne Moore left the publication this week, claiming that the paper tried to censor her views on transgender issues.

Moore, a journalist famous for her writing on women’s rights, faced a backlash after writing a column that raised controversial points.

According to the Press Gazette, Moore claimed that “she was effectively censored by editors and bullied out by colleagues”. Her departure comes after a letter from 338 of The Guardian’s staff members accusing Moore of promoting transphobia.

Over the past four years, daily news podcasts have become one of the most important and fastest-growing products for many news media publishers. New research from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism shows that daily news podcasts engage younger, better-educated audiences, and they have seen less negative impact during the corona-crisis.

As the report’s authors put it, daily news podcasts are “punching above their weight.” They have identified over 100 such podcasts in six Western countries (the US, the UK, France, Australia, Sweden, and Denmark), with several dozens of them having been launched this year.

More from The Fix: Daily news podcasts are now in the league of mainstream news products 

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