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Weekly Digest: Global Threats

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.

42 journalists and media workers have been killed this year, according to an International Federation of Journalists report released this week. Mexico remains the most deadly country, with 13 media people killed.

The good news is that this number has been declining for two years now. As we wrote in November, the drop can be attributed both to positive factors (e.g. greater awareness of the problem) and to the media’s self-censorship and increasing avoidance of conflict zones.

Still, the overall situation with press freedom seems to be getting worse, not better – and the IFJ reminds that at least 235 journalists are currently in prison because of their work.

More from The Fix: UNESCO report on journalism safety — key takeaways 

Coronavirus conspiracy theories have posed a big problem for tech platforms – but sometimes they begin to creep into conventional media. Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator, sanctioned a local radio station for promoting dangerous coronavirus desinformation and conspiracy theories.

According to The Guardian’s summary of Ofcom’s ruling, the station’s long-term host suggested on air that “wearing facemasks can “cause serious neurological and respiratory damage,” that children were being put at risk, and that Bill Gates and Boris Johnson wanted to reduce the world population.”

Climate change is one of humanity’s biggest existential challenges – and Swedish biggest newspaper Dagens Nyheter tried to convey it by inviting prominent activist Greta Thunberg to guest-edit the newspaper for a day. According to DW, Thunberg “used her one-day tenure at the paper to highlight climate-related articles and some of her own writing.”

From the journalistic point of view, this decision has been interesting, though controversial. The top editor of rival Svenska Dagbladet criticised Dagens Nyheter claiming that it created a danger of “blurring the line between news and opinion journalism.” Thunberg herself pointed out that this initiative was puzzling by conventional standards but required by the urgency of the climate crisis. 

More from The Fix: Top Scandinavian media companies show strong results despite pandemic 

Finally, two promising stories on the business side from France and the US.

  • French leading newspaper Le Monde announced it would end 2020 with 450,00 subscribers. 100,000 of them pay for the paper edition, and the outlet has 350,000 digital subscribers. Thanks to the subscription boom, Le Monde expects to hit a target of 1 million subscribers in 2023, ahead of its prior schedule.
  • In the US, the ad market is recovering more quickly than expected. Analysts do expect it to fall by around 4.2% year-over-year, but that’s far better than double-digit falls feared at the beginning of the pandemic. According to Axios, tech giants play the biggest role in the market’s success as they “grew their digital ad revenues by more than the 8%, far outpacing most traditional and digital publishers.”

More from The Fix: The state of media subscription business: 4 findings from the FIPP report 

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

NPR: Pro-Populist Media In Eastern Europe Promote Trump’s Baseless Voter Fraud Claims

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