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Weekly Digest: Rethinking of the Models

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

Social media’s response to the last week’s storming of the US Capitol will likely have profound implications for the media industry. As we put it in The Fix’s weekly newsletter, “both the ban [of Trump’s accounts on social networks] and the shift in power dynamics it entails will likely play a big part in defining the ever-changing role of media in society.”

The full extent of these changes remains to be seen, but two of the immediate trends is that major social networks are becoming less welcoming towards the far-right, and online right groups are moving to alternative (“more underground”) platforms

Twitter announced on Monday that it banned 70,000 accounts associated with the QAnon conspiracy theory, while Facebook pledged to remove all content containing the “Stop the Steal” slogan, which is commonly used by the right in attempts to de-legitimize the 2020 presidential election. Other social media platforms made similar moves.

As a result, Axios reports, “the online purge of far-right figures and platforms that followed last week’s Capitol insurrection looks to be driving radicalized users into darker corners of the internet.” 

Parler, a social network popular among the right, looked promising for a few days, before going down due to major tech platforms kicking it out because of Parler’s notoriously lax moderation policies.

Thus, this week has been a heyday for messaging apps offering secure encryption. In the US, Signal saw 677% more downloads; Telegram, another messaging app, has seen 146% more downloads in the US and reached a milestone of 500 million users.

More from The Fix: Infographics: How Belarus media move to Telegram

Public trust has decreased in the wake of the pandemic and misinformation spread, The Edelman Trust Barometer’s new report shows. Both the government and the media suffered drops in trust last year, which the report attributes to “a leadership crisis” associated with the pandemic.

According to the report’s estimates, “business [is] now [the] only institution seen as both competent and ethical.” Trust in all information sources is at record low across 22 countries, with trust in traditional media having fallen by 8 points on average.

More from The Fix: Can we trust (the news) again? 

As the incoming BBC chair Richard Sharp is preparing to assume his duties, he said he is open to reassessing the BBC’s core business model, which is based on the license fee paid by UK citizens, in the future. 

The Guardian highlights that “his comments may encourage critics of the corporation who view the license fee model as anachronistic, ahead of the BBC’s charter renewal in December 2027.” However, Sharp also said that he believes the model to be the “least worst” option and emphasized the value provided by the BBC thanks to the license fee.

More from The Fix: BBC Annual Report Shows “Strong Year”, Need for More Reforms 

US-based international digital media company OZY became profitable for the first time in 2020. Despite the cancellation of its in-person events, a strong slate of TV shows and podcasts, as well as digital advertising, brought around the company $50 million in revenue over the last year.

This achievement is notable for being an optimistic signal for the world of digital native media outlets, many of which have struggled in recent years. OZY was founded as a digital magazine and daily newsletter seven years ago. Since then, it expanded its product range, most notably by producing dozens of TV shows and podcasts, which now bring half of its revenue.

More from The Fix: Digital media company OZY becomes profitable amid the pandemic 

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

Photo by camilo jimenez on Unsplash

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