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Weekly Digest: New Opportunities and New Deals

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.

This week, Joe Biden was inaugurated as US President.

Overall, Biden’s arrival signals a better era for free press and a “return to normalcy” after four years of Donald Trump’s attacks on “fake news media.” Indeed, White House press secretary Jen Psaki promised “deep respect for the role of a free and independent press in our democracy” during her first press conference. As The New York Times notes, “the takeaway: A calm, boring press briefing wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.”

Among other news, Biden’s inauguration brought about the resignation of Michael Pack, the controversial CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), which oversees Voice of America (VOA) and other state-funded broadcasters.

As noted by NPR, “Pack leaves [USAGM] with a Trumpian legacy of ideological strife, lawsuits and scandal.” For example, Pack conducted a “purge” of top USAGM employees for alleged anti-Trump bias, which sparked accusations of press freedom suppression and mismanagement of funds.

Back in June, Joe Biden promised to fire the Trump-appointed official if elected – a pledge that materialised this week.

More from The Fix: After Trump and record elections: what’s next for the news media? 

As email newsletters keep gaining importance for media, Forbes is moving to launch a new newsletter platform. The platform will be available to a network of Forbes’ 2800 contributors, and the publication is looking for new authors to join.

According to reporting by Axios, “the idea is to create a platform that offers writers all the marketing, editorial and salary benefits of being a part of Forbes’ newsroom, but gives them enough editorial independence to ensure that their audiences follow them over to Forbes.”

Revenue will come from subscriptions, as well as advertising revenue to be distributed among writers based on page views. It looks like the Forbes model will be somewhat closer to a conventional media publication than, say, Substack. For example, Forbes will have editorial oversight over individual newsletters. 

More from The Fix: Ex-New Yorker and BuzzFeed newsletter director explains how email can become a newsroom’s biggest driver of revenue 

Another booming sector in the media: crypto news.

In January, Bitcoin had its best month ever, reaching a record value of over 40,000 USD for 1 BTC. The currency also enjoyed the spotlight throughout 2020, sparking growing interest in media reporting on the topic. As Fortune notes, “the current boom means there’s room for the various publications to carve out different niches for themselves.”

One of the drivers that help propel this sector is “less hype in the mainstream press about crypto” than during previous booms. That’s likely because the media space has been consumed by “bigger” topics, such as the pandemic and US election.

While the pandemic undermined the traditionally strong events business in the crypto media field, some trade publications are successfully finding monetisation models in B2B.

Last year, French courts forced Google to open talks with local publishers over paying for using their content in search results. Now, Google and a group representing French publishers have reached a deal. That is, the two sides have reached a framework under which Google will negotiate individual deals with media outlets.

According to AP, “Google has already negotiated a few individual payment deals with some French news publishers such as national daily paper Le Monde and weekly magazine l’Obs.” Payments will be based on various criteria, including the volume of content published and traffic numbers, but exact figures have not been announced.

As a bonus, here’s “some personal news” from The Fix. We are getting a new look — which is only the first step towards a series of product and content developments The Fix is planning.

Our new visual style is based on the Japanese Kintsugi art form, which emphasizes the uniqueness and beauty of broken things. As we put it earlier this week, “this message is uniquely fitting for the media, which have been battered and broken over the past two decades.”

More from The Fix: Broken is beautiful 

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

Photo by Caleb Fisher on Unsplash

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