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Weekly Digest: Launches, Acquisitions, Suppression

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.

Facebook is launching its news product in Germany, the company announced on Monday. Facebook News is due to launch in the country in May.

However, the largest digital publisher isn’t on board. Axel Springer, which publishes Germany’s largest daily newspaper, refused to participate because of the supposedly low level of financial compensation.

This event is part of a larger story about Facebook and governments trying to find a workable model of tech giants’ paying for media content. The story recently escalated, after Facebook banned news from Australian publishers on its platform to avoid paying for content, and then quickly deflated as the Australian government agreed to come to a deal.

More from The Fix: Weekly Digest: Tech Giants vs Governments vs Publishers 

The New Scientist, a London-based science magazine, has been acquired by Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) for £70m. 

Founded in 1956, The New Scientist has acquired a certain renown and has been a healthy business; it is expected to make £7m in profits this year. According to PressGazette, the publication makes 75% of its revenue from paying subscribers.

DMGT is the owner of The Daily Mail, one of the largest UK’s newspapers.

This week has brought some concerning news regarding press freedom and China.

First, according to a survey done by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China (FCCC), China has seen a “rapid decline in media freedom” in the wake of the pandemic and crackdown on protests. As Reuters points out, “for the third year in a row, no journalists told the group that working conditions had improved,” with new limitations having been imposed and media workers having been used in diplomatic disputes. 

Second, the analysis has found that the Chinese Communist Party organised campaigns to discredit the BBC. According to a report by an Australian think tank, the party “orchestrated an international campaign to undermine the BBC and discredit its reporting during the first two months of the year, using western social media networks.” 

In recent weeks, attacks seem to have intensified as the BBC has reported on topics particularly sensitive for Beijing, such as repressions in Xinjiang.

In Afghanistan three female journalists were killed in a targeted attack against journalists and human rights activists. According to NPR, the killings were grounded both in the nature of the victims’ work and in their gender.

Afghanistan remains one of the most dangerous countries for journalists. While the number of journalist assassinations in various conflict zones has dropped recently, this is mostly because some publishers have stopped covering them altogether.

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

Photo by Ryoji Iwata on Unsplash

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