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Weekly Digest: Grappling with racism, uncovering corruption

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

UK media is grappling with racism allegations after the Meghan and Harry interview aired last weekend.

Although media criticism was not the key issue of the explosive interview conducted by Oprah Winfrey, the allegedly racist coverage of the Duchess of Sussex, who identifies as a mixed-race person, was among the questions discussed by Harry and Meghan. It then caused a divide in the country’s media sector.

After the interview, the Society of Editors (SoE), an industry group for over 400 media outlets, published a statement claiming that racism was not a factor in the media’s coverage of Meghan.

This claim caused a huge backlash – according to The Guardian, “more than 160 journalists of colour and the editors of the Guardian, Financial Times and HuffPost have objected to the statement.” Multiple members of SoE’s own board also objected to the statement. As a result, the organisation’s executive director Ian Murray resigned on Wednesday.

Last summer, Nexta became the channel behind Belarus’ Telegram revolution. The revolution has not yet succeeded in toppling the country’s dictator Alyaksandr Lukashenka, but Nexta continues to be a powerful media resource shaping the Belarusian agenda via its work on different mediums.

This week, Nexta published a film called “Lukashenko. Goldmine” – a piece of investigative journalism “accusing Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of spending hundreds of millions of dollars on gilded residences, planes and Rolls-Royce and Maybach cars,” according to Reuters. In four days, the video has already attracted 4.5 million views.

Interestingly, the film seems to draw from a playbook set by a similar investigation by Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny, which was published in January and attracted unprecedented attention, having gathered some 115 million views on YouTube.

More from The Fix: Nexta — the channel behind Belarus’ Telegram revolution 

In the US, the arrival of the Biden presidency – a more “normal” one than Trump’s reign – has predictably brought a decline in traffic for news publishers

According to research, almost all big news outlets in the country saw their traffic drop in February compared to an eventful January. Many major publishers witnessed their numbers fall by over 20%, with the consumption of political content having declined even more.

As Axios puts it, “the departure of former President Trump’s once-ubiquitous presence in the news cycle has reoriented the country’s attention.” The question going forward is to what extent Trump will reclaim his presence in the news cycle and how it will change media consumption.

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

Finally, new analysis brought by Axios suggests that we’re in “the new era for long-form journalism.”

Readers’ shortening attention spans prevent media outlets from putting out long pieces of text and hoping to get due attention. However, it would be unwise to lament the decline of long-form journalism. As Axios’ Sara Fischer suggests, “long-form journalism is stronger than ever. It’s just packaged differently.”
Increasingly, major stories are published with accompanying podcast episodes, videos, newsletters, or other pieces of content. For example, major American news publishers are now licensing their top stories to streaming companies for creation of documentaries, while publishers like TheSkimm experiment with virtual short courses.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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