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Weekly Digest: Wins and Losses for Diversity

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

The BBC faced an unusual problem over the past week. A flood of criticism came from frustrated viewers over the expansive coverage of Prince Philip’s death that occured last Friday.

BBC channels dropped all plans for the sake of “blanket coverage” of the death of the 99-year-old Duke of Edinburgh. Even viewers of the children channel were encouraged to watch the news. As a result, the BBC faced an unprecedented number of complaints; 109,741 of them, to be precise.

The issue has political undertones – as a public broadcaster, the BBC has to try and please both right-wing and left-wing audiences. As The Guardian notes, BBC’s coverage of Queen Mother’s death in 2002 was criticised as “insufficiently deferential” by right-wing commentators. The broadcaster has also faced criticism from conservatives for its supposed left-leaning bias.

The BBC has defended its decision to clear the schedule last Friday, but it will not drop all other coverage for Prince Philip’s funeral this Saturday – perhaps partly as a response to the criticism.

More on the BBC from The Fix: “The BBC is having a good pandemic” 

This week saw two historic appointments that mark the growing diversity in top media leadership globally.

First, Reuters announced Alessandra Galloni as its next editor-in-chief. An Italian, she has been Reuters’ global managing editor for the past six years. Most notably, she will be the first woman to hold the position in the agency’s 170-year history.

Across the Atlantic, the history is being made at ABC News, where Kimberly Godwin was named president this week. Coming from CBS News, Godwin will be “the first Black American leader of a major broadcast news division,” NPR notes, as well as only the third woman in such a role.

More on diversity from The Fix: Hostwriter is launching a cross-border newsroom to showcase non-privileged perspectives 

In Russia, police raided a student outlent and detained four journalists for “protest violations,” who will now face criminal charges for supposedly involving minors in unauthorized protests. DOXA magazine was founded in 2017 by students and alumni of Moscow’s universities.

As Meduza notes, “this comes after Russia’s censorship agency ordered the outlet to take down a video explaining that students shouldn’t be afraid to express their political opinions.”

Just days before, the police raided the office of iStories Media, an investigative outlet, and the apartment of its top editor Roman Anin, seemingly for Anin’s past investigation concerning Igor Sechin, CEO of Russian energy giant Rosneft.

More on Russia’s most recent assaults on press freedom from The Fix: Weekly Digest: The Government is Listening In 

This week saw reports that TikTok would fund a public health series from NowThis, a US-based news organisation focusing on social media. This marks the first time the platform has backed a content series from a news publisher directly.

The series, called “VIRAL,” will focus on the COVID-19 pandemic. As TechCrunch notes, “the partnership represents TikTok’s first-ever funding of an episodic series from a publisher, though TikTok has previously funded creator content.”

More on TikTok from The Fix: 7 TikTok accounts worth following

Photo by Roberto Catarinicchia on Unsplash

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