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Weekly Digest: A “Miracle” for Meduza, a Historic Appointment for Washington Post

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.

Meduza, one of the largest Russian-language independent news publications that was crippled by a new government regulation in late April, managed to attract almost 80,000 donors in a remarkable shift of its funding model.

On April 23rd, the Russian Justice Ministry labeled Meduza as “foreign agent”, based on a censorious law that has been used to target foreign-funded media. While it was a relatively inconspicuous move that didn’t formally prevent the outlet from operation, the designation posed an existential threat to Meduza

Although it’s headquartered in Latvia, both the publication’s audience and advertisers are mostly based in Russia. The labelling delivers a near-fatal blow to Meduza’s years-tested ad model.

Yet the donation drive announced as a response two weeks ago has been remarkably successful. With almost 80,000 funders, the publication called the campaign’s results “a miracle by Meduza’s readers.” Even though the outlet will have less resources and has had to cut back on some of its reporting, Meduza’s existence no longer seems endangered.

More from The Fix on the Meduza story: Meduza counters Russian authorities’ “foreign agent” attack with appeal to readers 

Over the past years, China has been advancing its influence, both in the media and otherwise, across the world. This expansion has been aided by the pandemic, from which China emerged relatively unscathed as compared with most other countries. 

The new report released this week by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) shows the extent of growing Chinese media influence in Europe and other parts of the world. According to IFJ, “China successfully activated existing media infrastructures to seed positive narratives globally amid the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The report dives in the case studies of Serbia, Italy, and Tunisia. For example, authors of the report note that “China is front and centre to Serbia’s state-sanctioned storytelling” in the country where the government wields a lot of control over the country’s media sector.

The report’s recommendations call for working to increase awareness of the ways Chinese narratives impact the media.

The Washington Post, one of the largest US newspapers, has announced its new top editor, making history with the first woman in the outlet’s 143-year history to be appointed to the role.

The new executive editor will be Sally Buzbee, previously the executive editor and senior vice president of The Associated Press since 2017. Buzbee rose through the ranks in The Associated Press, starting as a reporter in 1988. 

Buzbee will succeed Martin Baron, who oversaw The Washington Post’s during the period of financial recovery and expansion following its purchase by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos in 2013.

As The New York Times notes, The Washington Post almost doubled the number of journalists on staff, to over a thousand, since the purchase, and “its audience has… jumped from a daily circulation under 500,000, the seventh-largest readership of any American paper, to three million digital subscribers, second only to The New York Times.” 

TikTok, one of the largest social media platforms, is looking to become much more than a place to watch engaging videos.

Recently, it has started testing two major updates – in-app shopping and recruitment. The first feature would allow brands to create in-app stores to sell their goods directly to the platform’s users. The hiring service would allow recruiters to post job offers for “primarily entry level” jobs, while potential applications would be able to upload short video resumes.

These updates are part of a larger trend of social media services building in new monetization models for creators and new business opportunities more broadly.  

More from The Fix on TikTok updates: TikTok eyes expansion into shopping, recruitment

Photo by Gus Moretta on Unsplash

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