Weekly Digest

Weekly Digest: Repressions and Acquisitions

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.

On Sunday, Belarus shocked the world by essentially hijacking a commercial plane flying from Athens to Vilnius to arrest dissident journalist Raman Protasevich, who used to edit Nexta, a key voice of Belarusian 2020 protests.

European Union countries and Ukraine, a Belarus’ neighbour, have reacted strongly by suspending flights to Belarus closing off their airspace for Belarusian planes. Yet, that doesn’t seem likely to improve the situation with press freedom in the country, which has been worsening steadily.

Protasevich’s case might be the most shocking to the international audience – he was flying a commercial route from one EU country to another – but it’s part of a much wider attack. As The Guardian put it, “journalists and activists [are] targeted in [the] most wide-reaching crackdown since [the] days of Soviet Union.”

Independent journalists and activists in Belarus and in exile, such as Nexta founder Stepan Putilo, are increasingly worried for their lives, receiving numerous death threats. Just last week, Belarus authorities blocked the most popular news site in the country and arrested numerous journalists working for the outlet, Tut.by

More from The Fix on the situation in Belarus: Nexta — the channel behind Belarus’ Telegram revolution / Belarus authorities block the most popular news site in the country / Help needed: what can be done to support Belarusian media   

In Ukraine, one of the largest news outlets, Ukrainska Pravda, was purchased by Tomáš Fiala, a Czech-Ukrainian investor and CEO of investment firm Dragon Capital. The company also owns NV, another large Ukrainian news media outlet.

As The Fix notes, it’s the biggest deal for digital media in Ukraine in almost a decade. Ukrainska Pravda has an estimated readership of 10 million unique users monthly. Its leadership team, including chief editor Sevgil Musaieva and founding editor Olena Prytula, will remain in place.

In a country with a history of owners interfering in editorial independence, the parties emphasised the outlet will remain independent, signing an “editorial deal” between the editor-in-chief and the new owner.

More from The Fix on the news: Czech investor buys top Ukrainian news publication 

BBC is facing a new bout of criticism after an investigation concluded last week that BBC journalist Martin Bashir used forgery and deception to get the interview with Princess Diana in 1995 – and that the corporation failed to investigate the incident properly at the time.

BBC’s critics, including some top government officials, have expressed their concern over its “failings” and have used the opportunity to criticize the organization. Lord Hall, who was director of news at BBC at the time of the interview and led the initial internal investigation – and later became director-general of the corporation – stepped down as National Gallery chairman.

The conservative government has long been critical of the BBC, suspecting the organisation of left-leaning bias. However, as The Economist puts it, “rich American rivals” – that is, streaming services – pose a more existential threat to the state broadcaster’s future.

The Economist rolled out its first online course this week, showing that online education is an increasingly interesting revenue stream for news media in the (post-)pandemic time. 

The course “The New Global Order: How politics, business and technology are changing” comes with a price tag of £1,475 (over €1700) and includes former PM of Australia and ex-CEO of Google as featured speakers. 

The publication plans to expand its offerings with another course on business writing in the fall.

Photo by Andrew Keymaster on Unsplash

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