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Weekly Digest: Accomplishments and Attacks

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.

One of the biggest media stories of the week has been the publication of Pandora Papers, a massive document leak that has exposed masked wealth and task avoidance among government officials and other powerful people in multiple world countries.

Although it’s mostly a political and social story, there’s an important media angle here as well, particularly one of international cooperation between dozens of outlets. The papers’ publication united over 140 media organisations across the world, with over 600 journalists involved, that have been working in concert under the general coordination of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

As Sara Fischer writes for Axios, this “blockbuster investigation” “shows that when reporters agree to work together and not to out-scoop one another, the impact of their work can be explosive.”

This week saw two concerning attacks on journalists in the CEE region, in different contexts.

In Poland, police confiscated the computer equipment belonging to journalist Piotr Bakselerowicz as part of a criminal investigation into threats received by members of the parliament. Bakselerowicz works for Gazeta Wyborcza, a leading Polish outlet, and has been investigating the country’s government.

Gazeta Wyborcza leadership and independent observers criticised the actions as an attack on democracy and freedom of press. “Polish authorities should stop harassing journalist Piotr Bakselerowicz, return his equipment, and respect the confidentiality of his sources,” the Committee to Protect Journalists noted in a statement. 

In Ukraine, investigative journalists reporting for the “Schemes” TV program were physically attacked while conducting an interview with Yevhen Metzger, a board chairman at state-run Ukreximbank. According to a report, “[Metzger’s] guards used force against the camera operator and took away equipment and video materials” after Metzger had taken issue with one of the journalists’ questions.

After a video of the assault was released, despite the guard trying to delete it, Metzger apologized and was suspended from his post. His actions have been widely condemned, and the prosecutor’s office has opened a criminal investigation into the attack. 

According to a new report, four BBC journalists have been disciplined for violating social media guidelines over the past year, since the rules were implemented by new Director-General Tim Davie in 2020.

According to the Press Gazette, the BBC hasn’t provided details into who was disciplined and for which specific violations. Among other requirements, the rules put in place a year ago ban “virtue signalling” and criticising colleagues. They also place strict impartiality requirements on senior leaders, news reporters and staff of “factual journalism” divisions. 

In May, Twitter announced the purchase of Scroll, a subscription-based service that aggregates content from news sites and removes ads. This week, the company officially announced Scroll would shut down as a standalone product within a month. Instead, it will become part of Twitter Blue, the company’s new subscription service.

As The Verge notes, “here’s not a lot of details in Scroll and Twitter’s announcement of what the changeover will look like, practically speaking.” Although this move wasn’t unexpected, it emphasises Twitter’s efforts to develop its subscription products, including with involvement of journalists and content creators. 

More from The Fix: Twitter is betting on a “cleaner” Internet 


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