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.
As tension in the Russo-Ukrainian crisis remains high, with Western countries warning of a high risk of Russia’s full-fledged invasion of Ukraine, the Russian government has been using the media to spread disinformation, according to US allegations.
As CNN reports, referring to the American intelligence, “Russian intelligence agencies have worked closely with the editorial staff of five Russian-language media outlets to boost public support for a renewed Russian invasion of Ukraine.”
The campaign aims to build up domestic support for an invasion and spread disinformation about a false flag operation, US officials tell CNN. The outlets used for the campaign include News Front, Antifascist, and Politnavigator.
In the United States, conservative politician and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin lost a high-profile libel court case against New York Times. Palin sued NYT because of a 2017 editorial that incorrectly linked the politician to a mass shooting.
Following a landmark 1964 precedent, US law sets a high bar for libel cases brought by public figures – they have to prove that a defamatory statement was made with “actual malice.” A federal jury rejected Palin’s claim, and even before the verdict was reached, the judge had announced he would dismiss the case.
Still, this case brought considerable attention from the media industry. As The Guardian notes, “is rare for a major media outlet to defend its editorial practices in court, as the Times had to do in this case.” Palin is expected to appeal the ruling.
Spotify announced the acquisition of Chartable and Podsights, two tech platforms for podcasting.
The acquisitions highlight Spotify’s desire to grow its podcasting business, which has a more lucrative business model than music streaming. In recent years, Spotify bought multiple companies in the podcasting field and signed up numerous big names, most famously the world’s most popular podcaster Joe Rogan.
As The Verge notes, the deal with Chartable, a company that provides audience insights for podcast publishers, is particularly important for developing Spotify’s ad platform. It “helps both creators and advertisers, two groups Spotify needs and wants to court.”
In the meanwhile, New York Times reports that Spotify’s 2020 deal with Joe Rogan, which made the world’s most popular podcaster exclusive to the platform, was worth over $200 million, at least twice as much as previously reported.
More from The Fix: Audio is in its second golden age, and Spotify is about to win it all
Voters in Switzerland rejected the government’s aid plan for broadcast and print media at a referendum on Sunday. Passed by lawmakers in June, the plan would allocate 150 million francs (about €143.5 million) into the media industry annually.
As AP reports, the plan faced backlash – critics “said the cash injection would waste taxpayer money, benefit big newspaper chains and the media moguls who run them and hurt journalistic independence by making media outlets more dependent on state handouts and thus less likely to criticize public officials.”
In the end, about 56% of voters ended up voting against the plan.
Bonus — Four more stories you might want to check out: