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.
The New York Times made news this week for at least two major reasons. First, on Monday New York Times acquired Wordle, a hit internet game, for a price “in the low seven figures.”
This acquisition highlights the importance of games and other non-news offerings, such as NYT Cooking and Wirecutter, for the company’s subscription strategy. As The Fix’s Jakub Parusinski puts it, “it is increasingly clear that news alone will not help outlets win at the subscription land-grab.”
More from The Fix: Wordle and the crazy world of subscription marketing
Second, The New York Times Company formally achieved its goal of reaching 10 million subscriptions after the deal with The Athletic had been completed this week, ahead of the self-imposed deadline set for 2025. As the company’s quarterly earnings show, NYT had 8.8 digital subscriptions at the end of last year, and 1.2 million came from The Athletic.
The company says it will now aim for 15 million subscribers in 2027. (Note the difference between “subscriptions” and “subscribers” – the company now has over 10 million subscriptions across its various products, but the number of individual people paying for a subscription is fewer.)
Last year, a media consortium revealed the scope of authoritarian regimes surveilling activists and journalists using NSO Group’s Pegasus surveillance software. Now, a group of Hungarian journalists will launch legal action against the government for its secret use of Pegasus surveillance.
On behalf of six individuals, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) will explore various legal avenues to reveal the scope of unlawful surveillance and take action against those responsible.
As The Guardian notes, although “the courts usually [side with the security services, and… the cases [are] likely to take months if not years to proceed through the courts,” this action “could become a template for victims of unlawful surveillance in other countries.”
More from The Fix: Weekly Digest: Pegasus Revelations and Ad Boom
Media crackdown in Russia continued this week as the government shut down the Russian operation of German broadcaster Deutsche Welle. DW’s reporters saw their press credentials withdrawn, and the organization’s studio in Moscow was shut down.
The move is a retaliation to the German media regulatory panel ruling that Russian state-controlled RT DE “must cease broadcasting its German-language programs in the country, reaffirming a ruling in December that said RT lacks the necessary license,” RFE/RL reports.
DW called Russian measures a “total overreaction,” particularly “given that Russian journalists are still allowed to continue working in Germany,” and vowed to continue reporting on Russia
Just a few days ago, CNN President Jeff Zucker was among the most powerful American news executives, poised for an even bigger role after the upcoming merger of CNN’s parent company WarnerMedia with Discovery Inc. Yet, on Wednesday Zucker unexpectedly resigned in the wake of allegations of having failed to disclose a romantic relationship with his subordinate.
The finding that Zucker has been involved in a consensual relationship with Allison Gollust, the network’s executive vice president and CMO, came as part of the investigation into CNN’s firing of Chris Cuomo, the anchor accused of sexual misconduct and journalism ethics violations. Reports indicate that Zucker wanted to stay at least for a transition period but had to step down so as not to get fired.
This story is significant partly because of CNN’s global influence – among American cable news networks, CNN has the most robust international coverage and the greatest international impact. At the moment, it’s unclear what’s next for the network after its longtime leader’s sudden departure.