Media Matters 2 June 2020 –

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World Press Freedom Day 2021
2020 World Press Freedom Index
Pew Research: State of the News Media
Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism
NiemanLab
Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

Handy reference
Interactive Media Bias Chart®
This Interactive Media Bias Chart® is a data visualization that displays measures, generated by analysts and staff of Ad Fontes Media, of news (and “news-like”) articles and sources. It reflects our most up-to-date ratings of all our rated articles and shows over time. We also frequently publish static versions of the Media Bias Chart®, which display a select number of these sources.

Ted Koppel Discusses the State of Journalism and Democracy
(Amanpour and Company) Ted Koppel, iconic journalist and member of the Broadcasting Hall of Fame, made his name as anchor of ABC News’ Nightline for over two decades. Amongst his many achievements, in 1988 he hosted an unprecedented town hall meeting between Israelis and Palestinians live from Jerusalem. Koppel speaks to Walter Isaacson about the state of journalism and democracy today, with the U.S. in the throes of the impeachment trial. (28 January 2020)
Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2020 (PDF Full Report)
The Resurgence and Importance of Email Newsletters
By Nic Newman Senior Research Associate, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism
Email newsletters, once thought of as low-tech and unfashionable, are proving increasingly valuable to publishers looking to build strong direct relationships with audiences. Email can help build habit and loyalty, which is particularly important for new business models such as subscription and membership.
Executive Summary and Key Findings of the 2020 Report

Journalists from Philippines, Russia win Nobel Peace Prize
Nobel committee says independent press is vital in promoting peace as it honours Maria Ressa, Dmitry Muratov
Journalists Maria Ressa of the Philippines and Dmitry Muratov of Russia won the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for their fight for freedom of expression in countries where reporters have faced persistent attacks, harassment and even murder.
Ressa and Muratov were honored for their “courageous” work but also were considered “representatives of all journalists who stand up for this ideal in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions,” said Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
… Muratov, 59, told reporters he sees the prize as an award to Novaya Gazeta journalists and contributors who were killed, including Anna Politkovskaya, who covered Russia’s bloody conflict in Chechnya.
“Since the Nobel Peace Prize isn’t awarded posthumously, they came up with this so that Anya could take it, but through other, second hands,” Muratov said, referring to Politkovskaya.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 17 media workers were killed in the Philippines in the last decade and 23 in Russia.
Media rights group Reporters Without Borders celebrated the announcement, expressing “joy and urgency.”
Director Christophe Deloire called it “an extraordinary tribute to journalism, an excellent tribute to all journalists who take risks everywhere around the world to defend the right to information.”
NB Former Soviet leader and 1990 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mikhail Gorbachev used some of his award money to help fund what would become Novaya Gazeta. He congratulated Muratov on Friday, calling him “a wonderful, brave and honest journalist and my friend.”

29 July
Jennifer Rubin: Here’s how the media can cover Republicans responsibly
Media coverage that draws a false equivalence between one party operating in defense of democracy and another seeking to tear it down not only plays along with Republican deceptions; it also fails the most fundamental goal of journalism: to inform the public. …
Eighth, outlets should stop squeezing every issue into a political frame. Why are reporters who cover political campaigns so often the same ones who cover the White House? When, for example, the commerce secretary is scheduled to appear in the briefing room, business and economics reporters should be asking the questions. All outlets also need dedicated reporters (not simply run-of-the-mill political reporters) to cover voting rights and race issues. (In the civil rights era, there was a specific “race beat” that developed insight and expertise.)

18 July
The Pegasus Project | A global investigation
Letter from the editor
(WaPo) More than 80 journalists from Forbidden Stories, Le Monde, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Die Zeit, The Washington Post, the Guardian, Daraj, Direkt36, Le Soir, Knack, Radio France, the Wire, Proceso, Aristegui Noticias, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, Haaretz and PBS Frontline took part in this investigation. The journalists spent months reporting and interviewing on four continents. Amnesty’s Security Lab did the analysis on the smartphones.
Citizen Lab, an independent research group at the University of Toronto that has specialized in tracking Pegasus infections over the past several years, reviewed Amnesty’s forensic methods and data from four cellphones and endorsed Amnesty’s analyses.

28 June
The rise of the truth industry
Hundreds of fact-checking organisations have mushroomed over the last decade. Can they succeed in holding back the tide of disinformation?
Today there are over 300 fact-checking organisations, according to the Duke University Reporters’ Lab. But the rise of fact-checking is just one segment of a much broader trend: the surge of what might be called the anti-misinformation industry. An ecosystem has emerged to combat the disinformation (defined as content that’s deliberately false) and misinformation (content that’s accidentally false) that’s flourishing on social media.
This growing network is built, largely, of four types of outfit: for-profit companies, non-profit companies, charities and research institutes – all attempting to polyfill the holes left by inadequate government restrictions and tech platforms’ lack of action. Between the US presidential election and the ongoing vaccine roll-out, the last 12 months have been the industry’s biggest test yet. Whether it succeeded or not depends on who you ask.

17 June
There Is an Open War on Facts and Truth. That’s Why We Need Accountability Reporting in Political Stories
It’s past time to move on from “both sides” reporting and stop worrying about faux cries of bias
By Tim Lambert, Multimedia News Director and Morning Edition host at WITF in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
(Nieman Reports) Three major developments in 2020 — the coronavirus pandemic, racial justice protests, and the U.S. presidential election — tested journalists’ abilities to report facts while debunking massive amounts of disinformation/misinformation around each one.
Each led to discussions within our newsroom on how to adjust. We at WITF, a public radio and television station serving central Pennsylvania, changed. We became nimbler.
During the first two months of the pandemic, we devoted nearly all our staff to covering the unfolding threat in our region and loaned out our health reporter to a partner organization to explore Covid-19 issues in depth. We held weekly mental health chats within the team to check in and prop each other up. Reporters were given a day off on a rotating basis to rest and step away from the grind.
While racial justice demonstrations didn’t turn violent in our region, we took note of attacks on journalists in other parts of the country, including colleagues in Philadelphia.

12 June
Why Has Local News Collapsed? Blame Readers.
Despite all the impassioned pleas to salvage local news coverage, the reality is there’s a demand-side problem.
(Politico) …why is local news collapsing, a trend spotted over the past two years by everybody from the New York Times to the Brookings Institution to the Harvard Business Review? The blame is often placed on rapacious publishers like Alden Global Capital or online advertising giants like Facebook and Google. Yes, they’ve contributed to local news’ declining fortunes, but the best explanation might be that publishers and editors have ignored the underlying cause. Despite all the impassioned calls from academics and journalists to salvage it, local news’ most vital constituency—readers—have withheld their affections.

8 June
The pandemic devastated newsrooms. Now they’re seeking help from Congress.
(Poynter) Journalism advocates say they are optimistic that Congress will finally step in this session to support the struggling industryThe coronavirus has closed more than 70 local newsrooms across America. And counting.
At first, the pandemic cost newsrooms jobs and communities critical work. Now it’s starting to end entire newsrooms.

4 June
Tapper and Wallace take opposing tacks on GOP election deniers
(Politico) Jake Tapper confirmed Republicans who push election fraud conspiracies are not welcome on his show. hosts of the other big political shows have adopted the same practice including Morning Joe duo Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski.
Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday disagrees…
Tapper: “This isn’t a policy, it’s a discussion I think everyone in the news media should be having. Should those who shared the election lie that incited the deadly attack on the Capitol and that continues to erode confidence in our democracy be invited onto our airwaves to continue to spread the Big Lie? Can our viewers count on these politicians to tell the truth about other topics? This isn’t an easy conversation for some folks — especially for journalists who work for organizations where the Big Lie was platformed — but that’s all the more reason to have this conversation.
Trust in news has become a public health issue
Trust in journalism factors into decisions to get vaccinated. Those who say they trust journalism are more informed about the risks and benefits of these vaccines than those who indicate low trust in journalism. While Canadians put their highest trust in doctors and public health care officials, they express high trust (76 per cent) in Canadian journalists for details about the vaccine rollout and for information about the pandemic overall (75 per cent).

3 May
Happy 50th, NPR!
1A Reflects On The Last And Next 50 Years Of NPR
Monday, May 3, 2021, marks the 50th anniversary of NPR’s first on-air original broadcast. In the last half century, NPR and Member stations have been essential, trusted sources for local events and cultural programming featuring music, local history, education and the arts. To mark this milestone, we’re reflecting on — and renewing — our commitment to serve an audience that reflects America and to Hear Every Voice.
World Press Freedom Day
This year’s World Press Freedom Day theme “Information as a Public Good” serves as a call to affirm the importance of cherishing information as a public good, and exploring what can be done in the production, distribution and reception of content to strengthen journalism, and to advance transparency and empowerment while leaving no one behind. The theme is of urgent relevance to all countries across the world. It recognizes the changing communications system that is impacting on our health, our human rights, democracies and sustainable development.
To underline the importance of information within our online media environment, WPFD 2021 will highlight three key topics:
Steps to ensure the economic viability of news media;
Mechanisms for ensuring transparency of Internet companies;
Enhanced Media and Information Literacy (MIL) capacities that enable people to recognize and value, as well as defend and demand, journalism as a vital part of information as a public good.
Press Released
Today’s media landscape is littered with landmines: open hostility from illiberal and autocratic regimes, mounting censorship in countries such as Hungary, Turkey, and Tanzania, growing financial pressure, and the challenge of “fake news.” In “Press Released,” Project Syndicate frames and stimulates debates about the myriad challenges facing the press today.

23 April
What Substack Is Really Doing to the Media
The company is targeting one of news organizations’ weak points.
(Slate) … A key to understanding Substack’s impact on the news is to recognize that the kind of journalism that tends to thrive there—so far, at least for the most part—is not actually news. It’s commentary and analysis, aimed at the chattering classes.
Leading newsletters such as Heather Cox Richardson’s Letter From an American, Roxane Gay’s the Audacity, and Scott Alexander’s Astral Codex Ten are wildly diverse in their perspectives and subject matter. …the site’s leaderboards are populated mostly with writers who are better known for theorizing, contextualizing, and opining than working the phones or scouring public records. And that makes sense: News is about discovering and distributing timely information to the public at large, and can be slow and costly to produce. Paid newsletters are about consistently appealing to the interests of a loyal, niche audience, which can be accomplished relatively quickly by a single writer drawing on the original reporting of others.

15 April
Reuters puts its website behind a paywall.
(NYT) The company, one of the largest news organizations in the world, announced the new paywall on Thursday, as well as a redesigned website aimed at a “professional” audience wanting business, financial and general news.
After registration and a free preview period, a subscription to Reuters.com will cost $34.99 a month, the same as Bloomberg’s digital subscription. The Wall Street Journal’s digital subscription costs $38.99 a month, while The New York Times costs $18.42 monthly.
On Monday, Reuters announced that Alessandra Galloni, a global managing editor, would become its next editor in chief. Ms. Galloni, who will be the first woman to helm the news agency in its history, starts her new role on Monday. She takes over from Stephen J. Adler, who retired after running Reuters for a decade.
Ms. Gajilan said that Ms. Galloni had been closely involved in the new direction of Reuters.com

12-13 April
Susan, Linda, Nina, and Cokie: The Extraordinary Story of the Founding Mothers of NPR
A group biography of four beloved women who fought sexism, covered decades of American news, and whose voices defined NPR
In the years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, women in the workplace still found themselves relegated to secretarial positions or locked out of jobs entirely. This was especially true in the news business, a backwater of male chauvinism where a woman might be lucky to get a foothold on the “women’s pages.” But when a pioneering nonprofit called National Public Radio came along in the 1970s, and the door to serious journalism opened a crack, four remarkable women came along and blew it off the hinges.
Susan, Linda, Nina, and Cokie is journalist Lisa Napoli’s captivating account of these four women, their deep and enduring friendships, and the trail they blazed to becoming icons.
Reflections on My Days Working With the ‘Founding Mothers’ of NPR
Looking back and catching up with three of them: Susan Stamberg, Linda Wertheimer and Nina Totenberg
Editor’s note: With National Public Radio (NPR) approaching its 50th anniversary and the release of the book “susan, linda, nina & cokie” about NPR broadcasters Susan Stamberg, Linda Wertheimer, Nina Totenberg and Cokie Roberts, Next Avenue has published an article by Richard Harris, “The Founding Mothers of NPR.” Harris worked at NPR for years with those groundbreaking women and offers a personal account here.

29 March
After prolonged period of press-bashing, a more constructive form of media criticism is now flourishing
By Kevin M. Lerner, Associate Professor of Journalism, Marist College
(The Conversation) Over the past several years, and maybe even longer, it seems as if every day brings a new round of attacks on the American press.
Some of these attacks come under the guise of criticism: accusations of being “fake news”; arguments that journalists are biased. But some more seriously threaten journalists themselves. Just recently, Fox News host Tucker Carlson unleashed what was described as a “calculated and cruel” verbal assault against New York Times reporter Taylor Lorenz repeatedly on his show. Some rallies for Donald Trump even saw attendees displaying threats of lynching reporters on a T-shirt.
This kind of criticism – attempting to delegitimize the press – serves to undermine trust in the work that journalists do. But even if these attacks on the press seem prominent now, they are part of a decadeslong trend.
The public’s trust in the media began declining in the mid-1970s. By 2020, a Pew Research Center survey found that more than half of the American public had either “not too much” confidence in the news media or none at all.
Over the past five years, though, another kind of press criticism has come to prominence after a period of marginalization. This brand of press criticism takes a free and independent press as a necessity for life in a democratic society.
Instead of seeking to delegitimize the press, these critics are simultaneously explaining the workings of the press to the public and holding it accountable in its role as the public’s representative and watchdog.

27 March
Randy Bachman to hang up ‘Vinyl Tap’ mic at CBC Radio on Canada Day
Randy Bachman says he’s taking his business elsewhere after leadership at CBC Radio told him they’re cancelling his “Vinyl Tap” music show.
The 77-year-old Winnipeg native says his long-running Saturday night program has become a casualty of CBC’s latest programming changes.
Bachman will host a farewell special on Canada Day before shopping the show, and its catchy namesake, to other broadcasters or revamping it in a podcast format.
Since launching in 2005, “Vinyl Tap” became a defining feature of CBC’s weekend programming. Its broad strokes of musical exploration touched on classic rock, jazz and contemporary pop alongside Bachman’s reflections on his decades in the music industry.

23 March
The death of the newsroom means the end of journalism as we know it
(Reaction via Press Gazette) Reach, owners of the Mirror, Express, Star and more than 100 regional titles, is planning on closing most of its newsrooms so that staff will in future work remotely from home or over a laptop in a coffee bar, and venture into the office only for occasional meetings, is genuinely upsetting news.
The newsroom is much more than covering the occurrence of a terrorist outrage or disaster or some political storm. It’s about a buzz, an intangible chemistry, an intoxicating smell, of people, young and old, sparking off each other, sharing ideas and leads, bits of information and yes, having a gossip and a laugh. It’s the media equivalent of the City trading floor and the football changing room. It’s where “it” happens.
Reach says management has surveyed the workforce and they’ve said they’re perfectly happy being at home. To which my response is that they would of course say that.

2-3 February
Canada’s Bell Media Cuts Hundreds of Jobs, Including in Radio
This week’s round of layoffs comes after members of parliament revealed last month that Bell had received 122 million Canadian dollars ($95.42 million) in COVID-19 relief aid, as part of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program, which covers a portion of employees’ salaries. Bell was “a participant in a government program that was very well designed to keep Canadians working at a critical time and we participated in that program commensurate with the impact that the pandemic was having upon our workforce,” Robert Malcolmson, Bell’s chief legal and regulatory officer, told Liberal MP Nate Erskine-Smith in a Jan. 26 video chat.
Bell also has received public criticism for putting so many people out of work behind the scenes as it publicly promoted its annual nationwide mental health awareness campaign and fundraiser #BellLetsTalk Day.
Bell Media lays off 210 employees in Toronto area, half from newsrooms: union
Bell Media is part of BCE Inc.’s Bell Canada division, the country’s largest telecommunications company. Its holdings include the CTV television network, specialty TV channels, radio stations and production studios.
A Bell Media spokesman confirmed Monday that it had cut an unspecified number of staff, including on-air broadcast roles, due to programming decisions by Bell’s radio brands as part of the company’s streamlined operating structures.
Bell Media closes CJAD’s newsroom, cuts two weekday evening shows
Reporters Richard Deschamps, Shuyee Lee and Elizabeth Zogalis were among the CJAD employees who confirmed their departure Monday, and Weekday evening shows Nightside, hosted by Jon Pole, and Passion with Doctor Laurie Betito have been cut
CJAD’s newsroom is no more.
Owner Bell Media laid off all of the radio station’s reporters on Monday, two union sources told the Montreal Gazette. Bell Media would only confirm it has made “a limited number of staff reductions, many of them changes in on-air broadcast roles due to programming decisions” at CJAD.
What’s more, CTV has decided not to replace Maya Johnson as a full-time Quebec City bureau chief after she returns to Montreal to become the new anchor at 5 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. CTV Montreal reporters will instead spend time in the provincial capital on a rotating basis whenever the National Assembly is in session, Carrière said.

2020

28 December
Year in Review: Most-Watched Television Networks — Ranking 2020’s Winners and Losers
Complete Broadcast, Cable and Pay TV Ratings Ranker for 2020 in Total Viewers and Adults 18-49
(Variety) Yes, linear TV still exists, and it’s still watched by millions of viewers. But 2020 was another tipping point for traditional television, and it’s not just because of the pandemic. What has been steady viewership erosion for broadcast and cable went into overdrive this year, despite a pandemic that should have increased or at least stabilized viewership.
Anecdotally, people did watch more TV as they stayed at home this year — but they were either watching news, or catching their favorite shows on demand.

20 October
“There was never going to be a reckoning. No accountability, only retreat. It’s chilling how much damage one young person with a knack for social media can do.”
Why the Alt-Right’s Most Famous Woman Disappeared
Lauren Southern could spew racist propaganda like no other. But the men around her were better at one thing: trafficking in ugly misogyny.

16 October
End Our National Crisis
The Case Against Donald Trump By The [New York Times] Editorial Board
It is the purpose of this special section of the Sunday Review to remind readers why Mr. Trump is unfit to lead the nation. It includes a series of essays focused on the Trump administration’s rampant corruption, celebrations of violence, gross negligence with the public’s health and incompetent statecraft.
Donald Trump’s re-election campaign poses the greatest threat to American democracy since World War II.
Mr. Trump’s ruinous tenure already has gravely damaged the United States at home and around the world. He has abused the power of his office and denied the legitimacy of his political opponents, shattering the norms that have bound the nation together for generations. He has subsumed the public interest to the profitability of his business and political interests. He has shown a breathtaking disregard for the lives and liberties of Americans. He is a man unworthy of the office he holds.

12 October
As Trump Flouts Safety Protocols, News Outlets Balk at Close Coverage
Newspapers and networks are wary of exposing their staff members to the president and his aides, saying they do not have assurance that basic precautions will be taken to protect reporters’ health.
The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post are among the major outlets that have declined to assign reporters to travel with Mr. Trump as he returns to the trail this week, saying they do not have assurance that basic precautions will be taken to protect reporters’ health.

14 August
Trump’s attacks on the Postal Service deserve sustained, red-alert coverage from the media
if journalists don’t keep the pressure on Postal Service problems, they will be abdicating their duty.
There’s very little that matters more than the Nov. 3 vote. Anything that threatens the integrity of the vote needs to be treated as one of the biggest stories out there — even if it’s not the sexiest

(WaPo) Listen to President Trump long enough, and, despite his penchant for falsehood, you’ll eventually hear some unvarnished truth. … His words were stark: “Now, they need that money in order to have the Post Office work, so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots.” He added that holding back funding means “they can’t have universal mail-in voting, they just can’t have it.”
In other words, he doesn’t want American citizens, fearful of exposure to the coronavirus, to have every opportunity to vote in November.
The news media — although numbed to Trump’s outrageous statements after years of standing in the path of his fire hose of distraction — managed a robust reaction to Thursday’s disgraceful remarks.
Network news shows reported it high in their broadcasts. The Washington Post and the New York Times put the story above the fold on their print front pages and prominently on their home pages. (The Wall Street Journal did not mention it on Friday’s print front page.) The Philadelphia Inquirer nailed it, reporting that Pennsylvania mail ballots may not be delivered on time and that state officials foresee an “overwhelming” risk to voters. Vice’s Motherboard dived into the sorting-machine debacle.

14 August
As Newsrooms Close Across the Country, Remembering Why They Matter
By Tom Robbins

4 August
If one reporter can demolish Trump, where are the rest?
(WaPo) Axios’s Jonathan Swan deserves praise for his revealing interview with the intellectually and temperamentally deficient president. Pressed on how he could crow about his handling of the pandemic when a thousand people a day were dying, President Trump replied: “They are dying. That’s true. And you have — it is what it is. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t doing everything we can. It’s under control as much as you can control it.” The sight of him shuffling through papers, unable to process unflattering information or respond to questions for which he did not have a stock answer, was sobering if unsurprising. His peevish refusal to recognize the late Rep. John Lewis’s greatness because Lewis did not attend Trump’s inauguration was yet another example of raging narcissism.
However, what is instructive — and disturbing — was the amazement expressed by other media personalities in response. … After applauding their colleague Swan, the rest of the TV news universe might engage in some self-reflection. Why have they been so ineffective? Why have they played the false balance game? Do they have the people with the right skill set or have they simply given up asking the hardest questions for the sake of genial entertainment? These are tough but essential questions necessary if we are to have an effective, independent media. Right now, effective inquisitors are islands in a sea of froth and fog.

2 August
How the Media Could Get the Election Story Wrong
We may not know the results for days, and maybe weeks. So it’s time to rethink “election night.”
(NYT) The coronavirus crisis means that states like Pennsylvania may be counting mail-in ballots for weeks, while President Trump tweets false allegations about fraud. And the last barriers between American democracy and a deep political crisis may be television news and some version of that maddening needle on The New York Times website.
I spoke last week to executives, TV hosts and election analysts across leading American newsrooms, and I was struck by the blithe confidence among some top managers and hosts, who generally said they’ve handled complicated elections before and can do so again. And I was alarmed by the near panic among some of the people paying the closest attention — the analysts and producers trying, and often failing, to get answers from state election officials about how and when they will count the ballots and report results.
“The nerds are freaking out,” said Brandon Finnigan, the founder of Decision Desk HQ, which delivers election results to media outlets. “I don’t think it’s penetrated enough in the average viewer’s mind that there’s not going to be an election night. The usual razzmatazz of a panel sitting around discussing election results — that’s dead,” he said.

1 August
A Newsroom at the Edge of Autocracy
The South China Morning Post is arguably the world’s most important newspaper—for what it tells us about media freedoms as China’s power grows.
(The Atlantic) The SCMP is not as well read as the international outlets that it would like to compete with, but because of its unique position—as the main English-language outlet in a strategically important city—its coverage plays an outsize role in shaping international understanding of events not just in Hong Kong but across the border in China, as well.
Even beyond China, the SCMP has stood apart, operating free from the onerous press restrictions enforced in other Asian countries such as Singapore. Today, it is arguably the city’s most important title internationally, a position gained from a combination of both its size and its ownership (it is controlled by Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group, one of China’s most successful tech companies).
… Through the late 1980s and into the mid-2000s, the paper was owned by the media tycoon Rupert Murdoch and then the Malaysian billionaire Robert Kuok, and while SCMP veterans often speak of a bygone golden era in which the paper was more critical, there have in fact long been instances that gave rise to questions about its editorial stance and censorship.

25 July
Sinclair TV stations delay airing interview with ‘Plandemic’ researcher amid backlash
After facing intense scrutiny for planning to air a baseless conspiracy theory that infectious-disease expert Anthony S. Fauci helped to create the coronavirus, conservative TV broadcaster Sinclair Broadcast Group announced Saturday that it will delay the segment to edit the context of the claims.
Sinclair, which has 191 stations across the country, received backlash this week after “America This Week” host Eric Bolling interviewed Judy Mikovits, a former medical researcher featured in the debunked “Plandemic” conspiracy online film.
In the Sinclair interview, Mikovits claimed that Fauci “manufactured” the coronavirus and shipped it to Wuhan, China, where the outbreak originated.

24 July
Hungary’s Index journalists walk out over sacking
(BBC) More than 70 journalists and staff at Hungary’s top news site Index have resigned, accusing the government of launching a bid to destroy or tame their website.
Index is the last of Hungary’s key independent media and editor in chief Szabolcs Dull was fired on Tuesday.
Its journalists said the sacking was “clear interference” and an attempt to apply pressure on the site.
Hours later protesters gathered in Budapest to rally for media freedom.
Barbara Kay “Stepping Away” From The National Post
Longtime columnist blames increased editorial scrutiny
(Canadaland) Kay wrote that she wasn’t comfortable with increased editorial scrutiny at the paper, which she attributed to editors now feeling more accountable to the public.
17 July
The American mind closes a bit further
By Konrad Yakabuski
The intellectually claustrophobic environment on university campuses has for many years left newsrooms as the last bastion of open inquiry
…the opinion pages of any newspaper played a critical role in advancing debates about what kind of society we wanted to live in. By necessity, the op-ed pages had to be forums where diverse and controversial opinions could be expressed without fear of censorship or reprisal against those who dared go against the groupthink du jour.
That is why recent developments at The New York Times have been so frightening for those of us who have long admired that newspaper as a beacon of free thought and open inquiry. Yes, its editorial page has mostly reflected the particular viewpoints of its owners or the U.S. liberal intellectual elite. But the paper’s embrace of cancel culture has left a once-model journalistic institution indulging in the same lazy righteousness it used to denounce.

12 July
Trump Appointee Might Not Extend Visas for Foreign Journalists at V.O.A.
The action could be a blow to the news-gathering abilities of Voice of America, an independently operated media agency funded by the government
(NYT) As many as 100 foreign citizens working in the United States as journalists for the Voice of America, a government-funded news outlet, might not have their visas extended once they expire, according to people familiar with the planning.
Michael Pack, the new chief executive for the U.S. Agency for Global Media, has indicated he may not approve extensions for any journalist holding a J-1 visa, which allows foreign citizens to temporarily work in the United States in ways that promote cultural exchanges.
The discussion on the visas, first reported by NPR, follows the firing on Wednesday of Bay Fang, who became executive editor of Radio Free Asia after Mr. Pack removed her last month as president of the organization. She was asked to leave the organization by the acting president, Parameswaran Ponnudurai.

11 July
How Can the Press Best Serve a Democratic Society?
In the nineteen-forties, a panel of scholars struggled over truth in reporting, the marketplace of ideas, and the maintenance of a free and responsible press. Their deliberations are more relevant than ever.
(The New Yorker) …the work of the Hutchins Commission remains a touchstone, in part because of the way it lays out the virtues to which journalism can aspire in a democracy. The committee’s report begins by going back to first principles and making the case for the special status of the freedom of expression. It is the political liberty from which all others spring—the one that “promotes and protects all the rest.” “Civilized society . . . lives and changes by the consumption of ideas,” the report argues. “Therefore it must make sure that as many as possible of the ideas which its members have are available for its examination.” It’s because the press is the primary conduit through which people engage with the ideas they need to function as democratic citizens that it must be both protected and scrutinized.

10 July
Wall Street Journal Staff Members Push for Big Changes in News Coverage
A letter from a group of Journal reporters and editors calls for “more muscular reporting about race and social inequities,” as well as skepticism toward business and government leaders.
“In part because WSJ’s coverage has focused historically on industries and leadership ranks dominated by white men, many of our newsroom practices are inadequate for the present moment,” the letter said.
Among its proposals: Mr. Murray should appoint journalists to cover “race, ethnicity and inequality”; name two standards editors specializing in diversity; conduct a study of the race, ethnicity and gender breakdown of the subjects of The Journal’s “most prominent and resource-intensive stories”; and bring more diversity to the newsroom and leadership positions.

19 June
The ‘Absurd’ New Reality of Reporting From the U.S.
The role of Washington correspondent has long been one of the most prized postings in international journalism.
(The Atlantic) In recent weeks, journalists—both domestic and international—have been subject to unparalleled attacks on press freedom across the U.S. Several of these incidents have involved the detention and arrest of people who identified themselves as members of the press. Others have been considerably more violent, involving the targeting of journalists with rubber bullets and chemical irritants. A photojournalist was permanently blinded in one eye as a result. Like Floyd’s death, many of these incidents have been caught on camera.
For foreign media, who have been among those assaulted, targeted with rubber bullets and tear gas, and arrested, the government’s response to the protests—upwards of 400 media-freedoms violations have been reported since the demonstrations began—is shifting perceptions of what it means to be a journalist in America.
European media that criticized the Hungarian Prime Minister asked to apologize
European media that criticized Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s coronavirus state of emergency have been asked to apologize by Hungary’s ambassadors in the countries where they are based. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns this ploy, which aims to intimidate foreign reporters in Hungary and compounds the existing pressure on Hungary’s own media.

16 – 17 June
‘Wednesday night massacre’ as Trump appointee takes over at global media agency
(CNN Business)The heads of four organizations overseen by the US Agency for Global Media (USAGM) were all dismissed Wednesday night — a move likely to heighten concerns that new Trump-appointed CEO Michael Pack means to turn the agency into a political arm of the administration.
In what a former official described as a “Wednesday night massacre,” the heads of Middle East Broadcasting, Radio Free Asia, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and the Open Technology Fund were all ousted, multiple sources told CNN.
A source familiar with the situation said at least two of the removals — that of RFE/RL’s Jamie Fly and MBN’s Alberto Fernandez — were unexpected. The head of the Open Technology Fund, Libby Liu, had resigned effective July, but was still fired Wednesday evening, one of the sources said.
In addition, Jeffrey Shapiro, an ally the ultra-conservative former Trump White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, is expected to be named to lead the Office of Cuba Broadcasting.
Ex-Trump Aide Sebastian Gorka May Get Role Atop Voice Of America: Report
The pro-Trump mouthpiece is being floated for a U.S. Agency for Global Media job, fanning concern that the White House aims to build a propaganda empire.
(Huff Post) Controversial right-wing radio host and former Donald Trump aide Sebastian Gorka may take a leadership role in the taxpayer-funded agency that supervises the Voice of America, CNN reported, citing a “well-placed” source.
The installation of a stridently pro-Trump mouthpiece would further shake the leadership ranks of Voice of America, the U.S.-funded international news agency with a record of independent reporting, and inflame fears that the White House aims to mold it into a propaganda empire.
Michael Pack, a conservative filmmaker and friend of former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, is taking over as head of the Agency for Global Media after the Senate finally succumbed to White House pressure to confirm him. [Senate Confirms Conservative Filmmaker to Lead U.S. Media Agency]
The Voice of America’s top two editors ― both veteran journalists appointed during the Obama administration ― resigned on Monday, citing Pack’s arrival.[V.O.A. Directors Resign After Bannon Ally Takes Charge of U.S. Media Agency]
The turmoil follows a major confrontation involving the blacklisting of the VOA by a public relations manager at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under pressure from the White House. [Internal CDC memo forbids staff from speaking with Voice of America] The Trump administration accused the VOA of pushing Chinese “propaganda” about the coronavirus pandemic in a bizarre statement that claimed that “much of the U.S. media takes its lead from China.”
RSF alarmed by abrupt dismissals of US news agency heads by Trump-appointed CEO

9 June
Black Lives Matter movement reshapes the media landscape
(CNN Business) The media industry is at another inflection point. In the way the Me Too movement reshaped newsrooms, sparked debate, and purged bad actors from positions of authority, the Black Lives Matter movement is bringing about a similar upheaval by putting questions about race and reporting on the center stage.
“Women and people of color [are] more susceptible to discipline”: The Washington Post grapples with its social media policy in leaked memo
(Nieman Lab) To help address some of these issues, The Post in February tasked a group of National Desk staffers with writing a report analyzing the paper’s social media policy. The committee surveyed more than 50 Post reporters and ultimately found “near universal desire for a policy that is clearer and more specific about staffers’ responsibilities and limitations in using social media, as well as management’s obligations to employees’ security and equitable enforcement of the rules.” The report was leaked to Ben Smith, the media columnist at The New York Times and former editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed
The document — which the Post said on Monday is “part of a broader conversation we’ve been having throughout the newsroom about our use of social media” — is worth reading in full.

8 June
Issue 45: Why everyone hates the mainstream media
Judgements about status are embedded in almost everything aspect of the news. To read the news is to be insulted — which is why people are fleeing the mainstream media in droves
By Andrew Potter
(Policy for Pandemics) Like politics and law, the news isn’t a pretty system, but it worked well enough for most of the 20th century and a big chunk of the current one. But the mainstream media has lost a lot of its power and authority, as readers have taken full advantage of the enormous choice on offer. There’s no room here to discuss the full effect of that, but one obvious result has been that the news business has become more partisan and more polarized. And those organizations that still try to maintain a semblance of objectivity and impartiality just find themselves loathed by all sides.

2 June
Press pass, camera no longer providing journalists protection during conflicts in U.S.
(Canadian Press) Press passes and television cameras, once powerful symbols of neutrality that helped protect journalists working in combat zones, are providing little defence for reporters and crews covering the escalating urban conflict in the United States.
The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, an online project sponsored in part by the U.S. Freedom of the Press Foundation and the Committee to Protect Journalists, had documented more than 180 separate incidents since protests erupted late last week in Minneapolis before rapidly spreading to urban centres large and small across the country.

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