February 27, 2024

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Media Insider: 24 Journalists Killed in Gaza, 41 States Sue Meta, Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Fund Local News

5 min read
Also in this week’s media news roundup: A Gallup report finds Americans are following the news less closely.
Media Insider: 24 Journalists Killed in Gaza, 41 States Sue Meta, Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Fund Local News

Welcome to Media Insider, PR Newswire’s roundup of media news stories from the week. 

At least 24 journalists have been killed in the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza
NPR | Jaclyn Diaz

At least 24 journalists are among the more than 6,000 people who have been killed in the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, according to the latest tally released Wednesday by the Committee to Protect Journalists. The conflict in Gaza has resulted in the deadliest stretch for journalists in Israel and the occupied territories since the committee began tracking journalist deaths in 1992. Of the two dozen journalists who have died, 20 were Palestinian, three were Israeli, and one was Lebanese. At least eight other journalists have been reported injured, while three others are believed missing or detained. The last time journalists faced such heightened danger in Israel was during the Second Intifada of the early 2000s when more than 4,300 people died over more than four years of fighting. The CPJ documented the deaths of 13 journalists during that time — a number now surpassed by the latest hostilities. “This is unprecedented,” said Lucy Westcott, CPJ’s emergencies director.

Related: Inside the New York Times debate over its Gaza hospital bombing coverage.

41 states sue Meta, claiming Instagram, Facebook are addictive, harm kids
Washington Post | Cristiano Lima, Naomi Mix

Forty-one states and D.C. are suing Meta, alleging that the tech giant harms children by building addictive features into Instagram and Facebook. The legal actions represent the most significant effort by state enforcers to tackle the impact of social media on children’s mental health. The barrage of lawsuits is the culmination of a sprawling 2021 investigation into claims that Meta contributes to mental health issues among young people. While the scope of the legal claims varies, they paint a picture of a company that has hooked children on its platforms using harmful and manipulative tactics. A 233-page federal complaint alleges that the company engaged in a “scheme to exploit young users for profit” by misleading them about safety features and the prevalence of harmful content, harvesting their data and violating federal laws on children’s privacy. State officials claim that the company knowingly deployed changes to keep children on the site to the detriment of their well-being, violating consumer protection laws. The allegations mark a rare bipartisan agreement and underscore the groundswell of concern among government leaders that social networks harm younger users by optimizing for engagement over safety.

Speaking of Meta, the company’s Threads platform is growing again, drawing power users seeking an alternative to Elon Musk’s X.

Americans are following the news less closely than they used to
Pew Research Center | Naomi Forman-Katz

Americans are following the news less closely than they were a few years ago, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis. This comes amid changes in news consumption habits, declining trust in the media, and high levels of news fatigue. In 2016, 51% of U.S. adults said they followed the news all or most of the time; that fell to 38% in 2022. In turn, a rising share of Americans say they follow the news only now and then. While only 12% of adults said this in 2016, that figure increased to 19% by 2022. And while 5% of adults said in 2016 that they hardly ever follow the news, 9% said the same last year. The recent decline in Americans’ attention to the news has occurred across demographic lines, including education, gender, race, ethnicity, and political party affiliation, but the decline is still bigger among some groups than others. For example, the decrease has been particularly steep among Republicans, who also have become much less likely to trust information from national news organizations in recent years.

This comes on the heels of a Gallup poll that showed media confidence in the U.S. matches Gallup’s lowest historical reading.

D.C. lawmakers to introduce new bill funding local news via vouchers
Axios | Sara Fischer, Cuneyt Dil

D.C. council members plan to introduce a first-of-its-kind bill that would issue government-funded vouchers to city residents to donate to local journalism outlets of their choice. The bill, if passed, would mark the first time a local news voucher program would be implemented by a local government in the U.S. “It’s a big step forward,” said Steven Waldman, a longtime local news advocate who is leading a coalition of hundreds of local outlets to advocate for the tax credits. The legislation would allocate $11 million annually to local news subsidies for D.C.’s roughly 670,000 residents, who can then use those vouchers to support any local news outlet of their choice, with the exception of local TV companies. The money must be used to support non-paywalled content. News organizations will be required to create a separate bank account to accept voucher funds from residents.

Also from Axios: Feminist blogging site Jezebel is up for sale.

Sale of Telegraph newspapers and Spectator kicks off
The Guardian | Mark Sweney

The sale of the Telegraph newspapers and the Spectator has kicked off, thwarting a last-ditch attempt by the Barclay family to shut down the auction with a blockbuster £1bn offer. The boards of the parent companies of Telegraph Media Group (TMG), the parent company of the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph, and the Spectator said that the advisers Goldman Sachs had launched a sales process for each of the businesses. Earlier this week, the Barclay family tabled an offer valuing the Telegraph newspaper group at £1bn in an attempt to stop the sale process heading to an auction and deter rival bidders from challenging them. The Barclays acquired the Daily and Sunday Telegraph and the Spectator in 2004 but Lloyds bank took control of the titles in June after the family failed to reach an agreement over more than £1bn in unpaid debt. Analysts have put an expected price tag on the Telegraph titles of between £500m and £700m. The Spectator could fetch as much as £70m.

In more UK media news: The Countryman magazine folds after 96 years, citing “unviable” conditions.

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