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From: Ron10/6/2017 11:45:08 AM
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Who's watching what on Hulu, Netflix and Amazon streaming:

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From: Ron10/6/2017 11:58:53 AM
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Progress in the wrong direction: With the New FCC: Defining Digital Down

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From: Glenn Petersen10/9/2017 9:24:08 PM
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Rupert Murdoch Is The Media’s Unlikely Hero In The War Against Facebook And Google

Murdoch's bare-knuckle tactics are familiar to his many media enemies. Now his sights are set on Silicon Valley, and fellow media executives are starting to think the billionaire villain behind Fox News isn't so bad.

Originally posted on October 4, 2017, at 6:48 a.m.
Updated on October 4, 2017, at 3:12 p.m.
by Steven Perlberg BuzzFeed News Reporter and
Mark Di Stefano
BuzzFeed News Reporter

As the media industry girds for war with Silicon Valley’s powerful tech companies, its executives are coming to a painful realization: Rupert Murdoch saw it coming.

The octogenarian Aussie is seen in his industry as a rogue, a villain, and a bit of a Luddite, crouching behind his paywalls as the future arrives. His empire’s most daring technical innovation might have been phone hacking.

But in recent months, the 86-year-old billionaire has emerged to his industry as something else: a hero.

Murdoch and his chief newspaper lieutenant, News Corp CEO Robert Thomson, have taken a central role in the news industry’s corporate war against Facebook and Google, technology leviathans that have eaten journalism’s business model and forever changed how readers consume information.

That dynamic has until recently been the stuff of insider-y media trade stories and navel-gazing panel discussions, but the 2016 election changed everything. Stories in recent months highlighting Facebook and Google’s fraught role in the election — from the spread of “fake news” to 10 million people viewing Russian-bought ads — have thrust skepticism about the power held by social giants into mainstream public view like never before.

Now media executives are sensing blood in the water — hoping that Facebook and Google’s legitimate public relations nightmare might give news outlets more leverage in business negotiations, and that Washington lawmakers and the public at large will come to see tech giants as public utilities that require regulation.

As the most well-connected media mogul in Washington, the news industry might need Murdoch now more than ever.

His bare-knuckle tactics are familiar to both UK election campaigns — “It’s The Sun Wot Won It” — and brutal regulatory battles in the US. In a legendary late 1980s cross-ownership feud in Boston, Murdoch’s Herald newspaper launched a vicious campaign against Senator Ted Kennedy, who had blocked the mogul’s exemption from owning a newspaper and television station in the same market. (Read one anti-Kennedy lead from a Boston Herald columnist: “Was it something I said, Fat Boy?”)

Google and Facebook might do well to study the Kennedy incident. The Times of London, a Murdoch-owned British daily newspaper, has engaged in a months-long campaign this year exposing various problems with tech platforms, particularly issues that have concerned advertisers. The series began on Feb. 9 when a jarring image was splashed across the front page: an advertisement for resort chain Sandals next to a jihadi YouTube video. “BIG BRANDS FUND TERROR,” read the headline.

Since then, the paper has published 18 front pages taking on Facebook and Google, YouTube’s owner, with headlines like “ GOOGLE: WE WON’T REMOVE VIDEO THAT ATTACKS JEWS” and “ FACEBOOK PUBLISHING CHILD PORN.”

The Times series and subsequent reporting from other outlets this spring (like Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal) sparked an advertiser exodus from YouTube by brands like Sainsbury’s, McDonald’s, and L’Oreal. Thomson even railed against social media companies on an investor call on the same day of the Times’ initial story, adding that, conveniently, News Corp was testing its own digital-advertising network.

The YouTube advertiser revolt didn’t harm Google’s staggeringly strong bottom line, but the Times series rattled the company enough to lead to a face-to-face meeting between Murdoch, Thomson, and Google chief executive Sundar Pichai, according to sources.

“[Google and Facebook] would prefer we didn't draw so much attention to the problematic content on their platforms. Understand firstly that we're not going to stop. Secondly, this content is a huge issue,” said a senior executive at Murdoch’s UK newspapers.

To be sure, journalists across the board have been homing in on Facebook and Google because it has been a captivating story.

Lawmakers and regulators from Washington to London to Brussels have begun scrutinizing tech giants once lauded as corporate darlings. Facebook, Google, and Twitter are being dragged to Capitol Hill to answer questions about Russian attempts to use social media to influence the 2016 presidential election. Mark Zuckerberg has spent months walking back Facebook’s PR line that the company’s influence in the election was a “pretty crazy idea.” Google was slapped with a monster antitrust fine after a seven-year EU investigation.

For media executives, the tides of public opinion turning against Facebook and Google couldn’t have come any sooner, and they are happy to keep up the pressure. News Corp sources describe its battle against the platforms as a business, not moral imperative.

That’s because the so-called duopoly of Facebook and Google, by some estimates, accounted for nearly 100% of the growth in US digital ad revenue last year. Nearly all mainstream media outlets derive a mammoth portion of their audience from the very platforms that are swallowing them whole. Some digital upstarts have built entire businesses on the backs of the social platforms, and are therefore routinely beholden to the whims of their tech overlords (case in point: the “ pivot to video”). For years, that reality has been enough to keep media executives up at night — but also hushed in their criticism.

Not Murdoch or Thomson. In some regard, News Corp was always well-positioned to become a loud voice railing against big tech. From early on — after Murdoch’s 2007 acquisition of the Wall Street Journal — the company made the decision to focus on paying subscribers instead of chasing a huge audience, which necessitates playing ball with Google and Facebook.

“The fact that the WSJ never gave its journalism away, that ethos helped reinforce their thinking,” said Raju Narisetti, a former News Corp executive and now CEO of Univision’s Gizmodo Media Group.

The reality of the news business means that working with Facebook and Google is a fact of life, though News Corp has always been notably fiery on the subject. In 2009, for instance, when Google’s search engine was fast changing the media landscape, Murdoch threatened to yank News Corp articles from Google search results in favor of Microsoft’s Bing, because Google “[steals] our stories.”

Murdoch had also singled out former Google CEO Eric Schmidt personally before in public statements. In recent years, one person familiar with the matter said, Google executives have sought to steadily thaw the two companies’ relationship.

Many media executives express fears about Facebook and Google publicly, and are gleeful in their criticism whenever the platforms mess up (like when Facebook had to admit a series of video metric miscalculations). But in the past, many have only done so privately among colleagues or on background with media reporters.

There are, of course, exceptions. Andrew Morse, general manager of CNN’s digital business, told Bloomberg this summer that “Facebook is about Facebook” and that “for the media companies looking to partner with ­significant commitments, it gets to be a bit of whiplash.”

Since the election, with Facebook and Google scrambling to defend their roles in the public discourse, news executives have ramped up criticisms. Facebook and Google are now a major political story.

NBC’s ad sales chief, for instance, said that if her company delivered as much nonhuman traffic as Facebook, “We would be testifying in Washington” — a not-so-subtle jab at Facebook, which has had to testify in Washington. (NBCUniversal is an investor in BuzzFeed.)

Executives haven’t always been so blunt.

“It was seen as unfashionable to highlight the risks. There was an element of fear that you might suffer the consequences,” said one executive at News Corp’s Dow Jones unit, which owns the Wall Street Journal. Thomson, for his part, has become well-known for his flamboyant anti-tech rhetoric, like how many websites act as “tech tapeworms in the intestines of the internet” or how some “net Neanderthals [think] everything should be free all the time.”

“For the last several years we've been working closely with major publishers around the world, including News Corp and hundreds more," Richard Gingras, vice president of news at Google, said in a statement. "We responded to their concerns about slow loading mobile pages with the open source AMP project and to their interest in video distribution with the YouTube Player for Publishers. The current big ask from publishers is around growing the market for premium content and subscription models. We are all in on helping with that!”

“Our goal is to support quality journalism on Facebook. We've met directly with partners across the news landscape so we can best understand their ambitions for online subscriptions, and their collaboration is baked directly into the product we plan to test," Campbell Brown, Facebook's global head of news partnerships, said in a statement. "We want to improve news publishers’ outcomes on Facebook full-stop.”

Now that anti–Facebook and Google talk is in vogue, News Corp is happy to take a victory lap.

“The digital duopoly clearly benefited from commodifying content and rewarding sites, fake or flawed, that gamed search engines and peddled witless clickbait at the expense of provenance and professional journalism,” Thomson told BuzzFeed News in a statement. “That commercial and social damage has been a serious concern for many, many years, and yet other publishers have been supine in the face of this assault on principle and profit.”

Sources close to Thomson, long a loyal Murdoch ally in both London and New York, say the battle against Google is ultimately his baby, more so than Murdoch, who since the Roger Ailes scandal has taken on the top role at Fox News. But it’s a narrative happily championed by the close-knit circle of executives at News Corp and 21st Century Fox, sister companies that split in 2013. James Murdoch, Rupert’s son and chief executive of 21st Century Fox, recently lambasted Facebook for its problem with the “damn Russians.” “You’ve got to be kidding me,” he said in an interview with The Information.

The Murdochs have a reason to play up any negative news about Facebook or Google. News Corp, like all media companies, is engaged in a losing fight with the “duopoly” for a finite amount of digital advertising money. News Corp also collides with Google through its investment in AppNexus, a rival to Google’s DoubleClick. And then there’s News Corp’s planned digital ad network, announced the day of the first Times story and still in development.

“If you think the timing of the Times investigation and the launch of News Corp’s new digital ad strategy was purely a coincidence, well, I’ve got a bridge to sell you,” said one senior advertising executive.

The tough talk and tough reporting seems to have gotten News Corp somewhere in its negotiations with Google and Facebook. News Corp had long opposed Google’s “first click free” policy, which pushed news outlets to offer free access to articles in search results. Earlier this year, the Journal yanked free stories from search, which reduced its Google search traffic by 38% and its Google News traffic by 89%. Google announced the end of the policy this week.

“Felicitously, the tide has clearly turned over the past year and we genuinely welcome Google's recent initiatives, though we will need to check against delivery,” Thomson told BuzzFeed News.

Facebook is also adding subscriptions to its Instant Articles program, a policy News Corp pushed for. Traffic wise, some News Corp properties have suffered for their devotion to subscriptions. The Journal has lagged seriously in monthly traffic to its newspaper competitors like the Washington Post and New York Times, which have opted for softer paywalls and more expansive relationships with the platforms (and have broken seemingly endless news about the Trump White House).

Now, one open question is whether Murdoch, who is said to speak with President Donald Trump regularly, will use his deep ties in Washington to apply more pressure on the platforms as they face heat on Capitol Hill. Some sources close to Murdoch note that, from a personal perspective, he tends to want government to keep its hands off business. But he’s also self-interested, and News Corp was among a handful of companies and industry groups that signed a letter in support of the EU’s fine on Google.

News Corp is also among a group of newspaper companies seeking an antitrust exemption from Congress in order to win the right negotiate collectively with the tech platforms. The lobbying effort, led by trade group News Media Alliance, is something of a long shot — but News Corp has said it wants to “focus the public and Congress on the anticompetitive behavior of the digital duopoly, especially as it adversely affects the news and information businesses.”

“I do think News Corp was ahead of the curve in terms of seeing the difficulty of engaging with the Google and Facebook model,” said David Chavern, the chief executive of the News Media Alliance. “You had business anxiety before the election. Then you had the election that really brought it home to the public and to politicians that this news thing is not on a good path right now and that’s dangerous.”

“You’re seeing a growing voice of concern that this is a matter of both economical power and control that Google and Facebook have over the news industry and the societal consequences,” said Jason Kint, CEO of publisher trade group Digital Content Next.

Indeed, in recent months, some news executives have sought to leverage the rising public awareness, like when UK parliament launched an inquiry to look at the spread of “fake news” earlier this year.

“We had a fake news roundtable and it very quickly became a row between old media who were there and the social media companies who were also there and it wasn't anything to do with fake news,” according to a senior government source who attended the initial discussion. “It was all to do with, 'You're stealing our business model and you take our content and you distribute it in a way that we have no control over.’”

Sources close to Murdoch and Thomson characterize their position fairly simply: They want large tech platforms to pay them for their content, and they aren’t afraid to use their own media properties as weapons. Which isn’t to say that reporters are directly told to go after Facebook or Google, but that those stories are prioritized, given heavier promotion and placement, and then championed by the executive structure.

“The power of the campaigning British newspaper is planting a seed in the head of the audience — many who aren’t spending hours and hours on the internet. They’re saying, ‘You probably wouldn’t know the evil that your Google or your Facebook are hosting. Here it is and here’s why you should care,’” said a former senior editor at a UK Murdoch paper. “Over months, maybe even years, that little seed grows and attitudes can start changing.”

But a senior correspondent at The Sun, Murdoch’s tabloid, said the paper was genuinely concerned with big tech — and that the coverage was more than just a self-interested business battle.

“Most of the coverage of the tech giants is linked to the terror stuff because that’s what our audience cares about,” this person said. “The editor genuinely believes the internet is the Wild West and tech companies, some which are bigger than governments, should be doing more to make it safer.”

Ultimately, sources close to Murdoch say that he hopes to push public opinion into viewing tech platforms more like Wall Street banks. And after years of bitter criticism, a softer refrain is echoing among Murdoch’s media contemporaries: Say what you want about Rupert, but he does love the news business. ?

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From: Glenn Petersen10/11/2017 5:07:20 PM
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How a Silicon Valley Striver Became the Alt-Right's Tech Hero

Andrew Torba founded as a "free speech" alternative to other social networks

By Joshua Brustein
October 9, 2017

Illustration: Steph Davidson

There’s a revolution going on in online conservative media. Breitbart and Infowars are attracting audiences that are too angry for Fox News, and communities of conspiracy theorists and Internet trolls thrive on platforms like Reddit and 4Chan. Then there’s the upstart social network The content on Gab tracks closely with the fixations of the populist right in the Trump era – desire for restrictive immigration policies, disdain for “political correctness,” disapproval of NFL players kneeling during the national anthem – with outright racism and bigotry mixed in. But the site’s management and its users seem particularly furious about one subject: Big Tech.

Gab was started a year ago by Andrew Torba, a 26-year old entrepreneur from Pennsylvania. Torba has ridden its success into the upper ranks of right-wing rabble-rousers. He rubs elbows with former Breitbart writer Milo Yiannopoulos, and debates best practices on website moderation with Andrew Anglin, the founder of the neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer. When Torba donned a suit for a recent appearance on Infowars, he made sure to mention he was doing so because the infamous political operative Roger Stone had chided him about his wardrobe. He posted a public welcome note to right-wing activist and filmmaker James O’Keefe when he signed up for Gab in September.

Technically, there’s nothing distinctive about Gab. It’s a lot like Reddit or Twitter, where users set up accounts, follow one another, and post videos and links. The service’s main draw is its loose policy governing what users are allowed to say. Almost anything goes, except for explicit threats, spam, illegal pornography, and posting other people’s personal information. “We believe that the only valid form of censorship is an individual’s own choice to opt-out,” the company writes in its guidelines. Users can choose to block posts with specific words, or those from specific accounts. According to Gab, 290,000 people have signed up since it started, although it doesn’t provide data on how many accounts are active. It also offers premium memberships for $6 a month.

Torba tries to distance himself from the more extreme content on the site, and objects to the common description of Gab as an alt-right social network. But he’s comfortable in that rhetorical neighborhood. Torba recently reposted a message from an account named “Hitler Was Right,” and suggested Gab users report Mark Zuckerberg to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement because the Facebook CEO played host to a handful of DACA recipients.

Gab has never been able to get its app into Apple’s app store, and in August was banned from Google’s, because the company said Gab’s users posted content that violated its standards and the site had inadequate moderation in place. In September, Gab’s domain registrar, the Australian company Instra, said it would no longer do business with Gab, forcing the company to find a new one. Torba said several days later that he had succeeded, but declined to disclose the new registrar’s identity.

At a time when Big Tech has replaced the mainstream media as a target of rightwing vitriol-- “ Facebook was always anti-Trump,” the president tweeted on Sept. 27-- Torba sees a huge opportunity in providing an alternative. He has used the rejection of his company as a rallying cry for the broader campaign against Silicon Valley. In late September, Gab sued Google, arguing that removing Gab’s app from the Android store was an attempt to kneecap Gab’s growth in order to benefit Google Plus. “This will be historic, people will talk about this all around the world, and people will know the real story of what is going on in Silicon Valley,” said Torba in a livestream.

Antitrust and digital free speech experts give the case little chance of succeeding. But some see Gab’s situation as a reminder of Silicon Valley’s power to silence dissenting voices. “I do sympathize with Gab’s plight,” said Aaron Mackey, a staff attorney at the Electric Frontier Foundation. “There’s something to be concerned about with regard to policies that are vague, and may be applied in different ways depending on who comes through.”

The most interesting thing about Torba may not actually be what he’s doing now, but how he got here. Fewer than three years ago, his startup got into Y Combinator, the prestigious Silicon Valley incubator. Torba moved from Pennsylvania to Palo Alto, hoping to hit it big in the field of social media marketing. The first chapter in Gab’s story is about a young man who moved across the country looking to buy into the promise of the tech industry, only to become obsessed with tearing it down.

Source: Periscope

Torba is a stocky, bearded guy who’s partial to dark sunglasses and a green hat that says “Make Speech Free Again.” He studied philosophy and political science in college, and likes to wax poetic about his beliefs. While Torba declined to comment for this article -- more on that in a bit -- it’s possible to trace his thinking through articles and videos he has posted over the last several years.

While still living in Pennsylvania in 2011, Torba launched an advertising business called Kuhcoon. It made software to automate the process of placing and maintaining targeted ad campaigns on Facebook. Torba felt like he had his big break when the startup got into Y Combinator in late 2014. “Scranton will always be our home,” he wrote on the company’s blog, “ but Silicon Valley has always been our destiny.”

Torba’s mentors and peers at YC were enthusiastic about Torba’s idea. Several YC companies signed up to use the service. “He was super-nice, and it was a pretty cool product,” said Eugenia Kuyda, the co-founder of Luka, a YC company that makes chatbots. A few YC partners made personal investments in Kuhcoon, which later changed its name to Automate Ads, according to a person involved with Torba’s business at the time. (With the exception of Kuyda, everyone who agreed to speak about Torba’s past requested anonymity because of his controversial public profile.)

Torba loved YC. But California was a culture shock. He had always been a conservative, and it wore on him that this was considered a character flaw in Silicon Valley, according to someone familiar with his thinking at the time. As the 2016 election heated up, Torba's alienation grew.

The situation at Automate Ads added to the stress. Meetings with representatives at Facebook, Google, and Twitter were frustrating, and catering to small businesses was labor-intensive in a way that made it hard to grow. As two people familiar with the company described it, Automate Ads died like so many startups do, by slowly losing momentum until it ground to a halt in mid-2016.

Torba took his company's failure very hard, said people who interacted with him at the time. His political fights with other YC founders online became increasingly poisonous. Videos he posted to Periscope last summer show someone who was engaged both in politics and the advertising business. In June, Torba recorded a video from the floor of a Trump rally in San Jose. He followed it up with a stream of himself playing Pokemon Go with a group of people in a darkened park. “The ability to drive commerce with this game, I think it’s going to be incredible,” he enthused. But his mood was darkening.

Torba launched Gab in August, as the charged atmosphere around the online political debate was intensifying. Twitter had just banned Yiannopoulos, a move that foreshadowed the company’s persistent attempts to tamp down on trolling and harassment, and conservatives were loudly complaining about censorship in Silicon Valley. Torba became fixated on his grievances against tech. He recorded a series of videos while on a trip to Las Vegas, mixing banal sightseeing with stream-of-consciousness political rants. The entrepreneur who had once referred to social media marketing as his No. 1 passion now proclaimed that advertising was a foolish business model because everyone used ad blockers. He criticized Facebook for its use of personal data, and scoffed at its stated goal of making the world more open and connected. “You know what that sounds like to me? That sounds like globalism, and that sounds like something I’m not about,” he said.

While in Vegas, Torba accused “Big Social” of abusing him and treating him terribly. (Snapchat, he said, was cool.) Then he made a prediction about Gab. “They’re all going to approach us, they’re going to try to buy us, they’re going to try to flash billions in front of my face. And you know what I’m going to tell them?” Torba flicked off the camera.

Torba seemed to covet rejection. He gleefully documented how Facebook froze his account. Days after Trump’s victory, YC kicked him out of an online alumni group for directing profane, anti-immigrant comments at other founders. It all fed into his narrative that Silicon Valley silences anyone who disagrees with its politics. Of course, Gab’s perceived enemies haven’t completely silenced it. The service continues to have a presence on both Twitter itself and its live streaming service, Periscope. For announcements, Gab also uses Medium, which is run by Ev Williams, one of Twitter’s founders. The company says that mainstream social media companies periodically make it hard to participate fully on their platforms.

Torba also had trouble separating politics from personal slights. Last month, Fox News invited him to talk to Tucker Carlson. Just before he went on, Torba appeared on Periscope. He was visibly excited, sporting a fresh haircut. “ Prepping tonight for Tucker Carlson, when Gab goes mainstream!” he said. His tone following the interview was markedly different. He appeared in a Periscope stream with Gab chief operating officer Utsav Sanduja, complaining that Fox kept rearranging the schedule and reduced their air time. These are the same minor indignities to which all news networks subject their guests. The two men accused Fox News of treating them like Nazis, at which point Sanduja sarcastically yelled "Sieg Heil!” The stream recently disappeared from Gab’s Periscope feed. When asked what happened, Sanduja said he wasn’t aware of Gab removing any videos. A spokesperson for Twitter said the company doesn’t comment on individual accounts or enforcement actions.

Torba’s views on Fox shifted yet again after his supporters praised the interview. Yiannopoulos even posted a link of the interview to Gab, congratulating Torba. Upon further examination, what had seemed like a loss was actually a win. Torba began boasting about the appearance.

Source: Periscope

With the exception of Fox, the mainstream media has treated Gab with universal hostility, and the feeling appears to be mutual. When I interviewed Sanduja in mid-September, he recorded the conversation without my knowledge. Torba then posted the audio on Periscope, along with a short, insulting introduction. (Several days later, that video also disappeared from Gab’s Periscope account.)

Torba declined to speak with me directly. “Andrew does not do interviews with the mainstream media as he strongly feels they are immensely biased and engage in fake news,” Sanduja explained in an email. Torba then posted a screenshot of the emailed interview request on Gab. “Lol the sophist media thinks that I will fall for their lies. Get bent,” he wrote.

Gab sued Google a few days later. The 44-page complaint is a spaghetti-on-the-wall account of Gab’s grievances against Silicon Valley, arguing, among other things, that Google enforces its community standards inconsistently. A Google spokesperson described the suit as baseless.

While Torba ranted about Google’s application of its content standards, he was finding it increasingly tricky to walk the same line on Gab. In September, Theodore Beale, a right-wing science fiction writer who goes by the alias Vox Day, complained to Torba about posts from several Gab users that accused Beale of being a pedophile. Torba didn’t take Beale’s side, and told him to toughen up. “Imagine thinking you can email me and get me to suspend users who hurt your feelings at will," he wrote on Gab. In a post on his personal blog, Beale argued that Gab's inadequate moderation made it “knowingly complicit in publishing these false, malicious, and defamatory statements.” He filed a petition in district court in Travis County, Texas, seeking a court order that would require Gab to unmask them.

At the same time, Torba found himself on the defensive after banning Andrew Auernheimer, a notorious Internet troll also known as Weev. "Jews have cornered the whole Internet, and I really think the only way we'll have any freedom of speech here is if someone teaches them a lesson," wrote Auernheimer on Sept. 17. Gab said this violated its guidelines against threats and terrorism. It banned Auernheimer.

This prompted protests from users who said Torba was punishing hyperbole, even though such speech was perfectly legal, just because he had been pressured by his domain registrar. Torba took to Gab to plead his case, saying he was working hard to come up with a way to police user content that would be acceptable to everyone. “This isn’t an easy problem to solve,” he acknowledged. Some Gabbers were unmoved. “There’s not going to be some ‘nice middle ground’ for you to hide in,” wrote one user.

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From: Ron10/13/2017 12:14:35 PM
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Facebook doesn't want to be seen as a media company even though they
distribute news to millions

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From: Ron10/18/2017 12:00:21 PM
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Netflix now spends more on original programming than all rivals, except for ESPN.

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From: Ron10/18/2017 12:02:01 PM
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President Trump may hate 'fake news' but based on his actions, he loves 'Big Media'

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From: Ron10/19/2017 10:57:58 AM
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Opposition continues to proposed Sinclair Broadcasting buyout of Tribune TV stations.
UNION LEADER THREATENS CAMPAIGN AGAINST SINCLAIR-TRIBUNE DEAL. POLITICO’s Jason Schwartz writes: “Dave Twedell, a business representative for the International Cinematographers Guild Local 600, says he hopes to rally the public against the deal and compel members of Congress to act. Twedell pointed to places like Seattle, one of 10 cities where both Sinclair and Tribune own stations, as potentially facing a drastic loss of local news coverage — and jobs — through consolidations.”

— Twedell is scheduled to meet Monday with Sinclair representatives to discuss protecting union members’ jobs. “If they decline to make that commitment, we are going to make a very big noise about it,” Twedell told Schwartz.

OTHERS MAKING NOISE: Allied Progress, a progressive group opposed to the Sinclair-Tribune merger, has launched a new 30-second ad aimed at FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

My guess is the merger will go through with some moderate divestment requirements for Sinclair.

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From: Ron10/19/2017 10:16:59 PM
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Senators McCain, Klobuchar and Warner will introduce a bill requiring Facebook, Google,
and other internet companies to disclose who is purchasing political ads to the election commission.

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From: Glenn Petersen10/21/2017 9:26:46 PM
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Young subscribers flock to old media

Shunning Trump, the millennial generation does what it once resisted: pay for news.

10/21/2017 06:59 AM EDT

Between 2016 and 2017, the share of Americans aged 18-24 who paid for online news vaulted from 4 percent to 18 percent, a new study shows. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

As President Donald Trump wages daily war against the press, millennials are subscribing to legacy news publications in record numbers—and at a growth rate, data suggests, far outpacing any other age group.

Since November's election, the New Yorker, for instance, has seen its number of new millennial subscribers more than double from over the same period a year earlier. According to the magazine's figures, it has 106 percent more new subscribers in the 18-34 age range and 129 percent more from 25-34.

The Atlantic has a similar story: since the election, its number of new subscribers aged 18-24 jumped 130 percent for print and digital subscriptions combined over the same period a year earlier, while 18-44 went up 70 percent.

Newspapers like The Washington Post and The New York Times typically do not share specific subscriber data, but according to a Post spokesperson, its subscriber growth rate is highest among millennials. A New York Times representative relayed that the paper was “seeing similar trends” in subscriptions and pointed to public data on digital traffic that showed its online reach among millennials to be up 9 percent from the same period a year ago.

Even The Wall Street Journal—not a paper usually known for being left around dorm rooms—said that it has doubled its student subscribers in the last year. And a spokesperson for the famously staid Economist reported, “We are seeing that the 18-24 and 25-34 age groups have been key drivers of new subscriptions.”

Oft derided as pampered, avocado-toast-eating layabouts, millennials have long been seen as unlikely to pay for news.

“Information wants to be free,” the cliché went, and, not long ago, headlines like, “ Why Millennials Still Won't Pay Much For The News” were easy enough to find. But according to Nic Newman, the lead author of the 2017 edition of the Reuters Institute’s Digital News Report, two major things have changed.

The first is that subscription streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Spotify have conditioned young people to be more willing to pay for quality content.

The second is Trump.

According to the Reuters Institute report, which surveyed more than 70,000 people in 36 countries and was published last summer, the United States was the only country studied that over the last year saw a major increase in the proportion of people who paid for online news, jumping from 9 percent in 2016 to 16 percent in 2017—and millennials were a big part of the reason.

Between 2016 and 2017, the share of Americans aged 18-24 who paid for online news vaulted from 4 percent to 18 percent, the study said; the age group 25-34 rose from 8 percent to 20 percent. Those two age groups, Newman said, collectively represent about 30 percent of the market.

To be sure, the “Trump bump” has existed across all age groups—the New Yorker reports 100 percent year-over-year increases in new subscribers for every demographic—but, in the Reuters Institute study, the millennial age brackets grew at a rate three times greater than any others, and no other age group boasted as high a percentage of people paying for news online.

“The big boost we saw in subscriptions in the U.S.,” Newman said, “is driven by people on the left and younger people are more likely to be on the left. That is really a lot of what’s driving it: young people who don’t like Trump who subscribe to news organizations that they see as being a bulwark against him.”

Newman said that 29 percent of Americans responded to the survey that their reason for paying for news was, “wanting to help support or fund journalism,” which was twice the average for all countries included in the study. Americans on the political left were four times more likely than those on the right to cite supporting journalism as their reason for paying, Newman said.

According to Sam Rosen, the Head of Growth for the Atlantic, the magazine has seen steady growth in millennial engagement over the last four years, but numbers surged after the election. Last July, Rosen ran a survey on the magazine and was struck by the results. “I noticed a really strong engagement in terms of enthusiasm for the brand among the 25-34 year old demo, as well as 18-24. And it was striking to me, because from a print standpoint, typically the Atlantic skews a bit older,” he said.

That brand identification is important, according to Stephanie Edgerly, a professor at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism who has studied how young people engage with news. “This is why the NPR tote bag is a big deal, this is why the New Yorker had a tote bag that was viewed as a hot commodity,” she said. “News is a brand and it stands for certain types of values you want to associate yourself with and that becomes even more important in this political climate.”

“By values I don’t want to just mean liberal, conservative, Democrat, Republican,” she continued. “It’s a lot more complex than that. These stand for lifestyle values, this stands for how you see yourself, whether you want to be identified as a socially conscious intellectual who value the arts or a snarky contrarian who knows obscure political arguments.”

Rosen, from the Atlantic, said that, for younger people, he’s seen this type of broadcasting on social media networks like Facebook and Twitter. “We’ve heard from even high schoolers who share Atlantic content on social media that, when they share the Atlantic, they know that they’re signaling that they’re thinking more deeply and critically about the world,” he said.

That signaling can also be a stand against Trump. Dwayne Sheppard, the executive director of consumer marketing at Condé Nast, which owns the New Yorker, said that he’s also observed a sense of brand identification—but said that, for millennials, it extends beyond social media and into the real world. Those subscribing to the New Yorker can choose between a print and digital subscription or a less expensive digital-only option; Millennials, he said, are opting for print at a rate 10 percent higher than older demographics.

“Millennials are choosing print overwhelmingly, or digital and print,” he said. “It’s a physical manifestation of the relationship. You’re on the subway or you’re in the airport and you’re carrying your New Yorker, that’s another signal of what you care about and what you choose to read.”

In the age of Trump, a dog-eared New Yorker or Atlantic may serve as a small token of resistance, but the question remains whether this trend of younger people paying for news is sustainable. Newman, from the Reuters Institute, said that even when the Trump effect wears off, millennials’ embrace of subscription services is a positive sign for the industry.

There was a strong correlation in his study, he said, between people willing to pay for streaming services for music and video and those willing to pay for news. “Other online services have basically given people the grammar by they can understand what subscription is,” he said, in terms of offering different levels of subscriptions and various types of insider benefits. (Newman acknowledged, though, that part of the connection was simply having disposable income).

Both Rosen and Sheppard are bullish that the trend will continue. Shortly after the election and around Trump’s inauguration represented the biggest surge, but “We’re not seeing a downshift or a quieting of interest in subscriptions,” Rosen said.

For all the good news, the truth remains that those willing to pay for journalism still represent a relatively small group—according to the Reuters Institute study, 84 percent of Americans do not pay for online news. Subscriptions are not cheap, and Newman pointed out that there is danger in quality journalism becoming an increasingly elite product. “The danger is that you get a two-tiered system,” he said.

Still, for an industry that has been pummeled for more than a decade by terrible financial news and, for the last 10 months, by the President of the United States, the growing willingness of millennials to open their wallets is welcome news.

“It’s not going to save journalism,” Newman said of the past year’s millennial surge, “but it’s a hopeful sign that people are prepared to pay for quality.”

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