Media Insider: LA Times Journalists Vote to Unionize, Google Suspends Fact-Checking Feature, Tronc and Axios Talk Syndication Deal

Welcome to Media Insider, PR Newswire’s round-up of media stories from the week.

Los Angeles Times printing plant

Photo by C-Monster, used under Creative Commons

LOS ANGELES TIMES | JAMES RUFUS KOREN
Los Angeles Times journalists vote 248-44 to unionize

For the first time in its 136-year history, journalists with Los Angeles Times voted to form a union, despite longstanding resistance from the paper’s management. The drive to unionize was publicly launched in October and concluded in an election earlier this month. Workers will be represented by the Washington, D.C.-based NewsGuild-Communications Workers of America. Union representation has been on the decline in the U.S., but has made gains in the online media business, says the Times. NewsGuild represents 25,000 journalists, including reporters and editors at The Washington Post, The New York Times, and Wall Street Journal. According to the article, contract bargaining and officer elections will begin over the next several weeks.

The plot thickens: Los Angeles Times publisher on leave amid investigation

POYNTER | DANIEL FUNKE
Google suspends fact-checking feature over quality concerns

Google recently announced it is suspending a search feature in its fact-checking tool, after receiving criticism from conservative news outlets. The search feature — known as Reviewed Claims — matches outlets’ disputed claims with fact checks contributed by independent fact-checking organizations. The feature came under fire when it wrongly appended a Washington Post Fact Checker debunk to a Daily Caller story, where the claim in question was never made in the piece. In an email to Poynter, Google says “…we encountered challenges in our systems that maps fact checks to publishers, and on further examination it’s clear that we are unable to deliver the quality we’d like for users.” According to Poynter, Google clarified it is isn’t ending its fact-checking efforts altogether. Fact checks from independent organizations will still appear alongside articles in search and Google News.

More problems tackling fake news: Facebook’s latest changes will probably make misinformation worse, says Columbia Journalism Review

WCPO | DAN MONK
E.W. Scripps Co. to sell 34 radio stations, expand restructuring

Cincinnati-based E.W. Scripps announced restructuring plans to sell 34 of its radio stations, as it looks to trim $30 million in operating costs. According to WCPO, the sale of the radio division will cut 400 jobs and an estimated $71 million in revenue. The changes come as Scripps prepares for a new wave of media consolidation that’s expected from the FCC’s loosening of ownership rules in November, writes WCPO. The new rules could let media companies acquire two of the top-rated TV stations in a single market or combine newspapers with TV properties. According to the article, Scripps may buy or trade stations in existing markets to increase its concentration in those cities. The media brand is also looking to make new investments in digital news brands that will help position the company for future growth.

The FCC is swiftly changing national media policy. What does that mean on the local level?

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL | BENJAMIN MULLEN
Tronc and Axios Are In Talks For a News Partnership

Newspaper owner Tronc and news startup Axios are talking a potential syndication deal with Los Angeles Times. The partnership, which is not yet finalized, would allow Axios to supply political stories — one of its areas of expertise — and potentially news on other topics, reports WSJ.  So far talks have focused on the Times, but could potentially expand to include other Tronc-owned publications like the Baltimore Sun and Chicago Tribune. “The financial terms of the potential arrangement aren’t clear,” writes Mullen. “It might provide a new revenue stream for Axios, which has thus far supported itself through advertising.”

Speaking of political coverage, journalists are saying it’s time to rethink how we cover Trump.

BLOOMBERG TECHNOLOGY | SELINA WANG
Twitter Is Working on a Snapchat-Style Video Sharing Tool

Twitter is reportedly working on a new Snapchat-style feature that makes it easier to post videos on the app. The new feature aims to reduce the number of steps it takes to tweet out a picture or video, and hopes to attract users to share more video clips of what’s happening around them. According to the article, a demo of the camera-centered tool is currently in the works, and could possibly undergo significant changes in the next several months. “After several years of stagnant growth, Twitter is showing signs of a resurgence,” reports Bloomberg.

More updates: Twitter is using machine learning to crop photos to the most interesting part

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Joanna Giannell is a Senior Customer Content Specialist with PR Newswire. She is also an animal lover and music enthusiast. Tune into her insights as a social curator at @PRNpets.

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