Media Insider: Senator Proposes Federal Data Protection Agency, Google Explores Paying Publishers, Gender Disparity in Media

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

Media Insider - Feb 21 2020 - Image of a lock overlaying lines of code

New York Senator Proposes a Federal ‘Data Protection Agency’

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has proposed legislation to create a Data Protection Agency at the federal level. In an outline of her proposal, Gillibrand said the independent federal agency “would serve as a ‘referee’ to define, arbitrate, and enforce rules” related to protecting personal data. The agency would have several powers, including the ability to enforce data protection rules through methods like injunctive relief or civil penalties up to $1 million per day. The bill would provide resources for companies, including privacy enhancing technologies, and the agency would advise Congress on emerging technology challenges, such as deepfakes. The agency also would have the authority to launch data privacy investigations on any company it receives complaints about, including tech giants Google and Facebook, and share its findings with the public.

Gillibrand is not the first to introduce legislation aimed at addressing consumer privacy: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) introduced legislation in 2019 regarding privacy laws, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) offered a plan to legislate Big Tech.

Google in Talks to Pay Publishers for News

Google is in talks with publishers about paying a licensing fee for content that would be packaged in a premium news product, according to people familiar with the matter, a move that would mark a shift in the search giant’s relationship with news organizations. “We want to help people find quality journalism – it’s important to informed democracy and helps a sustainable news industry,” Google said in a statement. “We care deeply about this and are talking with partners and looking at more ways to expand our ongoing work with publishers, building on programmes like our Google News Initiative.” Talks are early and it isn’t known if agreements will be reached. Most of the publishers in talks with Google are outside the U.S., including in France and elsewhere in Europe.

This wouldn’t be the first time Google paid publishers; last year, the company began licensing audio news from publishers like ABC, The Associated Press, CNN, and more.

How Publishers Can Improve Workplace Gender Disparities

News organizations need to be more inclusive of women and minorities to fulfill their key role in informing the public and shaping opinion, consulting firm McKinsey & Co. said in a report. McKinsey’s research found that women are better represented at news organizations than in corporate America, though they are more likely to leave their companies than men, especially at the vice-president level. The attrition rate for women vice presidents is 20%, about three times the rate for men. However, compared with other industries, news outlets are more likely to have women as managers. Women in news organizations represent 44% of employees at the manager level, compared with 38% in corporate America overall. The picture looks even better at more senior levels. Women make up 43% of employees at the senior-manager levels of news organizations, compared with 34% for corporate America. However, women of color are underrepresented in the news media: Minority women make up 14% of entry-level employees at news organizations, compared with 17% in media and entertainment, and 18% in corporate America.

Read the full report here: Shattering the Glass Screen.

National Newspapers Thrive While Local Outlets Struggle to Survive

While big national newspapers grow stronger, local newspaper chains that have for decades kept most of the country informed are combusting. The inequity represents a growing problem in America as local communities no longer have the power to set the agenda for the news that most affects them. The past two decades have been especially brutal. While some traditional ad businesses, like television and radio, have plateaued in the digital era, newspapers have completely fallen out. Meanwhile, the national giants are thriving: The New York Times passed $800 million in annual digital revenue; The Wall Street Journal topped 2 million digital subscriptions for the first time; and The Washington Post has been profitable for the past several years and has added dozens of positions to its newsroom in the past two years. 

Case in point: McClatchy, the publisher of dozens of local papers from the Sacramento Bee to the Miami Herald, voluntarily filed for bankruptcy.

No, the Podcast ‘Gold Rush’ Isn’t Over. Podcasting’s Golden Age Is Just Beginning

It’s a well-trodden hype cycle in the media industry: Some new technology comes along and starts to take off, publishers rush to invest, it falls dramatically short of expectations, and we all back off with renewed skepticism and a bruised bank balance. Some have been saying that podcasting is heading down this road. The difficulty in building audiences is frequently highlighted as a challenge for bringing in sustainable revenue for publishers. But it’s actually an issue with discoverability. According to Edison Research, of the 68% of people who haven’t listened to a podcast in the past month, 65% of them said that the issue was there were so many podcasts they didn’t know where to start. It’s an issue companies have put a lot of effort toward solving over the past 12 months, with Spotify at the forefront launching tools like ‘Your Daily Podcast” and “Morning Drive,” as well as redesigning to promote discovery.

The stats for podcasts look promising; not only are 50% of Americans podcast fans, but listeners are generally loyal, affluent and educated.

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Maria Perez is Director, Web Experience & Operations at Cision. She founded Bags of Love Foundation, a local nonprofit that provides cancer patients with care packages aimed at making their treatment more comfortable. In her spare time, she loves nothing more than cuddling with her blind Maltese, Toody, who thinks he rules the world.

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