Media Insider: Bustle Digital Staffers Form Union, The Dodo Invests in Pet Insurer, Facebook and Twitter Accused of Censorship

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

Photo of an open laptop on an outside table, screen shows the Google homepage, a smartphone is next to the laptop

CNN BUSINESS | KERRY FLYNN
Staffers at Bustle Digital Group, which owns Nylon, Mic and Elite Daily, announce intention to unionize

Staffers at publications owned by Bustle Digital Group have announced their plan to unionize with Writers Guild of America East. Staffers began organizing after layoffs increased across the company this year. The union includes around 205 staffers across all BDG’s publications, excluding W magazine. They are unionizing to fight for fair and transparent compensation, diversity and inclusion commitments, and clear editorial independence and standards. They also hope to address the lack of support and transparency for part-time staffers. In its organizing letter, the union stated, “If we are to be the rule-breaking global media company our leadership thinks of us as, it’s time for them to listen.”

More union news: The Sacramento Bee wants to tie journalists’ pay to clicks.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL | SAHIL PATEL
The Dodo, Group Nine’s Animal Brand, Is Getting Into Pet Insurance

The Dodo, Group Nine’s animal-focused media brand, announced it has invested in pet insurance provider Petplan. The deal combines The Dodo’s brand and audience of 100 million Americans with Petplan’s insurance technology and coverage of over 250,000 members. The deal includes a minority stake in Petplan, as well as a licensing and marketing arrangement through which Group Nine and The Dodo will be paid to promote Petplan’s offerings. By next year, the pet insurer will be rebranded as “Fetch by The Dodo” and Group Nine will hire up to 10 staffers to support content production and marketing services. Ben Lerer, CEO of Group Nine Media, has joined the Fetch board of directors. Paul Guyardo, current CEO of Petplan, will become CEO of Fetch by The Dodo.

ICYMI: Quibi, the short-form mobile video company, is shutting down.

CNBC | LAUREN FEINER
Senate Republicans vote to subpoena Facebook and Twitter CEOs about alleged censorship

The Senate Judiciary Committee authorized subpoenas for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to testify about their “suppression and/or censorship” of a recent New York Post article involving unverified allegations towards Joe Biden’s son Hunter. Facebook and Twitter took different approaches to moderating the article. Facebook said that it was subject to a fact-check review and that its distribution would be reduced but users could still share the story. Twitter initially blocked users from posting or sharing the article, stating that it violated the platform’s policies for hacked material and private information since it contained personal contact information and material allegedly taken without the owner’s consent. The responses angered conservatives, who have long accused the companies of suppressing their viewpoints, and led to the vote to authorize subpoenas. The motion for subpoenas also asks the CEOs to testify about “any other content moderation policies, practices, or actions that may interfere with or influence elections for federal office.”

Related: New York Post Published Hunter Biden Report Amid Newsroom Doubts.

MEDIAPOST | SARA GUAGLIONE
‘Axios’ Launches ‘Hard Truths’ Series With Events, Editorial, Podcasts

Axios launched a new series dedicated to examining the root of systemic racism. “Hard Truths” is a year-long project led by Axios executive editor Sara Kehaulani Goo and newsdesk editor Michele Salcedo. The project explores the impact of race in America through monthly topics such as voting, housing, education, and healthcare. Each topic will be featured in a bonus Saturday edition of Axios AM, have a dedicated episode on the Axios Today podcast, be covered on the Axios on HBO television show, and have a dedicated Axios event with expert discussions. Sara Kehaulani Goo stated, “Our goal with Axios ‘Hard Truths’ is to help our audience clearly and efficiently understand how systemic racism continues to impact our society, institutions and culture.”

Prism, a news site led by women of color, centers the voices of marginalized people in its reporting.

MEDIUM | DAVID PLOTZ
The future is local: That’s why I’m launching City Cast, a network of daily local podcasts.

David Plotz, former CEO of Atlas Obscura and editor-in-chief of Slate, will launch City Cast, a national network of daily local podcasts. Plotz believes America needs great local journalism now more than ever. City Cast will be a for-profit network of daily local news podcasts that will combine essential local news with smart, delightful perspectives about cities across the country. Plotz says his goal is to reignite civic engagement by finding vibrant local personalities to cover their communities with rigor and heart. City Cast will also eventually expand into publishing daily newsletters.

More local media news: West Virginia University offers fellowship program to find and train the next generation of local media owners.

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Erin Wade is a Senior Customer Content Specialist with PR Newswire. She is also an animal lover and aspiring world traveler. Tune into her insights as a social curator at @TotalCSR.

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