Media Insider: FTC and 46 States Sue Facebook, MSNBC Elects New President, Report for America Opens 300 Jobs

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

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U.S. and States Say Facebook Illegally Crushed Competition

The Federal Trade Commission and more than 40 states accused Facebook of buying up its rivals to illegally squash potential competition. Federal and state regulators are particularly focused on Facebook’s purchases of Instagram and WhatsApp, claiming the deals eliminated competition that could have one day challenged the company’s social media dominance. After investigating the company for over 18 months, regulators have filed a lawsuit requesting Facebook break off Instagram and WhatsApp and new restrictions be placed on the company to prohibit future deals that would give it monopoly power. Facebook’s general counsel, Jennifer Newstead, responded to the lawsuit saying, “The most important fact in this case, which the commission does not mention in its 53-page complaint, is that it cleared these acquisitions years ago. The government now wants a do-over, sending a chilling warning to American business that no sale is ever final.”

A second federal judge has prohibited the government from enforcing an executive order by President Trump to block TikTok from operating in the U.S.

MSNBC Names Rashida Jones President, Succeeding Phil Griffin

MSNBC has named Rashida Jones as its next president, replacing tenured president Phil Griffin. Jones is the first Black executive to run a major television news network. In her current role as senior vice president for MSNBC News, Jones leads MSNBC daytime and weekend programming and oversees several NBC News series. Jones graduated from Hampton University and served as director of live programming for the Weather Channel before joining NBCUniversal seven years ago as a news director. Jones will begin her new role on Feb. 1, 2021.

Miami Herald names Monica Richardson as its first Black executive editor in the paper’s 117-year history.

Report for America announces more than 300 reporter positions in 2021

Report for America selected 64 new local news organizations as host newsroom partners, enabling the national service program to open 300 journalist positions in 2021. The partnering newsrooms were chosen based on which newsrooms had the most compelling gaps in coverage. This bottom-up approach revealed gaps in coverage for locally-owned newsrooms, nonprofit newsrooms, and Black- and Hispanic-owned newsrooms. The program doubled the number of host newsrooms owned by people of color, prioritized locally-owned for-profit news organizations over news organizations owned by private equity firms, and half of the newsrooms supported are nonprofits. Steven Waldman, president and co-founder of Report for America, stated, “With the local news system shrinking, it’s important that we both put more and more reporters in the field—and that we help newsrooms that are working toward becoming more sustainable, and more grounded in the community.”

Media companies are adjusting their recruitment strategies and hosting virtual career fairs.

How Wired leveraged Cyber Week readers to increase subscription revenue

Wired reported a traffic increase of more than 180% during Black Friday and Cyber Monday versus the same days last year. Expecting the surge in traffic, Wired used Black Friday and Cyber Monday content and its readers’ readiness to spend to sell subscriptions. The most popular article visited was its Absolute Best Deals post, which generated 1.8 million clicks and was a top performer for converting readers on subscriptions. Cyber Monday and Black Friday ended up being the second and third biggest days for subscription sign-ups of the year for Wired. Scott Rosenfield, site director at Wired, stated: “A lot of the success we’ve seen this year, and in Q4 in particular, is because we expanded that team and built up the infrastructure and set all the pieces in place on the chess board so that when we hit this time of the year we’re ready to roll.”

Listen: Can Substack CEO Chris Best Build A New Model For Journalism?

Greta Thunberg guest-stars as editor of Swedish newspaper

Climate activist Greta Thunberg took over as editor-in-chief of Sweden’s largest daily newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, on Sunday. Thunberg, who has often criticized media outlets for failing to give enough attention to the climate change crisis, used her time at the newspaper to highlight climate-related articles. The edition featured images of the impact of climate change, a conversation between Thunberg and Sir David Attenborough on raising awareness about climate change, and commentary by acclaimed author Margaret Atwood. Thunberg also included some of her own writing. In one editorial, she wrote, “Handing over responsibility for Sweden’s largest daily newspaper to a minor, an uneducated activist is completely incomprehensible. It’s crazy. If it were not for the absurd fact that we are in an existential crisis that is still ignored by our society.”

Australia finalizes historic news media laws that force Google and Facebook to pay news organizations for using their content.

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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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