Media Insider: Google Gives $3 Million to News Orgs, Feds Investigate Threats on Journalists, Bustle Explores Going Public

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

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Google Is Giving $3 Million to News Orgs to Fact-Check Vaccine Misinformation

The Google News Initiative will give $3 million to news and fact-checking organizations in an effort to combat misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine. The tech giant awarded fact-checking projects $6.5 million in April and $1.5 million in December, so this announcement brings the grand total to $11 million. (This is separate from the $1 billion that Google has promised publishers for a new feature called Google News Showcase.) Google’s new fund is open to news organizations of any size, as long as they can demonstrate experience with debunking false information or form a partnership with a recognized fact-checking organization.

In more Google news: The tech giant is again pausing political ads ahead of Biden’s inauguration.

Federal Prosecutors Investigate Threats, Assaults on Journalists Covering U.S. Capitol Riot

Federal prosecutors in Washington are asking members of the press who were victims of assaultive behavior or threats on Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol to contact their office as part of their investigation. The U.S. attorney’s office in the District said it will begin investigating assaults and threats against members of the media — including reporters, photographers, videographers, print, and broadcast media — who were in Washington covering the day’s events. “Such violence will not be tolerated,” Michael R. Sherwin, acting U.S. Attorney for the District, said in a statement. “We will spare no effort to bring to justice all those who committed lawless and violent acts of any kind, including against members of the media.”

In response to the attack, RTDNA launched a training and resource center to keep journalists safe while reporting on unrest.

Forbes Editor Warns Companies Not to Hire Trump ‘Fabulists’

Forbes magazine’s chief content officer delivered a stark warning to companies that might consider hiring Kayleigh McEnany, Kellyanne Conway, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and other former spokespeople for the Trump White House: Do so and risk losing all credibility. “Let it be known to the business world: Hire any of Trump’s fellow fabulists above, and Forbes will assume that everything your company or firm talks about is a lie,” Randall Lane wrote in a piece published in Forbes last week. “We’re going to scrutinize, double-check, investigate with the same skepticism we’d approach a Trump tweet. Want to ensure the world’s biggest business media brand approaches you as a potential funnel of disinformation? Then hire away.” Lane insists what he’s proposing isn’t cancel culture or even politically motivated. 

A number of media companies have also announced pullbacks on political donations in light of last week’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Bustle Digital Hires Bank to Explore Deal to Go Public

Bustle Digital Group, the U.S. media platform whose publications include fashion magazine W and Bustle, is exploring a potential merger with blank-check acquisition companies that would take it public, according to a person familiar with the matter. The company is aiming for a valuation of at least $600 million, including debt, and recently hired investment bank Farvahar Partners to identify an attractive deal with a special purpose acquisition company, the source said. 

ICYMI: Meredith’s online activity rises 13% to a record high.

Matt Thompson Joins The New York Times As Editor of Headway

Matt Thompson is joining The New York Times as editor of Headway, a new journalism initiative to investigate global and national challenges. He will hire a team of journalists to cover a range of economic, social, health, infrastructural, and environmental challenges. Headway is a new journalistic venture, looking beyond the daily news cycle, focusing on large-scale global and national problems. It aims to produce 10-12 deeply researched, visually ambitious, data-rich projects a year. Headway will also create an online public square, focused on community-building, transparency, engagement, and data dissemination.

In more Times news: a group of public radio stations rebuked the newspaper over its handling of the “Caliphate” podcast.

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Maria Perez is Director, Web Experience & Operations at Cision. In her spare time, she runs Bags of Love Foundation, a local nonprofit that provides cancer patients with care packages aimed at making their treatment more comfortable. She also enjoys kickboxing, baking, and cuddling with her dog Toody, who thinks he rules the world.

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