Media Insider: Elon Musk Joins Twitter Board, WarnerMedia CEO Steps Down
Welcome to Media Insider, PR Newswire’s roundup of media news stories from the week.
Elon Musk to join Twitter’s board
CNN | Clare Duffy
Just one day after it was announced that Elon Musk had become Twitter’s largest individual shareholder, Twitter said that it would appoint him to the board. As part of the deal, Musk has agreed not to acquire more than 14.9% of the company’s shares while he remains on the board, a term which will end in 2024. Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal said Musk is both a “passionate believer” and an “intense critic” of the company, and that his presence in the boardroom would add long-term value. Musk has recently posted tweets asking followers if Twitter does enough to support free speech and if they’d like an edit button. It’s unclear what his plans are, but a spokesperson said he won’t have a direct role in setting the platform’s policies.
(Update: In a reversal, Musk announced over the weekend that he’s decided to not join the board.)
Read next: Shares of Twitter stock jumped more than 25% after it was announced that Musk now owns a 9.2% stake in the company.
WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar leaves the company: ‘I wish I had more time’
Los Angeles Times | Meg James
After nearly two years as the chief executive at WarnerMedia, Jason Kilar announced he is leaving the company. The move comes as Discovery’s takeover of the entertainment powerhouse — which includes CNN, HBO, the Warner Bros. film studio and more — could be finalized as soon as next week. “I wish that we had more runway because we are working on so many things right now — digital collectibles and [nonfungible tokens], our streaming expansion throughout the globe, and our work in gaming, which has been a huge focus of mine for the past two years,” Kilar said. Much of Kilar’s tenure was focused on developing the company’s streaming services, including CNN+, which launched last week. “CNN+ is the future of CNN,” he said.
In other personnel news, this time from the White House, press secretary Jen Psaki is planning to join MSNBC.
BuzzFeed wants ex-employees to pay for arbitration
Axios | Sara Fischer
BuzzFeed and ex-staffers are fighting over who should pay arbitration fees, totaling $100,000-$200,000, from the case that claims the company’s IPO process cost the employees millions. Lawyers representing the employees say the fees would be more for some employees than what they stand to win in the case. BuzzFeed wants the claimants to pay 50% of the fees, but the claimants’ lawyers argue that BuzzFeed should pay in full based on rules in its employment contracts. The American Arbitration Association is expected to make a decision on the matter in the coming weeks.
ICYMI: 75 unionized journalists at the Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald and Bradenton Herald (all McClatchy newspapers) announced a one-day work stoppage in protest of protracted first contract negotiations.
U.S. journalist employment and pay fell in 2021, new government figures show
Press Gazette | William Turvill
According to new figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of “news analysts, reporters, and journalists” employed in the U.S. fell by at least 2,500 last year — from 41,580 in May 2020 to 39,080 in May 2021. The statistics also show the average journalist salary was $63,230 in May 2021, down from $66,000 the year before. Although it’s difficult to draw firm conclusions from large government employment datasets, these numbers show how the media industry has suffered since the pandemic began.
On the flip side, the number of statehouse reporters in the U.S. has increased by 11% since 2014, according to new data from Pew Research Center.
Streaming Pressures Push MSNBC to Cut Back on Hard News
Variety | Brian Steinberg
As media companies intensify their efforts to attract audiences via streaming, MSNBC’s schedule is starting to feature more nontraditional news coverage. In recent years, the bulk of the cable news channel’s daytime schedule has been breaking news reports from NBC News personnel, followed by more analysis and opinion in the afternoon and evening. But sources say that NBC News correspondents are now being directed to take breaking news coverage to the NBC News Now streaming service or other digital properties first. An NBC News spokesperson says no division-wide directive relating to such matters has been issued. Even so, MSNBC’s opinion-led programming seems to be taking over the news offerings, an example of streaming’s effects on traditional news operations.
Read next: Digiday analyzes trends in publishers’ earnings reports.