Media Insider: Yahoo Buys The Factual, NatGeo Makes Big Cuts, CNN Makes Big Hires

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

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Yahoo buys The Factual to add news credibility ratings
Axios | Sara Fischer

Yahoo has acquired The Factual, a company that uses algorithms to rate the credibility of news sources. Yahoo has its own criteria for adding syndication partners, but labels from The Factual will help readers “make their own informed decisions about what they’re reading,” Yahoo president and general manager Matt Sanchez says. The Factual uses AI to rank articles based on four criteria: site quality, author expertise, article tone (level of opinion), and quality of sources. Based on those criteria, it assigns each article a score and presents it to the reader. Yahoo hopes integrating The Factual’s technology into Yahoo News will build trust and engagement for the brand. Financial terms of the deal, which closed last month, were not disclosed.

Next up: Social media app Parler has returned to the Google Play Store more than a year after being removed.

National Geographic magazine lays off six of its top editors
The Washington Post | Paul Farhi

National Geographic laid off six top editors, an unprecedented move for the magazine that has had stable editorial leadership since its launch in 1888. The layoffs include masthead names like senior executive editor Indira Lakshmanan and editors in charge of topics like science, travel, and the environment. The shocking cuts have been referred to as the “Red Wedding” by staffers. The cuts come three months after the appointment of a new editor in chief, Nathan Lump, who is only the 11th person to serve as the magazine’s editor since its founding. David Miller, executive vice president of National Geographic Media, said in a memo that the magazine is “realigning key departments to help deepen engagement with our readers while also nurturing existing business models and developing new lines of revenue.”

Read next: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution will discontinue its daily print edition and go to a weekend print edition, likely within the next year.

Chris Licht makes his first big hires

CNN’s new boss, Chris Licht, has made the network’s first big on-air hires since he took over. John Miller, the former NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence & Counterterrorism, will be joining CNN as Chief Law Enforcement and Intelligence Analyst. Miller also has a distinguished career in journalism, famously landing an interview with Osama Bin Laden in 1998. Licht also announced Dr. Tara Narula will be joining CNN as a medical correspondent. The new additions further suggest a less outwardly political direction for the network, which has recently cut ties with several well-known figures who were seen as particularly critical of former President Donald Trump.

More CNN News: Adding to the list of high-profile cuts at the network, White House correspondent John Harwood abruptly announced he was leaving CNN last Friday.

The Washington Post and Newsy announce ‘Election 22: What Matters’
The Washington Post | Staff

“Election ‘22: What Matters,” a new nine-week series from The Washington Post and Newsy, will debut Sept. 9. Each week will focus on a different topic important to the elections, including inflation, reproductive rights, and the state of the democracy. Washington Post news anchor Libby Casey and Newsy political director Andrew Rafferty will co-host the program. “Each episode will highlight the perspectives of those outside the so-called Beltway and throughout the heartland of this country, with insights from reporters covering those stories,” said Kate O’Brian, head of the Scripps Networks News Group, the owner of Newsy.

In other WaPo news, the outlet’s longtime tech and data chief Shailesh Prakash is leaving the company for a new executive role at Google.

Vice, Exploring a Sale, Weighs a Content Deal With a Saudi-Backed Firm
New York Times | Benjamin Mullin, Lauren Hirsch and Ben Hubbard

Vice distanced itself from the Saudi Arabian government after journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed in 2018, but it’s now in talks to expand its business in the kingdom, according to sources. They say Vice is exploring a content partnership with MBC, a media company partly owned by the Saudi government. The deal reportedly could be worth at least $50 million over multiple years. There’s still potential for the deal to fall through and it could potentially cause an internal backlash at Vice. “There’s a difference between being owned by a company that’s part of the Saudi government versus doing business with them,” Tom Rosenstiel, a professor at the University of Maryland and a former director of the American Press Institute, said. “Nonetheless, I think it would give anyone in news pause to be in business with a government that kills journalists.”

ICYMI: A group of 21 media companies and public interest and consumer advocacy groups sent a letter urging that the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA) be scrapped, on the ground that it would cost jobs.

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Rocky Parker is the Manager of Audience and Journalist Engagement at Cision PR Newswire. She's been with the company since 2010 and has worked with journalists and bloggers as well as PR and comms professionals. Outside of work, she can be found trying a new recipe, binging a new show, or cuddling with her pitbull, Hudson.

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