Media Insider: Host of “Serial” Podcast Reacts to Adnan Syed’s Release, Tensions Rise at LA Times

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

Podcast equipment, headphones hanging on a microphone with a computer monitor in the background

Adnan Syed, Freed | We talk with Sarah Koenig, host of the “Serial” podcast.
New York Times | David Leonhardt

Adnan Syed, the focus of the mega-popular 12-episode podcast series “Serial,” was freed this week after spending 23 years behind bars. Sarah Koenig, the series host and an investigative journalist, spoke with the New York Times about the turn in the case. When asked if her team expected listeners to come away with different conclusions, Koenig said, “Barring some smoking-gun evidence, which we didn’t find (and it seems like no one else has either), there was no way for us to say definitively what happened. But what we were pointing out in our story was that the timeline of the case and the evidence in the case had serious problems. Which meant the people who convicted Adnan of murder, they didn’t know what happened either.” She also discussed the systemic issues at play in wrongful convictions in the U.S. “There is nothing unusual about the presence of these systemic problems in Adnan’s case. Nothing,” she says.

Read next: The Atlantic is making a big push into film and TV licensing deals, with several projects based on its articles and podcasts in the works.

BDG Is Shuttering Tech Title Input and Laying Off Staff at Mic
Adweek | Mark Stenberg

Bustle Digital Group announced Monday that it would shutter Input, which reports on the intersection of tech and pop culture. It also announced plans to lay off at least 10 staffers from Mic, a pop culture outlet. The layoffs will hit a total of 19 staffers, mostly impacting the editorial teams. The company declined to offer a reason for the layoffs or closure, but a spokeswoman said, “BDG has a large portfolio of publications, and we always want to make sure our focus is on the many titles that are working…On rare occasions, we will make changes that push resources and focus toward those that are working best for us.”

Read next: Time is launching a sustainability division called “CO2 by Time” to “bring authority to Time’s editorial coverage around climate and to live up to its mission of driving global change.”

Tensions rise between the LA Times and its billionaire owner
POLITICO | Daniel Lippman, Christopher Cadelago, Max Tani

An awkward and at times tense relationship has developed between the LA Times newsroom staff and the Soon-Shiong family, which owns the newspaper. More than three dozen current and former staffers told POLITICO that the paper experienced growing pains relating to its novice billionaire owner, Patrick Soon-Shiong. They say that Mr. Soon-Shiong’s focus is fleeting, issues have led to a staff exodus at the D.C. bureau, and there have been cases of the family, particularly Soon-Shiong’s daughter Nika, meddling in news coverage. “People who had good will toward the paper don’t and it’s because of her and what she’s doing,” one reporter said of Nika. The paper’s had big wins since the family took ownership, like multiple Pulitzer Prizes and the hiring of sought-after editor Kevin Merida. But its newsroom has shrunk from more than 1,200 journalists in its heyday to 550 today. “Clearly Patrick Soon-Shiong brought stable ownership to the paper,” said Gabriel Kahn, a professor at the USC Annenberg School of Journalism. “What has not emerged is any clear business plan beyond newspaper 101 and, though this might be changing, a full-throated explanation of what their editorial mission is going to be.”

In other newspaper news, The Philadelphia Inquirer is launching a new design and operations strategy.

CNN Overhauls Its Morning Show
New York Times | John Koblin

The latest change to hit CNN is a drastic overhaul of its morning programming. The network announced that Don Lemon, Poppy Harlow, and Kaitlan Collins will be the new faces of a revamped morning show. The new show is Chris Licht’s biggest programming move since taking over as CNN’s chairman in May. The change also means there are now two open slots in the network’s primetime lineup, previously held by Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo, respectively. The new show, which the network plans to have running by late October, will have a new name (previously “New Day”) and a new format. Licht is no stranger to morning TV, having co-created MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and executive-produced “CBS This Morning.” Licht says journalistic reputation, not ratings, is the top priority. He’s aiming for a more conversational and inviting approach on the morning show.

Read next: The Chicago Tribune’s Editorial Board says it’s on Licht’s side and believes the changes at the network are “good for our democracy.”

Social Media and News Fact Sheet
Pew Research Center | Staff

Digital news has become an important part of Americans’ news media diets, and new research from Pew shows that half of U.S. adults get news at least sometimes from social media. Facebook is the most-used platform for news, with 31% of U.S. adults saying they regularly get news from it. It’s followed by YouTube (25%), Twitter (14%), Instagram (13%), and TikTok (10%). Some social media sites stand out for having a large portion of their users turn to them for news. For example, only 27% of U.S. adults use Twitter, but more than half of its users (53%) use it for news. Demographic and partisan differences are also seen between people turning to social media sites for news. For example, women make up a greater portion of regular news consumers on Facebook, while the opposite is true for sites like Twitter and Reddit.

Read next: Truth Social is having trouble reaching the investors it needs to vote for an extension to its SPAC deal with Digital World Acquisition Corp.

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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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