Media Insider: Semafor Launches, Ye to Acquire Parler, Murdoch Considers Recombining News Corp and Fox

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

Semafor news platform launches
Reuters | Helen Coster

The new digital news outlet from former Bloomberg Media Chief Executive Officer Justin Smith and New York Times media columnist Ben Smith, Semafor, debuted this week. Articles from well-known journalists will be written using a “Semaform” structure, which includes separate sections for the news (just the facts), the reporter’s views, the counter-argument, and related stories from other outlets. The structure aims to “address issues such as a trust deficit between the public and the press, and some readers’ inability to distinguish between facts and analysis,” according to Executive Editor Gina Chua. As of now, all content on the site is free to read; 75% of the company’s revenue will come from advertising. Semafor plans to enact a paywall in the future and charge for subscriptions.

Read Ben Smith’s first story for Semafor, a dive into the identity crisis at the New York Times.

After increasing in 2020, layoffs at large U.S. newspapers and digital news sites declined in 2021
Pew Research Center | Elisa Shearer, Emily Tomasik

New data from Pew finds that “the percentage of large newspapers and digital news sites that experienced layoffs fell considerably in 2021 when compared with the year prior.” In 2021, 11% of high-circulation newspapers experienced layoffs, which is the lowest percentage since Pew started tracking this trend in 2017. The same applies to high-traffic digital native news outlets, of which 3% saw layoffs in 2021. Possible explanations include the economy’s rebound in 2021, the large number of cuts in 2020 (which didn’t leave much room for additional layoffs), and a decline in newspaper circulation (which resulted in some newspapers being excluded from this analysis).

Read next: The trend didn’t apply to content aggregator Flipboard, which cut 21% of its staff.

Kanye West is buying ‘free speech platform’ Parler
The Verge | Jon Porter, James Vincent

Kanye West, now known as Ye, is buying the “free speech” alternative to Twitter, Parler. “In a world where conservative opinions are considered to be controversial we have to make sure we have the right to freely express ourselves,” Ye said in a press statement. The news came about a week after Ye was locked out of both Instagram and Twitter, the latter for posting an antisemitic tweet. Parler was removed from the Google and Apple app stores after it was accused of helping Jan. 6 rioters plan and coordinate the attack on the Capitol. It was reinstated on both stores after agreeing to more closely moderate posts. The deal is expected to close later this year.

Ye is the latest conservative media mogul to make an investment in “free speech” social media platforms, podcasts, and video channels. Axios has more on this trend.

Rupert Murdoch Explores Reuniting His Media Empire by Recombining Fox and News Corp
Wall Street Journal | Cara Lombardo, Dana Cimilluca, Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg

Rupert Murdoch is considering recombining Fox Corp., owner of Fox News and the Fox broadcast network, and News Corp, the parent company of Dow Jones and publisher of the Wall Street Journal, nearly a decade after they split. Although discussions are still in the early stages, both companies have established special board committees to study a deal and financial terms. In a memo to staff, News Corp Chief Executive Robert Thomson said, “At News Corp, we are constantly pursuing ways to enhance our performance and expand our businesses, and the upheaval in media presents both challenges and opportunities.” If the companies do reunite, it would be similar in some ways to the Viacom and CBS merger in 2019.

Read the press release from Fox confirming the formation of the special committee.

Study by six Gannett unions finds racial and gender pay inequities
Poynter | Angela Fu

According to a new study from NewsGuild, the median salary for journalists of color at six Atlantic-region Gannett shops is $11,500 less than that of their white counterparts. The study also found gender pay gaps of more than $8,000. “Gannett claims it is a beacon for diversity in the workplace. Our numbers prove otherwise,” the units representing the journalists write. The racial and gender pay gaps also seem to be impacted by age. Salaries of younger journalists of color and women were nearly level with colleagues, but the gaps grow as these journalists reach their 30s, 40s, and 50s. Susanne Cervenka, an investigative reporter at the Asbury Park Press who did the data analysis for the study, said, “You’re not going to hit the diversity goals the company says it wants to achieve if you aren’t making our newsrooms a place where someone wants to stay and thrive.” A Gannett spokesperson said the study “fails to take into consideration critical analysis factors and uses selective data to drive a narrative that has clear bias.”

Read next: theGrio, an African American-focused news, lifestyle, sports, and entertainment platform, is hosting its inaugural theGrio Awards to celebrate excellence in film, music, comedy, television, sports, philanthropy, business, fashion, social justice, and more.

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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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