Media Insider: Fox News Producer Sues Network, No One Safe in ESPN’s Looming Layoffs

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

Fox Producer Says She Was Set Up in Dominion Case
New York Times | Nicholas Confessore and Katie Robertson

A Fox News producer has filed lawsuits against the company accusing Fox lawyers of coercing her into giving misleading testimony in Dominion’s $1.6 billion defamation suit. Abby Grossberg said Fox lawyers tried to place blame on her and host Maria Bartiromo for the network’s coverage of unfounded claims of election fraud. Ms. Grossberg said the effort to place blame on her and Ms. Bartiromo was rooted in rampant misogyny and discrimination at the network. She claims the lawyers coached her in “a coercive and intimidating manner” before her September deposition. Fox filed its own suit against Ms. Grossberg (which it later dropped) and she has been placed on forced administrative leave according to her lawyer.

In other legal news, a proposed California bill would require big-tech companies to pay publishers a “journalism usage fee” when they use local news content and sell advertising next to it. 

ESPN layoffs are coming soon — and nearly everyone is vulnerable
New York Post | Andrew Marchand

Expected cuts at ESPN will have no “sacred cows” — everyone from top on-air talent to executives will be considered. There’s been no specific target named for how much money needs to be saved or how many layoffs there will be. The final decisions are expected within the next four to six weeks. Some sources say that there is some “untouchable” talent — ones that make near or more than seven figures and are not considered needle movers — like the “Monday Night Football” booth. ESPN will begin to share its data publicly in Disney’s November earnings, which are expected to show that the network is still a cash cow for Disney.

Feel like all the headlines are negative? A new study found that negative words in news headlines increased consumption rates.

CNN’s Prime-Time Experiment Is Off to a Slow Start
New York Times | Michael M. Grynbaum and John Koblin

“CNN Primetime,” an experiment to draw in viewers with exclusive interviews and specials dedicated to trending topics, is not off to a strong start. Since it began airing in late February, the network’s viewership has fallen below what it was for the same time slot a few months prior. Shows like “Homicide Hunter: The Man With No Face” and “Ancient Aliens” have surpassed the CNN show in recent weeks. Despite the numbers, David Zaslav, the chief executive of Warner Bros. Discovery, still supports CNN president Chris Licht’s plans for the network, “ratings be damned.” During a recent visit to the CNN offices, Zaslav said, “Chris and I spend an awful lot of time together, and I’m extremely encouraged by where we are.”

Read next: Columbia Journalism School and the Ira A. Lipman Center for Journalism and Civil and Human Rights have published a sweeping study of racial inequities across American society with hopes to “enable a new generation of journalists to effectively report on systemic inequality.”

Labor Strife at New York Times Intensifies, Dividing Staff
Wall Street Journal | Alexandra Bruell

Two years and more than 50 bargaining sessions later, the New York Times management and union are still unable to agree on wages and benefits. Management has expressed concerns with the union’s negotiating tactics and staffers venting their frustrations on Slack. Last week, Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger sent a note to the bargaining group claiming that the committee is unwilling to negotiate in person in small groups and asked to bring in a neutral third party. There are also divisions among staffers over how constructive the union is for the newsroom — some argue for using a mediator to reach a deal while others are recommending a vote to authorize a strike.

Over at McClatchy, Robyn Tomlin has been named chief news officer, making her responsible for all news, opinion, and multimedia content across the McClatchy network.

GPT-4 readily spouts misinformation, study finds
Axios | Sara Fischer

A new report by NewsGuard finds that GPT-4 is more likely to spread misinformation – when prompted – than GPT-3.5. The test found that GPT-4 was willing to surface prominent false narratives more frequently and more persuasively and it included fewer disclosures. When given prompts related to 100 prominent false narratives, GPT-3.5 generated 80 of the 100 while GPT-4 responded for all 100. “NewsGuard’s findings suggest that OpenAI has rolled out a more powerful version of the artificial intelligence technology before fixing its most critical flaw: how easily it can be weaponized by malign actors to manufacture misinformation campaigns,” the report said.

More AI news: Apple is reportedly experimenting with language-generating AI.

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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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