Media Insider: Fox Settles With Dominion for $787 Million, BuzzFeed News Shuts Down

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

Fox News settles with Dominion at the last second, pays more than $787 million
CNN | Marshall Cohen, Oliver Darcy

Just hours after the jury was sworn in, it was announced that Fox News would settle with Dominion Voting Systems and the case would not go to trial. The $787 million settlement (Dominion was suing for $1.6 billion) is the largest publicly known defamation settlement in U.S. history involving a media company. “For our democracy to endure for another 250 years, and hopefully much longer, we must share a commitment to facts… Today represents a ringing endorsement for truth and for democracy,” Dominion lawyer Justin Nelson said. As part of the agreement, Fox won’t have to admit on-air that it spread lies about Dominion. The deal also means Fox executives and talent will not have to testify in front of a jury. Fox News’ legal troubles aren’t over, however, as the company is still facing a second major defamation lawsuit from Smartmatic, another voting technology company.

Keep reading: Axios looks at the other defamation lawsuits related to the airing of 2020 election lies.

BuzzFeed News, Which Dragged Media Into the Digital Age, Shuts Down
New York Times | Benjamin Mullin, Katie Robertson

BuzzFeed is shutting down its Pulitzer Prize-winning news division, marking “a sobering end for a pioneering publication once seen as a serious challenger to legacy media outlets.” The news division was founded in 2011 and utilized listicles and click-bait headlines, like its parent company practiced, for news stories both light and serious in nature. Despite its accomplishments – overseas expansion, investment in investigative reporting, and a number of established alumni – the news division failed to make money. Ben Smith, the founding editor of BuzzFeed News, who left in 2020 to be a media columnist at The Times and is now the co-founder of Semafor, said, “I’m proud of the work that BuzzFeed News did, but I think this moment is part of the end of a whole era of media…It’s the end of the marriage between social media and news.” The shutdown of the news division will affect about 60 people, some of whom will be offered jobs at other parts of the company.

Read next: Insider also announced layoffs this week. The company will cut 10% of its team.

NewsNation plans multimillion-dollar expansion in D.C. and NYC
Axios | Sara Fischer

Next week, NewsNation will debut a new daytime block of news programming that will bring the network to 24 hours of news, five days a week. A multimillion-dollar investment in studios and talent in Washington, D.C., and New York City is part of the expansion. A new two-hour news show, “NewsNation Now,” will be led by a rotating cast of talent, and Nichole Berlie will anchor a new show from NewsNation’s headquarters. Also, “The Hill” will launch in Washington, D.C., and will feature a rotating cast of panelists. Despite significantly lagging other cable networks like CNN and Fox in terms of viewership, NewsNation president of news Michael Corn said he’s “not even a little bit” concerned about ratings. “The trajectory is really, really excellent right now,” he said.

Also from Axios: The vast majority of Americans trust the news they hear in podcasts, offering hope that media institutions can rebuild relationships with the public through a new medium.

USA TODAY Editor-in-Chief Nicole Carroll leaving Gannett
USA TODAY | Bailey Schulz

Nicole Carroll will step down from her role as Editor-in-Chief of USA TODAY on May 1. Carroll lead the news organization for more than five years. During her tenure, USA TODAY hired more journalists of color and created 20 new beats to cover inequities in the U.S. USA TODAY also became a majority-female newsroom in 2021 with Carroll at the helm. “I have nothing but gratitude for the past 31 years (with Gannett),” Carroll said. “Getting to work on journalism that helped people and changed lives and changed law has been the honor of a lifetime.” Michael McCarter, managing editor of standards and ethics and Opinion, has been named interim editor-in-chief.

In other personnel news, Sally Holmes, formerly at Marie Claire, will join InStyle as editor in chief and general manager.

Evan Gershkovich: US journalist arrested in Russia appears in court
BBC | Steve Rosenberg, Chloe Kim

U.S. journalist Evan Gershkovich appeared in a Moscow court on Tuesday — the first time he had been seen in public for weeks. His legal team’s offer to free him on bail of 50 million roubles ($614,000) or put him under house arrest was denied by the court. The rejection means Mr. Gershkovich will stay at a former KGB prison until May 29 at least. U.S. ambassador to Moscow Lynne Tracy was present in the courtroom. Speaking outside the court after the hearing, Ms. Tracy said she had been given access to Mr. Gershkovich for the first time on Monday and that he was in “good health and remains strong despite the circumstances.” Mr. Gershkovich, 31, was arrested on March 29 and could face up to 20 years in prison if found guilty of espionage.

Read next: Oklahoma’s governor is calling for four county officials to resign after a local newspaper’s audio recording captured racist remarks and threats of violence.

Twitter adds more ‘government-funded’ labels to global news outlets
Techcrunch | Amanda Silberling

After last week’s backlash for its use of the “government-funded media” label, Twitter is adding the label to the accounts of several international news outlets. The outlets include the Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC), New Zealand’s public broadcaster RNZ, Sweden’s SR Ekot, and more. “For more than 90 years the ABC has always been and remains an independent media organisation, free from political and commercial interests,” ABC wrote on Twitter, in response the change. The outlets worry that the label might lead Twitter users to believe that they are editorially controlled by the government, which is not the case.

Related: The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation paused its use of Twitter on Monday after its account received the “government-funded media” label.

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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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