Media Insider: X to Remove Headlines from News Articles, Press Freedom Research Group Launches

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

Elon Musk plans to remove headlines from news articles shared on X
Forbes | Kylie Robison

The latest (potential) change to X, formerly known as Twitter, comes in the form of removing headlines and text from links to news articles shared on the platform — leaving only the lead image and forcing users to manually add their own text. Elon Musk says the change is for “esthetic” purposes and he believes it will cut down on what he feels are “clickbait” articles. However, the change could potentially undermine the ability of news publishers to draw an audience. The current format, which uses “cards” along with an image, source address, and an abridged headline, helps draw clicks and readers to the articles. The change could push users to the platform’s Premium subscription, which allows them to use up to 25,000 characters in a single post.

Other X news: Over the weekend, Musk seemed to suggest that his takeover of X could be doomed

Media heavyweights form new research group to support free press
Axios | Sara Fischer

A group of media, tech, and research executives have raised nearly $3 million to launch the Center for News, Technology & Innovation (CNTI). CNTI is an independent policy research center focused on addressing global internet issues, such as disinformation and the economic health of the news industry — it’s already identified 15 priority issues. Former execs from Pew Research Institute and McClatchy are among those who will be leading CNTI. Former Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron and Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa will be on the group’s board. “Over the last few years, I’d grown increasingly concerned about not only the lack of progress we were making in addressing the challenges of the digital news environment, but also that, in many cases, it seemed we were going backwards,” said CNTI executive director Amy Mitchell. “The issues are vast, complex and fast changing, the research often piecemeal and disparate and the conversations often siloed.” The group will launch on Sept. 6.

Also from Axios: Coverage of the multiple Trump indictments has led to a prime-time ratings boost for MSNBC this summer.

After Vice’s Downfall, Top Journalists Start Their Own Tech Publication
The New York Times | Katie Robertson

A group of journalists from Vice’s tech brand Motherboard have struck out on their own. 404 Media started publishing on Tuesday with a focus on topics like hacking, sex work, niche online communities, and the “right to repair” movement. “It’s very much a website by humans for humans about technology,” said Emanuel Maiberg, a 404 Media co-founder and a former top editor at Motherboard. “It’s not about the business of technology — it’s about how it impacts real people in the real world.” The new site is the latest in a string of journalist-owned outlets like Defector and Hell Gate. Vice, which filed for bankruptcy in May, was recently acquired by a consortium led by Fortress Investment Group for $350 million. So far, 404 Media’s co-founders have each invested $1,000 in the company, enough to cover a web hosting company, a content management system, and a way to accept payments. A subscription to the site will cost $10 a month, or $100 a year.

Read next: Warner Bros. Discovery is planning to launch a 24-hour livestream channel for CNN on the Max platform.

Trudeau joins calls for Meta to reverse news ban amid Canada wildfires
The Washington Post | Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff, Naomi Nix, and Grace Moon

Meta’s decision to block the sharing of news articles on its platforms in Canada is receiving pushback from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The ban, which began in June, is preventing Canadian officials from sharing articles with critical evacuation information related to ongoing wildfires in the Northwest Territories and British Columbia. Because of the remoteness of some of the regions, it’s difficult for news outlets to reach people living there, and Facebook helps them do so. “It is so inconceivable that a company like Facebook is choosing to put corporate profits ahead of ensuring that local news organizations can get up-to-date information to Canadians,” Trudeau said at a news conference. The ban went into effect after the country passed a law that allows news organizations to negotiate with tech giants to receive payments for articles shared on their platforms.

In other legal news, Gannett has been hit with a lawsuit claiming it discriminated against “non-minorities.”

Jezebel Boss Quits as G/O Media Dumpster Fire Burns On
The Daily Beast | Lachlan Cartwright

Jezebel editor-in-chief Laura Bassett resigned from her post, becoming the seventh EIC in a portfolio of ten sites to quit G/O over the last eight months and the second EIC in as many weeks. The news comes as staffers say G/O CEO Jim Spanfeller “has become unhinged and impossible to work for.” In her resignation note, Bassett took clear aim at management, saying, “If I’m not allowed to replace my deputy editor, give any of my writers raises or promotions ever for the great work they do, or fill any of the half dozen open writer slots I’ve had for a year, it’s clear that any pathway for growth I had here has been deliberately cut off and that I’ve done all I can do to make this site what it could be given reasonable resources.” In addition to Bassett, EICs have also exited from G/O properties including Deadspin, The Root, Jalopnik, Quartz, and Kotaku since December. Spanfeller has come under fire for an unpopular “scorecard” to rate staff performance and the hiring – and quick promotion – of his daughter. A spokesperson for G/O Media commented on the exodus: “When there is a change in editorial management there is frequently some turnover in the senior editorial ranks.”

Read next: Leadership changes at Bloomberg are raising questions about Michael Bloomberg’s plan for the future of the company.

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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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