Media Insider: X Suspends Journalist Accounts, Fox Debuts Tool for Verifying Authentic Content

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

X Bans and Then Unbans Journalists and Podcasters in Twitter’s Latest Free Speech Massacre
Gizmodo | Thomas Germain

Over 24 hours, X, formerly known as Twitter, suspended an unknown number of prominent accounts and reinstated them shortly after Gizmodo reported on it. X initially provided little to no explanation for the bans, but owner Elon Musk later blamed the platform’s spam algorithms. Some of the affected accounts belong to journalists, writers, and podcasters – including Ken Klippenstein of the Intercept, writer and podcaster Rob Rousseau, and Texas Observer correspondent Steven Monacelli. The suspended accounts all had recently posted criticisms of the Israeli government, and some of the journalist accounts have been critical of Musk. “As a journalist I’ve been matrix dodging layoffs my entire career, Elon isn’t even on the top 10 of threats to my survival,” Klippenstein wrote on X. “Had the ban stuck – and I imagine it will eventually – I would’ve just migrated to my newsletter.”

In other social media news this week:

Fox Corp. launches blockchain platform to negotiate with AI firms
Axios | Sara Fischer

This week, Fox Corp. debuted a new blockchain platform called Verify that it plans to use for negotiating content licensing deals with AI companies. The protocol is a “distributed internet database of media content that’s cryptographically signed to establish the content’s origin and history.” After registering their content on the platform to confirm its origin, media companies can then grant usage rights to AI companies looking to train their technology on the content. Since its beta launch last August, Fox has added over 80,000 pieces of content to the system from its news brands, including Fox News, Fox Business, Fox Sports, and its local television stations. It’s a unique tactic to negotiate with AI companies with a technology solution rather than a business agreement or legal proceeding, as companies like The New York Times and Axel Springer have done.

It was a big week for AI news:

  • In case you missed it, several journalists are suing OpenAI and Microsoft for “massive and deliberate theft of copyrighted works.”
  • In the UK, OpenAI is pleading with British publishers to use their content to train its large language model (LLM). The company says it can’t effectively train its technology and continue to grow the business without free access to the content.
  • Roger Lynch, CEO of Condé Nast, told Congress this week that “Gen AI cannot replace journalism. Journalism is fundamentally human pursuit, and it plays an essential and irreplaceable role in our society and our democracy.” 

Editor of The Los Angeles Times Steps Down
New York Times | Benjamin Mullin

Kevin Merida announced this week that he is leaving his position as executive editor of the Los Angeles Times, effective today (Jan. 12). No specific reason for the abrupt exit was given, but Merida said the decision was made “after considerable soul-searching about my career.” Merida joined The Times in May 2021 and in recent months had been at odds with Patrick Soon-Shiong, the biotechnology billionaire who owns The Times, and the Soon-Shiong family on matters including editorial decisions and business priorities. “Given the persistent challenges we face, it is now imperative that we all work together to build a sustainable business that allows for growth and innovation,” Dr. Soon-Shiong wrote. He said a search for Mr. Merida’s successor will include internal and external candidates.

Read next: Staff at the young nonprofit local news startup, Houston Landing, are reeling from the sudden firing of its top editor and a star reporter.

Radio giant Audacy files for bankruptcy
Axios | Sara Fischer

Radio and broadcast company Audacy announced it is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and has entered into a prepackaged restructuring support agreement (RSA). The company, formerly known as Entercom, is the second-largest radio broadcaster in the country, with radio stations in major markets like Los Angeles and New York. Audacy CEO David Field said there will be no disruption to employee wages and benefits. “The current leadership team will continue to lead the Company and day-to-day roles and responsibilities will not change,” he told staff.

Read next: Aaron Rodgers is out as a guest on Pat McAfee’s ESPN show for the remainder of the NFL season after he falsely suggested that late-night host Jimmy Kimmel could be linked to Jeffrey Epstein and spread misinformation and conspiracy theories.

Word In Black to Grow Black Media’s Legacy, Impact
Word In Black | Liz Courquet-Lesaulnier

Word In Black, a coalition of Black publishers — AFRO News, The Atlanta Voice, Dallas Weekly, Houston Defender, Michigan Chronicle, New York Amsterdam News, The Sacramento Observer, The Seattle Medium, The St. Louis American, and The Washington Informer — announced this week that it has officially incorporated as a public benefit company. “The transition to a public benefit corporation allows us to take Word In Black out of the pilot phase and develop it into a much larger national brand that is unapologetically Black,” Dr. Frances Toni Draper, CEO of the 131-year-old AFRO American, said in a statement. The group was formed in 2020 and remains committed to producing solutions-focused news and amplifying the voices of the Black community.

Read next: Group Black launched its Audience and Insight Platform to help brands better reach and resonate with audiences in the Black and Hispanic sectors.

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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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