Media Insider: LinkedIn Doubles Down on News, NTWRK Folds Into Complex, WBUR Weighs Job Cuts

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

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LinkedIn doubles down on news as social rivals retreat
Axios| Sara Fischer

LinkedIn is investing more in journalism and news amid a broader pullback by tech rivals from the industry, the company’s editor-in-chief and vice president, Dan Roth, told Axios in an interview. LinkedIn alone won’t be able to make up for the dramatic reduction in traffic referrals from social media sites to news publishers, but it does offer outlets and journalists a platform to meaningfully grow their audiences amid a broader tech crackdown on news content. Unlike Facebook and X, traffic referrals to news publishers have increased slightly from LinkedIn over the past three years, per Similarweb. LinkedIn works with over 400 news publishers globally, Roth said, after expanding to 12 new markets in the last six months. LinkedIn has made a concerted effort to court all types of news sites, but it’s particularly focused on those that cover business or professional topics.

Meanwhile, Facebook is killing its news tab in the U.S. and Australia in April.

Spate of Mock News Sites With Russian Ties Pop Up in U.S.
New York Times | Steven Lee Myers

Into the depleted field of journalism in America, a handful of websites have appeared in recent weeks with names suggesting a focus on news close to home: D.C. Weekly, New York News Daily, Chicago Chronicle and a newer sister publication, Miami Chronicle. In fact, they are not local news organizations at all. They are Russian creations, researchers and government officials say, meant to mimic actual news organizations to push Kremlin propaganda by interspersing it among an at-times odd mix of stories about crime, politics and culture. While Russia has long sought ways to influence public discourse in the United States, the fake news organizations — at least five, so far — represent a technological leap in its efforts to find new platforms to dupe unsuspecting American readers. The sites, the researchers and officials said, could well be the foundations of an online network primed to surface disinformation ahead of the American presidential election in November. Patrick Warren, a co-director at Clemson University’s Media Forensics Hub, which has exposed furtive Russian disinformation efforts, said advances in artificial intelligence and other digital tools had “made this even easier to do and to make the content that they do even more targeted.”

More industry news: Vox Media joins forces with MilkPEP and Gale to increase women’s representation in sports.

AI-generated articles prompt Wikipedia to downgrade CNET’s reliability rating
Ars Technica | Benj Edwards

Wikipedia has downgraded tech website CNET’s reliability rating following extensive discussions among its editors regarding the impact of AI-generated content on the site’s trustworthiness, as noted in a detailed report from Futurism. The decision reflects concerns over the reliability of articles found on the tech news outlet after it began publishing AI-generated stories in 2022. “CNET, usually regarded as an ordinary tech RS [reliable source], has started experimentally running AI-generated articles, which are riddled with errors,” wrote David Gerard, a Wikipedia editor. “So far, the experiment is not going down well, as it shouldn’t. I haven’t found any yet, but any of these articles that make it into a Wikipedia article need to be removed.

More on the AI front: Google is starting to squash more spam and AI in search results.

NTWRK folds into Complex, original execs return
Axios | Sara Fischer

Less than two weeks after acquiring Complex for $108 million, NTWRK, the celebrity-backed e-commerce startup, now says it plans to fold its brand and business into Complex. It’s part of a larger overhaul of Complex’s business post-acquisition that will also include reviving the outlet’s print magazine and rehiring some of Complex’s earliest executives to transform the brand for the e-commerce era. Over the next six months, the NTWRK brand will fold into Complex and will anchor its commerce arm. The parent company that owns Complex will be called Complex NTWRK, but that will be the only place the NTWRK brand exists. NTWRK will no longer be a consumer-facing brand.

ICYMI: Popular Science is relaunching its YouTube channel with Vsauce2 team.

WBUR weighs hiring freeze, job cuts as advertising revenue plummets
Boston Globe | Aidan Ryan

WBUR is considering a hiring freeze and eliminating jobs as the station has seen “a dramatic loss of sponsorship support,” chief executive Margaret Low wrote in an email to donors on Wednesday. “This is a different story than we’ve told before. It’s unlike our usual on-air fundraising appeals,” Low wrote in the email. “The stark reality is this — in order to survive, we need the people who count on us every day to dig deeper than they ever have before.” In an interview with the Globe last week and in the message sent to donors, Low said that on-air sponsorship revenue, also known as underwriting, fell by 40% over the past five years. The union is trying to work with management to avoid the “worst-case scenario,” which would be job losses and layoffs, said Mary Cavallaro, the chief broadcast officer for news and broadcast at SAG-AFTRA.

Read next: Apple introduces transcripts for Apple Podcasts.

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Maria Perez is director of web operations at Cision. In her spare time, she enjoys gaming, watching too much TV, and chasing squirrels with her dog Cece.

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