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The billionaire era in news is fizzling: The Media Roundup

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Why the billionaire era in news has been a disappointment

From the Washington Post to The Atlantic, Time and more, the past decade has seen a number of billionaires riding ‘to the rescue’ of American journalism. These owners have promised both to support the journalism and help revolutionise business models.

They have mostly kept the first half of that promise, according to Semafor’s Ben Smith. “But the other half of the plan – to find new models – has remained largely unfulfilled, as the money-losing outlets all continue to rely on their owners’ goodwill for survival.”

The problem isn’t the lack of viable business models for media. There are countless examples of media companies and start-ups thriving. Instead, it seems that billionaire owners with no experience in media struggle to give the focus needed to reinvent the behemoths.

Where did all the new podcasts go?

We have a formidable longlist of podcasts for ‘Best Podcast Launch’ for this year’s Publisher Podcast Awards so I’m not worried about this…yet. But this is quite a stunning drop. I don’t know to what extent this is amateurs realising growing and sustaining podcast audiences is quite a challenge – after all, if you were going to launch a podcast, lockdown was the time to do it. Certainly I haven’t noticed much of a slowdown in publishers launching new shows.

Informed app attracts big-name publishers to join curated subscription bundle

It’s been a while since we’ve seen a ‘Netflix for news’ launch since the flurry of them in 2014-16. But rather than offer an all-you-can-read subscription, Informed are targeting news consumers who want “the best, most important stories cherry-picked for them”. Interestingly co-founder Martin Kaelble thinks that there is an investor demand for a bundled news app which wasn’t there a few years ago.

Italian news media is dominated by white men. What explains the lack of diversity?

The lack of diversity in newsrooms is an issue all around the world. But in many other countries, there is at least an ongoing debate on the subject. According to Angelo Boccato and Francesco Guidotti, there is very little discussion on the lack of diversity in the profession in Italy. Here, they explain why it’s a complicated problem.

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