Media Insider: Politico’s SCOTUS Scoop, Press Freedom Index, Layoffs at Lee

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

Supreme Court building interior

Inside Politico’s Historic Scoop
New York Times | Benjamin Mullin and Katie Robertson

On Monday night, Politico published a scoop that has dominated news coverage since and rattled the country. Reporters Josh Gerstein and Alexander Ward obtained a leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court that would strike down Roe v. Wade. In addition to the potential ramifications if the law is overturned, the unprecedented leak has also put Politico in the spotlight as everyone debates who leaked the draft and why, as well as their motives. According to the article, the document was provided by “a person familiar with the court’s proceedings” who provided additional details that helped authenticate the document. After publishing the article, Politico’s executive editor, Dafna Linzer, and editor in chief, Matthew Kaminski, sent an email to staff explaining the decision to publish. “After an extensive review process, we are confident of the authenticity of the draft,” they wrote. “This unprecedented view into the justices’ deliberations is plainly news of great public interest.”

Read next: Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed the authenticity of the draft opinion and directed the Marshal of the Court to launch an investigation into the source of the leak.

RSF’s 2022 World Press Freedom Index: a new era of polarisation
Reporters Without Borders

This week marked World Press Freedom Day (May 3) and analysis from the 2022 edition of the World Press Freedom Index. The report examines the state of journalism in 180 countries and territories and “highlights the disastrous effects of news and information chaos.” An increase in polarisation is two-fold, caused by divisions within countries and between them on the international level. Norway, Denmark and Sweden continue to top the index and serve as a democratic model where freedom of expression flourishes. Myanmar, China, North Korea, Russia and Belarus are some of the countries classified as “very bad” for press freedom. This year’s index has the U.S. as 42nd on the list.

Related: At last weekend’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, host Trevor Noah’s speech “perfectly roasted those in attendance and in the news but also closed with a reminder of the important role of a free press.”

Huge layoffs expected at Lee Enterprises
Axios | Sara Fischer and Kerry Flynn

According to sources, Lee Enterprises has been quietly laying off dozens of employees across its local papers and at the corporate level. The layoffs are a result of the company’s cost-cutting to fight off Alden Global Capital’s takeover bid. More than 400 roles, as much as 10% of Lee’s staff, could be cut. A spokesperson for Lee did not deny the cuts and told Axios, “As Lee Enterprises continues to transition from a print-centric to a digital-first business, we need to make job reductions to better align staffing with our long-term strategy.” Sources describe scenarios where they are laid off, only to have their same role re-posted online for less money. They say the situation is “dark.”

In response to budget cuts, the BBC is planning to cut its number of programs and is considering turning more television and radio stations into archive services.

Vice Media has hired financial advisors to seek a buyer, may sell itself in pieces, sources say
CNBC | Alex Sherman

Vice Media, the digital media company once valued at $5.7 billion, is seeking a sale. The company is exploring options for a single buyer as well as selling the company in parts (due to issues around valuation and $1 billion in outstanding debt). Its most desirable assets are likely to be its content studio, Pulse Films, and its creative advertising agency, Virtue. Other assets include Vice’s news site and Refinery29, which it acquired in 2019. News of the potential sale comes after Vice’s plans to go public via SPAC last year stalled.

ICYMI: Elon Musk may bring some big changes to Twitter once he takes over — he’s even floating the idea of charging users to embed or quote tweets from verified accounts.

Internal NBC News review finds nearly a dozen articles containing plagiarized material
The Hill | Dominick Mastrangelo

An internal review conducted by NBC News found instances of plagiarism in nearly a dozen online articles by a single reporter. In a note to readers, NBC News said, “The articles contained passages from other news organizations that were used without attribution…In all cases, the passages were not central to the stories, but instead contained supplemental or background material that did not represent original reporting.” The plagiarized passages were removed from the articles and editor’s notes were added. The company gave no further information about the reporter or how it was made aware of the issue.

In other media news this week, ESPN anchor Sage Steele is suing the network, alleging a violation of her free-speech rights.

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Rocky Parker is the Digital Content Lead at Cision PR Newswire. She’s worked with journalists, bloggers, and content creators to create their targeted newsfeeds from PR Newswire for Journalists. Rocky has also counseled on content writing best practices. Check out her previous posts for Beyond Bylines. In her free time, Rocky can usually be found cooking, binge-watching a new show, or playing with her puppy, Hudson. 

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