By:
June 23, 2022

We’re moving closer to a Supreme Court ruling on abortion. It could happen at any moment now. More on that in a few moments. But first …

Just ahead of the decision that could end Roe v. Wade, a new USA Today/Suffolk University poll about abortion was released on Wednesday.

Some of the notable findings:

  • Even those who oppose striking down the landmark decision say, by a 59% to 29% margin, that the economy is more important when they vote in November. Seven in 10 say the Supreme Court’s decision will have no impact on whether they vote in November.
  • By more than double (61% to 28%), those surveyed oppose overturning Roe v. Wade.
  • By the margin of 58% to 38%, those surveyed said they knew someone in either their family or friend group who had an abortion.
  • Right around 31% said a ban would make a state less desirable, while 5% said it would make it more desirable.

The court’s ruling …

When might the Supreme Court announce its decision on abortion? The next opinion date is today, but the court still has 13 cases in its current term and that’s, well, a lot. So many that the court has now added Friday as another day to issue rulings. So the ruling on abortion could come Friday, or later — such as next week.

As we wait, here are a few pieces you might find interesting:

Jan. 6 hearings

The House select committee hearing looking into the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, continues today.

The Associated Press’ Mary Clare Jalonick writes, “… the hearing will move to another pressure campaign — Trump’s efforts to have Justice Department officials declare the election corrupt, and a scheme within the department to go after states to change the results. Former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, who took over after Barr resigned, and his deputy, Richard Donoghue, will testify about how they successfully resisted that pressure.”

The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin wrote a column Wednesday: “4 lessons from Trump’s pressure campaign on election officials.”

Meanwhile, in his wrap-up of Tuesday’s hearing, The New York Times’ Michael S. Schmidt wrote, “The hearing demonstrated the human costs of the waves of threats and intimidation set off by Mr. Trump and his supporters as they pressured state officials and election workers to find a way to deprive Joseph R. Biden Jr. of his victory.”

Dominion can proceed in suit against Fox

Dominion Voting Systems can move ahead with its $1.6 billion lawsuit against Fox News’ parent company over claims made about the 2020 presidential election. That’s what a judge ruled on Wednesday.

Fox Corp. had asked that the suit be thrown out, but Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis ruled that Dominion’s allegations “support a reasonable inference that Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch either knew Dominion had not manipulated the election or at least recklessly disregarded the truth when they allegedly caused Fox News to propagate its claims about Dominion.”

Davis had also previously rejected Fox News’ request to dismiss a separate lawsuit filed by Dominion.

Part of Fox’s argument is that it “did not create allegations against Dominion,” but that it reported on comments that former President Donald Trump and many of his supporters made about Dominion.

The Hill’s Dominick Mastrangelo has more.

Splitsville

Rupert Murdoch, left, and Jerry Hall at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party in 2018. (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Speaking of Fox, here’s a bit of gossip. The New York Times’ Jim Rutenberg and Benjamin Mullin report that Rupert Murdoch, whose media empire includes Fox News and The Wall Street Journal, and his fourth wife, Jerry Hall, are getting a divorce. Hall is the model/actress who was once married to Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger, but that marriage was annulled.

Murdoch, 91, and Hall, 65, married in March 2016. The Times reports that the divorce “is unlikely to alter the ownership structure of businesses he holds stakes in.”

Keeping up with the Smiths

Earlier this year, a pair of guys named Smith, not related, rattled the media world. Ben Smith was the high-profile media columnist at The New York Times. Justin Smith was the chief executive of Bloomberg Media. But both left their destination jobs for a giant leap of faith — starting a global news organization.

The new outlet, to be called Semafor, is set to debut this fall with 30 journalists scattered across the globe from Washington to New York to London and, perhaps, Africa or the Middle East. It will start with a website and newsletters.

The New York Times’ Katie Robertson and Benjamin Mullin wrote an update on the company as it prepares for its much-anticipated launch.

Semafor has already hired some recognizable journalists (Liz Hoffman from The Wall Street Journal and Reed Albergotti of The Washington Post), and Ben Smith tells the Times he’s close to hiring someone to help him with the media column.

Some of the details? Well, the opening sentence of the Robertson-Mullin story says a lot: “News articles will be broken into sections distinguishing facts from opinion. Reporters’ bylines will be as prominent as headlines. And journalists will be permitted to offer their analysis on social media.”

We’ll see if Semafor has bitten off more than it can chew, but I have to say, I can’t wait to see it, and why wouldn’t we hope that it’s a huge success?

Local TV news staffing is down 6.3%

For this item, I turn it over to Poynter media business analyst Rick Edmonds. 

The Radio Television Digital News Association’s annual survey of local TV full-time newsroom staffing, released last week, found a surprising 6.3% drop in 2021 to a total of 26,250. Staffing had held steady or increased during the pandemic, but better financial times did not translate into newsroom expansion.

There was no obvious explanation for the decline. Consolidation in the industry continues, and the surviving companies may be mandating stricter cost controls. Also, 2021 was a nonelection year, so stations may have kept vacant positions open until the 2022 midterms juice up political advertising. News directors were nearly unanimous in saying levels will increase slightly or stay steady in 2022.

The newspaper industry no longer does the sort of self-study that would generate comparable estimates. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates, as reported by Pew Research last year, found news employment of 30,800.

Average newsroom staffing for stations affiliated with the big four networks was 40, according to co-authors Bob Papper and Keren Hendersen. The stations have a relatively light commitment to their digital operations with a typical dedicated staff of 3.7.

Sad news

Fox Sports NFL analyst Tony Siragusa before a game in 2015. (AP Photo/Frank Victores)

Tony Siragusa, a 330-pound nose tackle who spent 12 years playing in the NFL for the Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Ravens, has died. He was 55. No cause of death has been given.

While he was a solid football player, Siragusa is just as well known as a TV analyst for Fox Sports. He first gained major recognition among football fans during the first year (2001) of HBO’s now-classic show “Hard Knocks,” which follows one team behind the scenes during training camp. As NFL.com’s Nick Shook remembered, Siragusa was a fan favorite for his big-lug, guy-next-door style and sense of humor, once saying on “Hard Knocks,” “I mean, if I smell a hamburger, I gain two pounds.”

Siragusa — known affectionately as “The Goose” — joined Fox Sports in 2003 and often called games from the field, usually the end zone. He was with Fox Sports until 2015. Siragusa also did some acting, most notably appearing in “The Sopranos.”

ESPN’s Jamison Hensley has more, including reaction from around the NFL.

Media tidbits

  • Washington Post managing editor Tracy Grant is leaving the paper to become editor-in-chief of Encyclopaedia Britannica. Grant has been with the Post since 1993, starting as a copy editor. Washingtonian’s Andrew Beaujon has more.
  • Speaking of the Post, CNN’s Oliver Darcy reports that the Post sent out a memo reminding staffers to comply with the policy of working out of the office at least three times a week, which was originally put in place in March. The memo said, “Failure to comply with this policy may result in disciplinary action.”
  • A Reporters Without Borders investigation “… into the death of Maks Levin: ‘Information and evidence collected indicates this Ukrainian journalist was executed.’”
  • From The Rural Blog in Kentucky: “The Bowling Green (Ky.) Daily News, under local family ownership since its founding before the Civil War and in the Gaines family since 1882, is being sold to Carpenter Newsmedia LLC, an affiliate of Boone Newspapers Inc., a family-owned chain based in Tuscaloosa, Ala.” Here’s more.
  • Politico senior media writer Jack Shafer with “The Tragedy of Mike Pence.”
  • Singer Kate Bush — whose 1985 song “Running Up That Hill” is climbing the pop charts after it was used in the Netflix show “Stranger Things” — has given her first interview in six years. She talks with the BBC Radio 4’s Emma Barnett. Bush said, “It’s such a great series, I thought that the track would get some attention. But I just never imagined that it would be anything like this. It’s so exciting. But it’s quite shocking really, isn’t it? I mean, the whole world’s gone mad. What’s really wonderful, I think, is this is a whole new audience who, in a lot of cases, have never heard of me and I love that. The thought of all these really young people hearing the song for the first time and discovering it is … well, I think it’s very special.”
  • Nieman Lab’s Sarah Scire with “The Los Angeles Times gets a fully staffed ‘burner account.’”
  • For The New York Times Magazine, ​​Marcela Valdes with “Inside the Push to Diversify the Book Business.”

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Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at tjones@poynter.org.

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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for Poynter.org. He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
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