Fox News wooes advertisers amid protest; their literal last words; People leader steps down, Atlantic leader steps up

Your Thursday news roundup

March 14, 2019
Category: Newsletters

Another eventful day for Fox News as the network met with advertisers on Wednesday to promote transparency and trust. While that was going on inside Fox News’ studios, there were protests going on outside.

About 75 people, led by Media Matters president Angelo Carusone, were chanting and carry signs encouraging advertisers to pull away from Fox News.

According to Columbia Journalism Review, Carusone said, “There have to be meaningful consequences. We have to deal with Fox News. They are a uniquely destructive voice, and the only way to do it, because they will not listen, is to go directly to the companies that are paying for what you hear every single night from Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity.”

In the past week, Media Matters unearthed controversial comments Carlson made a decade ago to radio shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge. Then, Fox News host Jeanine Pirro made remarks that Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) was “Sharia-compliant” because she wears a traditional hijab head covering. Fox News condemned Pirro’s remarks, but at least four advertisers pulled out of Pirro’s show.

Threatening to boycott advertisers is nothing new, but it still isn’t clear how effective it is. It’s true that advertisers sometimes pull ads from specific shows, but they don’t always leave the network entirely. They often just shift their dollars to other shows.

Still, Marianne Gambelli, who leads ad sales for Fox News, told Ad Age she is frustrated by the lack of distinction between what on the air is not brand-safe and what is content that some people simply don’t like.

“So all of a sudden something isn’t brand-safe and there isn’t any rationale for it, there’s no reason for it,” Gambelli said. “You have to look at every piece of content through the eyes of the beholder, and I think that’s what gets lost in the messaging.”

She added, “Most of the time, nothing is even happening on our air, so why isn’t it a brand-safe environment?”

To make its point Wednesday, Fox News showed advertisers videos of viewers who spoke positively about the network. Fox News also can also point to what really matters most: the network’s audience, according to Gambelli, is affluent and educated, which is attractive to advertisers. Fox News also happens to be the most-watched cable channel, another point that goes over well with advertisers.

Sobering project

Screenshot, "The Last Column"

When you click on the link, what slowly develops is a sobering and overwhelming list of names that forms a solid black square. You realize it’s a list of all the journalists — more than 1,300  — who have been killed in the line of duty. It’s all part of the Committee to Protect Journalists’ new project, “The Last Column.” The project includes a book and short documentary series that highlights the final works of reporters who were killed.

“When you put it all together in one place, you realize this is what journalism is,’’ CPJ executive director Joel Simon told Time magazine. “It’s not just the names trying to reach a global audience. It’s people trying to inform their communities, where such activity is inherently dangerous.”

Going (even more) global

The Washington Post is expanding its online publishing system globally. The Post’s Arc Publishing announced Wednesday that it will license technology to Cimeco of Clarín Group in Argentina, El Comercio in Peru, La Nacion in Argentina, and La Prensa in Panama, which the Post claims means Arc is now the leading news publishing platform in Latin America. According to a release from the Post, Arc serves nearly a dozen media companies in Latin America, including in Paraguay, Costa Rica and Mexico.

Making a difference

The skyline of downtown Charlotte, North Carolina in 2012. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton, file)

For this item, let’s turn it over to Poynter’s Kristen Hare:

On Thursday, the Solutions Journalism Network announced $150,000 toward a six-newsroom collaborative project in Charlotte, North Carolina.  The Charlotte Observer, La Noticia, WCNC, QCity Metro, WFAE and QNotes will work together with two area institutions to cover the affordable housing crisis in Charlotte. That kind of local news ecosystem, with outside funding, “is by far one of the most solid ways to start developing a culture of collaboration in a city or a region,” said Stefanie Murray, director of the Center for Cooperative Media.

On the move

Jess Cagle in 2016. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Jess Cagle is stepping down as editor in chief of People magazine after five years. However, Cagle has been with Time, Inc. for 32 years, including several stints at People, Time and Entertainment Weekly. His last day will be March 31. A replacement is expected to be name soon.

In a memo to his staff, Cagle, 53, wrote, “I’ve decided it’s time to do some other things while I’m still young — or at least alive. It’s also time for me to live in Los Angeles full-time under the same roof as my husband and dog.”

In other media news, Adrienne LaFrance, who has been the top editor for nearly two years, has been named executive editor of The Atlantic. She will oversee, Atlantic Studios and Atlantic Podcasts. Swati Sharma and Sarah Yager were promoted to managing editors. Sharma will run day-to-day coverage of and Yager will be operations chief for The Atlantic.

Check it out

Fox News’ Tucker Carlson is under criticism for remarks he made years ago. The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf asks what should be done when a person is under fire for old offenses?

A St. Louis bar owner had a Post-Dispatch newspaper box in front of his joint for more than a decade because it reminded him of being a newspaper boy in the 1980s. Someone stole it and he wants it back. The (who else?) St. Louis Post-Dispatch covers the story.

Pulitzer Prize winner and former Tampa Bay Times staffer Lucy Morgan, for the Florida Phoenix, writes how Florida’s right to know is threatened by the legislature.

About that college admissions cheating scandal? How exactly does that work? The New Yorker’s Isaac Chotiner talks to Daniel Golden, the guy who literally wrote the book on it.

Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at

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