July 9, 2020

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Good morning, everyone. Tom Jones is on vacation, but the team at Poynter is keeping tabs on the latest media news and analysis. Here’s what you need to know today.

CNBC will bring on Shepard Smith, a former Fox News anchor, to anchor a primetime one-hour long news program in the fall, The Wall Street Journal reported. The newscast, called “The News with Shepard Smith,” will air 7 to 8 p.m. every weekday. Smith will have a smaller audience at the network compared to his time at Fox, which has been breaking records for cable news viewership. He said in a statement the show will act as a “fact-based, hour-long evening news program with the mission to cut through the static to deliver facts, in context and with perspective.”

Harper’s Magazine published an open letter Tuesday from more than 150 prominent artists, journalists, authors and others that says an “intolerant climate” has set in at cultural institutions and the “free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted.” The letter, Jennifer Schuessler and Elizabeth A. Harris write for The New York Times, “surfaces a debate that has been going on privately in newsrooms, universities and publishing houses that have been navigating demands for diversity and inclusion, while also asking which demands — and the social media dynamics that propel them — go too far.” Journalist signatories include Vox co-founder and senior correspondent Matthew Yglesias, New York Times columnist David Brooks, The Atlantic contributing writer Emily Yoffe and more. The letter “broke Twitter” and led to a number of fierce critiques, including one from Jessica Valenti writing for GEN.

The New York Times’ 1619 Project will be made into films, television programs and more, Tonja Renée Stidhum reported for The Root. Nikole Hannah-Jones, who won a Pulitzer for the project that examines the beginning of slavery in the U.S. and how Black Americans have shaped the country, will work with Lionsgate and Oprah Winfrey as a producer. On Wednesday, Winfrey tweeted “When the #1619Project came out almost a year ago, I stood in tearful applause for the profound offering that it was giving our culture and nation. Today, I am honored to be a part of @nhannahjones’ vision to bring her transformative work to a global audience. Stay tuned, y’all!”

In an article adapted from her new book, The Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan recalls in personal detail a career spent witnessing the decline of local news and the real impact of that decline. Sullivan’s book, “Ghosting the News: Local Journalism and the Crisis of American Democracy,” comes out July 14. In a review of the book for the Los Angeles Times, Sewell Chan writes “Sullivan is the perfect person to diagnose the problem. She worked her way up from summer intern to top editor of her hometown paper, the Buffalo News, a job she held for 13 years, overseeing a newsroom of 200 (now less than half that size).”

Tucker Carlson has sharply criticized Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) two nights in a row. Carlson’s show drew 4.331 million viewers last quarter, and on Monday he told those viewers that Duckworth is “a deeply silly and unimpressive person.” On Tuesday night he called her a “coward,” “fraud” and “moron.” Duckworth, a former Army helicopter pilot who lost both legs in the Iraq War, responded on Twitter, asking “Does @TuckerCarlson want to walk a mile in my legs and then tell me whether or not I love America?” Carlson’s comments began after Duckworth told CNN that the U.S. “should have a national dialogue” about the removal of statues of former slave owners, such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. President Donald Trump tweeted a clip of Carlson’s Monday night attack, while a few senators, including senate minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), criticized Carlson’s comments.

After a 25-year hiatus, the “Far Side” cartoonist Gary Larson has released three new cartoons on his website. Fed up with clogged pens, he purchased a tablet and entered the world of digital art with his same drive to explore and take risks. The new single-panel comics are not a continuation of “The Far Side” but feature Larson’s trademark absurdist humor: Two aliens fish for humans; bears eat cub scouts; and a man tries to hail a taxidermist instead of a taxi. On his website, Larson wrote of the new endeavor: “I’ve got my coffee, I’ve got this cool gizmo, and I’ve got no deadlines. And — to borrow from Sherlock Holmes — the game is afoot.”

Today’s edition of the Poynter Report was written by Eliana Miller, Nicole Asbury, Kristen Hare and Ren LaForme.

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

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