September 18, 2020

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.

Ad Age reports that political spending is about to bail out the industry’s overall 2020 performance. Total ad sales were down 7.2% in the first and second quarters, with digital sales up 5.7%. Traditional “linear media” fell 23.1%.

“While militant partisanship may be bad for the country, it’s great for political ad spend … with many close races in play,” Ad Age reports. Michael Bloomberg has pledged $100 million to support Joe Biden, the report continues, and Sheldon Adelson is prepared to spend as much as $50 million to help reelect President Donald Trump.

Local broadcast and digital platforms are the big beneficiaries of the biennual political spending boom, while candidates continue to bypass newspapers and magazines.

Meanwhile, this week continued with more big layoffs, including 21 at Bloomberg Industry Group, potentially 400 as News Corp. shifts to The New York Times’ printing plant, less than 3% of the workforce at Fox News, and 180 at Meredith Corp. Here’s our full list.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has filed a labor law charge against the newspaper’s unions that accuses them of bad-faith bargaining. Michael A. Fuoco, president of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, said the allegation “would be laughable” if it wasn’t so “untruthful and serious.”

“They are the ones who have engaged in bad-faith bargaining from the start, threatening the newspaper we and our community love,” Fuoco said in a statement to press. “We are the ones who have sought a peaceful and fair resolution to our differences so as not to imperil the Post-Gazette.”

Earlier this week, the NewsGuild endorsed P-G staffers’ vote to strike.

The unions — the NewsGuild/CWA, Teamster pressmen, Teamster drivers, CWA mailers and CWA advertising/finance — represent about 200 P-G employees.

Minnesota Public Radio fired DJ Eric Malmberg, who faced allegations of preying on younger women. Previously, MPR reporter Marianne Combs announced her resignation after editors refused to air a story about an investigation into Malmberg’s conduct. In a related story, DCist reports that efforts to fire WAMU reporter Martin Di Caro due to sexual harassment allegations were stopped by American University, which “holds the station’s radio license and determines its employment policies.

LAist published a piece debunking official claims about the arrest of reporter Josie Huang. “False claims on social media began swirling that Huang was participating with protesters attempting to block an ambulance carrying the wounded deputies. Other false accounts said the group or Huang tried to ‘storm’ the hospital to interfere with the deputies’ medical care. In fact, the deputies had been brought to the hospital hours before the news conference. At the news conference, Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced the deputies were out of surgery and recovering. Protesters did verbally confront deputies at the ER driveway, and Huang documented the taunting by a handful of men at the scene. Many of the inaccurate statements about Huang’s arrest have come from an elected official: Sheriff Villanueva.” The piece takes on the claims one by one.

The Washington Post will launch a seven-part investigative podcast that “follows the intertwining stories of two women who came together after one of them publicly shared her story of sexual assault.” “Canary: The Washington Post Investigates,” will be hosted by investigative reporter Amy Brittain and is the Post’s first long-form investigative podcast. “With this podcast, we have been able to call attention to the far-reaching effects of sexual assault and highlight how we, as journalists, investigate stories like these,” Brittain said.

A “cover story” from Slate says older white Americans, “once Trump’s strongest demographic, say they’re fed up with this presidency and are moving to Joe Biden.” Senior politics writer Jim Newell “spent the summer studying the polls, talking to strategists, and sounding out old people themselves, to make the case that the election we’re getting is not the election everyone has been bracing themselves for, and discovered the real generation gap, between the late-middle-aged Trump fanatics and the old people who might just make him a one-term president.”

Today’s Poynter Report was written by Kristen Hare, Rick Edmonds and Ren LaForme.

Have feedback or a tip? Email us at news@poynter.org.

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Correction: Fox News will lay off less than 3% of its staff, not 3%. 

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