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Gannett, the nation’s largest newspaper company with 261 daily papers including USA Today, watched its stock plunge further Monday to 65 cents a share at market close. That’s an abrupt fall, to put it mildly, from the $12.06 GateHouse Media parent New Media Investment offered Aug. 5 as roughly half payment to acquire Gannett (retaining […]
It’s getting hard to keep track of the bad news about the news right now. But we have to. Here’s our attempt to collect the layoffs, furloughs, and closures caused by the coronavirus’ critical blow to the economy and journalism in the United States. Please send tips. We’ll try to keep up. Newspapers, weeklies and […]
The post Here are the newsroom layoffs, furloughs and closures caused by the coronavirus appeared first on Poynter.
On the same day that TEGNA notified employees that they would be taking a furlough for one week in the second quarter of 2020, another of the mega TV news station owners, Gray Television, sent employees a note to reassure them there are no furloughs, pay cuts or layoffs in the works. Hilton Howell, Gray […]
The post Gray Television reassures employees it is not planning any furloughs, pay cuts or layoffs appeared first on Poynter.
Dave Lougee, president and CEO of TEGNA, sent an email to employees today announcing companywide weeklong furloughs to be taken in the second quarter of this year. Lougee said while the TV stations have seen big gains in audiences on all platforms, “many businesses have decreased or in some cases pulled their current advertising and […]
The post TEGNA furloughs local TV news staffs, managers take temporary pay cut appeared first on Poynter.
The Dallas Morning News is the latest newspaper to take significant cost-saving steps during the coronavirus crisis. The paper has announced pay reductions for staff. Here’s the breakdown. For those making: $45,000 and below: a 3% base salary reduction; $45,001 and above: an 8% base salary reduction. In addition, the CFO and publisher will each […]
Newspapers in the chain formerly known as Digital First Media joined others around the country hit hard by the economic impact of the coronavirus late last week. At a time when their work is needed most, MediaNews Group staff learned of layoffs and furloughs, according to Julie Reynolds in a piece for News Matters, a […]
The post Layoffs hit Alden newspapers in Denver, Boston and beyond appeared first on Poynter.
For its must-read coronavirus coverage, The Atlantic is rewarded with a huge surge of digital subscriptions
Who killed ‘The Tiger King’s’ Don Lewis? A reporter who helped solve Civil Rights cold cases is investigating
By episode three, Jerry Mitchell was intrigued — but not because of the warped window the Netflix hit “The Tiger King” offers into the world of private zoos and the people who run them. Like a lot of people, Mitchell wanted to know more about the disappearance of Tampa millionaire Don Lewis. Unlike a lot […]
The post Who killed ‘The Tiger King’s’ Don Lewis? A reporter who helped solve Civil Rights cold cases is investigating appeared first on Poynter.
After many of the country’s most prominent newspaper companies implemented furloughs, journalists sprung to action to help their colleagues. Citing hits to advertising revenue because of COVID-19, Gannett, Lee Enterprises and others announced they would subject most of their employees to some form of a pay cut. For many reporters, it meant forced unpaid time […]
The post Fundraisers to help laid-off and furloughed journalists are springing up across the U.S. appeared first on Poynter.
The post The pundits have plenty to say about coronavirus. It’s just not always right appeared first on Poynter.
The post Poynter’s Kelly McBride Will Serve As NPR’s New Public Editor appeared first on Poynter.
The all-consuming coronavirus story is burying all sorts of bad news, and bad news about the climate crisis is no exception. Research published last Monday described a recent heatwave in Antarctica as “unprecedented in the observed record.” Last Tuesday, the Trump administration moved to roll back automobile fuel-efficiency standards—a move that the Times described as “gutting the federal government’s most important climate change policy” and the administration cast as its “single largest deregulatory initiative.” The Environmental Protection Agency is allowing prolific polluters to self-regulate for a to-be-determined period, single-use plastic use is having a moment, and several states have new laws criminalizing protests against fossil-fuel infrastructure, all under the cover of the virus. Emily Atkin—whose newsletter, HEATED, has tracked these developments and others—argued last week that right now is “a great time to be evil.”
Climate journalists are very busy right now. As well as staying vigilant to threats like those above, their beat is intersecting with the coronavirus story in a wide range of different ways; as I wrote recently, the coronavirus is “an everything story,” and that means it’s a climate story, too. Some reporters—Kendra Pierre-Louis, of the Times, and Yessenia Funes, of Earther, for instance—have covered the devastating logistical impact the pandemic could have on efforts to fight the forthcoming wildfire and hurricane seasons; others have noted how the virus has curtailed the Democrats’ “policy primary,” and bolstered attacks on climate policy on the other side of the aisle. (Mitch McConnell: “Democrats won’t let us fund hospitals or save small businesses unless they get to dust off the Green New Deal.”) A sudden, worldwide decrease in economic activity—including air travel—has led to a sharp fall in emissions; for now, at least. In countries from China to South Korea to Italy to the UK, air pollution is way down. Venice’s canals are clearer (though contrary to some viral stories, no, dolphins have not “returned”).
Related: The Cuomo brothers in prime time
The climate and coronavirus stories don’t just intersect—they share deep structural similarities. Both are about injustice. (“Coronavirus is the ‘great equalizer’ the same way that climate change is the ‘great equalizer,’ which is to say: not at all,” Jie Jenny Zou, an investigative reporter, tweeted yesterday. “Communities of color, lower income households and vulnerable populations are bearing the brunt.”) Both are about the importance of data and science, and the catastrophic consequences of ignoring, or distorting, expertise. And both involve huge, unthinkable changes to the routine ways we consume, interact, and live. “The coronavirus has plunged the world headfirst into an era of unity, solidarity, and rapid societal change that looks like a compressed version of what climate scientists have been warning us about for decades,” Eric Holthaus, a climate journalist with The Correspondent, writes. “It’s a moment of triage for the entire planet.”
In recent weeks—between the rings of the grim pandemic news cycle—a debate has taken shape: could our changed way of life end up having positive, long-term consequences? In early March, James Temple, an energy editor at MIT Technology Review, argued that the coronavirus is actually “terrible news” for the climate fight; emissions, Temple wrote, will rebound, and the economic carnage trailing in the pandemic’s wake “could easily drain money and political will from climate efforts.” The point of fighting climate change, Temple argued, is to stop mass suffering and death, which the coronavirus is causing; as Gernot Wagner, an academic at NYU, told him, “This is not an analogy for how we want to decrease emissions from climate change.” Others, while agreeing on the extent of the present tragedy, have taken a different view. Writing for The Intercept yesterday, Charles Komanoff and Christopher Ketcham argued that while lower emission rates might not be sustained, the current reduction still counts for something; “avoided emissions,” they wrote, “are a permanent balm.” (Some analysts in the energy sector think the oil industry may never fully recover from its corona shock.) Writing in the Times, meanwhile, Meehan Crist, of Columbia University, framed the debate differently. “Perhaps the real question is not whether the virus is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for climate, or whether rich people will take fewer airplane flights,” she wrote, “but whether we can create a functioning economy that supports people without threatening life on Earth, including our own.”
This is a very useful debate to be having—the urgency of the coronavirus crisis isn’t a mandate to ignore all the other crises we face, but rather an opportunity to expand outward, and show news consumers what urgency looks like. Several writers and outlets are addressing such dynamics in their work. Atkin, of HEATED, now has a podcast of the same name, in which she parses the links between the coronavirus and the climate emergency. Grist started a newsletter called “Climate in the Time of Coronavirus.” The climate writer and campaigner Bill McKibben also has a new climate newsletter, at the New Yorker; so far, it’s discussed the virus’s effect on movement-building, the nature of time, and the centrality of social trust. The list goes on.
Today, CJR is launching a new issue of its print magazine, focused entirely on coverage of the climate crisis. (The Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas, an Australian nonprofit, is partnering on the issue.) We pulled the magazine together before the coronavirus crisis intensified, but we’re urging you to read it in the light of the pandemic. “The coronavirus is a reminder of the looming threat we face from the climate crisis, which will continue even after this terrible pandemic ends. And it, like the coronavirus, will test journalism—test how we apply data and science, how we plan for global, amorphous threats, how we can prod national leaders to focus on catastrophes yet to come,” Kyle Pope, CJR’s editor and publisher, says. “Most of the press has only recently awakened to the climate crisis, just as it was delayed grasping the seriousness of the pandemic.” Much of the magazine—including features by Atkin, E. Tammy Kim, and Eva Holland—is already online, and there’s more to come. You can find it all here.
In his introductory note to the issue, Pope writes that in journalism, saying what happened yesterday is no longer valuable. “The task at hand is to examine events carefully and deeply—to think of a moment not in isolation, but as part of a broader context,” he writes. “Old forms of storytelling—fast, without helping readers draw crucial connections—are not what’s needed to confront the crisis we face.” He was talking about coverage of the climate crisis. But his words apply equally well to reporting on the coronavirus.
Below, more on the coronavirus:
- Yet more layoffs: Friday was another atrocious day for the media business. Bustle Digital Group moved to implement pay cuts and laid off around 25 employees, including the entire staff of The Outline; the site will shutter for now, though its founder, Josh Topolsky, is exploring “alternative paths” that might revive it. (Bryan Goldberg, Bustle Digital Group’s CEO, is reportedly taking an 85-percent salary cut. ICYMI last year, Lyz Lenz profiled Goldberg for CJR.) G/O Media laid off 14 staffers, including six unionized employees of The Onion; their union called the layoffs “callous,” and accused G/O management of hypocrisy. And the Cleveland Plain Dealer cut 22 staffers, including Brie Zeltner—a health reporter at the paper.
- On the subject of layoffs: The Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University is trying to keep track of all the cuts—lay-offs, pay reductions, furloughs, reductions in print frequency, and more—that newsrooms are making amid the coronavirus crisis. Tow is inviting readers to help its effort. If your newsroom has been affected, or you know of one that has, please fill in this form with some basic details.
- The impact on local TV: Greg Braxton, of the LA Times, reports on the steps TV news stations in the city are taking to protect staff and the public from the coronavirus—anchors are broadcasting from home and field reporters “are permitted to turn down an assignment if they feel it’s unsafe,” all while viewing figures are way up. Ellen Gray, of the Philadelphia Inquirer, has a similar dispatch from her city. “CBS3 chief meteorologist Kate Bilo recently found herself putting a pair of ‘Cinderella princess heels’ on her 2-year-old while delivering a weather forecast,” Gray writes.
- A personal perspective: On our podcast, The Kicker, CJR’s Amanda Darrach spoke with Pope, our editor and publisher, about her own experience with a suspected case of COVID-19, and how her visit to a New York City ER changed her outlook on media coverage of the pandemic. “I suddenly had this realization that the numbers were completely meaningless,” Darrach said.
- In the UK: Last night, the Queen addressed the British people about the coronavirus crisis—only the fifth such speech she’s made to the nation outside of her yearly Christmas slot. The Queen, who is 93, was filmed by a single camera operator wearing full protective equipment. Shortly after the address was broadcast, news filtered through that Boris Johnson, Britain’s prime minister, who has COVID-19, had been admitted to hospital for tests. According to The Times of London, Johnson stayed there overnight, and has been given oxygen.
- In brief: The Canadian Jewish News—a newspaper that has served Canada’s Jewish community since 1960—said it will shutter this week, blaming lost revenue caused by the coronavirus. Wea Lee, CEO of the Houston-based newspaper company Southern News Group, donated 10,000 masks to local medical workers in his capacity as chairman of the city’s International District. And the Sapulpa Times, a newspaper in Oklahoma, apologized for reporting that students in Tulsa, where schools have closed, will have to repeat their current grade level. The story—which caused panic—was an April Fools’ joke. The paper’s owner admitted that with hindsight, it was “not funny.”
- In memoriam: Last week, Anick Jesdanun, a technology writer and editor at the Associated Press, died after contracting the coronavirus. He was 51. “He ran marathons on every continent, including Antarctica—83 of them in all, many followed by a visit to an obscure craft brewery. Last year, he watched 365 movies—most of them in theaters,” the AP’s Ted Anthony wrote in an obituary. “And Anick Jesdanun made sure—always—that when millions of people read his coverage of the internet and its ripples, they got all the facts and the context they needed.”
Other notable stories:
- On Friday night, a Friday Night Massacre: President Trump fired Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community inspector general who fielded the whistleblower complaint that set in motion Trump’s eventual impeachment. On Saturday, Trump said Atkinson “took a fake report and he brought it to Congress,” and called him a “total disgrace.” Yesterday, Atkinson said in a statement that he felt he’d been fired for faithfully executing the law.
- Mark Meadows, Trump’s new chief of staff, is thinking about hiring a new White House press secretary, Axios reports. Alyssa Farah, a current Pentagon spokesperson, and Kayleigh McEnany, of the Trump campaign, are both in contention. It’s unclear if Meadows wants to replace or supplement Stephanie Grisham, the current press secretary. (Grisham told Axios it would be “ironic” if she learned of her ouster through the press.)
- Twitter deleted 20,000 fake propaganda accounts tied to officials in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Indonesia, Honduras, and Serbia, The Guardian reports. Nearly 9,000 of the purged accounts were linked to the party of Aleksandar Vučić, Serbia’s president; together, they posted 43 million tweets amplifying positive coverage of Vučić and slamming his rivals.
- And Quibi, a streaming service for mobile headed by Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman, launches today. In addition to its entertainment offering, Quibi will feature news programming from NBC, CBS, the BBC, Telemundo, and Canada’s CTV.
In recent weeks, Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, has become a star. News networks have carried his daily press briefings live and in full. He’s also gotten buzz for the interviews he’s done with his brother, Chris Cuomo, who anchors a nightly show on CNN. Typically, the exchanges have been bookended by sibling banter. “I know you’re working hard for your state, but no matter how hard you’re working, there’s always time to call Mom,” Chris told Andrew in mid-March. Andrew had just called her, he replied. “The good news is she said you are her second-favorite son, Christopher.” The next time, Andrew said he was only on air because “Mom told me I had to.” Later on, he told Chris, “You’re better than me.” “Only on the basketball court,” Chris replied.
Andrew most recently appeared on Chris’s show Monday night. The next day, Chris announced on Twitter that he had tested positive for covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. He’d experienced “fever, chills, and shortness of breath,” but was doing okay, and would continue to host his show from the basement of his home, where he’s in quarantine. At Andrew’s next briefing, he said that his brother was his “best friend” and “a really, sweet beautiful guy.” Then he pulled out the plastic shiv: “He’s young, in good shape, strong—not as strong as he thinks, but he’ll be fine.” During yesterday’s briefing, Andrew patched Chris in via video link to ask how he was doing. Chris said he’d had a fever dream in which Andrew had appeared to him in a ballet outfit and said, “I wish I could wave my wand and make this go away.” Once he’d gotten over the shock of that, Andrew praised Chris for carrying on with his show while sick. “You living it, showing it, doing it, doing the show, reporting on how you feel, reporting on what you’re doing—I think it really demystifies this,” Andrew said. “From a journalistic point of view, a public service point of view, you are answering questions for millions of Americans.”
In recent days, the double act has received positive reviews. The Associated Press wrote, in a headline, that “the Cuomo show, Andrew and Chris,” is “enlivening coronavirus TV.” Dan Adler observed, for Vanity Fair, that their performance “has already spiraled in all sorts of directions, whether out of the need for distractions, heroes, or points of clarification.” Poppy Noor, of The Guardian, called the Cuomos’ “fine bromance” a “balm in troubled times,” proof that “warmth can be conveyed over the airwaves—even during a crisis” and that “the people who serve us during this pandemic are also humans—people who have family they love.” Chris has won plaudits individually, too; last night, Brian Stelter, a colleague at CNN, wrote in his newsletter that Chris is “the most visible face of the coronavirus in the United States.” Stelter added that Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent, had advised Cuomo to take some time off work. So far, he hasn’t. “I respect the suggestion,” Stelter wrote, of Gupta’s advice, “but I respect the work ethic more!”
All this praise invites skepticism, however. Should Chris be allowed to interview a family member in a journalistic setting? Other news organizations don’t seem to allow similar dynamics: last year, for instance, James Bennet, the editorial page editor at the New York Times, recused himself from campaign coverage after his brother, Senator Michael Bennet, started running for president. When it comes to the Cuomos, the matter has been raised before: in 2013, when Chris interviewed Andrew about a train derailment on the Metro-North, he received flak for doing so. Chris said at the time that he wouldn’t have conducted the interview if it had involved “accountability” or Andrew’s personal ambitions. “It’s obvious,” he said. “If it’s about his political career, or his political actions, or things that he must answer for, that’s for somebody else to do.”
In recent weeks, however, Chris has asked Andrew about speculation online that he might make a late run for the White House. And as Ross Barkan wrote recently for CJR, Andrew does have serious questions to answer related to his handling of the coronavirus. Chris has apparently decided that it’s fine, now, for him to be in the position of asking those questions, even as he continues to tease and praise Andrew. Chris isn’t the only journalist lauding the governor right now, of course; far from it. But he is the only journalist who is Andrew’s brother. Why not have another CNN reporter step in? A CNN representative did not respond to a request for comment by press time; Andrew, for his part, has goaded Chris: “C’mon,” he said, during one exchange. “Ask me a tough question.”
Chris continuing to anchor through his diagnosis raises a different concern, too—about how he, not his brother, is responding to the coronavirus. He’s said on his show that he doesn’t intend to become the public face of the pandemic. But on Tuesday night, he said, “We do not have the testing data to make real sense of our reality beyond what we know is the face of it for an overwhelming number who get sick. And that face is mine.” Since then, he’s talked about his symptoms; at one point, he’d been shivering so much he chipped a tooth; by now he’s lost thirteen pounds. Last night, Gupta told him, again, that he should probably take time off. What’s the shame in that, and what is he demonstrating by continuing to work, in defiance of medical advice?
It’s hard to tell if the Andrew and Chris show is genuine or not. Personal experience and family connections can illuminate stories that would otherwise be abstract. Yet there are plenty of ways Chris Cuomo could communicate about his health with CNN viewers while also taking time to recuperate. While he’s out, a colleague could talk with his brother.
Below, more on the coronavirus:
- The latest: The Labor Department reported that 6.6 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week—doubling the previous week’s figure of 3.3 million, which had itself smashed the all-time weekly record for claims. Elsewhere, the Trump administration, in a reversal of its stance, is set to advise members of the public to cover their faces whenever they leave the house. And the Democratic National Convention, which had been scheduled to open on July 13, in Milwaukee, was pushed back a month, to August, after Joe Biden, the party’s presumptive nominee, called for a delay. Wisconsin’s presidential primary, on the other hand, is set to go ahead as planned next Tuesday, after a federal judge rejected calls to postpone it.
- Freedom of information? Also yesterday, the US Navy fired Capt. Brett Crozier, a ship captain who pleaded for help dealing with a coronavirus outbreak on board in a memo to superiors that was leaked to the press. Thomas Modly, the acting Navy secretary, accused Crozier of copying too many people on the memo, and of spreading panic and a false perception “that the Navy is not on the job.” The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University sued the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for copies of internal policies governing employees’ right to talk to the press. And NPR reported that major cities across the US are refusing to make their pandemic response plans available to the public. Officials in several cities cited security concerns.
- The business side: American media companies continue to make cuts as the coronavirus crisis bites; yesterday, CQ Roll Call, a government and politics publication in Washington, DC, laid off thirty staffers. Kerry Flynn reports for CNN that media unions—at papers owned by Gannett, for example—are increasingly pushing back on cuts and organizing financial support for furloughed colleagues. Further afield, Rupert Murdoch’s Australian media business is shuttering sixty local newspapers amid a steep decline in advertising revenue. There was happier news in Denmark, however, where lawmakers passed a $26 million relief package shielding news organizations against lost revenue.
- New from CJR: Journalists typically consider their work to be essential, but the parameters of the current crisis demand that we reconsider what “essential” really means, CJR’s Alexandria Neason writes. “Despite social-distancing work-arounds like microphones on poles and hockey sticks, news organizations that are still sending reporters out into the street are putting everyone at risk.” Also for CJR, Zoë Beery asks whether reporting on panic buying really fuels panic buying. Some coverage, she concludes, “is more likely to spur this behavior than others.”
- Model of inconsistency: For The Atlantic, Zeynep Tufekci argues that we should stop expecting epidemiological models to be crystal balls. “When a model is believed and acted on, it can look like it was false. These models are not snapshots of the future,” Tufekci writes. “They always describe a range of possibilities—and those possibilities are highly sensitive to our actions.”
- In brief: The Wall Street Journal profiles Dr. Craig Smith, a surgeon at Columbia University whose unconventional daily memos to colleagues have made him “the pandemic’s most powerful writer.” In the United Kingdom, BBC radio stations are broadcasting reflections from imams to serve Muslims who can’t go to their local mosque. And Mary Brown’s Chicken & Taters, a fast-food chain in Canada, is paying sixteen newspapers to take down their paywalls for a month. H.G. Watson has the (s)coop for Nieman Lab.
- A piece of good news: David Lat, the founder of the legal blog Above the Law, has been discharged from the hospital, where he had spent a week in critical condition on a ventilator after contracting the coronavirus. Lat spoke to Law.com about his experience.
Other notable stories:
- A court in Pakistan reversed an old ruling in the case of Daniel Pearl, a Wall Street Journal correspondent who was murdered in 2002 while reporting on religious violence. The same year, Omar Saeed Sheikh, a British extremist, was convicted of murder, terrorism, and kidnapping in Pearl’s case, but yesterday, the court overturned the first two convictions and downgraded the third, meaning Sheikh may now be released. State prosecutors plan to appeal. Reporters Without Borders said the verdict was “incoherent” and “a shocking symbol of impunity for crimes of violence against journalists.”
- This week, authorities in Myanmar arrested Nay Myo Lin, editor-in-chief of the Voice of Myanmar, after he broadcast an interview with a representative of a designated terrorist group. According to Human Rights Watch, the arrest is part of a “deepening crackdown on independent media” in Myanmar in recent days. (ICYMI, E. Tammy Kim reported for CJR last year on the many undercovered violations of press freedom in Myanmar.)
- And Hans J.G. Hassell, John B. Holbein, and Matthew R. Miles conclude, in a paper for Science Advances, that although a “dominant majority” of journalists identify as liberals, their ideological orientation has “unexpectedly little effect” on what they choose to cover. The media, Hassell, Holbein, and Miles write, “exhibits no bias against conservatives.”
Young people are twice as likely to pay for news in the U.S., U.K., and Germany (compared to those 55-plus)
No paywall in the chicken coop: A fast-food chain is paying to take down 16 Canadian newspapers’ paywalls this month
It’s the kind of problem many companies would love to have: suddenly people are using your product by the millions, to the point that it has become mission-critical for many, including journalists. Unfortunately for Zoom, what caused the demand (the company says twenty times more people are using the software now than used it in December of 2019) was a global pandemic, one that has exposed some of Zoom’s troubling weaknesses. A few are funny: Boris Johnson, prime minister of the United Kingdom, inadvertently shared the ID number for a cabinet meeting he held via Zoom, opening the door to anyone seeking to log on; a manager at a progressive advocacy group accidentally ran a meeting as a potato.
Somewhat more serious (although still on the nuisance end of the spectrum), attendees on some Zoom calls have been interrupted by pornography, thanks to a phenomenon that some are calling “Zoom-bombing” (borrowed from “photo-bombing”). Trolls appear to be dialing in to random Zoom calls and displaying porn videos or blasting other annoying audio and video. In a statement, Zoom said that hosts can prevent this by requiring a password, or by making use of various features such as the Waiting Room, which keeps new visitors at bay until the host allows them to enter. “We are deeply upset to hear about the incidents involving this kind of attack,” the company said.
Some flaws, however, can be extreme, such as a Windows vulnerability through which hackers were able to steal someone’s credentials. All a user had to do, according to a report from a software security blog, was click on a link in the Zoom chat window; if a hacker had configured the link properly, it would connect to the user registry within Windows and provide the user’s login and password. That scenario poses a significant problem for journalists who need to keep their conversations anonymous (in a blog post published Thursday, the company said it has fixed this problem). It’s not the first backdoor-style vulnerability Zoom has seen: until late last year, Zoom secretly installed a hidden Web server on Mac computers that could be used by hackers to take control of the video camera. (Zoom has since removed this feature.)
There are other security risks, too. For some time, Zoom has claimed on its website and in white papers that its video calls are end-to-end encrypted. But a report from The Intercept says that’s not the case—calls are encrypted for data traveling between a user and Zoom’s servers, but the company has access to information once it arrives. (Text chats are end-to-end encrypted, however.) With true end-to-end encrypted apps like WhatsApp or Signal, all information sent in either direction and from any location is locked up, and the companies in question don’t have keys. Zoom offers less privacy, since the company could mine data for its own purposes or be compelled to do so by law enforcement. In a statement to The Intercept, Zoom said that it “only collects data as needed to provide the service,” and that it does not “mine user data or sell user data of any kind to anyone”; it does comply with legal requests from governments and law enforcement officials. And in a blog post published Thursday, the company apologized for using the term “end-to-end encryption” improperly, but promised that it does not decrypt any of the data that is transmitted between users of the service.
New security risks seem to be popping up every day: a researcher said he found a way for hackers to easily take control of a user’s microphone and video camera (Zoom said in its Thursday blog post that it has fixed this problem as well). Nilay Patel, the editor of The Verge, said on Twitter: “The biggest question facing Zoom is whether these gaffes are move-fast-break-things mistakes, or reflective of a deeper culture of disrespect for user privacy. Or both.” Will Zoom take advantage of the historic opportunity with which it’s been presented, or sink under the weight of problems? Until we have more answers, journalists would be wise to use Zoom with caution.
Here’s more on Zoom and its flaws:
- AG letter: Zoom is now under the scrutiny of the office of New York’s attorney general for its data privacy and security practices. On Monday, the office sent Zoom a letter asking what new security measures the company has put in place to handle increased traffic on its network and to detect hackers, according to a copy reviewed by the New York Times. The letter referred to Zoom as “an essential and valuable communications platform,” but it noted that the company had been slow to address security flaws, including those “that could enable malicious third parties to, among other things, gain surreptitious access to consumer webcams.”
- Use a VPN: Security experts say if you’re concerned about data leakage from Zoom, or about hackers making use of information in your calls, the best protection is to use VPN, or virtual private networking, software. VPN providers reroute all of your internet traffic through their own secure servers. They keep you anonymous, allow you to disguise your IP address, and provide end-to-end encryption of your data.
Other notable stories:
- The White House Correspondents’ Association, which organizes presidential briefings, published a statement Wednesday saying it had removed the One America News Network, a right-wing organization, from the regular rotation of seats in the briefing room (although it didn’t mention OANN by name). The WHCA imposed rules last month on how many reporters could attend briefings in order to ensure that they maintain a safe distance due to covid-19. Only fourteen reporters are allowed to attend at a time, spaced out across the room’s forty-nine seats. White House reporters say an OANN reporter, Chanel Rion, broke the rules twice by standing at the back of the room, claiming she was personally invited by Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary. “We do not take this action lightly,” the WHCA board wrote in its statement. “This is a matter of public safety.”
- JPI Media, owner of the Yorkshire Post and Scotsman, newspapers in the United Kingdom, is putting 350 employees on furlough and cutting the salaries of those who continue working by up to 15 percent. David King, the chief executive of JPI, said 250 sales staff and some 100 other employees will be put on leave “in light of the significant reduction in advertising volumes.” The London Evening Standard, too, has furloughed a number of full-time employees, and all other employees have had their pay reduced by 20 percent for two months, down to a floor of $65,700. And City AM staff will be put on furlough; the digital edition is suspended. Staff who continue to work will be paid 80 percent of their salary.
- Edward Felsenthal, the CEO of Time, on the other hand, not only pledged to his staff, of 275, that the company wouldn’t have any layoffs for ninety days, but also that Time would continue growing through new hires, investment in consumer products, and its documentary division. “We’re fortunate,” Felsenthal said of the company’s owners—Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, and his wife, Lynne Benioff, a philanthropist—who also promised there would be no significant layoffs at Salesforce for ninety days.
- The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has released its US Press Freedom Tracker report for 2019, which notes that journalists in the United States continue to find themselves the targets of physical attacks and threats. According to the tracker, there were thirty-four physical attacks on journalists last year, and data suggested that female reporters were at particular risk of sexual abuse. President Trump’s statements criticizing the press also increased in 2019, setting new records for the number of times he called the media “fake news.”
- As part of our ongoing Year of Fear series, CJR and The Delacorte Review have been bringing you coverage of how the upcoming election is affecting American towns. In the latest chapter, Sandra Sanchez writes about how Nayda Alvarez and her family, in Texas, are watching the border with Mexico. They are afraid Trump might close the border, or blame Mexicans and other migrants for delivering the coronavirus.
- More than seventy journalists and professors signed an open letter on Wednesday addressed to Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch, criticizing the way Fox News has handled its reporting on the coronavirus. Viewers, including Trump, “have been regularly subjected to misinformation relayed by the network,” the letter states, “false statements downplaying the prevalence of covid-19 and its harms; misleading recommendations of activities that people should undertake to protect themselves and others, including casual recommendations of untested drugs; false assessments of the value of measures urged upon the public by their elected political leadership and public health authorities.”
- Facebook and Fox News will be hosting a virtual town hall Thursday at 7pm about the coronavirus pandemic, using Facebook’s Portal video-calling devices. Facebook is shipping a Portal Plus device to every audience member, some thirty people, so they can participate.
- A number of news organizations are boycotting presidential briefings—not just because they seem increasingly hard to justify as news, but also because editors are concerned about the health risks. Two White House correspondents are already suspected of having contracted covid-19. That the New York Times, the Washington Post, and CNBC, among other outlets, would stay away from the briefing room may fundamentally change the character of the briefings.
- Both MSNBC and CNN cut away from Trump’s most recent press briefing on the coronavirus before it was finished. MSNBC carried most of the proceedings live, though Chuck Todd warned his audience in advance that “we know these briefings have a tendency to veer in a lot of directions. Not all of them are informative or relevant in the midst of this crisis.” CNN skipped Trump’s opening remarks and started airing the briefing only when the lectern was ceded to Deborah Birx and Anthony S. Fauci, the medical experts on the president’s covid-19 task force.
- The website of the Boston Globe has launched a feature called Boston Helps that readers can use to connect with people who might need assistance during the covid-19 quarantine. Matt Karolian, the general manager of Boston.com, tells the Nieman Lab that Boston Helps gives people five ways to support a neighbor: paying for someone’s groceries; paying for someone’s essential toiletries; paying for meal delivery; paying for a ride-share service; or making a general donation. CJR spoke with Karolian recently in a Galley discussion.
- The Philadelphia Inquirer writes about Alice Stockton-Rossini, a radio reporter for 710 WOR, a station in New York. Stockton-Rossini spent days reporting from a coronavirus containment zone in New Rochelle, then went to a ninetieth-birthday party she had planned for her mother. Not long afterward, both she and her mother got sick; her mother was hospitalized and tested positive for covid-19. Two of the people who attended the party have since died, including her mother’s next-door neighbor. “I can hardly bear it,” Stockton-Rossini said. “I had to tell my mother her best friend died.”