Welcome to Media Insider, PR Newswire’s roundup of media news stories from the week.
New York Times drops out of AI coalition
Semafor | Max Tani
The New York Times has decided not to join a group of media companies attempting to jointly negotiate with the major tech companies over the use of their content to power artificial intelligence. The move is a major blow to Barry Diller’s efforts to establish a united front against Google and Microsoft. Diller said at a media event in April that publishers should sue major tech companies that have trained their AI models on data produced by media organizations. His company IAC has been spearheading an effort to form a group of key publishers that would press for legislative and potentially legal action to force the tech companies to pay billions of dollars back to those publishers. The presence of the two pillars of American news – The Times and Journal – would have been a powerful statement for that coalition. But sources with knowledge told Semafor that the Times is no longer a part of the effort. The decision makes it more likely that publishers may cut their own separate deals.
In more NYT news, members of the company’s union briefed staffers from the Washington Post union as it considers a walkout.
Raid of Small Kansas Newspaper Raises Free Speech Concerns
New York Times | Steven Lee Myers and Benjamin Mullin
A small town in Kansas has become a battleground over the First Amendment after the local police force and county sheriff’s deputies raided the office of The Marion County Record, a family-owned paper with a circulation of about 4,000. The police seized computers, servers, and cellphones of reporters and editors. They also searched the home of the publication’s owner and semiretired editor, as well as the home of a city councilwoman. The searches appeared to be linked to an investigation into how a document containing information about a local restaurateur found its way to the local newspaper — and whether the restaurant owner’s privacy was violated in the process. The editor of the newspaper said the raids may have had more to do with tensions between the paper and officials in Marion, a town of about 2,000 north of Wichita, over prior coverage.
CNN Announces Huge Changes to Programming Lineup
TV Insider | Martin Holmes
CNN has announced a dramatic shake-up of its programming schedule, including new anchors for the morning, daytime, primetime, and weekend shows. “Inside Politics Sunday” host Abby Phillip will anchor the news network’s 10 p.m. hour on weekdays, with chief legal analyst Laura Coates anchoring the 11 p.m. slot. “CNN This Morning” is also receiving a makeover following the recent controversy that saw Don Lemon fired after making sexist remarks. The morning show’s long-time co-host Kaitlan Collins also exited the program to host the network’s 9 p.m. hour, replacing Chris Cuomo, who was fired in 2021. Phil Mattingly, CNN’s chief White House correspondent, will now co-host “CNN This Morning” alongside the show’s long-time anchor Poppy Harlow. The lineup also includes brand new shows for Christiane Amanpour, Chris Wallace, Victor Blackwell, Pamela Brown, and Manu Raju.
ICYMI: Fantasy sports and sports betting media company Fantasy Life has raised $2 million from famous athletes and entrepreneurs.
X reportedly delays links to sites Elon Musk dislikes
Silicon Republic | Leigh Mc Gowran
New reports claim X – formerly known as Twitter – developed a petty (and potentially effective) tactic to disrupt certain competitors and sites Elon Musk has previously spoken out against. The claim is that X was adding a five-second delay if a user clicked a link that brought them to certain domains. This delay was first noted by a user on the Hacker News forum. The Washington Post said its own analysis confirms this claim and that certain sites were being throttled by X. The delay reportedly impacted online rivals such as Facebook, Instagram, Bluesky, and Substack, along with news sites such as Reuters and The New York Times. The report claims Musk has singled out each of these sites before for “ridicule or attack.” It also claims the delay impacts the t.co domain, which is a link-shortening service that X uses to process links posted to the site. Links to various other sites such as The Washington Post, Fox News, Mastodon, and YouTube were all routed in a second or less, according to the analysis. Shortly after the original analysis was published, The Washington Post noted that the platform had begun reversing the slow access.
IRS Claims Vice Media Owes Nearly $41 Million in Back Taxes for Refinery29
Variety | Todd Spangler
The Internal Revenue Service filed a claim in Vice Media Group’s bankruptcy case, saying the company’s Refinery29 division owes the U.S. government about $40.9 million in back taxes, interest, and penalties. The total tax bill for Refinery29, a digital media outlet that focuses on fashion, beauty, and wellness topics, runs from the first quarter of 2020 through June 2023, per the IRS’ claim filed on Aug. 3. Vice Media completed the acquisition of Refinery29 for a reported $400 million price tag in November 2019. On July 31, Vice Media announced the closing of its deal to be acquired by a consortium of former lenders, comprising funds managed by affiliates of Fortress Investment Group, Soros Fund Management, and Monroe Capital. The deal values Vice at $350 million, compared with its peak valuation of $5.7 billion six years ago. In addition to taxes the IRS says it is owed for Refinery29, the agency has filed claims seeking to recover an additional $1.24 million in taxes and penalties from Vice Media, its affiliates, and/or subsidiaries, according to filings.