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5:35 PM ET, December 18, 2019


 Top News: 
Priyanjana Bengani / Columbia Journalism Review:
Investigation finds 450 “pink slime” websites, including 189 local news outlets, in 12 states, distributing algorithmic stories and conservative talking points  —  An increasingly popular tactic challenges conventional wisdom on the spread of electoral disinformation …
Max Willens / Digiday:
Time will launch an invite-only tiered membership program in 2020; prices start at $1,750/year, and the most expensive, at $20K/year, includes an event at Davos  —  Time thinks it can build membership revenue by going ultra-expensive and ultra-affordable at the same time.
Discussion: Politico and @kerrymflynn
Rob Pegoraro / USA Today:
More than 100 PBS affiliated stations launch on YouTube TV, Google's $50/month cable alternative, available on the web and in apps  —  A missing link for cord-cutters just clicked into place: After the arrival of many PBS affiliates on YouTube TV Tuesday, viewers eager to flee high-priced cable …
Andy Serwer / Yahoo News:
Talking Biz News, which tracks business journalists, was quietly sold to Qwoted, a site owned by two PR firms whose clients include newsrooms like Bloomberg  —  Talking Biz News unless you're a business journalist, in which case you're probably familiar.  The site, which was founded and run …
Investigation finds the Russian network connected to a leak of US-UK trade documents used Quora and the community section of BuzzFeed to spread misinformation  —  A network of social media accounts connected to a leak of US-UK trade documents has also spread false news stories online, a BBC investigation has discovered.
Committee to Protect Journalists:
Report: 25 journalists were killed in 2019, down from 56 killed in 2018 and the lowest figure since 2002; Syria and Mexico were the deadliest countries  —  As wars subsided and a record low number of journalists were murdered in reprisal for reporting, the total number of journalists killed because of their work fell sharply in 2019.
Paul Blest / The Outline:
Publishers like Hearst should realize that opposing unions is counterproductive, as it delays the inevitable, costs money, and could ruin morale  —  Hearst is pushing back against its employees' union drive, but it would be advantageous for them to support it.
Discussion: @jscros
Sarah Larson / New Yorker:
Profile of Hallmark, which started printing cards in 1914 and has grown to include a cable network which has produced 103 original movies in the past year  —  By “leaning into Christmas”—and claiming to avoid politics—the greeting-card company has come to dominate screens across America.
Discussion: @yoda and @newyorker
Elizabeth Jensen / NPR:
On-air source diversity data for NPR for FY 2018 shows 83% of sources were white, up from 73% in FY 2015, and 33% were female  —  New research into the diversity of NPR's on-air sources shows that in fiscal year 2018 (ended Sept. 30, 2018), the voices heard on NPR weekday newsmagazines were 83% white and 33% female.
Wall Street Journal:
Sources: several companies have expressed interest in buying Univision Communications, including Hemisphere Media Group and private equity firm Platinum Equity  —  Hemisphere Media Group and Platinum Equity have made overtures  —  Several firms have expressed interest in acquiring Univision …
Sahil Patel / Wall Street Journal:
Finnish social ad-tech company receives a €200M investment from Providence Equity Partners, sources say at a €300M valuation  — provides social ad creation, distribution and management services  —  Providence Equity Partners LLC is taking a majority stake …
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 More News: 
Jonathan Shieber / TechCrunch:
Ryff, whose tech identifies objects in a TV or movie scene and dynamically inserts branded products based on viewers' profiles, raises $5M
Discussion: VentureBeat
Wall Street Journal:
A look at WSJ's AI tool for drawing its iconic “hedcut” portraits, which is now available for all of its subscribers to use after uploading their photo
Kali Hays / WWD:
Former 60 Minutes correspondent Lara Logan sues New York magazine and writer Joe Hagan for a 2014 article about her and her Benghazi report that was retracted
 Earlier Picks: 
Robert Channick / Chicago Tribune:
Memo: Nexstar is shutting down Chicago local news channel CLTV, a cable channel in operation since 1993; most employees will be able to apply for jobs at WGN-TV
Ramona Giwargis / San José Spotlight:
San Jose mayor's office says it doesn't include online-only outlets in its daily “news clips” email; editor of San Jose Spotlight says the policy is outdated
Alison Flood / The Guardian:
Gary Larson launches with plans for occasional new work; he credits better online graphics, security, and a desire to dampen copyright infringers
Sara Fischer / Axios:
Facebook pilots a program in the US to use part-time contracted “community reviewers” to expedite the fact-checking process and aid its fact-checking partners
Kali Hays / WWD:
Media holding company Attention Capital buys Sophia Amoruso's Girlboss, which was valued at $13M in 2018; Amoruso will remain CEO