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7:15 AM ET, December 18, 2020

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 Top News: 
David Folkenflik / NPR:
NYT retracts the core of Caliphate after a review finds that the podcast gave too much credence to its central character and reassigns Rukmini Callimachi  —  Toggle more options  —  The New York Times has retracted the core of its hit 2018 podcast series Caliphate after an internal review found …
Edmund Lee / New York Times:
Axios buys Charlotte Agenda, a North Carolina-based digital startup with a staff of 11, as part of a push into local news; sources say the deal was close to $5M  —  The site focuses on service journalism for North Carolina's largest city.  Now it has been scooped up in a deal valued …
Ben Collins / Nieman Lab:
Lots of Americans slipped into conspiracy thinking in the pandemic; we'll need news outlets and others to explain how fantasy took hold and how we can dig out  —  “We're going to have to learn to create a vocabulary to talk about how their friends fell down the wrong YouTube hole and came out speaking another language.”
Twitter:
Twitter says it will start its new verification policy on January 21 and is developing profile labels to designate bots and memorial accounts  —  A couple of weeks ago, we announced that we're planning to bring back our public verification program in 2021, shared a draft of our new policy …
RELATED:
Jack Morse / Mashable:
Twitter says it will stop prompting users to Quote Tweet, restoring the standard RT functionality, and says QT use increased but overall sharing dropped by 20%
Patience Haggin / Wall Street Journal:
As its revenue surges, Roku has become increasingly forceful in its negotiations with media companies, as evidenced by its fights with Fox and WarnerMedia  —  The maker of the leading streaming-media player has taken up brash negotiating tactics over its terms to carry services like HBO Max and Peacock
Patricia Nilsson / Financial Times:
An investigation into who owns MindGeek, the secretive company behind Pornhub, which had $460M in revenue in 2018 and has 115M+ daily visitors to its sites  —  Mario Salieri was shooting a pornographic movie in a lavish Prague villa two decades ago when he first caught sight of the computer geeks who were about to upend his industry.
Axios:
Texas AG says the state and nine others have filed a lawsuit against Google, claiming Google illegally hurt competition in the ad tech market  —  Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Wednesday that he's leading a lawsuit against Google, accusing the search giant of taking illegal actions …
RELATED:
Taylor Lorenz / Nieman Lab:
As journalists adopt influencer tactics for solo businesses, they'll see more drawbacks that influencers have faced, including reliance on fickle tech platforms  —  “Successful independent journalists will realize how difficult it can be to strike the right balance between cultivating enough …
Jay Peters / The Verge:
Spotify is now available on the Epic Games Store, signaling Epic's ambitions to make its game-focused store into a general app store  —  Epic is in prolonged battles with Apple and Google over their app store business models  —  Spotify is now available on the Epic Games Store …
Sarah Perez / TechCrunch:
A startup called Gawq has launched a news app that organizes 150+ news sources; the app helps users compare sources, check facts, and even rate stories  —  A new startup called Gawq wants to tackle the problem of fake news and the “echo chamber” problem created by social media …
Discussion: @petezin
 
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 More News: 
Martha Carr / New Orleans Times-Picayune:
Times-Picayune and New Orleans Advocate launch statewide investigative unit in a three-year, $1.5M initiative supported by donations to a local community fund
Ben Monnie / The Keyword:
Google News Initiative is launching a program to help entrepreneurs as they build digital news startups, seeks applicants for GNI Startups Lab in North America
William Turvill / Press Gazette:
A list of the 24 English language news sites with 100K+ online subscribers, featuring NYT in the lead by a wide margin, WaPo, WSJ, Gannett, FT, the Athletic
Sahil Patel / Wall Street Journal:
Oracle has found a streaming TV scam that exploits flaws in ad-serving tech to fool marketers into paying for ads that are never seen, estimates $14.5M stolen
Richard Waters / Financial Times:
Washington Post becomes the first major publisher to sign up for Trade Desk's single ID system as advertisers search for a successor to cookies
 Earlier Picks: 
Sarah Perez / TechCrunch:
Walmart partners with TikTok to test live-streamed video shopping, during which users will be able to shop Walmart fashion without leaving the app
@kerrymflynn:
The Information will officially launch an Opinion section in January 2021; EIC Jessica Lessin says it will feature the work of industry experts
Sara Fischer / Axios:
Vice food vertical Munchies is launching a channel on OnlyFans, the first verified media publisher to do so, to post exclusive weekly videos for $4.99/month
William Turvill / Press Gazette:
The Guardian says it has 352K subscriptions to app and tablet editions, up 60% YoY, 548K recurring contributors, up 33% YoY; print subs are up 11% YoY to 119K
Kevin Roose / New York Times:
Facebook rolls back temporary post-election change that lifted news from authoritative outlets over hyperpartisan sources