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9:15 AM ET, December 18, 2020


 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 …
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 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 …
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
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 …
Dominic Ponsford / Press Gazette:
FT's union suspends pay negotiations after learning that ex-EIC Lionel Barber made £1.92M in 2019 despite profit falling to £1.89M from £8.2M in 2018  —  Former FT editor Lionel Barber received pay and pension benefits worth £1.92m in 2019 as the FT Ltd …
Discussion: The Guardian and Talking Biz News
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
Helene Fouquet / Bloomberg:
Tencent buys another 10% stake in Universal Music Group, adding to the 10% stake it bought last year, at the same valuation of €30B  —  - Vivendi plans to sell additional minority stakes in UMG  — Deal values world's biggest music company at $30 billion euros
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.
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
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 …
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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
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
 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
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
Paresh Dave / Reuters:
The Nation, Genius Media Group, and The Progressive sue Google, alleging it has unlawfully stifled advertising competition; they are seeking class-action status