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7:40 AM ET, December 21, 2020


 Top News: 
Stephanie Clifford / Elle:
Profile of ex-Bloomberg reporter Christie Smythe, who quit her job and divorced her husband after she fell in love with the man she was covering, Martin Shkreli  —  Why did Christie Smythe upend her life and stability for Martin Shkreli, one of the least-liked men in the world?
Discussion: @ellemagazine, @manymanywords, @stephcliff, @mattzeitlin, @thedailybeast, @skenigsberg, @tomgara, @beijingpalmer, @asteadwesley, @hummusandpizza, @moorehn, @jillfilipovic, @zunguzungu, @roywoodjr, @carigervin, @elaheizadi, @christiesmythe, @bendreyfuss, @tylerdinucci, @zeddary, @liamstack, @soledadobrien, @jourdynberry, @meandmydogtoo, @taylorlorenz, @ec_schneider, @sawyerhackett, @mattikovler, @kellykeegs, @bendreyfuss, @brianstelter, New York Post, @moorehn, @jbillinson, @dlippman, @zeitchikwapo, @alishagrauso, @bendreyfuss, @angryblacklady, @jenashleywright, @christiesmythe, @offbeatorbit, @drea_carmen, @jessicahuseman, @dave_schilling, @joeperticone, @otraletra, @amber_athey, @notcapnamerica, @christiesmythe, @ashleyfeinberg, @taylorlorenz, @maxwelltani, @oneunderscore__, @annamerlan, @dansolomon, @phil_lewis_, @megan, @lindseyadler, @alexheard, @annamerlan, @arreglalo, @daisandconfused, @caseyjohnston, @taylorlorenz, Law & Crime, @asteadwesley, @jasonpinter, @jillfilipovic, @robbiese7en, @bgrueskin, @galaxiecarol, @socialistdogmom, @bigmeaninternet, @bykatesmith, @hels, @taylorlorenz, @mrsfridaynext, @nolamama69, @benyt, Jezebel, @modernistwitch, @elaheizadi, @christiesmythe, @jordanuhl, @christiesmythe, @majorphilebrity, @dierobinsondie, @bgrueskin, @ftrain, @austen, @rebeccadobrien, @jessicakroy, @chrissyfarr, @harrysiegel, UPROXX, @carigervin, @karnythia, @christiesmythe, @jerrydunleavy, @asteadwesley, @kaylawebley, @sgurman, @theferocity, @ashleyrparker, @drrramina, @eekshecried, @lalasoo, @bendreyfuss, @fuggirls, @walterolson, @felixsalmon and Talking Biz News
Ben Smith / New York Times:
Voting machine companies including Smartmatic have hired high-powered libel lawyers and, legal experts say, have strong cases if they sue Fox, Newsmax, and OAN  —  Voting machine companies threaten “highly dangerous” cases against Fox, Newsmax and OAN, says Floyd Abrams.
Josh Feldman / Mediaite:
Fox News hosts Lou Dobbs, Jeanine Pirro, and Maria Bartiromo aired a fact-check of their own election conspiracies, after Smartmatic threatened legal action  —  Fox Business host Lou Dobbs has recently taken to raising questions about voting machine companies, which have been cast as complicit …
The Guardian:
Citizen Lab: iPhones of dozens of Al Jazeera journalists were hacked using software from NSO Group in an attack likely ordered by Saudi Arabia and UAE  —  Citizen Lab researchers say cyber-attack using NSO Group software likely ordered by Saudia Arabia and UAE
Charles Kaiser / The Guardian:
Interview with Arthur Sulzberger Jr, who retires as NYT chairman this month, and AG Sulzberger about turning around the paper, keeping it in the family, more  —  Against the odds, a unique American institution has thrived.  Its chairman is retiring but the paper will stay in the family
Leaked docs show how China stage-managed what appeared on its domestic internet to make coronavirus look less severe in the early days of the outbreak  —  ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power.  Sign up to receive our biggest stories as soon as they're published.
Adalytics: brand safety technology from companies like Grapeshot and Moat marked 30.3% of NYT, 21.4% of The Economist, and 51.7% of Vice articles as “unsafe”  —  Welcome back to BRANDED, the newsletter exploring how marketers broke society (and how we can fix it).
Pranay Prabhat / NYT Open:
A look at the NYT's first-party data program for its direct-sold ads; NYT says ad campaigns that used it performed as well as those using third-party data  —  The New York Times launched an advertising data program for our direct-sold ads business that uses our own data and data science techniques.
Discussion: @nytopen
Margaret Sullivan / Washington Post:
Despite a few bright spots in local journalism like Charlotte Agenda, bought by Axios, and Daily Memphian, 55 news outlets have closed amid the pandemic  —  You would think that Adam Ganucheau would be feeling upbeat about the state of local journalism.  —  After all, Mississippi Today …
Linda Solomon Wood / Nieman Lab:
National Observer EIC predicts Canada's philanthropic sector will lean in further to fund journalism in 2021, and new companies will continue to launch and grow  —  “Canada has shown leadership in securing a future for journalism — but there is more that can be done."  —  This year, Canada refused to let journalism fail.
Mark Jacob / Local News Initiative:
An analysis puts the overall increase in digital circulation for news outlets in 138 markets at 51.2%, from Nov. 2019 to Nov. 2020; print circulation fell 12.9%  —  Newsroom Challenge for 2021: Keep New Customers in the Fold and Find More  —  The pandemic and other major news events …
Gabby Deutch / NewsGuard:
NewsGuard names news sites with most online engagement in 2020: NBC News, NYT top among trustworthy sites; Breitbart, TheBlaze for COVID-19 and election misinfo  —  NewsGuard's Top Ten Disinformers - and Top Ten Straight Shooters With The Most Online Engagement  —  Facts did not always flourish in 2020.
Ashley Carman / The Verge:
The rush for podcast-generated IP that can be sold to Hollywood is driving demand for podcasts like Caliphate, which may ignore facts for “cinematic experience”  —  The need for IP pushes facts aside  —  The New York Times' Caliphate podcast was a hit — until it wasn't.
Michael Schneider / Variety:
The New York Times has agreed to return the Peabody Award it won for Caliphate, following its retraction of core elements of the podcast series
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 More News: 
Andrew Liptak / Polygon:
Several writers of movie tie-in novels say they haven't been paid royalties for their work since Disney acquired Marvel, Lucasfilm, and 20th Century Fox
Ben Taub / New Yorker:
A look back at Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder in Malta, and how her sons used her unfinished work to crack the murder case, bringing down Malta's government
Alexandra Alter / New York Times:
Spiegel & Grau, the literary imprint shut down by Penguin Random House last year, returns as an indie publishing house with plans for podcasts, audiobooks, more
 Earlier Picks: 
Michael Pack, CEO of USAGM, has announced that Ted Lipien will be CEO and president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Benjamin Mullin / Wall Street Journal:
Sources: digital publishers including BuzzFeed, Group Nine, and Axios are prepping for a wave of consolidation, via acquisitions or going public through SPACs