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2:00 PM ET, February 22, 2021

Mediagazer

 Top News: 
Dylan Byers / NBC News:
Spotify launches Renegades: Born in the USA, an exclusive, eight-episode podcast with Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen as co-hosts  —  Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen are making a podcast.  —  Spotify on Monday announced the launch of “Renegades: Born in the USA,” …
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Sara Fischer / Axios:
Spotify debuts features for creators like polls and Q&A tools to make podcasts interactive, partners with Wordpress to turn text into podcasts using Anchor  —  Spotify on Monday announced a slew of new tools to help podcast creators on its platform develop more interactive shows.
Chris Welch / The Verge:
Spotify says it will launch a subscription later this year called HiFi that will offer “CD-quality, lossless audio”; Spotify currently tops out at 320kbps audio
Sarah Perez / TechCrunch:   Spotify announces many new development tools for artists, including an expansion of Marquee promotions and opening up the Canvas visual looping tool to all
Ben Smith / New York Times:
Russian investigative journalism is flourishing alongside “probiv”, the buying of data on phone calls, cell location, or air travel off Telegram or the dark web  —  A new wave of news outlets has used conventional, and unconventional, methods to pierce the veil of Putin's power.
Alex Barker / Financial Times:
Microsoft says it will work with Europe's four largest news publishing lobbying groups to “mandate payments” for content used by “gatekeepers”  —  Seattle-based company aligns with press industry and exploits rivals' difficulties  —  Microsoft has joined forces …
Los Angeles Times:
Investigation finds non-profit HFPA, which runs Golden Globes, makes substantial payments to members, as questions persist about its ethics and legitimacy  —  It appeared to be a moment of triumph in the long, tumultuous story of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.
Sara Fischer / Axios:
Google tells ad partners that it will lift its ban on all political ads starting Wednesday, after banning them following the Capitol riot  —  Google informed its advertising partners Monday that its platforms will resume accepting all political ads starting Wednesday, after banning them following …
Margaret Sullivan / Washington Post:
Defector, the employee-owned site that began after a staff walkout at Deadspin, is doing surprisingly well and is financially self-sustaining six months in  —  Mahatma Gandhi didn't actually say “Be the change you want to see in the world,” but if he had, he probably wouldn't have been thinking …
Rachel Abrams / New York Times:
Ahead of a hearing on Wednesday, Congressional Democrats ask cable and tech companies how they combatted misinformation from Fox News, OANN, and Newsmax  —  Before a hearing scheduled for Wednesday, Democratic members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee asked cable companies what they did to combat …
Brendan Brady / ANTENNA:
Analysis: The Office drove 3.9x sign-ups to Peacock vs average December weekend; Netflix churn rate was not impacted as <1% of Netflix subs signed-up to Peacock  —  After finding a second life as a cultural phenomenon on Netflix, The Office returned home to NBCU's Peacock on January 1, 2021.
Discussion: The Streamable and Observer
Meg James / Los Angeles Times:
Soon-Shiong family denies WSJ reports about plans to sell LA Times, and both Union-Tribune's COO and publisher say no plans exist to sell the San Diego paper  —  Los Angeles Times owner Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong on Friday reaffirmed his commitment to the news organization.
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Lukas I. Alpert / Wall Street Journal:
Sources: Patrick Soon-Shiong is exploring a sale of LA Times and considered transferring management of The San Diego Union-Tribune to Alden's MediaNews Group
 
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 More News: 
Sara Fischer / Axios:
Outside, previously known as Pocket Outdoor Media and owner of 22 active lifestyle publications, raises $150M and says average revenue per user is ~$70/year
Lucas Shaw / Bloomberg:
Splice, which makes tools for musicians and offers royalty-free samples, raises $55M at a ~$500M valuation, bringing its total raised to $150M
 Earlier Picks: 
Hanaa' Tameez / Nieman Lab:
Fort Worth Report, a nonprofit news outlet, will launch in the spring and start with coverage of education, government accountability, and arts and culture
Sarah Stonbely / Columbia Journalism Review:
Study of New Jersey's local news finds communities in the lowest income bracket are twice as likely to be news deserts as news oases