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Inside Media (Aug 23rd, 2019)

1. The Western Journal, which the NYT characterizes as "a potent online disinformation mill," says that its decreasing online reach is proof that Silicon Valley is biased against conservative viewpoints. In a lengthy investigation published Thursday, Times reporters Nicholas Confessore and Justin Bank take a long look at the website, which "does almost no original reporting, instead repackaging stories found elsewhere that fit into right-wing narratives chosen by the site’s editors." The practice generated huge traffic, and in three years it racked up "three-quarters of a billion shares, likes and comments, nearly as many as the combined tally of 10 leading American news organizations." All that's now coming to an end, however, as Apple News dumped it for promoting “views overwhelmingly rejected by the scientific community,” Google News has blacklisted it for allegedly deceptive business practices, and Facebook made it less-findable after fact-checking sites called it out again and again. You can read the full Times investigation here, and its highlights here.

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2. Sarah Huckabee Sanders has landed at Fox News. The network is continuing its practice of hiring former Trump administration staffers by announcing that Sanders will "provide political commentary and analysis across all its properties, including Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network and the radio and podcast division." Nearly two dozen people have now worked for both the Trump and Fox camps, including Bill Shine (former co-president of Fox News turned former deputy White House chief of staff) and Hope Hicks (communications director for Trump then CCO of Fox). Sanders will make her debut on September 6, when she appear in her new role on "Fox & Friends." - NEW YORK TIMES

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3. Foillow Friday: Anna Rose Iovine. The newest addition to the Inside Media 100 - our Twitter list of the voices in media you should be paying attention to now - is @annaroseiovine, a New York-based social media writer who both freelances and acts as Vice's social editor. I've been seeing Iovine's work for a while (her piece for CJR, "Why you think social media is run by interns," is worth a regular re-read) but it was her latest for Vice, "I Scammed Influencer Caroline Calloway at Her Event, The Scam," that caught my attention.

A piece on how a social media influencer is purporting to help people whose self-images appear to have been damaged by social media written by someone whose livelihood is based in social media seems like a lot to chew on, but Iovine navigates the morass with style to create a compassionate but still clear-eyed look at Calloway and her followers. Her tweets illustrate that same balance of realism and wit - for examples, see her remarks on the media, craft purchases, and wealthy men who fear unions. You can follow her on Twitter here, and on Facebook here.

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4. The inventor of Google News has returned to the company. Krishna Bharat, who first toiled at Google from 1999 and 2015, led the team that created Google News, which - as incomprehensible as it might seem now, once did not exist. Bharat wrote in a 2011 blog post that the search giant was driven to create the product following the need for reliable information after the attacks on September 11, 2001. He reportedly rejoined Google last month, where he will again work on improvements to both its Search and News products. - CNBC

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5. "All Things Considered" is breaking down how the media botched the Jeffrey Epstein story. The NPR show notes that until the Miami Herald's Julie K. Brown embarked on her series, little journalistic scrutiny was directed at the millionaire, even though his behavior was anything but well-hidden. David Boies, who represents several of Epstein's alleged victims, says that "we count on the press to uncover problems, not merely to report on when problems have been prosecuted and when people have been indicted, but to uncover problems before they reach that stage," but until Brown got on the case, that didn't happen here. - NPR

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6. News staffers at ABC say that Sean Spicer's inclusion on "Dancing With The Stars" is a black mark on the network's integrity. As the show is regularly promoted by its news division, journos there are reportedly concerned at how pushing viewers to watch the former White House press secretary will impact their reputations. "It's a slap in the face to those of us who had to deal with his baloney and the consequences of the ongoing lies and disinformation campaign at the White House," one ABC News employee said, while another sniped "It's disgusting to think he is getting on the show and getting paid by our company." - CNN BUSINESS

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7. Study after study has shown that people avoid the news because it puts them in a bad mood, so now publishers are trying to figure out how to fix that. Researchers at the Center for Media Engagement at the University of Texas have come up with some strategies for solutions journalism that might help counteract those helpless feelings, which they say will also improve "perception of article quality" and "intentions to engage." - NIEMAN LAB

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8. The Rumpus has a fictional take on the "overly empathetic editor." In a series of satirical rejection notes, "Ellie Keene" explains to assorted freelancers that their report on their father's death from brain cancer, account of a bear attack, and a piece with "no punctuation or paragraphing or any characterization whatsoever" are "not quite a fit for us." - THE RUMPUS

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9. Digg is on the hunt for an Associate Curation Editor. In the role, you'd "rapidly identify high quality stories and videos from around the internet to feature on the Digg front page," and would identify "internet trends and report and write stories explaining them." - BREEZY

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10. Free Times is looking for a reporter to cover food and news. The free weekly, which is based in Columbia, South Carolina, says that South Carolina's capital city has an "emerging and exciting restaurant scene" to cover, so it needs someone to "break the latest food and beverage news." - JOURNALISM JOBS

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Eve Batey is a writer, editor, and consultant based in San Francisco. She also owns a store and writes about the business of true crime. You can find her on Instagram at @evelb, Twitter @eveb, and can be reached at eve@inside.com.

Editor: Kim Lyons (Pittsburgh-based journalist and managing editor at Inside).

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