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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Some of the top journalists covering misinformation today look less like reporters and more cyber sleuths.
Why it matters: The troll playbook has shifted since the last election, when fringe internet actors sought to sow discord by spreading divisive messages. Today, their main focus is to discredit the media by uncovering potentially harmful information about them and by tricking them into reporting false information.
What they're saying: Axios spoke with some of the top misinformation reporters from NBC News, CNN, Buzzfeed and The Daily Beast to break down the tactics they use to dodge these traps and identify the people behind them, including:
Photo: Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images
The Washington Post on Tuesday will unveil Zeus Prime, a product that will allow companies to buy automated ads in real-time, similar to Big Tech platforms. Zeus will also support a new ad network that will include other publishers.
Why it matters: Advertisers often complain that they would like a better alternative to buying ads on Google and Facebook — where the content isn't always vetted — but there are no other places where they can buy ads as quickly and efficiently in real-time. The Post hopes this product will change that, and put more ad money in publishers' pockets.
By the numbers: According to Jarrod Dicker, The Post’s VP of Commercial Technology and Development, the cost to license the software will vary by client, but right now clients are "at the low volume range, half million annually and at the high range, in the millions."
The big picture: Publishers are investing more in developing their own advertising and publishing software as a way to make more money.
Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios
Buying and selling automated ads on websites and apps for premium web publishers has been a major technology challenge for years, and it's part of the reason that Google and Facebook have been able to grow their ad businesses so big and so fast.
Why it matters: The tech that The Post is building (above) allows publishers to cut third-party ad tech vendors out of their supply chains (the blue section above), so that they can take a much higher cut of the revenue.
The New York Times' hit podcast "The Daily" hit a billion total downloads last week after launching just over 2.5 years ago, says Theo Balcomb, Executive Producer of The Daily.
Why it matters: The Daily has been a surprise success story in the saturated world of podcasting. The profitable show was credited with being one of the biggest drivers to Q2 digital advertising growth for The Times last quarter.
Details: According to Balcomb, The Daily experiences an increase in listenership when there is major, breaking news.
Be smart: Politics generally garners the most interest, says Balcomb.
By the numbers: On average, The Daily now garners more than 2 million downloads per day, and approaching 10 million monthly uniques, per The Times. The show is also carried on over 150 public radio stations nationwide in the U.S.
As investigations into tech giants' possible anti-competitive behavior multiply, authorities are beginning to tussle over turf — adding a new potential for discord to the regulatory chess game.
Why it matters: Multiple probes can help regulators cover the vast territory they have set out to explore. But any time and resources they spend fighting each other will only benefit the companies they are seeking to hold accountable.
Driving the news: Federal Trade Commission Chairman Joe Simons has written a letter to the Justice Department's antitrust division complaining about the DOJ's behavior in handling disagreements over which agency has the authority to probe Facebook, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Be smart: Both agencies have clashed over who has jurisdiction to investigate, particularly Facebook.
The big picture: A growing list of media investigations are presenting evidence of tech platforms abusing their dominance to promote their own products and services.
BuzzFeed is looking to hire a new president, according to an internal memo sent from CEO and co-founder Jonah Peretti to staff on Tuesday, obtained by Axios.
Why it matters: The role has been vacant since 2017, when then-President Greg Coleman left the position to become a senior advisor to the company.
What's new: According to the memo, starting next month, Peretti will run business meetings with BuzzFeed's SVP Ad Strategy and Partnerships Ken Blom.
Be smart: BuzzFeed's business is no longer only centered around viral content that brings in lots of ad revenue. Today, ads are only one part of the BuzzFeed business, and things like commerce, brand consulting, events, content licensing and studios all bring in significant portions of BuzzFeed's revenue.
By the numbers: Peretti says BuzzFeed is poised to have "its biggest fourth quarter in its history." He says new lines of businesses, like content licensing and commerce, that didn't exist two years ago, "represent 9-figures of revenue today."
As the streaming wars heat up, consumers are going to have to be choosy about which services they subscribe to, or risk racking up steep monthly bills.
Driving the news: Apple announced last week that it would charge $4.99 a month for its new streaming service, Apple TV+.
Be smart: According to Mike Bloxham, SVP of global media and entertainment at research consultancy Magid, people are willing to spend around $38 monthly total on streaming services.
Yes, but: Unlike cable contracts, most streaming services allow users to share passwords, or cancel at any time. Because of this, streaming services need to worry about how to retain customers, not just accrue them.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Security officials and social media giants are warning that new countries, specifically Iran and China, could pose a misinformation threat to U.S. elections in 2020 similar to Russia's interference in 2016, Axios' World Editor David Lawler and I write.
Why it matters: As President Trump faces off with Iran and China on the international stage, there is growing fear they could try to influence the next U.S. election right under his nose.
Beginning in early 2019, social media firms began revealing coordinated campaigns to spread misinformation from countries other than the typical hotbeds in Russia and the Balkans.