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Today's Media Trends is 1900 words, a 7-minute read.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Political groups on both sides of the aisle are throwing money and resources at propping up local, partisan websites that are often designed to appear as straight news.
Why it matters: What's often missing from these sites are adequate disclosures about funding and authorship.
Driving the news: Publishers on the left have been ramping up their investments in local media this year, launching websites that focus on the stories they think are being ignored by the mainstream news.
Be smart: The right has traditionally been ahead of the digital curve, experimenting with similar "local news websites," memes and advertising tricks before their Democratic rivals — and most consumers — catch on.
"They invented it. They've perfected this and it's time progressives jump on board in terms of getting our own message out."— Kevin Nix, CEO and executive editor of The Texas Signal
Between the lines: What's often missing from these websites are adequate disclosures about funding and accountability, argues Newhouse School of Public Communications professor Jennifer Grygiel.
Yes, but: While this trend is growing on the left, it isn't totally new to either political party. Axios reported last year about a number of "local news sites," from Democrats and Republicans, with minimal disclosures about who was really behind them.
The big picture: Grygiel argues technology, and Facebook in particular, has made it easier for partisan news outlets to buy up ads to promote their stories and agendas.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
Attorneys general in states have become one of the most powerful forces managing in media and tech oversight during the Trump administration.
Driving the news: Last week, the Federal Trade Commission voted along Republican party lines to fine Facebook $5 billion for privacy violations.
"We didn't solve it with this action. But all over the globe there are regulators and all throughout our states there are state attorneys generals who now know that the ball is in their court."— Chopra on MSNBC's "Kasie DC" Sunday night
Why it matters: With two branches of the U.S. government embroiled in politics, the courts have been left to manage a lot of industry oversight. State attorneys general have been bringing lawsuits to the courts.
Between the lines: Ten Democratic state attorneys general are currently suing to block a merger between T-Mobile and Sprint that was just approved by the DOJ.
Be smart: "It's an interesting thing about antitrust right now. State attorneys general have become quite partisan," says Matt Stoller, a fellow at the progressive Open Markets Institute.
Speaking of antitrust: TikTok is exhibit A in Facebook's "we're no monopoly" case (David McCabe — Axios)
A handful of venture capitalists have participated in the seed round for The Juggernaut, a premium subscription publication for South Asian stories and news, Axios has learned.
Driving the news: Precursor Ventures, Kevin Lin (co-founder of Twitch), Bhaskar Ghosh (partner and CTO at 8VC), and Sheel Tyle (founder, Amplo), among others, will join Y Combinator in investing in the startup led by Snigdha Sur.
Details: The company started as a newsletter in October 2017 and launched a $4.99-per-month paid subscription service in February. Sur says 80% of users sign up for an annual plan.
The trend: Media companies in the U.S. are looking to better cover the South Asian population. This year...
"The South Asia diaspora is so large. I can't believe this audience doesn't have publication or voice in way they want to to be spoken to covering stories matter to them."— Charles Hudson, managing partner, Precursor Ventures
Niche media outlets are having their moment:
The big picture: Consumers will pay for good quality content they can't easily get somewhere else, says Charles Hudson, a managing partner at Precursor Ventures and an investor in both The Juggernaut and The Athletic.
Our thought bubble: Many of these outlets are venture-backed, and could face the same fate that some other venture-backed media companies have experienced over the past few years. But most of these outlets are so narrowly focused they haven't raised enormous sums of money.
Issues that got the most heat in the first debate made a dent in the social-media conversation since then, Axios' Mike Allen writes. Data was harvested by Hamilton Place Strategies, an analytical public affairs consulting firm.
Go deeper: Axios-NewsWhip 2020 attention tracker: Dominant storyline for each candidate via Axios' Neal Rothschild
Despite ongoing efforts to reel in the dominance of Big Tech companies, a few major firms still manage to eat up more ad revenue than most other publishers (and publishing industries) combined.
Why it matters: The continued strength of these companies, particularly in the data-based advertising sector, has shifted the focus in Washington from holding firms accountable for bad policies or sloppy mistakes to taking action against them as monopolies.
Driving the news: All of the major ad-driven tech firms (Facebook, Google, Twitter, Snapchat, Amazon) exceeded Wall Street expectations on revenue growth last quarter.
Yes, but: Investors worry that ad growth at some of these companies will slow in response to privacy-related changes and saturation.
The big picture: As these companies continue to grow their advertising footprints, legacy businesses in television, newspapers and telecom are consolidating in an effort to simply keep up.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
While newspapers are teaming up to double down on their climate change coverage, broadcasters are mostly focusing on covering the byproducts of climate change — natural disasters and extreme weather.
Why it matters: Climate change tends to be a ratings killer for television, because it can be abstract and complicated to explain in short, visual bites.
Yes, but: As the economic and political debate around the topic increases ahead of 2020, media experts will be looking at the ways TV outlets cover the issue, as television is still the most common place for Americans to get their news.
What's next: CNN will host a presidential candidate forum on climate change in September, and MSNBC is a media partner on another event — strong signals of the topic's entry to the national political stage.
Disney's 2019 movie run broke the all-time annual global box office record just 7 months into the year, Axios' Dion Rabouin writes.
Why it matters: With more big-budget blockbusters still to come this year, the company seems unstoppable.
What's happening: Disney's acquisitions of LucasFilm and Marvel have delivered huge wins for the company, but it's been the ability to produce live-action remakes from its own catalogue that has set the table over the last decade.
What's next: Disney is releasing a sequel to “Maleficent” in October and a live-action version of "Lady and the Tramp" in November. They also announced a live-action remake of “Mulan” in 2020.
The big picture: Disney's roughly 40% share of total box office revenues so far this year is far and away the highest ever for a studio.
Go deeper: Technology has over-saturated us (Steve LeVine — Axios)