Today's Media Trends is 1,889 words, a 7 minute read. Sign up here.
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios
Tech companies are struggling to regulate new types of campaign tactics and civic engagement on their platforms ahead of this year's election.
Why it matters: After the 2016 election, Silicon Valley vowed to do better at stopping election manipulation on their platforms. But unforeseen uses of their platforms have again caught them off guard amid real-time campaigning.
The big picture: Regulators haven't provided much guidance to make these choices easier for tech companies, and tech companies worry that self-regulation puts them at risk of appearing biased.
This makes it confusing for platforms to know where they are supposed to draw the lines around things like branded content and paid posts on behalf of campaigns and candidates.
Be smart: Efforts to get creative in online advertising are growing more common as campaigns look for new ways to target voters, without having to rely mostly on Facebook and Google.
The bottom line: Without clearer guidance from regulators, it's hard for platforms to know the best solution about how they should be policing political speech and political ads.
What's next: Rep. David Cicilline, who chairs the House Antitrust Subcommittee, is reportedly preparing legislation aimed at removing liability protections from tech platforms that don't take down false political ads, per Bloomberg Law.
The gap between Democrats and Republicans in their trust of media and business as institutions remains wide ahead of the election, according to Edelman's latest Global Trust Barometer study.
The big picture: Numerous surveys have documented an increasing rift between Democrats and Republicans over the role of the media since President Trump took office.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Staff
Bernie Sanders' rise is forcing news outlets to come to terms with ways they should covering his candidacy as a frontrunner, instead of a fringe candidate.
Why it matters: The media finds itself in the same position as it was in the 2016 election, when Donald Trump began to pull ahead in the Republican primary.
Driving the news: MSNBC plans "to seek out more smart, pro-Sanders voices," shifting coverage amid criticism, Vanity Fair's Joe Pompeo reports.
The big picture: The Sanders campaign has long-asserted that the mainstream media is biased against it.
Be smart: Media companies are an easy target because media has become one of the most polarizing institutions in America, and particularly during the Trump era. But it's usually Republicans that are likely to cry foul over mainstream media bias, not Democrats.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Blue Wire, a new sports podcast company, has raised $1.2 million in a seed round, sources tell Axios.
Why it matters: Blue Wire is looking to build out long-form sports narrative podcasts. The company believes that while sports highlights will continue to be mostly viewed via short video clips, more long-form sports media consumption will eventually shift to podcasts from traditional radio and print.
Details: The seed round comes from Dot Capital, 500 Startups and some individual investors, including Prakash Janakiraman, Co-Founder and Chief Architect at NextDoor, and professional football player Deion Jones through his venture fund Forty5 Ventures.
The big picture: Sports podcasting is becoming an increasingly competitive space as more investment flows into it.
Shares of the newly-combined ViacomCBS dropped a startling 15% last week, after the company announced plans for a new streaming service during its first earnings report as a combined entity.
Why it matters: The company is now worth far less combined ($17 billion in market capitalization) than the two companies were worth separately (around $30 billion) prior to their merger.
Details: Analysts have had mixed reactions to the company's streaming plans, which includes expanding CBS All Access to include exclusive content from Viacom's cable networks, like MTV and Nickelodeon, as well as Viacom's film studio Paramount.
By the numbers:
Be smart: The company clearly sees a combined streaming service as a huge pillar of its corporate strategy moving forward. Not only did the company release its streaming revenues for the first time, but it bought sponsored social media posts to promote the numbers shortly after.
A few of the last remaining major ad-supported streaming platforms are reportedly nearing sales to major media companies.
Why it matters: The acquisitions show how valuable big media companies think ad-supported streaming services could be to their overall streaming strategies, as they continue to also invest in subscription streaming offerings.
Driving the news: Fox Corp is eyeing an acquisition of free-ad supported streaming service Tubi in a deal that could be valued at more than $500 million, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Be smart: While Netflix remains the incumbent to beat in the subscription streaming wars, there's not yet a dominant player in the free, ad-supported streaming space, according to previously reported data from Magid Associates.
The big picture: Analysts have anticipated that more consolidation would be on the horizon.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Report for America (RFA), a program of the nonprofit The GroundTruth Project, which supports emerging journalists, helped newsrooms raise nearly $1 million in local fundraising donations last year, executives tell Axios.
Why it matters: Support from donors for local news is becoming more critical as the Trump administration looks to severely cut funds for public media.
Details: Report for America uses a funding match model to pay the salaries of local journalists. It pays half of a corps members’ salary, while encouraging and supporting local news organizations to contribute one quarter, and local and regional donors to contribute the final quarter of that members' salary.
The big picture: RFA estimates that over half of the funding secured is from donors who are new to journalism giving.
Netflix said Monday that it will begin putting out daily lists of the top 10 movies and top 10 TV shows in each country.
Be smart: In typical Netflix fashion, the company offered little clarity around what it will be using to determine which shows are "popular."