Today's Media Trends is 1,936 words, a 7 minute read.
Situational awareness: Longtime MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews announced last last night that he will be retiring from his signature program, "Hardball," after a series of on-air gaffes and allegations of unwelcome comments towards women.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Journalists within the Voice of America (VOA) are pushing back on the idea that their reporting could fall prey to political influence by the Trump administration.
Catch up quick: In the wake of Trump's 2017 inauguration, numerous reports suggested that the VOA — a 78-year-old, government-funded independent, international news agency — would essentially turn into a Trump administration propaganda arm.
Yes, but: VOA Director Amanda Bennett told Axios she's tried to get media outlets to accurately assess the VOA today, without much success.
Between the lines: Broader concerns about VOA independence arose after a legal provision changed governance over the agency from a board of non-partisan directors to a CEO selected by the president.
Between the lines: Sources inside the VOA say the agency has been operating as business as usual, without interference from the Trump administration.
Go deeper: More context on how the VOA operates
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
The New York Times said in a government filing Monday that it expects global advertising revenue to be down this quarter due to corporate uncertainty related to the coronavirus. The news caused shares of other media publishers to dip.
Be smart: Uncertainty in marketing around retail and consumer packaged goods, which are often linked to Chinese supply chains, as well as travel and entertainment, is hitting the advertising sector particularly hard.
The big picture: Analysts predict that the entire advertising ecosystem will likely be negatively impacted by the virus, based in part on how China's advertising market has reacted to the outbreak over the past few months.
What's next: Various media events and conferences have been canceled or are under pressure due to concerns around the virus.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
The business of licensing publishing software is growing increasingly competitive as more digital publishers look to raise money and develop more content management software and technology products.
Driving the news: Minute Media, a holding group that owns digital sports and entertainment websites like The Players' Tribune and The Big Lead, announced Wednesday that it has raised $40 million in venture capital, most of which will be used to expand its business by selling publishing software as a service.
The big picture: Many modern media companies have built some sort of tech product, mostly publishing software, to license to other companies. Today, there are many companies that offer different publishing solutions.
Our thought bubble: Media companies have dabbled in software sales for a long time, and with the exception of some companies that have built hybrid media/tech services like Bloomberg LP, most have not been able to grow their non-media businesses to deliver on the promise of tech-style scale.
Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios; Photo: James Brickwood/Fairfax Media via Getty Images
Twitter employees have taken to Twitter in a social media campaign showing support for CEO Jack Dorsey using the hashtag #WeBackJack.
The big picture: The campaigns comes days after activist investor Elliott Management has acquired nearly a 5% stake in Twitter, and believes the key to unlocking value is to replace Jack Dorsey as CEO, Axios' Dan Primack writes.
Why it matters: Elliott has become the top agitator in media and tech, and often gets what it wants.
Elliott's complaint against Dorsey appears to be twofold:
The other side: Twitter's financial performance under Dorsey has steadily improved, even if not to levels of Elliott's liking.
The bottom line: Canning Dorsey could have ripple effects in Silicon Valley, where CEOs have been under increasing pressure to abandon dual-class stock structures.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
One of the world's biggest eSports leagues is working with Nielsen to develop the first-ever comprehensive measurement system for viewership of esports broadcasts.
Details: The League of Legends Championship Series (LCS), run by American video game developer Riot Games, is working with Nielsen to develop the first-ever official measurement system for esports broadcasts that mimics what's used to measure TV.
Be smart: TV-like ratings are considered more accurate than the viewership metrics that the eSports industry had been previously using, like peak concurrent viewers or peak channels.
What's next: Other major eSports leagues are in touch with Nielsen about adopting the standard. Nielsen has partnered with Activision Blizzard and ESL over the past year to implement the AMA standard industry-wide. It expects other eSports leagues to adopt live+.
While Joe Biden has surpassed Michael Bloomberg as the Democrat getting the second-most online attention, he comes nowhere close to Bernie Sanders, whose stories have more interactions on social media than the rest of the Democratic field combined, according to data from NewsWhip exclusively provided to Axios.
Yes, but: In the 3 days leading up to Super Tuesday, Joe Biden has more cable news mentions than Sanders.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
BBC Studios said Monday that it's investing in Pocket Casts, a free-to-download podcasting platform.
Why it matters: The investment is likely a response to media companies wanting their own data, analytics and distribution outlets instead of Apple, which shares very little data with publishers.
The big picture: It's part of a growing trend of news companies eyeing investments in podcast companies to bolster their audio efforts.
Driving the news: The New York Times is in exclusive talks to acquire Serial Productions, the podcast studio that has attracted more than 300 million downloads, The New York Times' Ben Smith reports.
Yes, but: One high-level source in the podcasting world emails Axios that they're skeptical that the deal will go through.
Be smart: Recently, many of the big podcast exits were going to tech companies, like Spotify, but publishers have made investments in podcast companies as well over the past few years.
AT&T is launching a new TV service and a series of offers it hopes will allow it to sell TV service even when people don't want to give up their current broadband provider, Axios' Ina Fried reports.
Why it matters: The streaming field is crowded, but some of the most lucrative customers are those willing to pay for live TV. This is AT&T's latest effort to go at that market.