Good morning. Thanks for subscribing to Media Trends. Tell friends to follow along by signing up here.
Today's Media Trends is 2,137 words, an 8.5 minute read.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Despite broad efforts to crack down on misinformation ahead of the 2020 election, the primary season so far has been chock full of deceptive messages and misleading information, Axios' Kaveh Waddell and I write.
Why it matters: More sophisticated tactics that have emerged since 2016 threaten to derail the democratic process by further polluting online debate. And the seemingly unending influx of fakery could plant enough suspicion and cynicism to throw an otherwise legitimate election into question.
Driving the news: Kamala Harris and Joe Biden were the most frequent targets of misinformation during and immediately after the most recent Democratic debates, according to a new report from VineSight, a company tracking Twitter activity.
Some of the most important shifts and tactics:
The bottom line: Despite the increasingly sophisticated tactics, some of the kludgy methods used in past election campaigns persist undetected.
Tech companies are willing to work more closely with law enforcement to fight white nationalist terrorism, but the industry is skeptical of the White House's seriousness on the issue, Axios' Ina Fried writes.
Why it matters: President Trump called on social media to do better monitoring in the wake of recent mass shootings, but the companies point out the White House still has yet to sign on to recommendations made in the wake of the Christchurch shooting.
Meanwhile, Ina writes that the tech companies are welcoming attention on 8chan and more extreme internet discussion forums, pointing out that extremists tend to start out there, though many do have presences in more mainstream forums.
By the numbers: An analysis from social intelligence company Storyful found that the manifesto connected to the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, has been shared hundreds of times on mainstream platforms, with a potential reach of hundreds of thousands of people.
Go deeper: What to do about 8chan, the net's atrocity megaphone, from Ina and Axios' Scott Rosenberg
The exclusive club of companies that have built billion-dollar content distribution businesses has a new member: SmartNews, the Japanese news discovery app that has amassed 20 million subscribers in the U.S., and raised $28 million in its latest funding round.
The big picture: It's a small club, mainly because the media industry is in turmoil as Facebook and Google siphon ad dollars. A number of these companies have struggled to maintain their highest valuations amid issues like missed revenue goals, layoffs, and management changes, Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva and I report.
Be smart: Private company valuations exist only because certain investors say they do at a certain point in time. There's no guarantee an acquirer or the public market will agree.
Yes, but: It's notable that in today's bleak news market where U.S. tech giants like Google and Facebook dominate most news referral traffic online, a Japanese startup has been able to gain such traction.
What's next: Around the world, news aggregation as a business is exploding.
Broadband technologies are getting better and faster — but access to them is still concentrated in metro areas and suburbs, leaving vast swaths of the country with marginal service or nothing at all, Axios cities reporter Kim Hart and I write.
Why it matters: Benefits of the broadband advances are mostly going to consumers who already have plenty of options for robust internet connections. Despite efforts to narrow the digital divide, rural areas, small towns and low-income neighborhoods in big cities still struggle to have access to reliable and affordable broadband service.
The bottom line: There's significant overlap between the parts of the country that have been left behind economically over the past decade and those that are broadband deserts.
Go deeper: Where the big wireless carriers stand
2020 candidates are pouring more into ads targeting Rust Belt states than some of the other early primary states, according to Facebook data pulled from Bully Pulpit Interactive.
Details: Of the early primary states targeted, Iowa is where the most money is going.
The big picture: The data also shows most campaigns have a 50-state targeting strategy online.
Be smart: This is likely a reflection of candidates' push to develop broad-based support in order to hit the requirements necessary to qualify for the next round of Democratic primary debates in September.
New Media Investment Group, the parent company to GateHouse, and Gannett — the 2 largest newspaper chains in the U.S. — officially announced a merger on Monday.
Why it matters: The combination of the two publishing powerhouses means that a single company would own 1 in every 6 newspapers in the United States, as Axios reported last month.
The big picture: Those looking for a way to solve the problem of declining local news in America see this newspaper merger, and others, as a way to slow the inevitable decline of local newspapers.
By the numbers: The merger will create one mega-newspaper company that will own 263 daily newspapers, and hundreds of weekly papers.
Details: Although Gannett brings in more revenue than GateHouse, GateHouse will acquire Gannett for a cash-and-stock deal worth about $1.38 billion. It takes on new private equity debt to finance the deal.
What's next: The companies said that the anticipated amount of cost synergies will be $275 - $300 million annually, which inevitably means jobs will get cut. It's unclear how many of those cuts will impact journalists.
Go deeper: Private equity is coming for local TV
Illustration: Axios Visuals
As the TV news market rapidly transforms, traditional networks are revamping their offerings, with new channels, features and distribution deals designed for digital consumption.
Driving the news: Altice has launched News 12+, a local equivalent of a headline news channel. The product is basically meant for out-of-home television viewing at bars, restaurants and shops in the Tri-State area where the News 12 franchises operate.
The big picture: In an era where every media company is trying to remake itself, there are now more "TV+" options than ever before.
A new study from the Asian American Journalists Association finds that 2 out of 3 summer interns from 7 top newsrooms came from among the most selective colleges in America.
By the numbers: "65% of summer interns from a group of publications including The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, NPR and Los Angeles Times, came from among very selective universities in the nation," the group writes in a blog post.
What's next: The Knight Foundation said yesterday that it's giving $1.2 million in new funding for the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education to create a program news organizations "to help them better inform underserved communities and establish more equitable and inclusive workplaces."