The Chompsky Weekly #58
In which The New Yorker solves the climate emergency.
A very late newsletter this (supposed to be last) week comes to you from my COVID-riddled, yet optimistic, brain.
I’m optimistic because I read a Genuinely Amazing article about solving the climate emergency this week. If you’re Very Anxious, I recommend it highly. I’ve shared it in the Campaigns + Content section 👇👇👇
This week I wrote about the new app OptOut, which is a one-stop-shop for reading/watching/listening to independent media outlets.
🚨A disclaimer🚨: Chompsky is the first UK publication to be hosted on OptOut(!). The financial transparency of the app is one of the things I love most about it and so, I promise, throughout this love-in about an app that platforms me, I make my position clear and (lovingly) interrogate the OptOut founders about theirs too:
It’s also the week of the Media Democracy Festival!
I’ve been organising this over the last few months and I’m so glad it’s here. We’re working up to a day-long, in-person festival in London on Saturday, but before that there are online events every day this week. Check it out!
It’s Tuesday 22nd March, 2022
The Online Safety Bill has been tabled in Parliament. It appears to have some key innovative strengths, such as tackling online scammers, but as analysts have taken a closer look some significant issues with the regulation have emerged: independent regulator IMPRESS have shown that while the bill seeks to tackle harms brought on social media platforms it does not do the same for news sites. LGBT+ platform QueerAF has shown that the vagueness of the bill’s strong wording could end up backfiring and being used to censor LGBT+ content. (Gov.uk/IMPRESS/QueerAF)
XR protesters are in court for blockading a road outside Newsprinters, a Murdoch-owned printing plant that publishes The Telegraph, The Sun, and the Daily Mail. News UK, the UK arm of Murdoch’s news empire, lost an estimated £1.2m due to the disruption. The defendants say the act of disrupting one news cycle was proportionate in light of the climate emergency. (Press Gazette)
Amazon has moved to buy veteran film studio MGM for $8.45 billion. (FT)
America’s largest internet provider Verizon has been caught union-busting, at the same time as funding Americans for Tax Reform, a conservative group seeking to block workers’ rights legislation in Congress. (The Daily Poster)
Putin has banned Facebook and Instagram in Russia, calling Meta an “extremist” company. (The Guardian)
The UK government has announced it will crack down on Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) actions: heavy-handed injunctions and lawsuits that are designed to intimidate journalists. This comes after they were used against reporters publishing information about law firms working with Russian oligarchs, and investigative journalist Carole Cadwalladr being taken to court by Brexiteer Aaron Banks for speaking out about his ties with Russia. (Press Gazette)
NYT has been accused of ‘both-sides-ism’ for a recent editorial titled ‘America Has a Free Speech Problem’, in which it claims that people are unable to speak without fear of ‘being shamed or shunned’. Critics have pointed out that freedom of speech does not preclude criticism, and that conflating criticism of hate speech with burning books is a false equivalence. (The Hill)
Ofcom, the UK broadcast regulator, has banned the Russian state television channel RT. The company is still currently able to publish online content in the country. (The Guardian)
ITV has announced a 3-year, £80 million Diversity Commissioning Fund for shows “produced by or related to Black, Asian and minority ethnic people or disabled people.” (Deadline)
Campaigns + Content
I love the New Yorker. Yeah sure, it publishes one too many essays by some dude called Dirk Wolf Kerfuffle arguing for veal sweetbread’s primacy as a dessert, but it also produces urgent investigative reporting (see: revelations about abuse within Scientology, and the truth about Harvey Weinstein after other outlets had crushed the story).
And now this: a beautifully accessible essay by leading environmentalist Bill McKibben (who founded 350.org) about how we absolutely have the money, and the technology, to transition rapidly to a green economy and mitigate the worst of climate change.