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Media Bits and Bytes - December 29, 2020

Reports from the world of tech and mass media, closing out the year from hell

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Aisha Hynds portrays Harriet Tubman on TV's “Underground.” Credit, WGN

Win Back the Internet

By Tech Learning Collective
Roar

We already have the power, the materials and the motive to win back the Internet. But we have to start with the first step first: owning our own infrastructure.

The Year Deepfakes Went Mainstream

By Karen Hao and Will Douglas Heaven
MIT Technology Review

Don’t believe your lying eyes. Now any image can be manipulated, easily and cheaply.

A Year of Media Layoffs and Closures

By Kristen Hare
Poynter

2020 brought the end of at least 1,500 newsroom jobs for the people who run the printing presses. We don’t have numbers for the plant jobs lost at all the papers that cut down days of print or stopped printing altogether.

Time for News Outlets to Face the Climate Crisis

By Mark Hertsgaard
Covering Climate Now

Shouldn’t news organizations be telling the unvarnished truth about the climate problem and, not least, its solutions?

Number of Journalists Killed Doubled Last Year

By Jennifer Dunham
Committee to Protect Journalists

Globally, at least 30 journalists were killed in 2020; 21 of those were singled out for murder in retaliation for their work, a jump from the previous year’s 10 murders.  

2020: Covid-19 and Surveillance Tech

By Adam Schwartz
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Location tracking apps. Spyware to enforce quarantine. Immunity passports. Throughout 2020, governments around the world deployed invasive surveillance technologies to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.

Trump Suppresses Photo Record of Pandemic

By Peter Maass
The Intercept

The U.S. government has reinforced media restrictions at hospitals, reducing the flow of disturbing images of the pandemic.

Public Schools Bled By Private Publishers

By Maria Bustillos
The New Republic

Billion-dollar corporations are privatizing public schools’ access to e-books.

Underground Railroad Drama Returns to Cable

By Candice Williams
ABC News Radio

Oprah Winfrey has announced her cable network has picked up the acclaimed historical drama series Underground. The series, which aired for two seasons on WGN America, is set to rebroadcast on OWN starting January 5 at 9 p.m. ET.