Sara Fischer
Sara Fischer
Sara is a media reporter at Axios. She is the author of the weekly Axios Media Trends newsletter and covers breaking news and analysis about the industry.Source
Washington, DC
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63 million people watched final presidential debate

63 million people watched final presidential debate

Photo Illustration: Pavlo Conchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images63 million viewers tuned into the final debate between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday evening, according to Nielsen ratings. The event drew 13% fewer viewers than the first presidential debate in late September. Why it matters: The more may have proven to be less exciting than .Yes, but: Final debates historically draw smaller audiences than first debates. And the final debate this cycle still did well compared to previous final matchups.Details: Fox News Channel drew the most viewers...

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Sara Fischer
2d ago
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New York Post's Hunter Biden story goes massive on social media despite crackdowns

New York Post's Hunter Biden story goes massive on social media despite crackdowns

Facebook and Twitter's frantic attempts to stop the spread of the New York Post's Hunter Biden story didn't prevent the article from becoming the top story about the election on those platforms last week, according to data from NewsWhip.Why it matters: The data shows that even swift, aggressive content suppression may not be swift or aggressive enough to keep down a story with as much White House backing and partisan fuel as this one.By the numbers: The Post's story generated 2.59m interactions (likes, comments, shares) on Facebook and Twitter last week — more than double the next biggest...

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Neal Rothschild
5d ago
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Facebook says it will block political ads after polls close on Election Day

Facebook says it will block political ads after polls close on Election Day

Illustration: Aïda Amer/AxiosFacebook says it plans to temporarily stop running all social issue, electoral, or political ads in the U.S. after the polls close on November 3. Why it matters: The notice comes two weeks after Google informed its advertisers that it would implement a similar rule. Details: Facebook says the goal of the new policy is to reduce opportunities for public confusion about results or messages that misinform the public about election outcomes.The company says it will also update its policies to ban implicit calls by users to engage in malicious "poll watching" —...

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Sara Fischer
Oct 7
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Biden changes channel on "Trump Show"

Biden changes channel on "Trump Show"

Joe Biden checks out a classic car at the end of a voter mobilization event at the Michigan State Fairgrounds in Novi, Mich., yesterday. Photo: Tom Brenner/ReutersJoe Biden not only crushed President Trump in ratings for their head-to-head town halls, Biden was a bigger draw for an earlier pairing of network town halls. By the numbers: Biden had a bigger combined audience for town halls on ABC + NBC than Trump did for his ABC and NBC town halls. Biden drew 20.8 million for the two town halls combined, while Trump had 17.3 million.Here's the breakdown, from , (omits streaming): Axios' Sara...

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Sara Fischer
Oct 17
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Town hall ratings: More people watched Biden on ABC than Trump on NBC, CNBC and MSNBC

Town hall ratings: More people watched Biden on ABC than Trump on NBC, CNBC and MSNBC

Getty ImagesABC's live town hall event with Joe Biden Thursday night drew 14.1 million viewers, surpassing the final Nielsen ratings for NBC's town hall with President Trump, which was aired across NBC, MSNBC and CNBC and drew 13.5 million viewers in the same hour. Why it matters: The , moderated by Savannah Guthrie, was expected to trounce Biden's more calm, policy-focused hour and a half town hall event moderated by ABC's George Stephanopoulos.Be smart: Nielsen's ratings include viewership on broadcast and cable channels that aired each town hall (ABC for Biden and NBC, MSNBC and CNBC for...

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Sara Fischer
Oct 16
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Media becomes the story ahead of Election Day

Media becomes the story ahead of Election Day

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/AxiosWith just weeks to go until Nov. 3, controversies surrounding the media seem to be gobbling up most of country's attention. Why it matters: In a healthy democracy, the media shouldn't be the story. Driving the news: Twitter and Facebook Wednesday when both firms took sweeping measures to reduce the spread of a New York Post story containing damaging information about Hunter Biden.On Wednesday, a exploded over internal backlash against NBC for scheduling its town hall with President Trump at the same time that ABC scheduled its town hall with Joe Biden. On...

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Sara Fischer
Oct 16
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Facebook bans Holocaust denial on its platform

Facebook bans Holocaust denial on its platform

Photo: Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty ImagesFacebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Monday that the tech giant would be expanding its hate speech policies to ban any content that "denies or distorts the Holocaust." Why it matters: Zuckerberg was caught flat-footed in a 2018 interview with Kara Swisher, then host of the Recode Decode podcast, that he didn't believe Facebook should take down Holocaust denial content because "I think there are things that different people get wrong," even if unintentionally.Details: Starting today, if people search for the Holocaust on Facebook, the company will...

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Sara Fischer
Oct 12
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57.9 million people watched the vice presidential debate on television

57.9 million people watched the vice presidential debate on television

Photo by ROBYN BECK,ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty ImagesNearly 58 million people watched the vice presidential debate between Sen. Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence on television on Wednesday night, according to Nielsen ratings, making it the second most-watched VP debate in TV history. Why it matters: The debate was the first major political event since President Trump was diagnosed with coronavirus last week. It featured two candidates that could theoretically be asked to step in for their bosses if elected, incentivizing viewers to watch.Be smart: The , which drew big numbers, may...

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Sara Fischer
Oct 8
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Facing a White House credibility crisis, the media's reporting has never been more essential

Facing a White House credibility crisis, the media's reporting has never been more essential

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany briefs the media Thursday. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty ImagesIt's easy to dog the media. But stop for a second and reflect on everything we know thanks to the media — and often the media alone.Driving the news: It was the media that gave light to the negligence of White House officials in containing the coronavirus. It was Bloomberg's Jennifer Jacobs who Hope Hicks' positive test, with President Trump disclosing five hours later that he and the first lady had COVID. It was the media that exposed that the president and top White House officials...

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Sara Fischer
Oct 4
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Google is paying publishers more than $1 billion to create and curate high-quality content

Google is paying publishers more than $1 billion to create and curate high-quality content

Photo illustration: Soumyabrata Roy/NurPhoto via Getty ImagesGoogle will pay publishers more than $1 billion over the next three years to create and curate high-quality journalism for a new set of features called Google News Showcase, executives tell Axios. Why it matters: This is Google's biggest ever financial commitment to the news industry. In 2018, it to efforts supporting the news industry. This announcement builds on that effort and its , where it pays select publishers to feature their stories in Google News and Search."Our approach with Google News Showcase is a very different...

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Sara Fischer
Oct 1
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Media prepares to fact check debates in real time

Media prepares to fact check debates in real time

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/AxiosFrom live blogs to video chyrons and tweets, media companies are introducing new ways to fact check the presidential debates in real time this year. Between the lines: The debates themselves are likely to leave less room for live fact-checking from moderators than a traditional news interview would.The big picture: Media insiders have a running argument over whether and how much the media should fact check live political speech given the unprecedented amount of misinformation around complex issues this year, like COVID-19.Driving the news: Nicole...

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Sara Fischer
Sep 29
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2020 election influence operations target journalists

2020 election influence operations target journalists

Illustration: Aïda Amer/AxiosForeign and domestic actors looking to influence the 2020 election are trying to trick real reporters into amplifying fake storylines. This tactic differs from 2016, when bad actors used fake accounts and bots to amplify disinformation to the population directly.Why it matters: The new strategy, reminiscent of spy operations during the Cold War, is much harder for big tech platforms to police and prevent.Driving the news: Facebook on Thursday and took down three coordinated misinformation campaigns originating from Russia.How it works: Often, these meddling...

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Sara Fischer
Sep 28
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The New York Times and Facebook launch multi-year augmented reality reporting project

The New York Times and Facebook launch multi-year augmented reality reporting project

Screen shots from the NYT's Instagram filters about pollutionThe New York Times and Facebook have struck a multi-year partnership to co-develop augmented reality (AR) filters and effects on Instagram that help users access and contextualize New York Times journalism, executives tell Axios.Why it matters: It's the first time that The Times has experimented with augmented reality technology at scale and off of its own website and apps. The partnership also represents an evolution in the relationship between publishers and tech companies. Details: To get the partnership off the ground, The...

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Sara Fischer
Sep 16
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MTV to pay for printing, postage of ballot applications via its voter campaign websites

MTV to pay for printing, postage of ballot applications via its voter campaign websites

Photo Illustration by Alvin Chan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty ImagesMTV will pay for the printing and postage of any ballot application requested through websites linked to its new voter initiative campaign, network executives tell Axios.Why it matters: Studies shows that many Americans given the limitations of the pandemic, but some may not be familiar with the steps required to vote early. Catch up quick: MTV has long led the media industry in championing voter initiatives, including helping launch Rock the Vote in 1990. This year, the network and its parent company ViacomCBS are...

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Sara Fischer
Sep 17
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TikTok reveals details of how its algorithm works

TikTok reveals details of how its algorithm works

Illustration: Aïda Amer/AxiosTikTok Wednesday revealed some of the elusive workings of the prized algorithm that keeps of users worldwide hooked on the viral video app.Why it matters: The code TikTok uses to pick your next video is a large part of what has led the two-year-old company to achieve broad popularity along with a remarkable . The key asset is in play as TikTok's Chinese parent prepares to amid fears about its relationship with China's government.Driving the news: On a call with reporters Wednesday, TikTok executives said they were revealing details of their algorithm and data...

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Sara Fischer
Sep 10
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Facebook cracks down on political content disguised as local news

Facebook cracks down on political content disguised as local news

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/AxiosFacebook is rolling out a new policy that will prevent U.S. news publishers with "direct, meaningful ties" to political groups from claiming the within its political ads authorization process, executives tell Axios. Why it matters: Since the 2016 election, reporters and researchers have uncovered in which political groups use websites disguised as local news outlets to push their point of view to Americans. With the new policy, Pages on Facebook belonging to news outlets that are backed by political groups or people will still be allowed to and advertise...

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Sara Fischer
Aug 11
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Facebook launches its TikTok rival, Instagram Reels

Facebook launches its TikTok rival, Instagram Reels

Illustration: Aïda Amer/AxiosFacebook-owned Instagram on Wednesday launched its answer to the popular karaoke app TikTok, .The big picture: Facebook has a long record — sometimes successful, sometimes not — of adopting features that have proven popular on rival platforms and rolling them out to its billions of users worldwide in an effort to avoid being eclipsed by younger upstarts. Driving the news: Reels enters the fray as TikTok, threatened with a ban by President Trump because of its Chinese ownership, has to be acquired by Microsoft.Be smart: Reels is the first product Instagram has...

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Sara Fischer
Aug 5
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Google cracks down on deceptive ads ahead of election

Google cracks down on deceptive ads ahead of election

Photo: NurPhoto / ContributorGoogle is updating its ads policies to prohibit domestic advertisers that use spammy tactics to conceal their identities and to ban international advertisers that use ads to promote illegally hacked or obtained political material — like stolen campaign emails. Why it matters: Google alludes to the crackdowns in its existing ads policy, but the company is stating them more explicitly in an effort to rein in political and election misinformation ahead of the election. Details: There are two updates being introduced and they apply to ads on both Google properties...

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Sara Fischer
Jul 31
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TikTok's new CEO says company will reveal how its algorithms work

TikTok's new CEO says company will reveal how its algorithms work

Illustration: Aïda Amer/AxiosIn his as CEO of TikTok, f says the company will be releasing that code that drives its content-moderation algorithms so that experts can observe how its policies are enforced in real time. He says TikTok will also reveal its data flows to regulators, and is calling on its rivals to do the same. Why it matters: It's an unprecedented move that could help defuse concerns from U.S. lawmakers that the app is a data-harvesting tool for the Chinese government. It would also place TikTok ahead of its peers in terms of transparency.Details: In the post, Mayer conceded...

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Sara Fischer
Jul 29
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Conservative TV networks backtrack after touting conspiracies

Conservative TV networks backtrack after touting conspiracies

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/AxiosSeveral right-leaning TV networks have been forced to walk back or acknowledge reports they've aired touting conspiracy theories in the past few weeks. Why it matters: There's been a lot of focus over the past few years on misinformation spreading online via big platforms like YouTube and Facebook, yet some of the most damaging falsities have come from broadcast networks that reach millions of Americans daily. Sinclair Broadcast Group of local affiliates across the U.S. this weekend not to air a controversial interview conducted on its program "America This...

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Sara Fischer
Jul 27
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Sinclair tells local stations not to air controversial "plandemic" interview

Sinclair tells local stations not to air controversial "plandemic" interview

Photo: William Thomas Cain/Getty ImagesSinclair Broadcast Group asked its dozens of local affiliates across the U.S. this weekend not to air a controversial interview conducted on its program "America This Week," which touted conspiracy theories that NIAID director Anthony Fauci started the coronavirus.Why it matters: Sinclair has been caught up in controversies around journalism ethics before. Most notably, it asked journalists at affiliates to read about "fake news" in 2018. Catch up quick: The interview, conducted last week, features host by Eric Bolling, interviewing researcher and...

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Sara Fischer
Jul 25
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Coronavirus dooms fall TV season

Coronavirus dooms fall TV season

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/AxiosTV's infamous fall lineup of new shows and series is going to look a lot different this year, thanks to paused production during the coronavirus pandemic and the uncertain future of sports. Why it matters: With fewer dramas, scripted shows and sports, analysts expect more consumers to "cut the cord" or ditch expensive cable and satellite TV subscriptions. For live TV loyalists that chose to stick around, expect more news, animation, reality TV, live performances and documentaries.Driving the news: Netflix said Thursday that it doesn't foresee programming...

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Sara Fischer
Jul 21
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Report: Facebook considering political ad blackout ahead of election

Report: Facebook considering political ad blackout ahead of election

Photo: Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty ImagesFacebook is considering blocking candidates and causes from purchasing political ads in the U.S. ahead of the 2020 presidential election in November, Bloomberg . Why it matters: The tech giant has been facing intense scrutiny for allowing politicians and advocacy groups to micro-target political ads on its platform, and for not fact-checking the ads. It has repeatedly defended its political ad policies, citing free speech. Banning ads leading up to the election would be a major reversal.Facebook declined to comment.By the numbers:...

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Sara Fischer
Jul 10
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Reddit bans The_Donald forum as part of major hate speech purge

Reddit bans The_Donald forum as part of major hate speech purge

Reddit says it is banning its controversial subreddit channel r/The_Donald, one of the company's largest political communities and a longstanding hub of support for President Trump, along with 2,000 other subreddit groups and users that violate new content policies aimed at hate speech. Why it matters: Reddit becomes the latest social media platform, in the wake of George Floyd's death and the ensuing protests, to take action against Trump or his supporters for violating rules or misleading users. What they're saying: In a conversation with reporters, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman said that...

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Sara Fischer
Jun 29
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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle back Facebook boycott

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle back Facebook boycott

Photo: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty ImagesPrince Harry and Meghan Markle have been privately advocating for the campaign, which includes a boycott of Facebook, according to multiple sources working closely with the couple.Why it matters: The boycott against Facebook has grown from an industry scuttle to a cultural battle over the way the tech giant moderates content, particularly around hate speech. Details: Over the past few weeks, the couple has encouraged CEOs around the world to stand in solidarity with a coalition of civil rights groups, like the NAACP, Color of Change and the...

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Sara Fischer
Jun 27
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