Amazon agrees deal to buy hit podcast producer Wondery

Wondery will be incorporated into Amazon Music. (Shutterstock)
Wondery will be incorporated into Amazon Music. (Shutterstock)
Short Url
Updated 31 December 2020

Amazon agrees deal to buy hit podcast producer Wondery

Amazon agrees deal to buy hit podcast producer Wondery
  • The terms were not revealed but reports this month suggested Wondery was looking for about $300 million

Amazon has signed a deal to acquire podcast production firm Wondery, in a move that boosts the US tech giant’s attempts to round out the offerings from its music platform.

Wondery, which produces popular podcasts such as “Dirty John,” “Dr. Death,” and “The Shrink Next Door,” will be incorporated into Amazon Music, which is ramping up its efforts to compete with rivals such as Spotify and began offering podcasts this year.

“Together with Wondery, we will continue to bring more customers to streaming as we expand our selection and ensure we are a destination for our customers to find, discover and listen to the creators and artists they enjoy,” the Amazon Music team said in a blog post on Wednesday.

“Wondery is an innovative podcast publisher with a track record of creating and producing top-rated podcasts that entertain and educate listeners.”

The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but reports this month suggested Wondery was seeking $300 million. The deal, which has yet to be finalized, will allow Amazon Music subscribers to listen to Wondery podcasts through a variety of providers, Amazon said.

Industry tracker Podtrac ranked Wondery as the fourth-most-listened-to podcast publisher in the US in November, with slightly more than 9 million people tuning in to the audio programs it hosts.

There has been a boom in the popularity of podcasts in recent years, with people listening to compelling true or scripted stories, as well as interviews.

The move comes as Amazon comes under increased scrutiny from antitrust enforcers for its growing dominance in key sectors of the economy as it expands its retail and streaming-media operations.
 


Volunteers help Saudi job seekers find work via popular app

Volunteers help Saudi job seekers find work via popular app
According to a new report by mobile data and analytics firm App Annie, the Clubhouse app has grown from having more than 3.5 million global downloads in February 2020 to reaching 8.1 million by Feb. 16 this year. (Getty Images)
Updated 33 min 33 sec ago

Volunteers help Saudi job seekers find work via popular app

Volunteers help Saudi job seekers find work via popular app
  • The Clubhouse app has grown from having more than 3.5 million global downloads in February 2020 to reaching 8.1 million by Feb. 16 this year

JEDDAH: A group of recruitment experts in Saudi Arabia have joined forces to launch a jobs initiative via a popular new audio-only app.
The six volunteers have been giving up three hours a day to speak with job seekers on the Clubhouse social networking platform which is rapidly becoming a go-to staging post for connecting users with the country’s employers.
The team’s Employment Forum Initiative chat room aims to help link people with recruitment specialists and businesses throughout the Kingdom.
The forum is among a number of rooms set up on Clubhouse — that in recent weeks has been among the top three most popular social media apps in Saudi Arabia and worldwide — to discuss labor market needs, job interview techniques, freelancing opportunities, and other employment-related issues.
One of the forum’s founders, Saleh Al-Sodmi, told Arab News: “We are a group of volunteers representing ourselves in this initiative where we united our love of giving and compassion to help people. We are providing assistance to our fellow citizens, which we consider a duty, not a favor.”
Al-Sodmi and his colleagues all work in the human resources and recruitment sector but have been sacrificing their time on a daily basis to help Clubhouse users in their hunt for jobs.
During the first five days of the initiative, the group helped more than 20 people to find employment and numerous others to get job interviews, and Al-Sodmi expected more success stories as the app’s network of HR and recruitment specialists grew.
“It began with two young sisters who were looking for a job and started a room in Clubhouse for that purpose. Gradually many people within the recruitment field joined, and we agreed to carry on such meetings on a daily basis,” he said.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The Employment Forum Initiative chat room aims to help link people with recruitment specialists and businesses throughout the Kingdom.

• The forum is among a number of rooms set up on Clubhouse — that in recent weeks has been among the top three most popular social media apps in Saudi Arabia and worldwide.

Between 700 and 1,000 users have been attending the group’s forums in recent days, and numbers are increasing.
According to a new report by mobile data and analytics firm App Annie, the Clubhouse app has grown from having more than 3.5 million global downloads in February 2020 to reaching 8.1 million by Feb. 16 this year.
Al-Sodmi added: “This initiative has shown how people love good and giving. Personally, all I want in return is an honest prayer. We can always help. Even when we do not have the proper job for the job seeker, we can still offer advice on how to improve their chances or overcome concerns.”
Maryam Saleh, a Clubhouse user, told Arab News: “I am truly fascinated with the idea, and I appreciate the moderators’ commitment to giving three hours of their time or sometimes more to help others.

We are providing assistance to our fellow citizens, which we consider a duty, not a favor.

Saleh Al-Sodmi, Co-founder

“I found out about it from my friend; I hope it grows further and helps young people to get the opportunities they deserve, especially those, like me, who graduated in these difficult times amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.”
Al-Sodmi said Clubhouse had helped users reach out to a wider audience and connect with people that were not as easily accessible via social media platforms.
“For instance, Clubhouse allowed the influencers’ privilege to dissolve and helped the different groups of societies to truly mingle amongst themselves and talk to each other.


“We have seen artists, economists, and CEOs connecting and interacting with the public easily and comfortably,” he added.
Hanan bin Fantokh, another volunteer recruitment specialist within the employment initiative, told Arab News that the platform has helped save recruiters’ time finding candidates and conducting initial interviews.
“It has also helped people break through their fear barrier by allowing them to introduce and market themselves publicly. It also helped many enhance their dialogue and persuasion skills.
“On the jobs front, many have started getting interviews, and some have signed contracts. However, the availability of jobs is less than the number of job seekers,” she added.


Kayleigh McEnany signs on as Fox News contributor

Kayleigh McEnany signs on as Fox News contributor
Updated 02 March 2021

Kayleigh McEnany signs on as Fox News contributor

Kayleigh McEnany signs on as Fox News contributor
  • McEnany, former President Donald Trump’s final press secretary, didn’t speak about her new role
  • While at the White House, McEnany frequently appeared on Fox News programs for interviews

NEW YORK: As widely anticipated, Fox News said Tuesday that it had signed former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany as a contributor to offer commentary on various network programs.
McEnany, former President Donald Trump’s final press secretary, didn’t speak about her new role during an interview with Fox’s Harris Faulkner that aired Tuesday.
It was reported in January that McEnany had disclosed to the US Office of Government Ethics while still in office that she would work for Fox after leaving the White House. Fox said at the time that it had been in discussions with McEnany but had paused them.
Before working for Trump, McEnany was a commentator at CNN.
While at the White House, McEnany frequently appeared on Fox News programs for interviews.
She said Tuesday that her biggest regret at the White House was not being able to hold a briefing outlining all the accomplishments of the Trump administration.
“But after Jan. 6, it just was not tenable,” she said.
She said that “everyone in the administration was horrified” by the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, led by a mob of Trump supporters, but she insisted that it did not represent the former president’s backers.
Asked if she believed Trump bore any responsibility for the riot, she said, “No, I don’t.”
Trump was impeached by the House on a charge of incitement of insurrection over the insurrection but acquitted by the House. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell voted to acquit Trump, citing the fact that the former president was out of office by the time the Senate trial began, but McConnell said Trump was “practically and morally responsible for provoking” the riot.


OSN celebrates International Women’s Day with all-female line-up

OSN celebrates International Women’s Day with all-female line-up
Updated 02 March 2021

OSN celebrates International Women’s Day with all-female line-up

OSN celebrates International Women’s Day with all-female line-up
  • New channel offers tailored content ‘to engage with women of the region’

DUBAI: In celebration of International Women’s Day, entertainment network OSN is planning to launch its first-ever content lineup dedicated to women in the region.

The OSN Woman content will be launched on March 8 and will be available as a standalone channel through any OSN box, as we well as on-demand and on the OSN streaming app.

“OSN Woman was born from the desire to provide women of the region with a tailored content offering. This is the start of a new chapter for OSN, as we launch new content offering that caters to the needs of women of the region and engages with them in a truly relevant way,” Rolla Karam, interim chief content officer at OSN, told Arab News.

Rolla Karam, interim chief content officer at OSN

Fashion, health, parenting, relationships and reality topics will feature in the new channel.

The content, which has been chosen by female programming specialists at OSN, includes “Framing Britney Spears,” “A Perfect 14,” which explores the world of plus size modeling; and “Public Figure,” which looks at the psychological effect of social media use on influencers.

The campaign to promote OSN Woman is also created by an all-women team led by director Danielle Arden and Nayla Chacra, regional executive content producer at production company Prodigious.

“This is the outcome of serious efforts led by talented women at OSN, who invested all their knowledge and understanding of the region in coming up with this unique line-up,” said Karam.


Twitter labels to combat COVID-19 vaccine misinformation

Twitter labels to combat COVID-19 vaccine misinformation
Updated 02 March 2021

Twitter labels to combat COVID-19 vaccine misinformation

Twitter labels to combat COVID-19 vaccine misinformation
  • 2,400 accounts suspended, 11.5m challenged since platform launched new measures

DUBAI: Social networking giant Twitter is ramping up efforts to remove harmful and misleading information circulating online about coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines.

As the vaccine roll out gains speed, conversations about inoculation have been increasing on social media platforms.

And to help combat false claims and scaremongering about vaccines, Twitter has been applying labels to tweets that may contain misleading information about the COVID-19 jabs.

Labels will appear next to suspect content and may link to either the curated content tab, the official public health information, or the Twitter rules page.

Initially, Twitter’s team will apply labels to misleading content. Those assessments will be used to then inform the platform’s automated tools to identify and label similar content.

In addition to labels, Twitter will be introducing a strike system that will determine when further enforcement is necessary.

Repeated violations of the COVID-19 policy will be enforced on the basis of the number of strikes an account has accrued for infringing Twitter’s policies. Two and three strikes will result in a 12-hour account lock, four strikes a seven-day lock, and permanent suspension for five or more.

Twitter’s help center said that content could be labeled or removed if it advanced a claim of fact expressed in definitive terms, was demonstrably false or misleading based on widely available authoritative sources, or was likely to impact public safety or cause serious harm.

In December, Twitter shared updates on its work to protect the public conversation surrounding the virus outbreak. Since introducing its COVID-19 guidance, the platform has permanently suspended 2,400 accounts and challenged 11.5 million accounts worldwide.

The company has also launched a dedicated COVID-19 search prompt feature. When the term COVID-19 is searched on the platform, credible and authoritative content appears at the top of the search results. This has now been expanded to more than 80 countries and is currently available in 29 languages.

In some countries, the prompts also include an additional button that links to information specific to the COVID-19 vaccine.


Myanmar authorities charge Associated Press journalist

Myanmar authorities charge Associated Press journalist
Updated 03 March 2021

Myanmar authorities charge Associated Press journalist

Myanmar authorities charge Associated Press journalist
  • Six members of the press charged by Myanmarese authorities with violating a public order law and could face imprisonment up to three years
  • AP vice president for international news says 'independent journalists must be allowed to freely and safely report the news without fear of retribution'

YANGON, Myanmar: Six members of the media, including Associated Press [AP] journalist Thein Zaw were charged on Tuesday of violating a public order law that could see them imprisoned up to three years, said a lawyer.
Myanmarese authorities charged AP’s Zaw and five media persons following their arrest while covering protests against the February 1 military coup in Myanmar that ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.
The group includes journalists for Myanmar Now, Myanmar Photo Agency, 7Day News, Zee Kwet online news and a freelancer.
Zaw’s lawyer Tin Zar Oo said the six have been charged under a law that punishes anyone who causes fear among the public, knowingly spreads false news, or agitates directly or indirectly for a criminal offense against a government employee.
The law was amended by the junta last month to broaden its scope and increase the maximum prison term from two years.
Detained on Saturday morning in the country’s largest city, Yangon, Zaw, 32, was reported to be held in Insein Prison that’s notorious for housing political prisoners under previous military regimes.
According to the lawyer, Thein Zaw was remanded into custody by a court and can be held until March 12 without another hearing or further action, meanwhile AP has called for Zaw’s immediate release.
“Independent journalists must be allowed to freely and safely report the news without fear of retribution,” Ian Phillips, AP vice president for international news, said after the arrest. “AP decries in the strongest terms the arbitrary detention of Thein Zaw.”
The Committee to Protect Journalists joined that call.
“Myanmar authorities must release all journalists being held behind bars and stop threatening and harassing reporters for merely doing their jobs of covering anti-coup street protests,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative. “Myanmar must not return to the past dark ages where military rulers jailed journalists to stifle and censor news reporting.”
Zaw was arrested as police charged toward protesters gathered at an intersection in Yangon, the demonstrators’ meeting point.
This past weekend the authorities escalated their crackdown carrying out mass arrests and using lethal force. The UN Human Rights offices said it believes at least 18 people were shot dead Sunday in several cities when security forces opened fire on demonstrators.
The coup reversed years of slow progress toward democracy after five decades of military rule.
In December 2017, two Reuters’ journalists were arrested while working on a story about Myanmar’s Rohingya minority. They were accused of illegally possessing official documents, although they argued that they were framed because of official opposition to their reporting.
Although their case attracted international attention, they were convicted the following year and were sentenced to seven years behind bars. They were freed in 2019 in a mass presidential pardon.