If anyone was shorting a news blizzard in January, they lost out big.

Starting with the insurrection at the Capitol Building leading to former President Donald Trump’s impeachment, to President Joe Biden’s inauguration and a from-left-field trading saga involving “meme stocks” such as GameStop and a bankrupted Blockbuster, starring Redditors from r/wallstreetbets (explainer), with appearances from Elon Musk, Ted Cruz, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Elizabeth Warren, Ja Rule, Donald Trump Jr. and Barstool Sports’ David Portnoy, to name a few.

The visual is quite something.

Kudos to The Wall Street Journal’s Julia-Ambra Verlaine and Gunjan Banerji for landing an interview with one of the main players that started this week’s mainstream awakening about an army of message board retail investors versus institutional traders, and a wild west of lever-pulling on who is allowed to trade. Even “Bond King” Bill Gross chimed in today with a reference to the “South Sea Bubble of 1720.” Interestingly, Robinhood now has a job opening for manager of federal affairs. There could be a congressional hearing, and the SEC is watching, but if any sea change happens it may be far off. For now, there are some incredible memes.

Leadership Connect will keep an eye out for an all-encompassing analysis of this week’s events that’s likely being worked on by several news outlets right now and over the weekend (hint for PR: now is the time to pitch relevant sources). For now, on to the linkfest.

Movers & Shakers:

Newsletter Mania:

  • While we’re keeping an eye on new Substack entrants such as Dan Rather, it should be mentioned Clubhouse may be the next media disruptor.
  • Axios is going local. Founder Jim VandeHei says it starts in Tampa, Fla., and the Twin Cities, and will soon spread to Charlotte, N.C., Des Moines, Ia., and Denver, Colo. If locals look at the people we list under the Charlotte heading, they may notice they are from Charlotte Agenda, which Axios acquired in December.
    • Bonus news on the local journalism front: a new project to scale local news has emerged.
  • Another scoop from Fischer at Axios: Forbes launches massive expansion of paid newsletters.
  • Twitter acquired Revue, “making it easy for writers and publishers to send editorial newsletters and generate subscription revenue.”
    • Twitter also launched Birdwatch, a community-based approach to misinformation. The bird app says it conducted more than 100 qualitative interviews with individuals across the political spectrum who use Twitter. (They also permanently suspended the My Pillow’s Mike Lindell for spreading election misinformation.)
  • Facebook continues its dance with writers, reportedly working on newsletter tools.

Look out for articles next week coming from our News Media team regarding Section 230. And ICYMI, the Biden transition brought a ton of White House and political journalist changes. As reported in the article, Biden has signed a flurry of executive orders – all listed here. Two of his earliest moves were to boost federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and unveiling an immigration plan. Currently, we list 143 journalists covering the coronavirus pandemic, 199 immigration journalists, and 145 climate change journalists.

You can see previous News Media This Week briefings here.

RIP Larry King

Baz Hiralal

Baz Hiralal

Managing Editor, Thought Leadership