Welcome to Semafor Media, where we’re prepared to denounce our leaders’ silence on the crisis at Burning Man.
I always try to write about labor on Labor Day, and those are almost always my least-read columns. Whether they’re stories about the rising generation of media unions, or about abuse in the NewsGuild, labor is one of those important subjects that struggles to find readers.
And yet this is a moment when labor, and unions, seem to have more currency than at any time in my career. The labor market is tight, and a recent Gallup survey found record high approval for labor unions, even as a record low share of people live in a union household. The new labor-friendly outlet More Perfect Union is thriving. In media, the writers and actors have shut down Hollywood, fighting for more money, to protect new economic arrangements like residuals, and keeping a wary eye on AI. Gallup found them dominating public opinion, to the degree the studios are even trying to win hearts and minds.
The shifting nature of work is changing careers and business strategies. The power of talent, influencers, personal brands, whatever you want to call them, are reshaping everything from news companies (like this one) to the advertising industry. The main early consequence of AI in media is, as Claire Atkinson put it recently, to turn “entry level media jobs into dust.”
AI, however, can’t get scoops yet. In today’s newsletter, Max has new insight into the near-monopoly Penske Media, which dominates the entertainment trades. And we’ve got a scoop on the succession plans for the most powerful job at Fox that isn’t held by a Murdoch family member. (Scoop count: 3)
Semafor will be all over the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York later this month, in person and in our energy and climate newsletter Net Zero by Tim McDonnell, which you can subscribe to here: Sign up here.