Tag Archives: Journalism

Jeff Bezos Is Bad News

Writing in The New Republic Senior Editor Alec MacGillis takes an informed and critical stance against the purchase of The Washington Post by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.

…let’s not kid ourselves here: The company that made him one of the richest men in the world has had a less than benign impact on our nation. It has devastated the publishing industry, from the big presses to the small booksellers. It has exacerbated the growth of the low-wage economy, to the point where the president feels the need to celebrate an increase in warehouse jobs that will pay barely more than minimum wage. (Fun fact uncovered by the Morning Call in Allentown, Pa. two years ago: Instead of paying for air-conditioning at some Pennsylvania warehouses, Amazon had just stationed paramedics outside to take the inevitably heat-stressed workers to the hospital.)

More generally, Amazon has embodied, more than any other of the giants that rule our new landscape, the faster-cheaper-further mindset that scratches away daily at our communal fabric: Why bother running down to the store around the block if you can buy it with a click? No risk of running into someone on the way and actually having to talk to them, and hey, can you beat that price? No thought given to the externalities that make that price possible…

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Google To Feature Longform Journalism In Search

Google's In-depth News Search

Inside Search

Google will now begin to feature in-depth reporting and longform writing in their search queries.

Where the default Google search on any given topic brings up recently written news, the company will now cater to users who are looking for more thoughtful coverage on a subject. As Hamish McKenzie of PandoDaily explains, Google has enabled a kind of Twitter-style news consumption. This is where the most prominent stories Google offers are always the stories that were written up moments earlier, or stories that were extremely popular within the current news cycle.

The advantage of this style is that it provides readers with the news of the day, the word of the moment without much fuss. The downside, though, is that other kinds of journalism, the kinds that take longer to produce, or that don’t link strongly to the events that are happening THAT DAY are crowded out. This mode favors rapid-fire news over thoughtful essays, press release blog posts over careful criticism.

For example: If you searched “Boston Bomber” Google will give you a bunch of crappy, recently written articles about the Rolling Stones cover or the alleged revelations that he was into right-wing-conspiracy theories. While these links have merit, it would also be extremely useful for Google to give us some definitive accounts of the whole Boston bombing episode–not just the insignificant trickling of brand new news stories.

This novel, in-depth highlight will help readers more fully understand.

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The Power Of Black Twitter

When Juror B37 of the George Zimmerman trial gestured toward a book deal chronicling her and her husband’s life during jury service, a vocal segment of Twitter users erupted in protest. (Their argument being the writer would essentially profit from grave injustice and loss of life.) The publisher, feeling the pressure, nixed the book deal. Shani O. Hilton of BuzzFeed writes about the powerful influence of what she calls “Black Twitter,” –the thousands of highly active black twitter users who like to talk about race and current events and, as this episode indicates, are at the cutting edge of Web culture.

Last night Black Twitter killed a George Zimmerman trial juror’s book deal. But that’s not a surprise: The hive has become a swarm. It’s diffuse, powerful, and all around you.

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Twitter’s New Platform

Last year I posted about Twitter’s development from a sparse messaging service to a mixed media circus. John Herrman of BuzzFeed picks up on the company’s evolution (tweet attachments, video, product links) and notes the great shift Twitter has taken:

“The tweet, in other words, is Twitter’s new platform. The old platform was about getting people to use Twitter. The new one is about making money from them.”

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How Yahoo Can Make Money From Tumblr

This week Yahoo acquired the popular blogging service Tumblr for $1.1 billion. Writing for the business and investment site Minyanville, Carol Kopp discusses the likely business model for Yahoo’s newest content creator.

“Here’s a little dose of financial reality for Tumblr users who are upset that their free-to-use, nearly ad-free little corner of the Internet has been bought by big, bad corporate Yahoo: One way or another, probably sooner rather than later, you’re going to pay for your free blog,” she remarks. And that dose of financial reality will come in the form of ads.

“Advertisers are willing to pay a premium to advertise to a small but self-selected group of people with an expressed interest in golf or puppies or movies.”

It’s important to mention that in March Yahoo gobbled the start-up Summly for $30 million. That company offered readers computer generated summaries of news articles, another kind of content that helps Yahoo boost its traffic.

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LinkedIn Continues To Evolve

Mathew Ingram writes at paidContent

The site now offers “channels” or categories of news, much like a magazine would, and users can follow or subscribe to those channels, as well as to individual authors who are part of LinkedIn’s Influencer program, another relatively new addition.

When a user clicks on the News heading in their LinkedIn toolbar, they now get a splash screen that outlines the different categories or channels of news they can subscribe to. There are some fairly obvious examples such as Economy, Entrepreneurship and Leadership, as well as broader categories such as Healthcare, Technology and Social Media — and a few somewhat more unusual channels too, like “Things I Carry” and “My Best Career Mistake.”

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A Year Without Internet

My new essay at The Awl

Highly educated Americans tell the world that young people are increasingly distracted or emotionally incompetent due to incessant pointer-clicking and unrelenting thumb-pressing. From the stuffed genre of airport-friendly socio-criticism, we’ve learned that networked technologies are making us lonely and small-minded. Apparently no one has ever sent Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows: What The Internet Is Doing To Our Brains, or Sherry Turkle, of Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology And Less From Each Other, a tastefully brief Snapchat. In their best-selling sermons, “the Net” is the devil. Search engines, hyperlinks, and texts ensnare our intellect with the seductive fork tongue of reptilian temptation.

That Paul did not emerge from a mountain of seclusion like Muhammad or Zarathustra, that he did not return a walking Deepak Chopra of prophetic wisdom and Gandhian patience, is not so surprising. In fact, Paul’s failed experiment helps to refute the Internet fear mongering that has propelled the notoriety of the professional “thinking about the Internet” class.

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Paul Miller Is Back

After one year without using internet technologies, Paul Miller, writer for The Verge, has returned.

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Paul Miller Returns To The Internet After 1 Year of Solitude

Evan Rodgers writes at The Verge:

Paul Miller left the internet for a year, and he’s finally coming back. At midnight tomorrow, he’ll plug back in after 365 days away, capping his experiment by returning to the connected world. Is he a new man? Ready to return or dreading the web? We’re having a special late-night Vergecast that kicks off at 11PM ET on April 30th to celebrate the occasion, followed by the debut of Paul’s personal story of disconnecting and a livestream discussion of his return.

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Hashtag Sympathy: Boston, Disaster Porn And The Law of Zuckerberg

Cyborgology

In my essay for Cyborgology, I explore the use of social media to express sympathy. I critique the media phenomenon known as disaster porn and apply it to the the logic of social sharing on Facebook and Twitter.

…documented sharing incentivizes Facebook and Twitter users to traffic in disaster porn. This is the depiction of destruction or tragedy in ways that do not enlighten, but merely sensationalize, pervert, exploit. The ego-stroking affirmations of social networks—the likes and RTs—the ones that push us to share new music and comment on engagement photos, seem perverse when dealing with gory misfortune. From this unsavory perspective, many of the declarations whizzing around Boston look like sympathy but smell like attention-seeking.

…As with older forms of news media, this risks entering into a perverse agenda-setting of the moral. To accept an attention-grabbing rubric to determine cultural significance is to bolster the same kind of news norms that we recognize to be malevolent. These include a preoccupation with the global north, xenophobic privileging of moneyed American interests, highlighting pornographic disaster over chronic, pervasive crime, a disregard for victims who are not white, downplaying environmental degradation with no immediate, visible harm.

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