Tom Scocca writes that ostentatious positivity, pitched as a noble response to the web's omnipresent snark, typically amounts only to the worse thing that snark itself cures: smarm.
What is smarm, exactly? Smarm is a kind of performance—an assumption of the forms of seriousness, of virtue, of constructiveness, without the substance. Smarm is concerned with appropriateness and with tone. Smarm disapproves. Smarm would rather talk about anything other than smarm. Why, smarm asks, can't everyone just be nicer?
The most significant explicator of the niceness rule—the loudest Thumper of all, the true prophetic voice of anti-negativity—is neither the cartoon rabbit nor the publicists' group nor Julavits, nor even David Denby. It is The Believer's founder and impresario, Dave Eggers.
Smarm is another word for Serious Culture—"In smarm is power"—and you know what to do with that.
A decade ago, the New York Times prepared the first, breaking story about warrantless domestic surveillance in America. But, at the Bush administration's urging, it delayed publication until after the next election. NYT public editor Margaret Sullivan reviews the ongoing sense of betrayal felt by its readers, and how it made the newspaper an unappealing port of call for whistleblowing sources such as Edward Snowden.
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Alex Naidus advises you on how to avoid the easy pitfalls of perceived arrogance, smugness and sanctimony
. I'm a frequent dropper of "I read this really interesting article…", sad to say! — Rob
In the wake of the UK's "phone hacking" press misconduct scandal
, the Leveson Report
proposed statutory regulation of the media. The newspapers' own alternative, suggesting a special charter covering the press, was rejected this week, reports the BBC
. But the outcome also officially reopens the debate, writes Ross Hawkins, at a time when politicians will be more willing to "stave off open warfare with the press in the run up to an election." — Rob
Teddy Wayne reports on a "postmodern art form"—the 160-character space that Twitter allow for biographies.
The standard bio is a staccato string of statuses and interests separated by commas or periods ... Beyond such clichés, the potential hazards of bios are well known to any social-media user: humble brags (“For some reason they put me in the movies”), unchecked self-promotion (“See my new movie, out this Christmas”) and the blandly literal (“I am a professional actor in a motion picture feature scheduled for wide release Dec. 25”).
After the jump, our Twitter bios for your psychoanalytical pleasure. (Whatever you do, don't follow me on twitter!)
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Russ Buettner: "A New York City police officer who had arrested a photographer working for The New York Times has been indicted on three felony counts and five misdemeanors
accusing him of fabricating the reasons for the arrest." — Rob
After lobbying for laws to allow them to opt out of Google's search results, German newspapers have opted right back in again
. The publishers claim it's a temporary measure while they figure out how to "charge aggregators for their use of its material." Which might be a problem, because Google says it would rather just let them stay opted-out than pay to link to them. [AP] — Rob
Shea Allen, an investigative reporter at an Alabama ABC affiliate, got fired
after posting this little beauty:
1. I've gone bra-less during a live broadcast and no one was the wiser.
2. My best sources are the ones who secretly have a crush on me.
3. I am better live when I have no script and no idea what I'm talking about.
4. I've mastered the ability to contort my body into a position that makes me appear much skinner in front of the camera than I actually am.
5. I hate the right side of my face.
6. I'm frightened of old people and I refuse to do stories involving them or the places they reside.
7. Happy, fluffy, rainbow stories about good things make me depressed.
8. I've taken naps in the news car.
9. If you ramble and I deem you unnecessary for my story, I'll stop recording but let you think otherwise.
10. I've stolen mail and then put it back. (maybe)
Allen believes she was terminated without cause. Shea Allen investigates!
$5 for 2000 Facebook shares or 500 retweets. $2 for a few thousand page views. "Money can't buy me love?" asks Wired's Mat Honan
. "Nonsense" — Rob
It wouldn't be a sexy subject were it not for the imminent demise of "market" leader Google Reader, but Mat Honan's article about Digg's replacement service is a must-read.
The core Digg experience is one of discovery: It constantly has to be showing you something new to work. ... This is where it gets neat: If Digg had its own news reader, it could immediately identify which stories people were actually reading—not just what they click on.
Hamilton Nolan ridicules the halfwitted psychoanalysis and smearing aimed by sneering pundits at Edward Snowden
, the NSA whistleblower who revealed the agency's expansive surveillance of everyday Americans.
We are often accused of being cynics. But even we can see quite plainly that the Prism story is huge, important, and newsworthy, and that the person who made the story happen deserves credit for helping it come out. Oddly enough, the cynics on this story reside in the ultra-establishment. They are the journalists and pundits who feel compelled to demonstrate their own sophistication by dismissing these revelations as old hat (though documented proof of these programs has never been seen before). They are those who have grown so inured to the gross overreach of government power that they can no longer conceive of it as scandalous.
David Brooks' piece is particularly grotesque, and not simply because going to it means having to look at one of his weird Zoolanderesque mugshots. Check out this paragraph:
He betrayed the privacy of us all. If federal security agencies can’t do vast data sweeps, they will inevitably revert to the older, more intrusive eavesdropping methods.
Don't make me beat you, honey.
At a bar in Vegas, during the sprawling PR shitfeast that is the Consumer Electronics Show, I overheard someone ask a companion, "Why do we keep hiring British drunks to run everything?" I didn't volunteer an opinion, but the Washington Post has all the answers. — Rob
Cody Brown, developer of software that makes it easy to generate classy website news features
in the style of The New York Times' "Snow Fall"
, made a mistake: he used photos from that legendary web layout in a youtube demo. The NYT
sent a cease and desist letter, and he took it down. But then something strange happened: the NYT ordered him to remove all mention of the NYT from his own website
. — Rob
"At the close of 1998, there were 23 known weblogs on the Internet. A year later there were tens of thousands. What changed?
" [Mat Honan / Wired] — Rob