The British press used to be amazingly homophobic, and the backsliding has begun

Mediawatch was a column that ran in Britain's Gay Times for almost 25 years, with author Terry Sanderson cataloging coverage of LGBT issues by the mainstream press. The archives are being posted online in a blog format, and Buzzfeed published an interview and retrospective with Sanderson himself.

Poofters. Benders. Shirtlifters. Bumboys. Lezzies. This was how British tabloid headlines referred to gay men and lesbians in the 1980s — an echo of the taunts heard on the street before a beating. The stories beneath would expand on the pejoratives, justifying them with news of “sick”, “evil”, “predatory” gays — all arising from a presumption: that readers would agree.

The twist is that the readers didn't agree. The pervasive homophobia of British newspapers was increasingly out of step with the times, revealing more about the neurotic obsessions of Fleet Street creeps than the country at large. The open bigotry evaporated in the early 1990s as circulations began to decline and reality asserted itself.

But I must admit to being taken aback by just how homophobic they were. Sanderson chronicles not merely slurs and AIDS-baiting headlines, but calls for reprohibition, pogroms and executions--all delivered in the same blurting, jokey yet seething-angry tabloid cadence that foreshadows the reactionary right's approach to social media now.

One thing stood out to me in particular: an old quote from Garry Bushell, then a columnist in The Sun, remarking that Stalin had the right idea by getting rid of the poofs. By the time I hit my teens in the 1990s and started paying attention, such talk was not merely history, but forgotten: Bushell was a mainstream TV star by then, an award-winning critic, but I never saw a whisper of that talk. Read the rest

Reporters who quote ums and ahs only make themselves look bad

Here's an interesting example of how journalists sometimes use a version of the facts to support faleshoods. Check out the following, posted by Daily Mail reporter David Martosko, quoting a teenager on Trump's use of the racist "Pocahontas" slur.

At the Elizabeth Warren rally I asked a 17-year-old supporter who will vote next year to comment on Trump's "Pocahontas" nickname for the senator. This is a verbatim transcript of her answer.

"I think that it's really hypocritical because not only is he making fun of someone for like, something that she didn't really like, say, um, but I do feel like he says so many like, racial slurs against like, and she just like presents themselves to be like, so like negative towards like minorities and stuff like that, that the fact that he is mocking her and calling her Pocahontas when he does nothing for Native American rights is really freaking dumb.

What Martosko wanted to establish here was that the teen—and perhaps by implication young Warren supporters in general—is confused and foolish. He did this by including all the ums and ahs of speech, filler terms such as "like", and extraneous commas.

Most people saw this "verbatim" text for what it was, and Martosko was thoroughly ratioed by readers.

But what, like, is going here?

The fact is that most of us talk just as the teen did, when challenged to speak extemporaneously. This can be true of even polished and well-prepared speakers. Listen to politicans and pundits on cable news panels, with an ear for the fillers, and you might be surprised. Read the rest

The chumbox's favorite vegetable-hating doctor tracked down

The chumbox — the weird clickbaity news "recommendations" hanging under blog posts and news stories across the web — so often cites a mysterious "gut doctor" that Vox's Kaitlyn Tiffany tracked him down. THROW OUT THIS VEGETABLE NOW.

The gut doctor, to me, is elusive. I have refreshed every website he has been seen on dozens of times, and for me, he will not materialize. Yet, luckily, all of these screenshots contain a visible link to a website for a company called United Naturals. Here, I am greeted by the smiling face of Dr. Vincent Pedre, whose bio describes him as “a Certified Medical Doctor, a Functional Medicine Certified Practitioner, and Chief Wellness Officer at United Naturals.” He apparently went to my alma mater for his undergraduate degree. (Go Big Red! Also: Oh, no!) He then attended the University of Miami for medical school, before founding Pedre Integrative Health, “where he takes a largely holistic approach to medicine.”

Following below is my favorite variant of the "throw out this vegetable" ad, as the vegetable in question is clearly the God Emperor of Dune at the point of His death, glistening sandtrout exploding from His appalling body, joining Hwi Noree in the banquet of the Gods.

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The problem with all the mistakes in Jill Abramson's book on journalism is you'll never know who wrote them

Jill Abramson, the former executive editor of the New York Times, has a book out about journalism, ethics and truth. Unfortunately, many paragraphs turned out to be plagiarized from other writers. To the seemingly oblivious Abramson, it seems incomprehensible that this might be a problem. To her publishers, the vast sunk costs involved (it paid about $1m for the copied-and-pasted hackintome) have forced them to pretend that it isn't.

And then there's the errors. Even before it was out, reviewers noticed problems ranging from major cities situated in the wrong states to insulting factual flubs about the young journalists Abramson thinks she's schooling.

And now this, spotted by Chris Krewson:

CPM refers to cost per mille, a measure used in advertising, and makes no sense as written here. In any case, it certainly was not a term devised by Nick Denton to calculate traffic bonuses.

"The lack of understanding about digital is stunning," Krewson writes.

Ah, but whose lack of understanding about digital?

The problem with all the mistakes in Jill Abramson's book on journalism is you'll never know who made them. It's the paradox of plagiarism: all discussion that depends on authorship, intent, context -- all of it becomes pointless. You can't very well blame Abramson for someone else's mistake, can you?1

Her book supposedly honors the traditions of 20th century journalism but has become a gravestone marking their death. The corpses will now be fucked by social media companies, billionaires and fascists until there's nothing left to fuck but the cold stone where they lay. Read the rest

Internet mostly fake now

When bots finally accounted for half the traffic on the internet, Media Experts speculated that algorithms would start identifying bots as a better advertising target than humans. Max Read points out that fear of "Inversion" is now quaint. Now everything is so fake online that no-one trusts numbers at all.

In the future, when I look back from the high-tech gamer jail in which President PewDiePie will have imprisoned me, I will remember 2018 as the year the internet passed the Inversion, not in some strict numerical sense, since bots already outnumber humans online more years than not, but in the perceptual sense. Everything that once seemed definitively and unquestionably real now seems slightly fake; everything that once seemed slightly fake now has the power and presence of the real. The “fakeness” of the post-Inversion internet is less a calculable falsehood and more a particular quality of experience — the uncanny sense that what you encounter online is not “real” but is also undeniably not “fake,” and indeed may be both at once, or in succession, as you turn it over in your head.

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The media "blowing it again" in last days of election, but "not as badly" as last time

Former New York Times ombudsman Margaret Sullivan can't believe the media is making the same mistakes it made in the run up to the 2016 election: "Too many journalists allow Trump to lead them around by the nose, which is why you’ve heard so very much about that migrant caravan in recent weeks."

With the president as their de facto assignment editor, too many seem to respond “how high?” when Trump says jump.

Wide-eyed coverage of his politically driven pet issues — primarily the supposed horrors of immigration — has dominated the past few weeks of news, with a fixation on the refugees coming north through Mexico. ... Journalists too often parrot what the president says, and giddily follow his shiny-object distractions du jour.

Singled out for brutal criticism are Axios's Jonathan Swan, The Hill, Fox News and other usual suspects who breathlessly convey Trump's wisdom without skepticism or journalistic acumen. But she also praises other outlets for getting over their squeamish indifference to lies and reporting them as such, and for the trend of sucessfully ignoring vacuous Trumpspeak.

I made a picture for you (above) for use later this week on social media, when it really starts to sink in. Read the rest

Food magazine editor resigns after joking about "killing vegans, one by one".

William Sitwell, editor of UK grocery chain Waitrose's in-house magazine, has resigned after calling for the killing of vegans. He was responding sarcastically to a pitch from freelance writer Selene Nelson, and Nelson collapsed his context.

Nelson, who writes about food and travel, had suggested ideas on "healthy, eco-friendly meals" as "popularity of the movement is likely to continue to skyrocket".

Sitwell had emailed back 10 minutes later, saying: "Thanks for this. How about a series on killing vegans, one by one. Ways to trap them? How to interrogate them properly? Expose their hypocrisy? Force-feed them meat?" He also suggested making them eat steak and drink red wine, with Nelson responding: "I'm certainly interested in exploring why just the mention of veganism seems to make some people so hostile".

Waitrose is a very British institution: superficially upscale but with plenty of cheap stuff lurking in the aisles to help middle-class snobs keep up appearances.

It's no wonder an editor of its food magazine would let slip some jocular contempt for specialized cuisine or minority tastes – or that he'd have no idea that he is in fact the easy meat. Read the rest

How cable TV news reports on viral videos

I hope that Gus Johnson's deconstruction of how cable TV news covers viral videos will itself be reported upon in this style by cable TV news.

Take any excuse to watch Charlie Brooker's deconsctruction of a similar TV news segment formula from the UK:

Have you ever wondered Why Do Reporters Talk Like That? It's the modern version of the classic unplaceable elite accent. The superficial qualities change with time and locale, but the underlying focus on structural clarity, cadence and diction are timeless and international.

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The New Yorker editor's excuse for inviting Steve Bannon to headline its festival works for every New Yorker cartoon

The New Yorker invited white supremacist sponge Steve Bannon to headline its festival. The magazine is famous for its cartoons' caption competitions, but it was discovered not so long ago that the phrase "Christ, what an asshole" perfectly captions all of them.

I propose that editor David Remnick's excuse for inviting Bannon — "I have every intention of asking him difficult questions and engaging in a serious and even combative conversation" — is even better.

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New York Times removes reporters' bylines from homepage

They're still on the stories' own URLs, but are gone from the homepage. Eric Lipton, an investigative reporter at the Times, points out: "But names of OP-ED writers still there."

Readers want to know who is behind a story before they commit to reading it, and this prevents it from happening. Current controversies over the Times' peaky opinion page, its chummy coverage of the far-right and its tendency to be steered by conservative anger are all becoming more personalized by obsessive readers. So it's inevitable that it will appear to be about certain individuals in some vague, paranoid way. Read the rest

The Atlantic explains why it hired a columnist who wants a quarter of American women put to death

Last week, The Atlantic hired Kevin Williamson, a conservative famous for his flamboyant bigotry, a flair most famously exhibited when he wrote that women who have abortions should be hanged along with their nurses and doctors.

Online outrage was immediate, drawing attention to his other greatest hits: transgender women commit genital mutilation and are “effigies” of women; rape accusers should be publicly named; the poor are lazy and their communities should be abandoned; and a comically fabulated account of meeting a black child he compared to a primate and described as "three fifths" of a Snoop Dog. The Atlantic itself described him as "gratuitously nasty" way back in the mists of 2016.

"These are not views one would typically associate with the Atlantic," wrote Jordan Weissman at Slate. Sarah Jones, at The New Republic, wrote that it marks the mainstreaming of the reactionary right.

What I noticed, though, was the general assumption that The Atlantic's current brass simply didn't know about the things he'd written. Williamson deleted his Twitter account, after all, as if to hide his past from his new editors. (Compare to the New York Times, which recently hired a columnist only to fire her hours later over tweets it claimed it had never seen.)

But I had a hunch: I thought (and said as much) that Williamson was hired explicitly because of what he had written about women, black kids and the poor. To well-off center-leaning liberals, Williamson is the perfect post-Trump conservative: superficially literary, ostentatiously nasty, profoundly disgusted by the weak, yet (and this is super-duper important) opposed to the current president. Read the rest

My RSS feeds from a decade ago, a snapshot of gadget blogging when that was a thing

I chanced upon an ancient backup of my RSS feed subscriptions, a cold hard stone of data from my time at Wired in the mid-2000s. The last-modified date on the file is December 2007. I wiped my feeds upon coming to Boing Boing thenabouts: a fresh start and a new perspective.

What I found, over 212 mostly-defunct sites, is a time capsule of web culture from a bygone age—albeit one tailored to the professional purpose of cranking out blog posts about consumer electronics a decade ago. It's not a picture of a wonderful time before all the horrors of Facebook and Twitter set in. This place is not a place of honor. No highly-esteemed deed is commemorated here. But perhaps some of you might like a quick tour, all the same. Read the rest

Nazi blog style guide

Neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer was recently pushed off the web by domain registrars, but can supposedly still be found as a hidden service. And would you know that it has a 17-page style guide? They pay $14.88 a post.

The site’s stylistic decisions, the subjects it covers, the specific racial slurs it employs — all are consciously chosen for the purpose of furthering The Daily Stormer’s ultimate goal, which, according to the style guide itself, is “to spread the message of nationalism and anti-Semitism to the masses.” Everything is deliberate.

The guide is particularly interested in ways to lend the site’s hyperbolic racial invective a facade of credibility and good faith. Or at the very least, in how to confuse its readers to the point where they can’t tell the difference. The Daily Stormer, for instance, uses block quotes for much the same reason Richard Spencer stuffs himself into vests

Here's some tips on encoding incitements to violence as "joking."

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Breitbart plotted to ruin Twitter, emails show

Breitbart, Steve Bannon and co. mused often about destroying Twitter, reports Buzzfeed, exploring financial and legal options to bring the site to heel and Jack Dorsey to his knees.

On Jan. 15, Yiannopoulos sent a peace offering to Twitter — a cordial email to Jack Dorsey asking for his verification to be restored in exchange for a detente. A screenshot of an email tracker Yiannopoulos used registered that the email was opened 111 times.

But Dorsey never responded.

And so the “#war,” as Bannon called it, carried on.

Begging is not a position of strength. But Twitter ignoring the alt right and its fellow travelers still had consequences.

This is hilarious, though:

[Chuck] Johnson didn’t just short Twitter from behind the scenes. He had helped create a Twitter account @shortthebird in July 2015 and organized a campaign to put stickers and posters up around the company’s San Francisco headquarters with the hashtag #shorttwitter. (The hashtag never really took off, however, as it was simultaneously being employed by Twitter users to joke about their physical stature.)

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Forbes removed article critical of Google after it asked nastily

[UPDATE 9/1/17 1:50pm PT: Read this email from Google’s vice president of global communications, Rob Shilkin, to Hill, which is at the bottom of the Gizmodo article. In the email, Shilkin tells Hill that Google "had nothing to do with removing the article from the cache...we couldn’t and wouldn’t engage in this type of behavior - never have, never will."]

Google's influence at a supposedly independent think tank it funds was exposed this week when staffers critical of the company were fired. But Kashmir Hill reports that there's nothing new about Google's ruthless treatment of critics in the press.

...I was pressured to unpublish a critical piece about Google’s monopolistic practices after the company got upset about it. In my case, the post stayed unpublished.

After joining Forbes as a writer, she learned from a meeting with Google salespeople that sites refusing to add the Google Plus +1 buttons to their sites would "suffer" in search results.

After the meeting, I approached Google’s public relations team ...The press office confirmed it, though they preferred to say the Plus button “influences the ranking.” They didn’t deny what their sales people told me: If you don’t feature the +1 button, your stories will be harder to find with Google. ...

Google never challenged the accuracy of the reporting. Instead, a Google spokesperson told me that I needed to unpublish the story because the meeting had been confidential, and the information discussed there had been subject to a non-disclosure agreement between Google and Forbes.

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Martin Shkreli bought a domain with my name in it

You can find me at beschizza.com, but Martin Shkreli registered "robbeschizza.com" as part of what seems to be a quixotic effort to bother people who write about him. Cyrus Farivar reports that I'm in his Godaddy grab bag.

Shkreli has been offering to sell at least one of the domain names back to the reporters for thousands of dollars. In a public Facebook post, Shrkreli has offered to sell Emily Saul of the New York Post her domain for $12,000. She declined to comment further on the incident.

Robbeschizza.com was registered the same day I linked to a Business Insider story about his initial round of reporter-name domain registrations. Perhaps he just has a bad sense of humor! I wonder if he'll post anything silly there.

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A website that only works offline

Enjoy this website that works only in airplane mode or when no network can otherwise be found: "You must go offline to view this page".

Do you want to be productive? Just go offline.

I'm one of those people who spends an hour on a flight getting annoyed at how slow and broken the internet is, finally gives up, then enjoys actually reading and working on my computer. Read the rest

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