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
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
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 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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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
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
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
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, 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:
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[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.)
[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.
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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.
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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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
Medium, the oft-pivoting publisher and platform, recently introduced an alarmingly twee new metric: "claps". If you like an article, you can "clap" for it, or as one might like to say, "give it the clap." And now The Verge reports that they'll be paying writers on the basis of how many claps they get.
A couple weeks ago, Medium replaced its “recommend” feature — a little heart button at the end of each article — with a “clap” button that you can click as many times as you want (much like how Periscope lets you send broadcasters an infinite number of hearts). The site wants people to send authors claps to show how much they enjoy reading each article.
Now, those claps are actually going to mean something. Medium pays authors by dividing up every individual subscriber’s fee between the different articles they’ve read that month. But rather than doing an even division between articles, Medium will weight payments toward whichever articles a subscriber gives the most claps to. It’s not clear exactly how much each individual clap tips the scale, but you can be sure that writers will be asking readers to click that button.
It’s a pretty strange way to implement payments, since it relies on a really arbitrary metric that individual subscribers might use in really different and inconsistent ways.
Medium should introduce a negative counterpart to "clap" called "slap." Read the rest
Those praising social media for turfing out white supremacists (and those demanding free speech from it), are missing a deeper problem, writes John Herrman: that these commercial simulations of liberal public discourse are broken replicas of it, ultimately ruled by fiat.
But what gave these trolls power on platforms wasn’t just their willingness to act in bad faith and to break the rules and norms of their environment. It was their understanding that the rules and norms of platforms were self-serving and cynical in the first place. After all, these platforms draw arbitrary boundaries constantly and with much less controversy — against spammers, concerning profanity or in response to government demands.
Believing that private companies must embody or guarantee constitutional rights is one of the internet's worst mistakes. It's not about whether they say yes or no; the plain fact is they can't, even if they want to. They are never free of outside pressure or internal cunning. When we yabber at them to do this or that, we're forgetting that we're just speechcropping. The fact a handful of tech companies are becoming the only public square is a growing problem. Read the rest
It seems someone at the Wall Street Journal wasn't happy with how its interview with President Trump came out, because the raw transcript—revealing plenty of "meat left on the proverbial carcass"—ended up being published at a different venue.
In this case, that perception [of the Journal's obsequious smarm] will also be fed by the Journal’s decision not to release a more complete transcript. Plenty of reporters have declined to challenge Trump on each outrageous claim he makes. Others have shown a willingness to engage in small talk and stroke Trump’s ego. But their outlets have been largely transparent in reproducing those conversations for the record. By failing to follow the precedent set by other newsrooms, the Journal played into the narrative that it has taken a softer approach.
One thing the transcript exposes is how Trump's compulsive, obvious lies ("the leader of the Boy Scouts told him his jamboree speech was “the greatest speech ever made to them.”") are politely ignored despite being perfectly topical and worthy of fact-checking and reporting. Friendly media smooths over his endless bullshit, while adversarial media takes it at face value. All agree that the resulting circus is worth it, but don't care much to think whether it was worth it. Read the rest
Doug Fernandez, a newsreader at KOAT in Albuquerque, adapted quickly and efficiently to a technical problem patching in a reporter on location. Then he gave up. Read the rest
Piers Morgan is a British journalist, pundit and Trumpkin who blew his big break in America and now presents breakfast television when not being nasty to women on Twitter. Here he is on Good Morning Britain getting savagely owned by copresenter Susanna Reid.
And here's a supercut of Reidian microexpressions, as she endures day after day of Morgan's vacuous, rambling bullshit:
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