Tag: Responsibility

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Responsible Reporting Takes Time

I rarely go to Facebook, but my niece was in San Diego County for a few days, and checking up on her travels was a must. During the brief FB foray, a Newsfeed post nipped my attention. Erica Toelle asks: “Bloggers, how long does it take you to write a 1,000 word, well researched and well-written article? I realize ‘it depends’ but it’s usually longer than 4hrs, right? I’m working with under-documented technology and usually have to try it to understand how it works”.

The question is hugely relevant at a time when speed too often trumps accuracy—or accountability—and many writers must meet (often ridiculous) daily quotas. Then there is the controversy about so-called fake news.

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Journalism Matters

Over on Google+ today, Alex Hernandez reminisces on 2015’s closing by looking at content from years past. Among them: Dan Lyon’s February 2012 missive “Hit men, click whores, and paid apologists: Welcome to the Silicon Cesspool“. Hey, I vaguely remember that indictment of Silicon Valley journalism. Alex, who runs tech-news site Techaeris writes in response to the nearly four-year old story:  “I’m working really hard to not be a ‘Valley Press’ site—as Scott Wilson rants about often—and after reading this and a few other articles today, I may be reforming the way we approach things.

Jack Weisz mentions me in a comment, to which I responded and to another from Alex. While both responses reiterate principles posted to this site many times before, end-of-year reflection is good time to present them again. 

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Where No Values Have Gone Before

For more than two weeks I have kept open in a browser tab essay “How Star Trek Explains the Decline of Liberalism” by Timothy Sandefur. Someone shared the story in one of my social feeds in mid-September—and apologies for not recalling whom. I don’t agree with the title, set against the writing, but I do largely agree with the analysis about Star Trek’s reflection of our society over the course of 50 years.

I loved the original series, which aired in 1966. Much as I liked, and even imitated Spock, Kirk’s bravado and moralism rapt my attention. He acted rather than hesitated. Meanwhile, series creator Gene Roddenberry and his producers, directors, and writers used the storytelling as metaphors and allegories commenting on American society and its values. I aspired to be like James Tiberius Kirk: Do the right thing, for the greater good of all, regardless the risk. 

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Is This Apple’s 9-11 Respect?

Apple’s decision to start iPhone 6s and 6s Plus preorders on Saturday September 12 surprises me. Friday is typical, which lets the company tabulate an extra day into the weekend when reporting the number of preorders the following week. So you have to wonder why the change. I asked Apple PR, but there is yet no response yet.

In 2014, Apple announced iPhone 6 and 6 Plus also on September 9th, a Tuesday. Preorders began on Friday the 12th and sales one week later. In 2013, there was no preorder option for iPhone 5s, just straight sales starting Friday September 20th; announced the 10th. In 2012: Fridays September 14th for preorders; the 21st for sales. In 2011: again Fridays, October 7th preorders and October 14th sales. 

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Is It Perspective or Deception?

Yesterday, I started a discussion with a BetaNews commenter identified only as John. He responded to a story I posted here as “Apple Music Takes from Artists to Give to Subscribers“, which at BN followed another appearing on my site as “Apple Music Will Surely Succeed“. The cross-posting with different headline and art keeps with my December 2014 advice: “Writers, Own Your Content!” Comments funnel to BN, which is good for audience building there.

The commenter first accuses me of being a troll and then, based on my response, of being deceitful because of my writing style. You be the judge. I see the exchange as being hugely relevant to what should be good online journalism, and it may reflect two different and (hopefully) valid perspectives—reporter’s and reader’s—about what that should be. 

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Apple’s Moral Marketing Charade

Nine years ago, a NPR interviewer asked me about Google and other U.S. companies censoring search results in China. The question was one of morality—to which I gave an answer she didn’t expect. That response, or my recollection of it, is appropriate for rather ridiculous and self-serving statements that Apple CEO Tim Cook reportedly made three days ago.

“We believe that people have a fundamental right to privacy”, Tim Cook said, Matthew Panzarino reports for TechCrunch. “The American people demand it, the constitution demands it, morality demands it”. Oh? What is moral? The answer I gave NPR in 2006 applies: There is no moral high ground in business. The high ground is quagmire, because all public companies—Apple surely among them—share a single, moral objective: Make profits for stockholders. Plain, pure, and simple. 

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Shattered Dreams: When Apple Watch Falls From the Wrist

Saturday afternoon, new Apple Watch owner Ken Lecomte posted a frightening photo to Google+: His device with shattered screen. The spider-spray pattern is eerily familiar—one seen so many times—like an iPhone clumsily dropped to floor or pavement. The fruit-logo company boasts about the gadget being a wrist computer, but should it be as easily breakable as the other that customers carry?

I contacted him yesterday, and he shared his story, providing photos that also authenticate him as the watch’s owner. The problem with Ken’s story isn’t truthfulness but lies spun around it. Fanboyism is a cancer that spreads across any tale like his. Already, accusers flame his original post and others resharing it. Apple defenders are venomous. “I’ve been amazed with the amount of negativity”, he says. “It seems a lot of people just can’t believe that Apple could make a product that could break or have a design problem”.

Meanwhile, Apple critics call for label strapgate; there have been too many “gates” already. We don’t need another caustic moniker. In this toxic climate, legitimately aggrieved customers cannot easily step forward. The focus should be the device and whether there is a design flaw or owner error. 

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Perpetual Prosperity Psychology and the Housing Bubble

Something about the housing bubble narrative bugs me: Conspiracy. Evil bankers conspired to bilk Americans by financing home loans to people who could never pay, to then repackage bad mortgages as good investment products. While I lauded Matt Taibbi news analyses in 2010 and 2013 for exposing financial institution malfeasance, the blame game always seemed to ignore one other party’s culpability: Borrowers.

New research paper “Changes in Buyer Composition and the Expansion of Credit During the Boom” is a fascinating post-bubble autopsy. Its conclusions, if they survive the test, rewrite the bubble narrative, which revision makes more sense to me. 

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Who Should Get This Found Money?

Two days before Christmas, I sat in the local coffee shop waiting to meet someone who was late. Way late. Bored, I switched between cleaning crap mail out of my iPhone 6 inbox and watching patrons. Looking up from a text message, I spotted something green under a chair about 5 meters away. I walked over and picked up unexpected cash, and an amount someone surely would miss. What to do with it?

Found money is a blessing if you need it, but a curse to the loser. This particular WiFi-equipped barista bar, LeStat’s on Park, is popular with college students. I imagined some impoverished, scholarshiper losing the last of his or her Christmas cash, and I wanted to return it. But how? To whom? You can help answer the latter question, either here or on one of the social networks where I will link. This post is plea for advice. 

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News Culture of Fear

Over on Google+ today, Chris Sewell posted as an image of a tweet from New York Times columnist Nick Bilton. Nine days ago I wrote about fear, not contagion, being the real threat Ebola poses. Nick’s point is scary itself. Happy Halloween to you, too.

For the supposedly freest country in the world, fear enslaves America, and the news media helps forge the chains. How stupid is that? In the past 12 hours, I have seen two people in my neighborhood wearing full-face masks—the fleshy colored material used to wrap up an injured knee. The masks covered from below chin to eyes. That’s the culture of fear. 

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Use Drones to Fight Ebola

The world is at war. Ebola is the enemy. Not Islamic State. Not Russia, Israel, Palestine, the United States, or any other nation or peoples you would like to insert here. No country—pardon the word choice—is immune to Ebola. The disease doesn’t care about cultural, political, racial, or religious differences that divide people. The disease indiscriminately attacks everyone.

Ebola should unite us—a global community rallying against a common enemy. But the disease can, already does, divide us. Fear, not infection, is Ebola’s great weapon of mass destruction. In parts of West Africa, farmers abandon crops for fear of infection; yesterday, I heard a BBC radio report claiming as many as 40 percent of farms in some countries. Fear. Fear of infection will divide us unless we unite first. 

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It's Time to Fire Congress

Constitutionally, the American people have few options to immediately penalize their representatives in Congress who forced Federal shutdown and threaten the debt ceiling. Someone would want to. According to Gallup, Congress’ disapproval rating is 85 percent. An AP-GfK poll shows even greater dissatisfaction.

Public Policy Polling says that “Hemorrhoids, toenail fungus, dog poop, and cockroaches all might be a little bit gross, but they’re all more popular than Congress”. Sadly, however, Brett Logiurato, writing for Business Insider, is right. The low approval rating doesn’t matter. States elect individuals, whose ratings often are much higher, not the body electorate.