Category: Blogging

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Responsible Reporting Section 1 ‘News in Context’: Chapters V and VI

The fourth installment in the serialization of my ebook Responsible Reporting: Field Guide for Bloggers, Journalists, and Other Online News Gatherers continues the assault on Google, which provides a necessary utility that benefits all news organizations; they sacrifice content and revenue for the privilege.

Last week, Chapters 3 and 4 focused on the broken advertising-driven model in context of Google’s greater ambitions. The previous two, and the Foreward, explain what changed since 2006 and why the Fourth Estate is in crisis. 

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Responsible Reporting Section 1 ‘News in Context’: Chapters III and IV

One thing has changed in the 13 months since the following book excerpt was written: Google loosened some of its services and software cross-integration, presumably in response to antitrust problems in Europe. The company is in the process of divesting some Google+ assets, for example. But in other respects, integration is tight as ever, particularly around mobile, which in 2015 dominates U.S. Google search—and nine other countries, including Japan.

That introduction is important context for reading today’s serialization of my ebook Responsible Reporting: Field Guide for Bloggers, Journalists, and Other Online News Gatherers. The third and fourth chapters carry forward an incredibly important, but often misunderstood, theme: The Google economy’s devastating impact on news gathering, and eroding ethical standards around it. I am not anti-Google, being myself a huge consumer of the company’s services. Nevertheless, criticism stands.

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Responsible Reporting Section 1 ‘News in Context’: Chapters I and II

My ebook Responsible Reporting: Field Guide for Bloggers, Journalists, and Other Online News Gatherers is divided into three sections. The first, “News in Context”, is a state of the online news industry. The second, “The Five Journalisms”, examines five categories of news gathering most relevant to the age of context. The last, “What You Must Do”, applies concepts from the other two to present guidelines for responsible reporting.

In this second installment, I present two chapters from the first section. Opener “In Just Eight Years” is in part adapted from my June 2009 analysis “Iran and the Internet Democracy“, which is a provocative lens for looking back to look forward at the state of the news industry. 

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Brief Moment of Reflection

Six years ago today, Ziff Davis Enterprise and I parted ways. My earning power has never been the same, in part because of the circumstances affecting my profession, undesirable San Diego, Calif. location, and age (mid-50s, gulp). At the time, I wrote two blogs: Microsoft Watch, which I inherited from the esteemed Mary Jo Foley, and Apple Watch, which I created. Got to wonder: What kind of legal issues would there be if the second blog continued today in context of the Apple smartwatch and the company’s well-publicized tactics for extinguishing anything brand offending.

ZDE laid me off with offer to stay on, in different capacity and 36-percent pay cut. I declined and only occasionally regretted the decision. Groveling commands no respect and is no position from which to advance. My role would be nothing more than a journalist past his prime meeting a 5-story a day quota that would require the kind of news writing that pollutes the web today. The Google free economy is not a sustainable source of revenue for most news sites—more so for those with niche audiences. 

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Responsible Reporting: Foreward

Today begins the serialization of my ebook Responsible Reporting: Field Guide for Bloggers, Journalists, and Other Online News Gatherers before its release into the public domain. I did similarly with Comic-Con Heroes: The Fans Who Make the Greatest Show on Earth. That book goes into the public domain on May 7, after my exclusive distribution commitment with Amazon ends.

Responsible Reporting was a labor of love. My profession is in a dramatic state of transition. I sought to provide a realistic treatise for the new journalism. New it is, steeped in ethical quagmire. I hoped to provide reasonable guidelines that accept how things are, rather than cling to how things were. 

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‘Trust is the Currency of the Sharing Economy’

Some days you wake up and wonder. As part of my morning routine, reading email and recent posts to my social networks and from RSS feeds is the first activity after greeting my wife. “The Risk Of Reviewing The Reviewer“, which actually published yesterday, riveted my early-day attention. For TechCrunch, Aimee Millwood writes something everyone, particularly bloggers and journalists, should read. You aren’t her intended audience, but you should be.

The headline to this post is among her key quotables and resonates with a point that I repeatedly make here on this site and emphasize in my ebook Responsible Reporting: Field Guide for Bloggers, Journalists, and Other Online News Gatherers: While inexplicably intertwined, trust trumps truth. The pursuit of truth isn’t your first ethical objective but establishing and maintaining trust with your audience—and, yes, this concept contradicts traditional journalism teaching. But it doesn’t, since truth ties to trust. 

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The Verge on Apple Watch

I am impressed with The Verge’s magazine-like presentation for the web, and the Apple Watch review is exceptional example. Presentation in PC browser or either of my Androids, Nexus 6 or 9, freshly flows from graphics to text overlay to paragraphs of experiential writing. Format, using the device during one day and fine touch of battery icon and time per major graphic, beautifully fits content and context.

Last month’s NeimanLab post “This is my next step: How The Verge wants to grow beyond tech blogging” spotlights changes ahead. “What The Verge has been doing the past six months, and will be doing for the next six, is turning itself into a site that covers pop culture, science, and even cars with the same voice they’ve trained on the world of technology”, NeimanLab assistant editor Justin Ellis explains. The Apple Watch review, posted today with a scad of others, illuminates transition underway. What impresses is writer Nilay Patel’s apparent honesty about the device’s benefits and shortcomings. 

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Google, Love You, Love You Not, Love…

As a working journalist, I am conflicted about Google. In my ebook Responsible Reporting: Field Guide for Bloggers, Journalists, and Other Online News Gatherers, I call the company a “leech that feeds off the intellectual property of legitimate content producers” and rail on the Google free economy’s negative impact on the Fourth Estate. That said, I am a huge consumer of the company’s products and services, which enable me to better do my job and that empower my life.

Something else: A decade ago (yes, 2005), I identified “Search as the New User Interface“—and it has proved to be for a generation of computer users. The UI, particularly from Google, helps to democratize content, and so doing empowers (there’s that “e” word again) everyone. But search also encourages content piracy. Philosophically, I strongly believe in information for all. Economically, I want to earn a living from writing, which is much more difficult in 2015 than 2005.

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Google, FTC, and Advocacy Journalism That Stinks Like Landfill

Mac apologist Daniel Eran Dilger posted one of his lopsided-advocacy stories around 8:30 p.m. PDT last night; I saw the ridiculous headline, “Google News buries news of Google’s FTC investigation under Daniel Lyons fluff”, about two hours later, when scanning my RSS feeds. The story within is even worse. Don’t bother rewarding the author with pageviews. Notice I don’t link to the story. (Since we have two Daniels here and out of friendliness I use first names, I choose for this story to refer to Mr. Dilger as DED.)

Here’s the quick recap: DED refers to a Daniel Lyons opinion that ran in an ongoing Washington Post series. I happened to see it last night: “Five myths about Google“. I could have picked better myths, but these aren’t bad. The Post story is dateline March 20, 2015. The previous night, the Wall Street Journal blew out a big scoop regarding the Federal Trade Commission antitrust investigation into Google that closed in January 2013, finding no case. The Journal asserts cause championed by staff but ignored by Commissioners.  Blech! The WSJ report is suspicious as all bloody hell, as I explain in March 19 analysis: “What is Behind the Journal’s Big Google-FTC Scoop?” 

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Don’t Grub Gruber, Do Your Reporting!

Saturday night, I fumed after seeing more than 20 blogger news headlines repeating assertions made by Apple apologist John Gruber that the MacBook’s maker invented USB Type-C. Does no one independently confirm anymore? The rumor’s viral spread, when repeated often enough, will enter the Internet cultural lexicon of misinformation become truth.

Over at BetaNews, my colleague Mark Wilson rips into Gruber’s assertion. Between us—a phone call from me, and an email from Mark, coincidentally around the same time yesterday—we have comments from official body USB Implementers Forum that dispute the Apple invention claim. But, of course, confirmation can’t be true enough for the rumormongers because “informed little birdies”  told Gruber that USB-C is “an Apple invention and that they gave it to the standards bodies”. But, sssh, the company isn’t supposed to say, because of politics or something.

Whether or not Gruber is right—maybe he really has inside, hush-hush information—is immaterial. That so many blogs reported his statement as fact, without any further investigation, is the problem. Given Gruber’s longstanding unabashed Apple-loving ways, everything he claims about the company should be presumed propaganda until proven to be otherwise.

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Google pulls an Apple-Like Media Coup

Bias in the media is inevitable, and any news gatherer who denies this fact is a liar. Companies seek favor or to influence in countless ways. It’s the nature of the beast, which cannot be tamed. So I wonder how Chromebook Pixel embargoes impacted reporting about Apple’s newest laptop. If they did, as I’m convinced, Google pulled off one hell of a marketing coup.

The search and information giant provided many tech blogs and news sites with the new Pixel about a week before the laptop launched yesterday and the first reviews posted—that was also days before Apple’s well-publicized media event where a new MacBook was rumored. Both computers share something in common: USB Type-C, which is bleeding-edge tech. The connector received much media attention on Monday and Tuesday two ways: Buzz about it being the next great thing, and MacBook having but one port (Pixel has two, and others). 

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Goodbye Gigaom

Twice a day, my wife or I take meals to her 93 year-old dad, if he doesn’t want to eat out for lunch. I sat with the gent in his apartment early this evening reading to him about the day in history when a Twitter notification from Harry McCracken caught my attention: “Stunned to hear that Gigaom is no more, but also confident that its excellent staff will find good gigs elsewhere”. Say what?

It’s true, and not a prank as I first suspected. A pioneering tech blog—one of the few credibly news reporting—has ceased “all operations”. What looked like a normal day of posting, and with higher output given the Apple Watch event, was anything but. Maybe the backstory will make sense of today’s closure. For surely an operation with news, research, and events doesn’t evaporate suddenly. The greater concern is resurrection as something less, with menial staff, and focus on posting for pageviews.