Category: News Media

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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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Rolling Stone Story Undergoes Brutal Forensic Analysis

The symbolism is recognizable, but as what depends on the eventual outcome. Dateline April 5, 2015, Easter Sunday, “Rolling Stone and UVA: The Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism Report” posted to the magazine’s website. The holiday celebrates Jesus Christ’s resurrection, following crucifixion. The Washington Post and several other organizations crucified Rolling Stone in December 2014 for long-form news story “A Rape on Campus”. The exhaustive autopsy of the story’s reporting and publication is another another crucifixion, arriving on a day that celebrates resurrection, salvation. Will RS have the one by voluntarily inviting the other?

“A Rape on Campus” spotlights the alleged sexual assault of a University of Virginia student identified as Jackie. The investigative report paints a campus culture of acceptable assault without reproach or reprisal. But the veracity of Jackie’s account later collapsed. Rolling Stone sought outside examination, which by itself demonstrates just how strongly the magazine strives to report responsibly. 

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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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‘Really, Rupert?’ is the Right Question

Today, Rachel Whetstone, Google’s senior vice president of communications and policy, asks what has been on my mind since a stunning scoop set the Wall Street Journal against the Federal Trade Commission and the search and information giant. As I explained in an analysis of the news reporting, the story is flush with insinuation and veiled accusation, bereft of context.

Among my more serious concerns: Journal-parent News Corp’s ongoing tug-a-war with Google’s business model and its impact on paid content. Both entities likely would benefit by any means that trustbusters could crimp Google. The scoop’s timing and tone look like they intend to influence European Union public policy. Rachel’s response is brilliant, because it gets to the point: Conflict of interest taints the Journal’s credibility and impartiality. She rightly observes: “We understand you have a new found love of the regulatory process, especially in Europe”. 

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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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What is Behind the Journal’s Big Google-FTC Scoop?

Technology industry news scoops rarely offer as much intrigue as Wall Street Journal story “Inside the U.S. Antitrust Probe of Google“. According to reporters Brent Kendall, Brody Mullins, and Rolfe Winkler, the newspaper obtained a years-old Federal Trade Commission staff document, “after the agency inadvertently disclosed it as part of a Freedom of Information Act request”.

Seriously? Is that accidentally, or accidentally on purpose? Applying the question every journalist should ask about anything—Who benefits?—raises reasonable suspicion the release was deliberate. I say that because FTC staff recommended filing antitrust charges against Google, while Commissioners cleared the search and information in a unanimous vote, according to the Journal. The answer to the “Who benefits?” question likely lies in circumstances obvious and not: Intrigue in and around the agency, including staff dissatisfied with the outcome; timing with respect to Google; and competitor lobbying, manipulation, or interference. 

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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. 

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Generating Pageviews is Nothing Like Selling Newspapers

Responding to my post “Stop Paying Bloggers and Journalists for Pageviews“, someone asked me: “What’s the difference between pageviews and selling papers?” I answered: “They aren’t anything alike”, which garnered response: “Certainly the journalists who cause people to buy papers are kept around. So isn’t a PV like selling a paper?”

“Nothing like it”, I answered. Of course, the questioner asked “Why?” The answer could be a 20-point list, at the least. But I rat-tat-tatted some explanation, which I recap here. The comparison is the traditional news organization versus the typical blog. I may add to the list over time but start with five items. 

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Journalists, Don’t Mess with #TheDress

There is something important that every news gatherer should learn from the “Is that dress white and gold or blue and black?” debate. Simply stated: Perception is everything. Truth is an illusion.

Yesterday, two memes raged across the Internet—one because of the llama chase in Arizona, the other about the color of a dress. If I correctly understand the timeline, about which I could be mistaken: User Swiked posted the above cropped picture to Tumblr with question: “Guys please help me—is this dress white and gold, or blue and black? Me and my friends can’t agree and we are freaking the fuck out”. Obviously, those colors are strikingly different.