Tag Archives: Media

My Favorite Response to Nicholas Carr

At least, so far:

What is the four-sided Mind of which Nick Carr speaks — this imaginative, rational, inventive, subversive angel striding through the ages, showering the generations with its beneficence? Who is this promethean shapeshifter, whom we’re now in our churlishness binding to some rock for the crows to feast on its innards? What Carr is describing isn’t a historical reality — it’s a god. And it does not exist.

Reading isn’t just a monkish pursuit: Matthew Battles on The Shallows

Dave Weigel Roundup

Rothstein also noted in a post that “If you’re a reporter, you’re supposed to be objective. We shouldn’t know if he voted for Ron Paul, President Obama or David Hasselhoff. If you’re going to be reporting on any political movement, you are supposed to take an unbiased position.” This is how a smear campaign starts, with an argument that in principle, [ostensibly] sounds correct, but really is, at its core, ill-informed, ignorant, and sensational. —Foster Kamer

I’ve been reading about the Dave Weigel thing all morning, only because I couldn’t get away from work long enough to focus on it yesterday. Wow. Village Voice blogger Foster Kamer sums it up nicely and has all the pertinent links. It’s a tawdry tale of true believers being angry that someone who knows a lot about them and can see them so clearly, hacks who fantasize about being take-down artists suddenly discovering the value of “journalistic principles,” and, in the end, a really great demonstration of something Jay Rosen has been blogging about heavily lately: the ideology of news reporting gives priority to ritualistic theatre above accuracy, transparency, and fairness.

Dave Weigel’s Twitter stream

Update June 27: Nate Silver weighs in on the bizarrely unrealistic central issue here:

Is the expectation really that journalists aren’t allowed to develop opinions about the subjects they cover, even if those opinions are expressed only in private? We have a name for people who are so indifferent about society: we call them sociopaths. Or is the expectation that journalists are allowed to have opinions, provided that they keep them secret?

Also of note, the very sensible observation that the ‘blog ethos’ of frankly including point of view “is just magazine-journalism ethos with the addition of cat pictures”. This approach is immeasurably richer than the fake-objectivity approach of newspapers because, as Jim Henley continues, “The writer will make sure to include a substantial account of challenges to her perspective, if only to knock it down later.”

The Leroy Stick

I am a big fan of BPGlobalPR.


It sprang to life on May 19th with a quiet message: “We regretfully admit that something has happened off of the Gulf Coast. More to come.” It’s been faithfully maintained since, and the writer has been invited to give PR advice to readers of the Guardian:

6. Be willing to laugh at yourself! After I spilled a salad on my lap, I immediately tweeted about it.

@BPGlobalPR: Eating at a very expensive restaurant and spilled salad dressing on my pants. Not sure how to tackle this.

And now the writer has given an interview in a substantially more serious vein:

Do you want to know what BP should do about me? Do you want to know what their PR strategy should be? They should fire everyone in their joke of a PR department, starting with all-star Anne Womack-Kolto[n] and focus on actually fixing the problems at hand. Honestly, Cheney’s publicist? That’s too easy.

I can’t help but admire BP for hiring Cheney’s publicist, though, I have to admit. But then, that is exactly the kind of sensitive and responsible approach we can expect from a company whose CEO claimed its oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was “relatively tiny” compared with the “very big ocean”.

Yessir. Heckuva glob, BP.

48 Hour Magazine Available Now


I know some wonderfully creative people who really know how to get stuff done. Over the weekend, I volunteered some time to help them produce 48 Hour Magazine, and it’s already available at MagCloud. It was a crazy idea and a wonderful thing to be involved with – and I can’t wait til the next one!

Update: CBS has issued a cease-and-desist letter claiming infringement on “48 Hours.” Mat Honan is collecting information about the process and the coverage.

Update June 15: State of the case, with links to other recent coverage

Complexity Is Alive and Well

Clay Shirky’s essay, The Collapse of Complex Business Models, has been making the rounds. I was turned off early by a breezy comparison of large companies to sclerotic ancient civilizations, but he really lost me at

The most watched minute of video made in the last five years shows baby Charlie biting his brother’s finger. (Twice!) That minute has been watched by more people than the viewership of American Idol, Dancing With The Stars, and the Superbowl combined. (174 million views and counting.)

But that’s not true, as a 30-second Google search reveals. At the most charitable estimate, it’s neck and neck with a Lady Gaga video. Since Lady Gaga came to prominence about 8 minutes ago, and the Charlie video has been online for 3 years, I don’t find this claim compelling. (Yes, I get the Web-vs-TV point—I’m not even bothering to look up those numbers—but the argument is also about simplicity vs high production values.)

But whatever. Shirky gets lots of attention and consulting gigs and book deals and so on, so obviously he’s reaching audiences very effectively. I have a full-time day job, and I’m trying to stay faithful to my goal of taking at least one good picture of an animal every day this month (doing well!), so I left it at that.

And then a friend shared a link to Wikibollocks: The Shirky Rules, by Tom Slee. It goes into some detail about this recent essay, adds considerable depth to my main loss of connection with it, and compares it to other work by Shirky.

Then again, that Shirky article was posted on April 1. Should I be embarrassed right now?

Update June 2010: Another article critical of Shirky’s methodology


… internal marketing. I don’t know how effective it will be at anything other than impressing other people in the industry, though.

This video was prepared by the UK branch of Dorling Kindersley Books. Originally meant solely for a DK sales conference, the video was such a hit internally that it is now being shared externally.

Of course, everything really clever has already been done:

The second-place in AARP “U@50” contest, in 2007, itself explicitly inspired by an award-winning ad made in Argentina for candidate Lopez Murphy.

Back to the Age of Muckraking?

Darren Barefoot talks a little about the difference between citizen journalists and beat or investigative reporters, and suggests a couple of methods that can be used right now to mitigate the risks of losing those supported roles:

We’re covering stories. But how often are we uncovering them? […]

  • There are examples of an emerging kind of citizen statistician, who uses access to open governmental data to uncover political or corporate malfeasance.
  • Another solution is to divide the work of one journalist among 15 citizen journalists, and have each of them attend four town hall meetings a year. Collaborative tools make this approach possible if challenging.

The more I think about it, the investigative citizen journalists of the 21st century are the activists of the 20th. They care enough about a particular topic to dig into it with enough effort and fervor to uncover new truths.

Citizen Journalism: Covering and Uncovering the News

Fair Use Online

Journalist and, now, Journalism PhD CW Anderson thinks about how the fair-use test could expand moving from a mostly print environment to an online environment. (See the Wikipedia breakdown of the current fair-use test at in its section on fair use under US law.

The major difference today is that an “appropriating work” can do more than just tell you where it got the information: it can actually link you directly to it, thereby explicitly increasing the audience for the original work. This doesn’t make people feel any better, it turns out. As Ian Shapira notes, in an article discussing a Gawker post that distilled a story of his, “Would the average visitor have clicked on the link to read the whole story? I probably wouldn’t have.” I did, but then I’m older than Shapira.

Anderson is jumping off from the AP’s plan to use beacons to track repurposing of their content, but I encountered it in a Nieman Journalism Lab article analyzing the Shapira story according to the 4 fair-use criteria.

Anderson is trying to spotlight the online ease of funneling traffic to source, but he is sidestepping some of the revenue concerns here. The AP and major metro newspapers aren’t facing the same kind of revenue-source problems, for one thing. The AP sells access to its work to venues that put it in front of the eyes of readers, so it has good reason to treat Google as a newspaper rather than just an indexer, or try to get into the ad-supported news or aggregation business itself. Or any number of things – Google is a direct threat to AP. Newspapers like the Washington Post are already bringing eyes to pages on which they sell advertising, so they can potentially treat sites like Gawker as a promotional venue – as long as they can make their websites sticky and surfable for people who get referred to them, or at least make sure they are extremely visible as the kind of hardworking, careful-reporting sources that Gawker neither could nor wants to be.