Posts tagged with ‘Slate’

Those revelations sparked fresh fury in media circles, where retracting a story is viewed as a serious blow to one’s journalistic credibility—and to do so without notifying readers is a cardinal sin. Retracting four thousand posts without telling anyone is simply unheard of. To many in the industry, it smacks of a disregard for journalism’s basic tenets of accountability. That apparent disregard is especially galling when it comes from an upstart that is raking in VC rounds and gobbling up top journalists from established outlets that are struggling to survive.

That’s Will Oremus, Slate’s Senior Tech Writer, on the discovery that over 4,000 BuzzFeed posts mysteriously disappeared this year.

Founder/CEO Jonah Peretti confirmed that this was true, as BuzzFeed embarked on a project to take down sub-par posts earlier this year. His caveat, however, was that this was no breach of journalistic integrity as BuzzFeed began as a tech company, not a media company.

Point is, they employ journalists, produce an increasing amount of original reporting and long-form journalism, and they’re not the only media company to have tech roots or projects. And when that’s the case, it’s not a good idea to delete content from one part of your site without comprising the integrity of the other, unless you find a way to be very transparent about it.

Related: BuzzFeed’s Jonah Peretti Goes Long (on Medium with Felix Salmon).

How Much Do You Know about the News?
The Nation recently sent out a Fox or Fiction News Quiz that asks viewers to guess which of a series of headlines are real Fox News headlines. The larger point is to establish themselves as a necessary force against what they see as ludicrous reporting from Fox and get people to support The Nation.
But setting that point aside, sometimes news quizzes are fun. And useful. Wading through continuous streams of information all day make weeks hard to separate sometimes. In the spirit of literacy and fun, Slate offers a weekly news quiz with Jeopardy champ Ken Jennings. The NY Times has a 5 question daily based on a given day’s paper. And, if you want to see how you compare to the rest of the nation by age, gender and education, take the Pew Research Center’s News IQ Quiz. 
Got any news quizzes you particularly like? Let us know. —Jihii
Image: A Fox headline from The Nation’s Fox or Fiction New Quiz. (Sorry, it’s an answer spoiler for one of the questions.)

How Much Do You Know about the News?

The Nation recently sent out a Fox or Fiction News Quiz that asks viewers to guess which of a series of headlines are real Fox News headlines. The larger point is to establish themselves as a necessary force against what they see as ludicrous reporting from Fox and get people to support The Nation.

But setting that point aside, sometimes news quizzes are fun. And useful. Wading through continuous streams of information all day make weeks hard to separate sometimes. In the spirit of literacy and fun, Slate offers a weekly news quiz with Jeopardy champ Ken Jennings. The NY Times has a 5 question daily based on a given day’s paper. And, if you want to see how you compare to the rest of the nation by age, gender and education, take the Pew Research Center’s News IQ Quiz

Got any news quizzes you particularly like? Let us know. —Jihii

Image: A Fox headline from The Nation’s Fox or Fiction New Quiz. (Sorry, it’s an answer spoiler for one of the questions.)

Six years into his rule, Obama’s position can appear confusing, even contradictory. Though the executive retains control of the country’s powerful intelligence service, capable of the extrajudicial execution of the regime’s opponents half a world away, the president’s efforts to govern domestically have been stymied in the legislature by an extremist rump faction of the main opposition party.

Josh Keaton, If It Happened There… the Government Shutdown, Slate.

FJP: First in a series in which American events are described using the tropes and tone normally employed by American media to report on events in other countries.

The Cartoon Color Wheel
Slate, Red Skull Is Red, Smurfette Is Blue.

The Cartoon Color Wheel

Slate, Red Skull Is Red, Smurfette Is Blue.

Ever Wonder How … the Internet is Changing Your Typing?
Take a look at your inbox and pay attention to the number of ellipses (“…”) in your personal emails. Notice a lot of them?
Slate’s Matthew J.X. Malady did, and wanted to understand this “ellipsis overkill.” It seems, he writes, to be an influence of the immediacy of communication technology on the written language. Now, written language mimics speech, not the other way around. From Malady’s talk with Clay Shirky:

“[M]uch of what is typed is for swift delivery and has more the character of speech, where whole, unbroken sentences are a rarity,” Shirky says. “Speech is instead characterized by continuous flow, with lots of pauses, repeats, false starts … and pauses to indicate changes in direction. We’re living in a moment a bit like Alexander the Great’s time, when he adopted the altogether remarkable habit (or so Plutarch reported) of reading silently. The relationship between the alphabet and talking was progressively broken as people learned to sound things out in their heads. Now we’re seeing a moment of reversal, where people are trying to use alphabets like we’re talking, and it’s … hard. So we reach for the ellipsis.”

See what he did there, with the … ellipses?
Other explanations posit that the ellipsis is merely a lazy man’s punctuation mark, a shortcut in simplifying complex conversation, or a tool for concise writing. Read the whole essay here, and watch your ellipsis footprint!
Related: Other tech-influenced linguistic trends, including "slash" as conjunction, gendered Tweeting behavior, and the rules of texting.
Image: Graphic from Slate

Ever Wonder How … the Internet is Changing Your Typing?

Take a look at your inbox and pay attention to the number of ellipses (“…”) in your personal emails. Notice a lot of them?

Slate’s Matthew J.X. Malady did, and wanted to understand this “ellipsis overkill.” It seems, he writes, to be an influence of the immediacy of communication technology on the written language. Now, written language mimics speech, not the other way around. From Malady’s talk with Clay Shirky:

“[M]uch of what is typed is for swift delivery and has more the character of speech, where whole, unbroken sentences are a rarity,” Shirky says. “Speech is instead characterized by continuous flow, with lots of pauses, repeats, false starts … and pauses to indicate changes in direction. We’re living in a moment a bit like Alexander the Great’s time, when he adopted the altogether remarkable habit (or so Plutarch reported) of reading silently. The relationship between the alphabet and talking was progressively broken as people learned to sound things out in their heads. Now we’re seeing a moment of reversal, where people are trying to use alphabets like we’re talking, and it’s … hard. So we reach for the ellipsis.”

See what he did there, with the … ellipses?

Other explanations posit that the ellipsis is merely a lazy man’s punctuation mark, a shortcut in simplifying complex conversation, or a tool for concise writing. Read the whole essay here, and watch your ellipsis footprint!

Related: Other tech-influenced linguistic trends, including "slash" as conjunction, gendered Tweeting behavior, and the rules of texting.

Image: Graphic from Slate

Transgender Children in California Can Choose Bathrooms and Teams Based on Gender Identity
According to The Associated Press, lawmakers in California approved a bill requiring public schools to allow transgender students to pick which bathrooms and which groups or teams they want to join based on their gender identity. Similar policies have been put into action in other school districts around the U.S., but this is the ”first time a state has mandated such treatment by statute.”
Via Mashable: 

A long debate preceded the 21-9 vote in the California State Senate, including one objection from a senator who suggested that the rules would allow mediocre male athletes to join female sports teams for competitive advantage.

FJP: Because even a mediocre male athlete is better than the best female on a sports team, apparently. (Insert growl here.) - Krissy
Image: Children celebrating Gay Pride in Durham Region Pride Parade, via Demotix

Transgender Children in California Can Choose Bathrooms and Teams Based on Gender Identity

According to The Associated Press, lawmakers in California approved a bill requiring public schools to allow transgender students to pick which bathrooms and which groups or teams they want to join based on their gender identity. Similar policies have been put into action in other school districts around the U.S., but this is the ”first time a state has mandated such treatment by statute.”

Via Mashable

A long debate preceded the 21-9 vote in the California State Senate, including one objection from a senator who suggested that the rules would allow mediocre male athletes to join female sports teams for competitive advantage.

FJP: Because even a mediocre male athlete is better than the best female on a sports team, apparently. (Insert growl here.) - Krissy

Image: Children celebrating Gay Pride in Durham Region Pride Parade, via Demotix

This American Life Celebrates 500th Episode
Once called the vanguard of a journalistic revolution by the American Journalism Review, This American Life aired its very first episode on July 5, 1995. Now in its 18th year, the weekly show entertains an audience of about 1.8 million with its thought-provoking programs. In a recent interview with Slate, founder and host Ira Glass reflected on the program’s evolution:


Over the last few years, we’ve gone from being a show that was almost entirely very personal stories to a show that is much more engaging the news. When the show started, the mission of the show was to apply the tools of journalism to stories so small and personal that journalists weren’t doing them. And occasionally, we would do something that would touch the news…But after 9/11, we became more interested in the news—the whole country became more interested in the news. And the show exists partly to follow what we as a staff are interested in.

For the 500th episode, the staff will talk about their favorite moments on This American Life. Glass praised the show’s experimental format, which he described as “flexible enough that we can to do whatever we want.”
It’s interesting to note that in an accompanying interview, Glass said he thinks of his interviews with guests as story plots:

Really what I’m thinking about is: “What is the story arc of this story? How do I get plot going and how can I get them to tell me the plot in a way that will work in on the radio?” So… I’ll go into the interview with a set of thoughts I have about their experience.

Bonus: You can catch the 500th episode and browse previous episodes stretching back to 1995 through This American Life’s archive. 
Image: viatvtropes

This American Life Celebrates 500th Episode

Once called the vanguard of a journalistic revolution by the American Journalism Review, This American Life aired its very first episode on July 5, 1995. Now in its 18th year, the weekly show entertains an audience of about 1.8 million with its thought-provoking programs. In a recent interview with Slate, founder and host Ira Glass reflected on the program’s evolution:

Over the last few years, we’ve gone from being a show that was almost entirely very personal stories to a show that is much more engaging the news. When the show started, the mission of the show was to apply the tools of journalism to stories so small and personal that journalists weren’t doing them. And occasionally, we would do something that would touch the news…But after 9/11, we became more interested in the news—the whole country became more interested in the news. And the show exists partly to follow what we as a staff are interested in.

For the 500th episode, the staff will talk about their favorite moments on This American Life. Glass praised the show’s experimental format, which he described as “flexible enough that we can to do whatever we want.”

It’s interesting to note that in an accompanying interview, Glass said he thinks of his interviews with guests as story plots:

Really what I’m thinking about is: “What is the story arc of this story? How do I get plot going and how can I get them to tell me the plot in a way that will work in on the radio?” So… I’ll go into the interview with a set of thoughts I have about their experience.

Bonus: You can catch the 500th episode and browse previous episodes stretching back to 1995 through This American Life’s archive

Image: viatvtropes

The Internet’s Effects on The Porn Industry
The popularity of porn is at an all-time high thanks to the Internet. Slate cites an estimate that says there are almost 25 million adult sites worldwide which make up 12 percent of all websites total. Daily Infographic reports that 28, 258 people are looking at Internet porn every second and 40 million Americans are regular adult website visitors. 
Aside from being a great distribution tool, the Internet also brings greater recognition to individual adult performers. Porn star couple James Deen and Stoya are what The Village Voice calls “The Jay-Z and Beyonce” of porn — and the two of them owe a lot of their fame to online activity. Net-followers refer to themselves as “Deenagers" and "Stoyanauts,” and they dedicate their time to tracking the couple’s every social media move (see Stoya’s Tumblr and James Deen’s Twitter.) Even established porn stars like Nina Hartley and Alexis Texas amp up their fame with their own websites dedicated exclusively to their individual work.
But even though porn popularity is at an all time high, profits are dippin’ low. 72-year-old porn actor, Dave Cummings, told The Huffington Post that piracy has “killed the industry.” Theo Sapoutzis, CEO and Chairman of Adult Video News (AVN), estimates that porn made $13 to $15 billion during its peak in the early 2000s, but now DVD sales have dropped by 50 percent since 2007 due to illegal uploads. (Note:”Estimates” is the keyword here. Because so many porn businesses are privately owned, it’s impossible to determine the exact gross income of the industry.)
FJP: Despite the blows to profits, the porn industry hasn’t totally deflated yet. Sherri Shaulis, an editor at AVN, says that video companies are now creating their own sex toys and lingerie to make up for losing money on DVD sales. Also, The Institute of Network Cultures notes that even though free porn sites make up 70-80 percent of adult content online, they usually function as “bait” to lure people to pay-to-watch, premium websites with better quality content.
So, people who want that classy, story-driven, Hollywood-lit coitus have to pay their dues. And hey, that’s fair. (And all is always fair… in love, and German Whore Fare.) - Krissy
Sort of Related: Speaking of premium pornographic material, artist, Jonathan Harris, created I Love Your Work, a clickable, interactive documentary on nine women who work in lesbian porn (here’s the trailer). The project is limited to 10 viewers per day and it costs $10 for 24 hours of access to six hours of material. In the FAQ section of the project’s website, Harris says he only allows 10 viewers per day because it’s “an experiment in delayed gratification.” He says that “Internet porn is abundant, and most websites attempt to accumulate as many viewers as possible. It seemed interesting to do the opposite.” Check it out. 
Image: 2Space.net

The Internet’s Effects on The Porn Industry

The popularity of porn is at an all-time high thanks to the Internet. Slate cites an estimate that says there are almost 25 million adult sites worldwide which make up 12 percent of all websites total. Daily Infographic reports that 28, 258 people are looking at Internet porn every second and 40 million Americans are regular adult website visitors. 

Aside from being a great distribution tool, the Internet also brings greater recognition to individual adult performers. Porn star couple James Deen and Stoya are what The Village Voice calls “The Jay-Z and Beyonce” of porn — and the two of them owe a lot of their fame to online activity. Net-followers refer to themselves as “Deenagers" and "Stoyanauts,” and they dedicate their time to tracking the couple’s every social media move (see Stoya’s Tumblr and James Deen’s Twitter.) Even established porn stars like Nina Hartley and Alexis Texas amp up their fame with their own websites dedicated exclusively to their individual work.

But even though porn popularity is at an all time high, profits are dippin’ low. 72-year-old porn actor, Dave Cummings, told The Huffington Post that piracy has “killed the industry.” Theo Sapoutzis, CEO and Chairman of Adult Video News (AVN), estimates that porn made $13 to $15 billion during its peak in the early 2000s, but now DVD sales have dropped by 50 percent since 2007 due to illegal uploads. (Note:”Estimates” is the keyword here. Because so many porn businesses are privately owned, it’s impossible to determine the exact gross income of the industry.)

FJP: Despite the blows to profits, the porn industry hasn’t totally deflated yet. Sherri Shaulis, an editor at AVN, says that video companies are now creating their own sex toys and lingerie to make up for losing money on DVD sales. Also, The Institute of Network Cultures notes that even though free porn sites make up 70-80 percent of adult content online, they usually function as “bait” to lure people to pay-to-watch, premium websites with better quality content.

So, people who want that classy, story-driven, Hollywood-lit coitus have to pay their dues. And hey, that’s fair. (And all is always fair… in love, and German Whore Fare.) - Krissy

Sort of Related: Speaking of premium pornographic material, artist, Jonathan Harris, created I Love Your Work, a clickable, interactive documentary on nine women who work in lesbian porn (here’s the trailer). The project is limited to 10 viewers per day and it costs $10 for 24 hours of access to six hours of material. In the FAQ section of the project’s website, Harris says he only allows 10 viewers per day because it’s “an experiment in delayed gratification.” He says that “Internet porn is abundant, and most websites attempt to accumulate as many viewers as possible. It seemed interesting to do the opposite.” Check it out. 

Image: 2Space.net

Banning Porn
According to Smithsonian, the desire to ban porn exists all over the world. The UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, wants all porn to be blocked from public spaces to maintain “clean Wifi.” There are websites exclusively dedicated to banishing porn in the U.S. And Iceland has even proposed to get rid of Internet porn altogether. 
Despite these efforts, The Economist points out that porn is impossible to eliminate from the Web. Algorithms can’t catch everything, which means to totally get rid of porn, humans would need to scour the Internet all day for inappropriate content. 
Slate writes that when Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer, was met with suggestions to restrict porn on Tumblr for the sake of Yahoo’s reputation, she refused. The “Not Safe For Work” (NSFW) tag that Tumblr already offers is sufficient enough at filtering pornography, and Mayer wants Tumblr to maintain the “richness and breadth of content” that it’s known for. 
And that richness and breadth is going to be hard to beat back. An infographic by Paintbottle shows that 70 percent of men and 30 percent of women watch porn — with the average viewer visiting porn sites 7.5 times per month for an average of 12 minutes at a time.
Smithsonian says that one of the driving forces behind this porn paranoia is that children are learning about sex through porn and not sex education classes. Parents are afraid of porn’s influence on minors who aren’t properly educated on intercourse.
Apparently, this concern isn’t without merit. Aside from kids accidentally stumbling upon porn while web-surfing, porn shows up in public places. In Slate’s Manners For The Digital Age podcast, a woman explains that a passenger had been watching porn on his portable DVD player in close proximity to herself, her daughter, and her young and impressionable granddaughter during their flight.
FJP: In an attempt to make porn more “appropriate,” L.A. County passed Measure B — a law forcing porn actors to use condoms in their scenes and to receive STD training before performing. The law also forces adult film producers to pay a fee for Department of Public Health inspections. 
So should your child stumble upon some pre-marital, raunchy, no-holds barred Internet sex, at least there will be a thin layer of latex to shield them from that silly strain of death-gonorrhea. - Krissy
Image: Found down in the NSFW, dirty depths of Tumblr. 

Banning Porn

According to Smithsonian, the desire to ban porn exists all over the world. The UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, wants all porn to be blocked from public spaces to maintain “clean Wifi.” There are websites exclusively dedicated to banishing porn in the U.S. And Iceland has even proposed to get rid of Internet porn altogether. 

Despite these efforts, The Economist points out that porn is impossible to eliminate from the Web. Algorithms can’t catch everything, which means to totally get rid of porn, humans would need to scour the Internet all day for inappropriate content. 

Slate writes that when Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer, was met with suggestions to restrict porn on Tumblr for the sake of Yahoo’s reputation, she refused. The “Not Safe For Work” (NSFW) tag that Tumblr already offers is sufficient enough at filtering pornography, and Mayer wants Tumblr to maintain the “richness and breadth of content” that it’s known for. 

And that richness and breadth is going to be hard to beat back. An infographic by Paintbottle shows that 70 percent of men and 30 percent of women watch porn — with the average viewer visiting porn sites 7.5 times per month for an average of 12 minutes at a time.

Smithsonian says that one of the driving forces behind this porn paranoia is that children are learning about sex through porn and not sex education classes. Parents are afraid of porn’s influence on minors who aren’t properly educated on intercourse.

Apparently, this concern isn’t without merit. Aside from kids accidentally stumbling upon porn while web-surfing, porn shows up in public places. In Slate’s Manners For The Digital Age podcast, a woman explains that a passenger had been watching porn on his portable DVD player in close proximity to herself, her daughter, and her young and impressionable granddaughter during their flight.

FJP: In an attempt to make porn more “appropriate,” L.A. County passed Measure B — a law forcing porn actors to use condoms in their scenes and to receive STD training before performing. The law also forces adult film producers to pay a fee for Department of Public Health inspections. 

So should your child stumble upon some pre-marital, raunchy, no-holds barred Internet sex, at least there will be a thin layer of latex to shield them from that silly strain of death-gonorrhea. - Krissy

Image: Found down in the NSFW, dirty depths of Tumblr

Image Management
Beyonce Knowles has banned press photographers from her ‘Mrs. Carter’ concert tour in an attempt to prevent unbecoming photos of herself from being used by the media. This appears to be a response to unflattering photos published by Gawker and Buzzfeed from the singer’s Superbowl performance.
Now, Beyonce’s personal photographer, Frank Micelotta, is the only one officially allowed to capture images of Beyonce during her concerts. The press is then given a link to an “official” website where they must register to download “approved” images.
In an article in Slate, Alyssa Rosenberg points out the quandary of celebrities censoring — or otherwise trying to completely control — their pictures:

"[Beyonce is] turning the media into a distribution machine for whatever message she wants to send, rather than accepting that others have the right to judge the tour, as a product she’s offering up."

FJP: Pop stars aren’t the only ones practicing the dark arts of image control.
Earlier this winter Politico published an article about the Washington press corps’ frustration with their access to the White House. Part of that criticism was the Obama administration’s use of social media to bypass them with images and information posted directly to the public.
For example, the White House Flickr gallery is made up of photographs by Pete Souza, the official Obama administration photographer. Souza captures and even stages pictures of the president — like Obama’s moment of silence photo op held in honor of the Boston bombings — and many of those images have been used by the news media.
Is it acceptable that politicians can craft their own image, but not celebrities? And how authentic can journalism be if everyone gets their images from one, tightly controlled source?
Sort of related: Attorney, Carolyn E. Wright, points out in  Slate’s Manners For The Digital Age podcast: if you’re in a publicly-accessible area, and you don’t have an expectation of privacy, you’re fair game to be photographed.
Famous people, beware: as long as the media have their will, they’ll get you on camera their way — be you Obama, or be you Beyonce. — Krissy
Image: Beyonce from the Super Bowl, via Pocket-Lint.

Image Management

Beyonce Knowles has banned press photographers from her ‘Mrs. Carter’ concert tour in an attempt to prevent unbecoming photos of herself from being used by the media. This appears to be a response to unflattering photos published by Gawker and Buzzfeed from the singer’s Superbowl performance.

Now, Beyonce’s personal photographer, Frank Micelotta, is the only one officially allowed to capture images of Beyonce during her concerts. The press is then given a link to an “official” website where they must register to download “approved” images.

In an article in Slate, Alyssa Rosenberg points out the quandary of celebrities censoring — or otherwise trying to completely control — their pictures:

"[Beyonce is] turning the media into a distribution machine for whatever message she wants to send, rather than accepting that others have the right to judge the tour, as a product she’s offering up."

FJP: Pop stars aren’t the only ones practicing the dark arts of image control.

Earlier this winter Politico published an article about the Washington press corps’ frustration with their access to the White House. Part of that criticism was the Obama administration’s use of social media to bypass them with images and information posted directly to the public.

For example, the White House Flickr gallery is made up of photographs by Pete Souza, the official Obama administration photographer. Souza captures and even stages pictures of the president — like Obama’s moment of silence photo op held in honor of the Boston bombings — and many of those images have been used by the news media.

Is it acceptable that politicians can craft their own image, but not celebrities? And how authentic can journalism be if everyone gets their images from one, tightly controlled source?

Sort of related: Attorney, Carolyn E. Wright, points out in Slate’s Manners For The Digital Age podcast: if you’re in a publicly-accessible area, and you don’t have an expectation of privacy, you’re fair game to be photographed.

Famous people, beware: as long as the media have their will, they’ll get you on camera their way — be you Obama, or be you Beyonce. — Krissy

Image: Beyonce from the Super Bowl, via Pocket-Lint.

So the next time you see a friend, or a child, spending too much of their day facing a screen, extend a hand and invite him back to the world of real social encounters. You’ll not only build up his health and empathic skills, but yours as well. Friends don’t let friends lose their capacity for humanity.

Barbara L. Fredrickson, professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina, The New York Times. Your Phone or Your Heart?

Via Slate:

Fredrickson poses a horrifying dilemma to the touch-screen generation: your phone or your heart. The more time we spend “bent over a digital screen, thumbing a connection to somewhere else,” Fredrickson argues, the more our biological ability to engage in “the world of real social encounters” withers away. In other words, with every <3 we type, we </3 a little inside.

Fredrickson came to this conclusion after conducting an experiment that tested how learning skills can affect a person’s capacity to connect with other humans. 

Via The New York Times:

Half the participants, chosen at random, attended a six-week workshop on an ancient mind-training practice known as metta, or “lovingkindness,” that teaches participants to develop more warmth and tenderness toward themselves and others.

Frederickson concluded that mediators felt more socially connected and that their vagal tone was “altered.”

(Vagal tone background info: Your brain and the vagus nerve are connected. The stronger your vagal tone, the stronger the connection between the vagus nerve and the brain — meaning your body can better regulate itself internally.)

Via Slate:

So people who engage in some new-age exercises enjoy some pretty trippy results. What does that have to do with your phone? Nothing, because Fredrickson didn’t enroll anyone in an iPhone-only lovingkindness regimen to compare vagal readings with the IRL set. She just assumes virtual communication is inherently less connected, friendly, and empathetic than the alternative. 

Even though Frederickson says technological communication is diminishing our capacity to “<3” each other in real life, she also notes that the human body and its behaviors are “far more plastic or amenable to change than most of us realize.”

If human potential is so plastic or amenable, then can we assume that our vagal tone could evolve to work with tech communication? According to Slate’s Amanda Hess, it already has.

Via Slate

The more we flex our thumbs, the more satisfying the emotional rewards. Just the other day, a wave of good feeling rolled through two brains and bodies at once as [my friend] Nathan and I traded jokes about op-ed writers with a scientifically unsupportable fetish for the IRL. If Fredrickson can’t see the human potential of the online friendship, maybe it’s because she hasn’t been looking hard enough. 

So, with such differing opinions and no real evidence that people become less or more empathetic with digital communication, whose side are we to take? Social media theorist, Nathan Jurgenson suggests: neither.

Via Society Pages:

I am proposing an alternative view that states that our reality is both technological and organic, both digital and physical, all at once. We are not crossing in and out of separate digital and physical realities, ala The Matrix, but instead live in one reality, one that is augmented by atoms and bits. And our selves are not separated across these two spheres as some dualistic “first” and “second” self, but is instead an augmented self. 

Healthy human communication can occur through digital communication AND face-to-face conversation. Yeah? Cool.

FJP: Some of my longest, deepest conversations have happened through a cell phone or an IM window. I’ve spent more than half of my 23 years communicating digitally rather than face to face. Oh my God — I knew I felt more apathetic and cyborg-ish than I did as a child. Now I know why. Now, step aside and allow me to destroy your humanity, one evil “LOL” at a time. — Krissy

For a long long time, Slate was in a category of one, or maybe 2 (with salon), the online only magazine. What’s been wonderful in the past 7 years has been the emergence of so many healthy, clever, innovative online only sites that are not principally news sites, and the online success of traditional magazines like the atlantic. The health of the category has been good for all of us. There is more advertising, and more readers who now get to read across sites (Slate AND the Atlantic AND HuffPo AND Daily Beast AND Gawker…). More competition has been good for all of us, and forced us to innovate constantly.

— From Slate Editor David Plotz's AmA right now on Reddit.

Modern Media Revenue Strategies: A Panel From The Columbia Media Conference

Six of the sharpest minds in the business of journalism just sat down to discuss the strategies they’re using now, and where they’re laying bets for the future.

The FJP was in the audience, and has paraphrased the discussion below. 

The Highlights:

  • McKinsey & Co’s Jonathan Dunn saying that ALL of their print clients believe their future is in video.
  • The Awl’s Choire Sicha spilling the beans on which popular advertising unit is a huge waste of money.
  • Buzzfeed’s Jon Steinberg saying that young journalists should be considering making branded content for The New York Times, Huffington Post and everyone else.
  • Buzzfeed’s Jon Steinberg talking about where their traffic comes from.
  • Slate’s Matt Turck talking their multi-pronged revenue model.
  • McKinsey & Co’s Jonathan Dunn saying the tablet and smartphone advertising spend will grow from $1B in 2011 to $4B in 2012.

The Panel 

The conversation started with the panel members discussing the models they think are going to work.

Reminder; what follows paraphrases the conversation, with some omissions.

Matt Turck, publisher of Slate

When we first put a paywall up we had 20,000 people at $20 year at the first try. But that was not enough revenue to run a business.

If we’ve got the right people and ideas we can give the content away and it’s a viable business, that said we’re looking for new revenue; for example we’re in the events space. We syndicate a lot of our content, selling our high quality journalism to other publications at a low cost. We partner with YouTube, and there are a number of other small things; We’re experimenting with creating a membership program so that people who join get free entry to some events, and access to our editors that they wouldn’t get.

Buzzfeed’s president and COO Jon Steinberg.

The question is not how do you create a journalism revenue. It’s how do you create a robust business that can also support journalism. Conde Naste and Hearst have not made the transition to new models.

Harper’s Magazine, Vice President for Public Relations Jason Chupick

Any and all brand extensions that play off our tradition (which goes back to Mark Twain and Herman Melville) are on the table. Whereas a lot of people are focussed on short, quick journalism, we’re looking at going more towards long form. To re-invent what we have now would be extraordinarily hard, but we don’t need to be a big organization, we’re a non-profit.

Columbia Journalism School’s Dean of Academic Affairs Bill Grueskin.

(He said that despite having been the Managing Editor Online and Deputy Managing Editor of News for the Wall Street Journal, which had a very successful paywall, he said he didn’t believe that paywalls are a good solution for most publications) 

The WSJ now has more than 1,000,000 subscribers, paying between $75 & $150/year, but even when I was there we realized that the subscription model was a problem for advertisers, and this is the WSJ. Therefore we opened up so that google, email, social traffic could get in for free, and provide the amount of traffic that would be attractive to advertisers.

Paywalls are a defensive move, to protect the print products that represent 70-80% of revenue, but it’s time to go from defense to offense (actually it was about 5 years ago). 

McKinsey & Co’s Associate Principal, Media & Entertainment Practice, Jonathan Dunn

There are two big trends in the space: Video and the importance of data. 

Advertising revenue is breaking into two segments; premium (when you know you’ve got a audience with a particular ) and ‘remnant’, the low-end of not-particularly targeted. 

We don’t have a single print client who doesn’t see their future as video-based because the advertising on video is much more valuable. 

Regarding the importance of data; you must know in deatil who your audience is so you can effectively advertise them, and find relevant new opportunities. These days potential investors in media businesses don’t even want to talk to founders, the only thing they want to see is the analytics of the audience.

The AWL’s Founder and Editor In Chief Choire Sicha.

As a small independently-owned company, how big can we get? We aren’t expecting to scale. But that’s OK; The business models of each publication are intrinsically linked to their backgrounds and missions.

Buzzfeed’s  Jon Steinberg: 

Even in the glory days of magazines, most publications were never bigger than a mid-sized, but scale isn’t necessarily the key. For a recent advertising contract, Buzzfeed was competing with Awl, a much smaller site. But Awl still won contracts off the bigger buzz feed because their creative and audience was more attractive. Awl had enough inventory to fulfill that advertiser’s needs, because unless the client is the size of McDonalds, and is aiming to reach huge broad audiences, mid-sized audiences at OK.

Slate’s Matt Turck.

The unique solution that you build for your advertising partners is the key.  

Buzzfeed’s Jon Steinberg

The reason that there’s a debate about whether banners are good is that they’re crap. If a product is good there’s no debate.

At this point, the conversation moved on to whether tablets are a real opportunity.

Harper’s Jason Chupick

We’re on zinio, but it’s a stop-gap for most magazines, the PDF-like experience isn’t good enough. Tablets are the place to be if you’re a long-form magazine. Interactive firms need to hire better content creators. Making high quality interactive experiences is going to get cheaper. [Cited The Atavist, a tablet and smartphone-native publishing platform]

You’re going to have to show growth across all platforms for advertisers to be interested.

McKinsey & Co’s Jonathan Dunn

Our best guess is that $1B of advertising went to tablet or smartphone advertising in 2011, which is basically ad agencies’ experimental budget, but in 2012 we calculate that figure will be $4B, and in 2013 it’ll be $5B-$8B.

Buzzfeed’s Jon Steinberg

I don’t think the app thing is worthwhile. 40% of our site traffic is from mobile. Having a mobile strategy is like having a laptop strategy five years ago.

When asked about apps, ‘there are a lot of things people think that aren’t based on data’.

If people looked at the data which says no-one remembers the welcome screen advertisers, they’d be a lot better off.

The Awl’s Choire Sicha

No-one ever sees the advertisements at the top of a webpage. We’ve seen the research that shows everyone immediately scrolls down a little bit when they visit a page for the first time [to hide the top banner ads].

Columbia Journalism School’s Bill Grueskin

One of the big problems from the newspaper industry is that they’ve asked how they can repurpose their print content, but most newspaper content doesn’t work well and it stymies them from developing new content that is native to the new platforms.

The Awl’s Choire Sicha

There is no right answer about whether to put print content online for free; it depends entirely on the product and category.

The conversation turned to social media.

Buzzfeed’s Jon Steinberg

We get double the traffic from Facebook than we do from google, and that’s the same throughout our network.

Google’s algorithm is too unpredictable. So Facebook, which is real human beings sharing your content is a much more sustainable way of building audience.

Slate’s Matt Turck

 We’ve got 450,000 followers on twitter, 250,000 on Facebook. We’re having more and more conversations with readers on Facebook, our editor gets questions from the Facebook audience for his interviews.

At this point, the conversation moved on to the skills young journalists should get themselves.

Columbia Journalism School’s Bill Grueskin

You still need to know how to get information, verify it, present it in a compelling way, and understand what your audience needs.

I’m not a fan of the swiss army knife journalist who can do a hundred things, but none of them well.

Being able to engage readers on social media, not just as a distribution process, but to help you understand what your audience needs and what your community knows about the story you’re working on.

If you can do all of that you can go to a news organization and make a compelling case about why you should be hired.

Buzzfeed’s Jon Steinberg

There are a whole lot of journos, (Nate Silver, Ben Smith) who have become little industries in themselves.

Advertising is an amazing industry, that you can love and be inspired by.

If you read the advertising titans’ books you’ll be inspired.

There’s a massive need for journalists to make branded content. If you can do that, you can go to everyone, Huffpo, NYT, Buzzfeed who will need your ability.

Slate’s Matt Turck

Now more than ever before the individuals have become brands. If you can build a following, there’s not a publication out there who won’t take a look at you.

You’ve got to keep changing so fast with the industry. Embrace Change.

Buzzfeed’s Jon Steinberg 

Going back to the branded content topic; you need to have a solid wall between branded content and the rest. At Buzzfeed we have an absolute separation, between the two sides of our business, both in the organization and on the site. Every day we put content up on our sites that will annoy our advertisers.

As noted above, this paraphrases the discussion and omits some of the conversation. If you can add, or refine the article, please email Fergus Pitt.

Disclosure: Bill Grueskin is the author’s masters thesis supervisor.

The Reader as Assignment Editor
Slate&#8217;s asking readers to pitch the stories they&#8217;d like to see its reporters tackle. The site&#8217;s taking 150 word submissions for the next week and then will have the community vote on the stories they want written.

The Reader as Assignment Editor

Slate’s asking readers to pitch the stories they’d like to see its reporters tackle. The site’s taking 150 word submissions for the next week and then will have the community vote on the stories they want written.