Posts tagged bob garfield

Consider the Asshole

In Slate’s Lexicon Valley, hosts Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo talk with linguist Geoffrey Nunberg about the “moral license of assholism.”

The podcast is a romp through the history and culture of vulgarity, obscenity and profanity with nifty explainers about the differences between them.

For example:

MIKE: [laughing] I wanna talk a little bit about what was happening in the first few decades of the 20th century with regard to a number of other obscenities. There were, as you point out, a whole bunch of words that were starting to take on new usages around this time. For example, the word fuck, which had been in the vocabulary for centuries, was used for the first time as a noun for a person, as in, “You’re such a fuck.” The word cocksucker was used for the first time as a general term of contempt, without any imputation of homosexuality. And the word shit was used for the first time as a verb meaning to deceive, as in, “You’ve gotta be shitting me.”

NUNBERG: Bullshit was one, fuck-up, up shit creek and so on. Dozens and dozens of these words that, although they were vulgar in their origins and had obscene meanings, in these new uses referred to things that really didn’t have any particularly obscene properties or consequences. When you say, “That’s bullshit,” you’re merely saying it’s nonsense or a kind of stronger form of nonsense, but you’re not imputing to it anything obscene. And when I call somebody an asshole, I may be talking about his arrogance or sense of entitlement or obtuseness, but I’m not saying anything about him that I couldn’t say on the op-ed page of the New York Times if I couched it in more decorous language.

Nunberg is with UC Berkeley’s School of Information and just released a new book called Ascent of the A-word: Assholism, the First Sixty Years.

Patch: 863 Sites, 12 Profitable

AOL’s hyperlocal network Patch is struggling.

Via Fortune:

It was supposed to be a savior. AOL’s hyperlocal news venture Patch was created to fill the void left by the death of local newspapers around the country. Finding a dearth of online news in his Riverside, Connecticut hometown, Tim Armstrong co-founded Patch in 2007. Embedded editors would file local news and maintain neighborhood activity calendars; the local ad market was largely untapped, or so went the thinking…

…The math around Patch has always been tricky. In two years, it rapidly expanded to 863 sites, from Agoura Hills, California to Woonsocket, Rhode Island. Content is supplied by 1,000 professional journalists and some 14,000 bloggers. AOL has poured $160 million into the venture, despite paltry revenues. In 2011, it made just $20 million from Patch.

AOL likes to say that Patch losses aren’t really losses but instead necessary initial investments for a profitable longterm future.

But is there a longterm future in hyperlocal?

Bob Garfield, co-host of NPR’s On the Media, believes the answer is two-fold. There isn’t a market for independent hyperlocal sites, but there is one for a consolidated network of them, which is exactly what Patch is.

Simply, there’s too much audience fragmentation and downward pressure on advertising prices for the independent operator.

"Nobody, nobody, will have the critical mass to professionally and profitably deliver [hyperlocal] news," he says in this interview (video, starting at 2:30) with Borrell Associates. “The future isn’t in hyperlocal, per se, as a stand alone operation. In my opinion, the answer will be in consolidation.”

Alex Salkever of Street Fight thinks Garfield has it wrong. While agreeing that the economies of scale won’t allow hyperlocal sites to exist on traditional online advertising, innovative new forms might do the trick.

"With Twitter and other real-time microblogging tools," Salkever writes, "merchants can integrate hourly deals into the local blog spots in order to, say, take advantage of bad weather (BOGO hot cocoa at the local coffee shop, anyone?)."

This is very true and the hyperlocal site of the future will probably look very different (in both interface and delivery platform) than what we think of as traditional new sites. But I think Garfield’s final point still stands: that the future of hyperlocal may very well be consolidated national brands like Patch.

Salkever counters that mom and pop tech blogs with lean staffs and a whole lot of daring do punctured the tech coverage of the mainstream press to become some of the biggest players out there but that analogy is a little bit apples and robots.

People who follow tech are going to follow whoever’s producing the best news about it. There’s no geographic constraint on where that news is important or interesting. People following local high school sports, or town council meetings? Except for a very interesting few, they aren’t heading to other hyperlocal sites to see what’s new about a random town’s residential zoning issues.

So, Patch is wounded but it has built scale. Now we’ll see if it has the imagination to make it sustainable. There are, after all, upwards of a thousand journalists whose current jobs depend on it. — Michael

The left has moved right. The center has moved right. What constitutes a controversial position is a moving target. And in narrating the ebb and flow of political fortunes, the press is indeed supposed to be dispassionate. But that’s not the same as deaf, dumb and blind. It never stopped being the media’s job to evaluate the world and explain what constitutes news. Is it not very big news that the most powerful and influential segment of the political right, in full view of a largely mute press corps, has veered into Glenn Beck World?
Bob Garfield, Co-Host, NPR’s On The Media. The Media’s Deaf, Dumb, and Blind Campaign Coverage.

We ran into NPR On the Media Co-host Bob Garfield earlier this week at the Association of National Advertisers Brand Conference in New York City.

He’d just given a talk about the death and resurrection of the marketing industry and Peter pulled him aside to ask some follow up questions.

Garfield believes that we’re entirely changing the way we communicate our brands and while he’s focussed here on advertising and marketing, the stakes are high for publications that have historically relied on them to fund their operations.

 Run Time: 10:20 | Source: ScribeMedia.org.