The future of journalism is Beyoncé.
FJP: All hail Queen Bey.
The future of journalism is Beyoncé.
FJP: All hail Queen Bey.
— Kat Stoeffel, It Doesn’t Have to Be Rape to Suck, The Cut.
Natasha Singer (writing in the Times) about Christian Rudder, president of OkCupid and the guy who wrote this, whose new book: Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking) just came out.
Mr. Rudder says he carefully considers the potential risks of OkCupid’s observational and product research on its members. But his dual role as the approver of company research and its chief interpreter is complicated.
“The people who are making the minimal risk decisions are the same people conducting the experiments,” he acknowledges. “It is a conflict of interest.”
Now Mr. Rudder is weighing the possibility of even greater research transparency. His book certainly urges companies to share more of their behavioral research findings with the public. But the outcry over his recent blog post suggests that many consumers are not aware of the extent to which companies already scrutinize and manipulate their online activities.
FJP: While the issues around social manipulation and the need for transparency make themselves pretty apparent, Rudder’s comment, quoted above, points to something perplexing. Maybe greater transparency about both data-gathering practices and interpretations of it (especially on networks where people have social and emotional investments) would increase our anxiety about what the data says about us. It echoes (in sentiment) something Kate Crawford wrote in The New Inquiry in May called The Anxieties of Big Data that’s also really worth reading. In it, she deconstructs the myth that more data means greater accuracy and also points this out:
If we take these twinned anxieties — those of the surveillers and the surveilled — and push them to their natural extension, we reach an epistemological end point: on one hand, the fear that there can never be enough data, and on the other, the fear that one is standing out in the data.
More Reading: A pretty interesting long-form profile on Rudder. A fantastic essay from danah boyd on ethics and oversight in data manipulation. And, from the FJP archives, a reading list on the social, cultural and political issues/possibilities surrounding big data.
— Mic’s Elizabeth Plank in CeeLo Green’s Disgusting Comments Prove Rape Culture Is Alive and Well.
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).
In an interesting take on the magazine-as-incubator, Alyssa Rosenberg reacts to the recent news that the (very-loved liberal policy magazine) American Prospect is cutting down its staff and scaling back to a quarterly publishing schedule. Rosenberg points to the long list of all-star journalists who started their writing careers at the Prospect and how—though their careers were essentially incubated at the magazine—their growth did nothing to save the Prospect itself:
Vox.com co-founders Ezra Klein and Matt Yglesias may be among the most prominent Prospect alumni, but they are hardly alone. Former Prospect editor Ann Friedman (who gave me my start in culture criticism with an assignment about movie superheroines) is now a columnist for New York magazine. Education journalist Dana Goldstein, Alaska Public Media reporter Alexandra Gutierrez, MSNBC’s Adam Serwer, Slate writer Jamelle Bouie, UN Dispatch’s Mark Goldberg and the Huffington Post’s Kate Sheppard are just some of the many, many journalists who have done stints there.
As wonderful as that roster is, being an incubator publication is a difficult place to occupy in the journalism ecosystem. Unlike Silicon Valley incubators, which stake young developers for a share of their future profits, the Prospect does not get part of what its alumni earn in the future. An excellent reputation and ongoing goodwill do not necessarily translate into piles of cash.
But we can also come at this argument from a long-term and slightly more optimistic view of the value of incubating young writers as Ezra Klein does in his reflection on his own career that began the Prospect’s blog, Tapped:
The combination of TAP’s culture and Tapped’s medium created a place where young journalists could go and experiment with policy journalism on the web. And some of those experiments worked. It turned out health-care policy could really appeal to readers. It turned out the internet loved charts. It turned out that policy writing could be short, or even just a link. It turned out that a conversational tone didn’t destroy the writer’s authority. It turned out that blogs benefitted at least as much from diligent reporting as magazine articles. Those experiments now inform journalism in places ranging from the Washington Post and the New York Times to Buzzfeed and Business Insider. Tapped’s style of policy journalism is everywhere now.
As for Vox, well, two of the three founders are Tapped alumnus. Without Tapped, there would certainly be no Vox.
And in so doing, we realize that when journalism is viewed as a community of public informants (rather than a battle between publishers) the legacy of one publication can and does lead to incredible value.
Ashley Fantz, Can this KKK leader rebrand?, CNN
An analysis of the KKK from an organizational perspective, in light of the recent shooting in Kansas:
Last Sunday, the world was confronted with another image of the Klan: 73-year-old Frazier Glenn Cross, a white supremacist and avowed anti-Semite, in the back of a police car, spitting, “Heil Hitler!”
When his alleged rampage at two Jewish institutions in suburban Kansas City, Kansas, was over, three people were shot dead — a teenage boy and his grandfather along with a woman who worked with visually impaired children.
The carnage was devastating to many. Imperial Wizard Frank Ancona was upset, too.
"What this guy just did set back everything I’ve been trying to do for years," said Ancona, who leads the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
CNN tracked Ancona down on Twitter, where he has 840 followers, after he and other self-professed hate group leaders denounced the shootings in interviews withUSA Today and CNN affiliate WDAF in Kansas City, Missouri.
"I believe in racial separation but it doesn’t have to be violent," he told CNN. "People in the Klan are professional people, business people, working types. We are a legitimate organization."
Remember this beautiful long-form piece from the NY Times that came out last fall? It was met with a wide array of reactions, some very appreciative, some very unhappy. Over the last few months, Columbia J-School’s Bill Grueskin set out to gather perspectives on why:
I don’t know why Dasani was shut out of not just a Pulitzer, but a nomination from jurors. It did, after all, win a coveted Polk award earlier this year. And though I work just down the hall from the office of Pulitzer Administrator Sig Gissler, I know less about the internal machinations of jurors and board members now than I did when I was a city editor at the Miami Herald in the 1990s. But I do know that many readers found the Dasani story, for all its soaring prose and worthy ambitions, a difficult piece of work.
To understand more about why the piece elicited such strong reactions on both sides, I reached out to about 50 people shortly after the series ended last December. I blind copied them on an email in which I invited them to take part in a private, online discussion about the series. They emailed their thoughts, and I compiled and shared them. We abided by “Chatham House Rules,” which allow quotes to be used—but not the names or affiliations of the people who said them.
The group included journalists, scientists, lawyers, faculty members and a few former and current Columbia students. It also included alumni of the Times, but not current staff, nor any Pulitzer board members.
Why did I pick this story to examine? In part because the Times thought it to be so significant. Its public editor, Margaret Sullivan, called the series “the largest investigation The Times has published all at once in its history.” Moreover, it was stirring up a tremendous reaction, not just among journalists but all around New York City. Indeed, two of Michael Bloomberg’s deputy mayors took to the edit page of the Wall Street Journal to defend their boss’ record on homelessness.
FJP: He compiles the reactions here, a predominant one being that it shouldn’t have been produced as a single story. They are worth looking through because they touch on some ethical and a lot of design issues that are relevant across the industry. These considerations shouldn’t be the absolute measure on what makes a story prize-worthy because Dasani certainly is a compelling and generally well-executed narrative. But they are still worth thinking about. —Jihii