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Title:BuzzMachine by Jeff Jarvis
Description:The media pundit's pundit. Written by NYC insider Jeff Jarvis, BuzzMachine covers news, media, journalism, and politics.
BuzzMachine by Jeff Jarvis
The media pundit #039;s pundit. Written by NYC insider Jeff Jarvis, BuzzMachine covers news, media, journalism, and politics.
The First Amendment and a couple of pricks
March 18, 2016 by Jeff Jarvis
Comments raquo;
If the First Amendment does not protect offensive speech, it protects no one. Gawker is nothing if not reliably offensive, noxious, and cruel. Nonetheless, it deserves the defense the Bill of Rights affords.
Gawker lost that protection in the judgment Hulk Hogan won against it. I fear this is the First Amendment as Donald Trump would interpret it: 鈥淚鈥檓 going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.鈥 115 million moneys, to be exact.
My greatest disappointment in this case is Gawker proprietor Nick Denton himself. Some disclosure is warranted: I served on the board of Denton鈥檚 prior company, Moreover. Nick introduced me to blogging. He convinced me to convince my then employer, Advance Publications, to invest in and save Blogger, founded by the founder of this very platform, Ev Williams. Nick tried to get me to start a blog company that would be the Time Inc. of blogs to his imagined Cond茅 Nast of blogs. I haven鈥檛 talked with Nick lately. Most recently, he asked me to introduce him to possible German investors, who could backstop him in the Hogan case. He went with a Russian instead.
Nick Denton is鈥娾斺妛as鈥娾斺奱 brilliant journalist and entrepreneur. He believed, quite rightly, that American journalism sucked dick to get access to power. So he started blogs鈥娾斺奊awker, Wonkette, et al鈥娾斺奱s blunt alternatives beholden to no man. Sadly, after a time, Gawker鈥檚 sites did not cover the shitheads; they became the shitheads. Gawker didn鈥檛 need to show us Hulk Hogan鈥檚 fornicating ass. It didn鈥檛 need to ruin a magazine executive鈥檚 life (look it up; I won鈥檛 link). It didn鈥檛 need to attack people for the glee of it (including me). It didn鈥檛 need to exist.
Nick proudly portrayed himself as the anti-journalist. Cute but useless. Nick Denton鈥娾斺奻ormer Financial Times and Economist reporter and accomplished entrepreneur鈥娾斺奵ould have done so much more than show us Hulk Hogan fucking his best friend鈥檚 wife.
I don鈥檛 mean to come off as haughty. I am a great fan of Howard Stern. Thus I鈥檝e heard Hulk talk about his fucking. But I never enjoyed it. The visual was too much to bear. I switched over to NPR.
On the demerits of the case, Hulk Hogan is a public figure and he cannot separate himself from his persona. Like it or not, he forfeited his privacy for wealth and fame. Like it or not, Gawker deserves the protection of the First Amendment like Nazis in Skokie. Gawker might well win on appeal.
But along the way, journalism and Denton both lost an opportunity to show what news could be with honesty and accountability to the public instead of the powerful. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a fucking shame.
Comments raquo;
STOP THE PRESSES! The Independent is Dead. Long Live the Independent.
February 14, 2016 by Jeff Jarvis
Comments raquo;
I will sound like a native of some isolated tribe where death is celebrated鈥娾斺奱nd I might well be accused of dancing on print鈥檚 grave鈥娾斺奲ut I think it is wonderful news that London鈥檚 Independent is turning off its presses 鈥 yet living on.
On Facebook and Twitter, this news brought the predictable wailing and beating of breasts from journos and print moguls: how sad, how scary, they cry. But not from me. I鈥檓 happy for the Independent and for the example it can bring to others. At last, a newspaper has slipped the surly bonds of earth and can fly free online. There is life after the death of print. Hallelujah!
For more than a decade, I鈥檝e been imploring newspaper people to set a date in the future鈥娾斺妕oo close for comfort鈥娾斺妛hen they will shut down the presses because print has become unsustainable. Becoming a sustainable digital enterprise before that day arrives is the definition of digital first.
In the U.S., some papers are now printing a few days a week because those are the days when they distribute coupons and circulars鈥娾斺妛hich is the last good economic justification for producing and distributing a newspaper. But inserts are going away. See newspaper giant McClatchy鈥檚 earnings this week with a 22% drop in inserts from last year; another report found department stores鈥 use of newspaper circulars fell 24%. A confluence of forces鈥娾斺妏rint circulation falling below critical mass; a new generation never coming to replace dying readers; consumer couponing habit shifting to mobile; Amazon (and box stores before it) continuing to kill local retail advertisers; the impending loss of legal advertising; abundant competition for advertising dollars everywhere鈥娾斺妀oin to kill print.
Now the Independent is digital only. It claims its web site is profitable. Yes, print jobs will be lost but the company鈥檚 management says it will hire 25 new people to work on the digital future. They aren鈥檛 just shutting down the old; they are restructuring the company around the new.
Without a paper to dictate process, organization, culture, and economics, the Independent will be free to be whatever it needs to be to best serve its public. It need no longer always produce 600-word articles to cover any eventuality. I will bet it will take time鈥娾斺妏erhaps a newsroom generation鈥娾斺妕o realize this freedom. But someday, the Independent might not look at all like its newspaper forebear.
I鈥檝e been talking with lots of newspaper editors and publishers who are trying to figure out how to make this transition while they still have鈥娾斺奱nd, yes, depend on鈥娾斺妏rint and its mass-media business model. It鈥檚 not easy. I believe that we must shift not only from print to digital but also from volume to value, building relationships with people based on relevance. The way we will do that is to listen to the communities we serve鈥娾斺奵ommunities of geography, interest, demography, or use case鈥娾斺奱nd then find new ways to help them answer their needs and meet their goals with the tools we now have and the new products we make.
What if you have a newspaper that still makes money? Sure, milk it. But take that cash and reinvest it in the future鈥娾斺奿n new products and new models. And don鈥檛 put print on artificial life support. The New York Times鈥 pricing model, which makes it cheaper to subscribe to print and digital than digital alone, only props up subscriptions to the legacy product. Of course, I know why that鈥檚 beneficial to The Times鈥娾斺妏rint readers are still worth more in advertising than digital readers. But the longer newspaper companies delay the inevitable, the weaker their transition to digital.
While you do keep the print newspaper alive, I鈥檇 advise rethinking it, too. Who needs a product conceived a century ago that today tells us what we already know from the web, let alone TV and Twitter? Just as I argue we must rethink news on mobile around use cases鈥娾斺妔ummary, background, alert, engagement, action, collaboration鈥娾斺妔o should we reconsider the use case of the old newspaper. It could give us a quick view of the world, explanation, engagement (even fiction), photography, surprises: a different experience with different value. The risk of reinventing the paper is that staffs get excited by it again. But by separating the paper product from digital and mobile products, it also helps change the operation and culture of a newsroom, which must learn to regard print as a byproduct, not the end-product. The paper cannot lead the process of journalism if we are to get past it.
The Independent has taken one step鈥娾斺奿t might seem like a big one but it鈥檚 really just a first one鈥娾斺妕oward reinventing itself by breaking from its legacy means of production and distribution. Now it needs to realize and utilize the freedom it now has and, I hope, show the way for others.
Comments raquo;
Aaron Sorkin and the Technological Arts
October 9, 2015 by Jeff Jarvis
Apple, jobs, sorkin, Technology
Comments raquo;
I think I finally have figured out Aaron Sorkin. He had eluded me.
I remember liking The West Wing鈥娾斺妔o much so that I don鈥檛 dare watch it again for fear that, knowing what I know now, I might discover that Sorkin鈥檚 masterpiece was really just another soap opera with sermons. I liked Sports Night, at least for its effort. I was willing to forgive Studio 60.
But I despise what Sorkin did to the truth and to Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network and what he does now to Steve Jobs in his latest: demonizing them both. And I could not bear what he did for cable news in The Newsroom: worshiping it.
This week, watching Steve Jobs and listening to Sorkin as he was interviewed by The Verge鈥檚 Nilay Patel at a screening, I think I finally got Sorkin.
He鈥檚 jealous.
Sorkin admires those who change the world. In The West Wing, he imagined and brought to life the ideal, the impossible President that America could not鈥娾斺奱nd God knows still cannot鈥娾斺妏roduce on its own. He seduced us all to admire and adore Josiah Bartlet: Sorkin as kingmaker. In The Newsroom, Sorkin created people who would have changed the world with their high-minded journalism (if only they had not been such horribly flawed, misogynistic, pompous, wordy, preening, horny shitheads and disgusting sell-outs).
But regarding his subjects from the Other Coast, the Lesser Coast, I believe I can hear Sorkin鈥檚 inner dialogue:
You just make toys, boys. Zuck: You get people laid because you couldn鈥檛 get laid yourself. Never mind that you had a girlfriend I chose to ignore. I decided you didn鈥檛 deserve one. That is my power. I am filmmaker. And as for you Steve: I had your daughter say it, but I believe it: Your iMac looked like a fucking Easy-Bake Oven. Your biggest invention, your only real invention was鈥娾斺奱s your technology tribe might say鈥娾斺奧alkman 2.0. Toys, nothing but toys.
In Steve Jobs, Sorkin gives us a silicon opera, a telco novella, daring us to watch as he imagines and intrudes on horribly uncomfortable moments of his protagonist #8217;s life: being a heartless cad to his daughter, to his every employee, and to his Rainman (Sorkin鈥檚 word), Woz. In Sorkin鈥檚 eye, Jobs is all but irredeemable. It makes for a most uncomfortable two hours, like being stuck in an elevator with the meanest, nastiest feuding family you know. Or at a board meeting of a bad company.
Again, I hear Sorkin鈥檚 voice:
Zuck and Steve, you two don鈥檛 even try to be charming. You don鈥檛 understand the obligation of celebrity. I know stars. Hell, I make stars. Stars seduce the public. So do my characters. Didn鈥檛 you love my President? But you two: You don鈥檛 seem to give a damn about earning anyone鈥檚 love. Zuck: You are just a weird, flat nerd. Steve: You were a nasty SOB. How the hell can people love you when you don鈥檛 try to be loved?
In his conversation with Patel, Sorkin said he was 鈥渁stonished at the way Steve Jobs was eulogized.鈥 Sorkin said he could not understand how people loved not just the things he made but Jobs himself. He thus could not understand the impact of the technology itself in people鈥檚 lives. Sorkin said making the movie is his way of catching up. Or perhaps, better put, it was his way of getting even.
Now, of course, it鈥檚 not fair of me to psychoanalyze Sorkin鈥娾斺妀ust as it isn鈥檛 fair of him to psychoanalyze Zuckerberg and Jobs. But now I understand why he does it. It鈥檚 fun. Bullshit, but fun.
Yet I have to give Sorkin this: Somewhere down in his gut, though he might not want to admit it, he understands that both Zuckerberg and Jobs are artists. For that is the context that wraps around his anger about them. That is where he attacks them. That is what makes him so sputteringly jealous.
What gives you two the right to change people鈥檚 lives? Who chose you? Who made you? You are just technicians. I am the artist. Artists change people鈥檚 lives. You geeks don鈥檛 make art. You make gadgets and gimmickry. Yet people treat you as artists. They give you adulation and fortunes and credit and power. WTF?
Sorkin believes he works on a higher plane. He looks down on both technologists and journalists. When Patel dared challenge Sorkin about his disregard for the facts鈥娾斺妏esky, fucking facts鈥娾斺奿n Steve Jobs, Sorkin the auteur鈥娾斺奿n his actual and not my imagined voice鈥娾斺妑esponded:
鈥淗ow do I reconcile that with facts? There is a difference between journalism and what I do鈥. The difference between journalism and what we do is the difference between a photograph and a painting. What we do is painting. Those facts are not as important鈥.鈥 As important as what Sorkin wants to say.
Sorkin also wants to believe filmmaking is a higher form by far than what Zuckerberg and Jobs do. But his films about them are his admission that he is wrong, whether he could bear to say that or not. Sorkin doesn鈥檛 change the world as his subjects do. Sorkin works in a lesser art鈥娾斺妛hich he uses, nonetheless, to tear these boys down to size, to assassinate their characters.
Sorkin is Salieri to their Mozart. They are greater artists than he will ever be. They and their impact will be remembered for generations鈥娾斺奱nd not because of Sorkin鈥檚 films about them, which will be soon forgotten. They have changed the world more than Sorkin or his beloved, imaginary President or journalists could ever hope to. Yet Sorkin is doomed to make movies about these damned, fucking geeks.
Comments raquo;
To a faster #8212; and distributed #8212; web
October 7, 2015 by Jeff Jarvis
amp, google, journalism, link economy, News
Comments raquo;
Last May, shortly after Facebook announced its Instant Articles, Google held its first Newsgeist Europe and I walked in, saying obnoxiously (it #8217;s what I do): #8220;Facebook just leapfrogged you by a mile, Google. What you should do now is create an open-source version of Instant Articles. #8221; Richard Gingras, head of Google News, has long been arguing for what he called portable content. I had been arguing since 2011 for embeddable content: If content could travel with its brand, revenue, analytics, and links attached, then it can go to the reader rather than making the reader come to it.
Today, fairy godmother Google delivered our wish #8212; thanks to Gingras, Google engineering VP Dave Besbris, and media partners inside and outside of Google #8217;s European Digital News Initiative. Hallelujah.
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) #8212; as you can see from Google #8217;s definition on Github, above #8212; a simple way to dramatically speed up the serving of web pages (on mobile and on desktop) through several means, including:
(1) a shared library of web-page functions so that they can be cached and called and not downloaded with every new web page;
(2) the opportunity to cache content nearer the user #8212; with Google or not and inside apps on user #8217;s devices;
(3) the beginnings of advertising standards to get rid of some of the junk that both slows down and jumbles the serving of web pages; and
(4) the sharing of some functions such as gathering data for analytics.
Note that the publisher #8217;s revenue (that is, ads), analytics (that is, user data), brand, and links stay with the content. Google emphasized again and again: It #8217;s just the web, done well. It #8217;s just a web page #8212; but way faster. A link is no longer an invitation to wait. A link is just a next page, instantly and fully visible.
You can get a demo here. So far, it #8217;s just a sample of about 5,000 new pages per day from the launch partners. Open that URL on your phone. Search for something like Obama. Go through the carousel and you should be amazed with the speed.
But I think AMP and Instant Articles are more than that. They are a giant step toward a new, distributed content ecology on the web #8230; and a better, faster web, especially in mobile.
Here are a few ways I see this changing the way content operates on the web:
Imagine an aggregator like Real Clear Politics or an app like Nuzzel. Now, every time you click on a link, you have to load a browser and all the cruft around the content on a page. Now, the page #8212; every page made to the AMP standard #8212; can load *instantly* because the architecture and functionality of the page can be prefetched and cached and the content can be cached closer to the user #8212; and the advertising and analytics will not be allowed to screw up the loading of the page. So the experience of reading an aggregation of content will be like reading a web site: fast, clean, smooth. If I were in the aggregation business, I would build around AMP.
Imagine starting a new media service without a web site but built around content meant to be distributed so it goes directly to readers wherever they are: on Twitter (via users #8217; links there), on Facebook (in a community there), on Nuzzel (through recommendations there), and elsewhere #8212; via Reddit, Mode aggregation, Tumblr, etc.
Now there are a few key things missing from the AMP architecture that will be critical to business success. But they can be added.
The first is that user interest data needs to flow back to the content creator #8212; with proper privacy transparency and consent built in! #8212; so that the publisher can build a direct relationship of relevance and value with the user, no matter where she is encountered. That is more complicated but vital.
The second #8212; and this is a lesson I learned working with shared content and thus audience in the New Jersey news ecosystem #8212; is that we must value and reward not just the creators of content but also those who build audience for that content.
That #8217;s a small matter of deal making. AMP is built with *no* need to make deals, which is critical to its quick adoption. You make your content AMP-ready and anybody can serve it instantly to their audiences with your business model (advertising, etc.) attached. But there #8217;s no reason two publishers can #8217;t make a separate deal so, for example, the Washington Post could say to the Cincinnati Inquirer: You can take our AMP-ready content with our ads attached but we will give you your own ad avail or we will give you a reward for the traffic you bring us and we can share a special, co-branded page. The Post is already getting ready to distribute all its content in Facebook. It is using its owner Jeff Bezos #8217; Amazon to distribute itself, too. (Speculation is that these alone will have it leap past The New York Times in audience.) Why not use AMP and make deals to reward other quality news services on the web to be its distributor? That is the new newsstand. That is the new site-less web.
I also see the opportunity to make AMP-ready modules and widgets that can be collected and aggregated *inside* web pages.
This is a big deal. It #8217;s not just about speeding up the web. It #8217;s about unbundling the web and web sites. If we in media are smart in exploiting its opportunities and if AMP and Amazon and others gather together around a single set of standards #8212; which is quite possible #8212; if we add more data smarts to the process, this could be big for us in media or for upstarts in garages. Your choice, media.
AFTERTHOUGHT: How should Facebook respond? I would suggest they have nothing to lose by joining the standard so publishers can publish both ways. I would also suggest that Facebook can now leapfrog Google by helping publishers with interest data and user profiles #8212; that is where the real value will be.
Comments raquo;
Social Journalism: Apply #038; hire now!
October 4, 2015 by Jeff Jarvis
cuny, journalism, journalism education, social journalism, socialj
Comments raquo;
We are not far from the end of the first year of our new degree in social journalism at CUNY and I couldn #8217;t be prouder of what the students and the faculty are accomplishing. (If you are interested in being part of the second class, now is the time to apply.) My best accomplishment in helping to start this degree was recruiting the amazing Carrie Brown to head the program.
I am learning a great deal from Carrie and our students as we grapple with some fundamental questions about the nature of journalism as a service, about the idea of internally focused vs. externally focused journalism, and about a community #8217;s definition of itself. We have been looking at whom we serve in a community #8212; and whose behavior we thus set out to change. We have been asking what the appropriate measures of success #8212; of impact and value #8212; should be. We, of course, we are learning much about the impact of new social tools on journalism and gaining skills in that realm as a result.
And we are producing a class of high-powered pioneers. At the Online News Association confab in L.A. a week ago Carrie and I found employers dying to get their hands on our soon-to-be graduates. When Sarah Bartlett and I came up with the idea for this degree, we knew we were betting on the come: that news organizations would need the journalists we would educate in this program. A damned good bet.
I asked Carrie for an update for you about what our students are working on in their practicums (practica?) in the communities they have chosen to serve and in some cases in internships in media companies. A sample of their work:
A photo posted by Carrie Brown (@brizzyc) on Feb 17, 2015 at 6:27pm PST
* Pedro Burgos has been teaching himself to code beyond what he learned in class and has built a sentiment analyzer using IBM Watson鈥檚 API to allow him to examine what kinds of Facebook strategies produce the best comments and dialogue. He has interviewed experts in improving comments from around the country as well. Pedro loves to challenge me in class discussion and I relish that for through that we are exploring new metrics that should guide our work in journalism.
* Luis Miguel Echegaray is interning this semester at Vice. He is also live blogging soccer in Spanish for The Guardian, which has garnered them a lot of traffic. Luis is also working to build his The Faces of Soccer website. He is going to be working with South Bronx United, a nonprofit org that not only offers soccer coaching but school tutoring. Luis intends to become the Anthony Bourdain of soccer. He will succeed.
* Rachel Glickhouse is interning this semester at Medium. She鈥檚 also freelancing for a number of outlets, including Al Jazeera America and Quartz. We are impressed by how her work helped one man get his deportation stayed. At Medium, Rachel is assisting with audience engagement and involving journalism schools in an upcoming investigation. She #8217;s also developing her practicum to start a conversation on Medium and social media about the difficulties of becoming a legal resident in the U.S.
* Deron Dalton is interning with the Daily Dot. In addition to other stories, he is using the expertise he has developed serving #BlackLivesMatter there. He is also developing resources for journalists on how to cover the movement.
* Julia Haslanger is working with Chalkbeat to study how the organization can continue to grow its readership and engagement. Her journalism salary survey #8211; results posted on Medium #8211; has gotten a lot of attention and reaction, and she was invited to speak at The Media Consortium as a result. She is also doing research for the Kettering Foundation, interviewing social media and community engagement editors in newsrooms to learn more about how they approach their jobs and the skills they need.
* Nuria Saldanha #8212; who first completed our certificate in Entrepreneurial Journalism #8212; conducted her first media skills training in partnership with the Facebook Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab in the Heli贸polis favela in S茫o Paulo this August. People are learning how to use mobile devices to create text/photos/video. This is of particular benefit to small business that primarily use Facebook to promote their businesses. Facebook can use the Lab as a pilot project and expand it to other favelas and countries in Latin America. In collaboration with people she trains in media skills, she will produce 10 to 20 videos with elderly people from favelas, who are not familiar with the internet. Many of them migrated to the area while fleeing extreme poverty, moving S茫o Paulo and Rio de Janeiro looking for a better life, but most ended up living in favelas and working in very low-skill jobs. She is also volunteering for BrazilFoundation, an organization that raises money to support social projects in Brazil, most of them related to her community.
* Emily Goldblum skipped the interim step of an internship when she was sought out for a job at The Odyssey. Her task there is to crowdsource stories from college students about a variety of topics. Her main goal is to diversify content with a specific focus on LGBTQ communities and has been working to cultivate more writers interested in writing about queer-focused topics.
* Aaron Simon has developed The Greenburg Post, an experimental community-journalism platform that seeks to collaborate with the residents and businesses that call North Brooklyn home. He has been reporting on a toxic Superfund site in the community and crowdsourcing stories and data about how the pollution has affected local residents.
* Sean Devlin is currently in Ireland interviewing Irish students who have participated in the J-1 graduate visa program, which allows them to spend 12 months in the United States interning and traveling. He has been serving the Irish community in New York for the past nine months and now went to the source to ask how social media (Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp) help Irish people in the U.S unite and get information.
* Erica Soto is working on a new kind of crowdfunding site for independent music artists. She writes: 鈥淪upportTour is Kickstarter meets Honeyfund for the indie musician on tour. At SupportTour, artists engage with fans by allowing them to participate in their tour experience. Instead of giving money for albums or studio space, fans purchase items directly for the artist. Just as Honeyfund allows users to register for honeymoon needs, artists will be able to register for tour needs such as hotel rooms, meals, additional gear and more. Fans then decide how they鈥檇 like to support the artists. They鈥檒l even receive rewards when items are purchased. It could be a signed album, concert tickets, a secret Skype session or even a private dinner with their favorite artist. This is a chance for fans to become more involved with musicians on the road and for musicians to offer new incentive and creative fan experiences.鈥
* Adriele Parker鈥檚 goal is to 鈥済ather content to inform and share the stories of [African-Americans] that are suffering (or have suffered) from psychological disorders鈥 and to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues. She has developed a 鈥淥ur Stories in Light鈥 podcast to share stories and it also continuing to develop a website.
* Betsy Laikin is building a media platform for women from the Middle East and North Africa currently residing in New York, in conjunction with her work at Women #8217;s Voices Now. This will include community-produced written stories, audio podcasts, photography, and videos.
* Cristina Carnicelli Furlong organized an impressive roundtable with the American Society of Newspaper Editors and is building resources to educate reporters about how to cover pedestrian safety in New York.
In addition to all that, Carrie has announced a partnership with Storyful to train social journalists. Here #8217;s some of what Carrie has learned so far.
If you are a journalist who wants to challenge the way that journalism services the public, then come apply. If you are an employer who wants these innovative journalists to help you change how you do journalism, let Carrie or me know.
Comments raquo;
Honoring Neil deGrasse Tyson for his journalism
September 28, 2015 by Jeff Jarvis
innovation, journalism, knight, neil degrasse tyson, tow-knight, towknight, tyson
Comments raquo;
When Neil deGrasse Tyson interviewed Edward Snowden (via electronic avatar) for his podcast, the good doctor said a few times that he is not a journalist.
Yet the Knight Foundation and we at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism are giving Tyson the third Knight Innovation Award for journalism on Oct. 14. When I told him this, I anticipated his objection: #8220;I #8217;m a scientist, not a journalist. #8221; That is just the point. In the larger information ecosystem in which news now works, Tyson provides an example to experts in any field for how to inject desperately needed facts and reasoning into a public discussion that too often lacks either. At a time when I argue that explanation itself becomes a journalistic specialty, Tyson again provides a model for how to bring complex subjects down to earth and relevance. As a media innovator, he has learned and exploited every new medium #8212; from Twitter to podcasts #8212; to use his celebrity to enlighten.
In any medium, Tyson uses clear explanation, humor, and blunt delivery of the facts to explain concepts and refute anti-intellectual arguments. On politicians debating global warming, he has said: #8220;Now we have a time where people are cherry-picking science. The science is not political. That #8217;s like repealing gravity because you gained 10 pounds last week. #8221; In a two-minute YouTube video, he can explain the science behind climate change. In any lecture #8212; like this one at ASU #8212; Tyson demonstrates a journalist #8217;s ability to impart knowledge through storytelling and to argue the case for art #8217;s as well as newspapers #8217; impact on science.
I had the privilege of joining an episode of Tyson #8217;s Star Talk show and podcast to talk about journalism. I know he cares about the future of the field.
So we are honoring Neil deGrasse Tyson at CUNY. At that ceremony, he will receive a $25,000 award from Knight and #8212; here #8217;s the cool part #8212; he will have another $25,000 to give forward to a media innovator of his choice.
But wait, there #8217;s more: We will begin the afternoon at 4 p.m. with a panel on podcasting led by Alex Blumberg, founder of Gimlet Media, and including Heben Nigutu of BuzzFeed #8217;s Another Round podcast, Manoush Zomorodi of WNYC #8217;s Note to Self, and Greg Young of the Bowery Boys podcast.
There will be a limited number of seats open. If you, like me, are a fan of Neil deGrasse Tyson and podcasts and journalism, then this will be a slice of conversational heaven. The details and sign-up are here.
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More innovation at CUNY
September 19, 2015 by Jeff Jarvis
cuny, journalism, spanish, tow-knight, towknight
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I #8217;m proud of our CUNY Graduate School of Journalism for continuing to innovate.
Last night at the National Association of Hispanic Journalists #8217; convention in Orlando, our dean, Sarah Bartlett, announced a new initiative to train Spanish-language journalists in the U.S. We are seeking state approval for a new concentration and will look to develop a degree.
We are working in partnership with a stellar group of Hispanic institutions: El Pa铆s and Prisa; Univision News; Instituto Cervantes; La Naci贸n of Argentina; and ImpreMedia, which owns major Spanish-language news organizations across America.
Personally, I #8217;m so excited about this work that I started studying Spanish. No, I #8217;ll never be ready to edit any of our students #8212; just the opposite. But after visiting El Pa铆s in Madrid and then with this pending announcement, I finally was just too ashamed of being an American who doesn #8217;t speak the language the 45 million other Americans speak. (Take that, Donald Trump and Sarah Palin.) Simply as a matter of respect and intellectual curiosity, I finally decided it was time. As铆 que estudio espa帽ol.
(By the way, I highly recommend the Pimsleur method. I always thought that I hated learning languages, that I was incapable of it. That #8217;s why I abandoned French after elementary school and didn #8217;t pay attention to my German in high school, college, and since. I #8217;ve long said I #8217;m one of those horrible Americans who speaks only 1.1 languages #8212; the .1 being irreparable German. But I am downright enjoying my Pimsleur studies: half-hour a day, 60 days out of 150 so far.)
Add to this another CUNY announcement yesterday: The New York Times Student Journalism Institute is moving to our school next year.
Add to that the start of our new program in professional development education, for which we hired Marie Gilot as director. I #8217;m happy to say that the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism, which I direct, is helping with research on new jobs, roles, and organizational structures for news organizations.
Tow-Knight has also acted as an educational incubator at our school, starting the nation #8217;s first MA in Entrepreneurial Journalism, headed by my colleague Jeremy Caplan, and then the nation #8217;s first MA in Social Journalism, headed by our new colleague, Carrie Brown. (And by the way, applications for both those programs are open now #8230;. so follow the links to apply.) With my Tow-Knight colleague Hal Straus, we are planning major research and events to help our industry find new paths to sustainability.
Our journalism school is about to enter its 10th year. I was the first faculty member hired by our founding dean, Steve Shephard. From the beginning, we prided ourselves on continuing to act as a startup. As all the evidence above attests, we are still a startup. I #8217;m proud to work with Sarah Bartlett on some of these innovations and more to come. Under her leadership, we are kicking ass. Now how do I say that en espa帽ol?
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Capturing the history of our early web: #038;
September 14, 2015 by Jeff Jarvis
conde nast, condenet, epicurious, history,,
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The design studio four32c posted a tribute/obit for recently and though it was good to see recognition for its pioneering work, for the sake of digital history, it #8217;s also important to get on the record some corrections about the story. It麓s also important given the impact the pioneering work at Style and #8212; more to the point #8212; had on digital coverage of fashion that has followed.
My friend and frequent collaborator Joan Feeney #8212; the genius who led so much of the innovation of the early web at Cond茅 Nast #8212; sent the four32c a note with some clarification and edification; they didn #8217;t run it and so I volunteered to. Joan writes:
The obituary of the site that either missed or misrepresented some significant facts and circumstances about the origins and early days of the site. There was no place to comment, so Jeff offered to post this note I wrote to get the record straight, in case anyone cares someday. I likely wouldn鈥檛 have written it except that my recollections about the start of Epicurious have been in demand of late, in celebration of that site #8217;s 20th anniversary, and so many of these Cond茅 Net memories and details are front of mind as is the lack of reliable histories and records about those days.
Contrary to what was posted on four32c, we launched the year before we started Style. And, not Style, was the site that shot and posted every single look from every runway show on the day of the show from the major fashion cities 鈥 which, as noted, was revolutionary in many ways.
Until then, designers had restricted the number of looks that could be published to fewer than half a dozen, and even that small sample could be published only during a brief window for a specified period after the show (runway shows typically featured about 60 or 70 looks). No one but Vogue, meaning Anna Wintour, could have done that 鈥 it was Anna, and her proxy at, Anne Buford, who persuaded the designers to let us in, despite the fashion houses enormous general misgivings and specific fear of piracy.
If Anna hadn鈥檛 decided it was right and timely to open up fashion shop on the Internet, I believe it might not have happened to this day, so resistant, reluctant, and occasionally hostile were the designers and their businesses to the idea. But because Anna blessed it, it came to pass. A startup would have had no sway with the designers, let alone enough yank to get almost every one of them to agree to something so alien and that they couldn鈥檛 see as offering any benefit to themselves.
(Even with Anna鈥檚 tremendous support and Anne鈥檚 tremendous efforts, a few French designers blocked us from attending their shows; and even after we got the designers鈥 permission, the models #8217; union, which was very strong in France, forbade us to use the models鈥 images. It was a vastly complicated enterprise, and it all happened on Vogue鈥檚 watch and because Anna decreed it. Fiona da Rin, the Paris editor for American Vogue was a huge help with the diplomacy effort. She would take me from fashion house to fashion house with my laptop to demonstrate not only the website and prototypes of the coverage, but often showing them the Internet for the first time, assuming they had a connection, which they often did not; I had a canned presentation to show in that case.)
One of the other extraordinary things did with the show coverage was to tag the photos so that users could search/sort by collection or piece (all Italian skirts from Fall 2000, for example, or all Ralph Lauren sweaters from every season). One of the selling points we made to designers was what a great resource it created for their own use and historical archives, which it did. It was effectively instantaneous coverage 鈥 something completely foreign to fashion at that time.
Melissa Weiner was the genius who made all those amazing tools back at the office. We took the Voguemobile RV to the European shows, and transmitted photos back to the US, where Melissa did her magic getting them tagged, labeled, and online within an hour or so, no matter what time of night it was. The first shows we did were in New York, September of 1999, in the tents at Bryant Park, and we briefly went dark when a hurricane flooded the tents.
鈥淐ams鈥 were a big thing back then 鈥 it was considered cool to aim a web cam at the office coffee pot so you could check to see if there was fresh coffee, I guess you had to be there #8212; and we had a camera with a live feed posted at the models #8217; entrance to the tents, which unfortunately ended up trained on the portable toilets. Inevitably this became the Can Cam and was very popular. Those, as we say, were the days.
Part of why we insisted that the runway coverage be the comprehensive and that their be nifty tools to manipulate the data (searching, sorting, saving) was because we were very vigilant in those days not to compete or reproduce what the magazine did. So we always began the development process by figuring out what magazines were unable to do, and making those things as our creative brief. We had infinite space, data bases, and no time delay, and committed to defining our products by the use of these attributes unique to the web. If something could appear in print, we didn鈥檛 need to put it on a screen. I believe that zero 鈥渞epurposed鈥 material appeared on the site.
I was editorial director (or editor in chief, I forget) of and later came up with the notion for, using the model Rochelle Udell had come up with for a new online brand (Epicurious) to host Gourmet, BA, and other branded and original content., of which I was editorial director (or whatever) would be home to Vogue and the Fairchild brands (WWD, W), as well as other CNP and original fashion content, and moved into that tent. ( was also intended to help centralize the many various foreign editions of the magazine brands at one location.)
The original and brilliant designer for both and was Lesley Marker. I bought the name/url from the Limited. I don鈥檛 recall how or even if they had used it, but once we owned it, it was never a gossip site (as the obituary states). Many of the other tools, approaches, and systems we used for and also came from the work we were doing on other Cond茅 Net sites, which then included Epicurious, Swoon, Phys, and Concierge. For example, the Neiman-Marcus e-commerce arrangement was based on one we had done for Epicurious with Williams-Sonoma.
In the spring of 2000, did an online event with Chanel, where we hosted the resort collection live and let invited users pre-order looks based on detail shots we took of every item the second it came off the runway. Chanel was interested not just in selling outfits but in finding out what looks/colors/fabrics shoppers were interested in before the company even began the manufacturing process; fifteen years ago, they were aware of how valuable that data was to making their business more efficient and effective. Chanel was always one of our most enthusiastic partners. It was dissonant and thrilling that the Chanel executives brought our team up to Coco Chanel鈥檚 preserved apartment to discuss our Internet partnership. became the larger home for the runway coverage; I think we still branded it as Vogue, though I am not sure.
There are several other key contributors who deserve credit for inventing fashion coverage online back in the late 鈥90s; if anyone is interested, I can send more information. The early photographers did extraordinary work when the equipment and the support were unreliable and unwieldy. While Anna Wintour is given some credit in the Fourc32 telling of the story, it isn鈥檛 made clear the kind of coverage we were able to do would never, ever have happened if it hadn鈥檛 been for Anna #8217;s decision and commitment to make it happen. I believe no other person or group could have persuaded the fashion industry to participate. Then or now.
I #8217;m glad to have this bit of history not only because I go to watch all this magic as it transpired but because I think it #8217;s important that we not lose the memory of how the web began. It amazes me that Epicurious is 20 years old. I started my first site for the parent company, Advance (a weather site called, just to get our feet wet) 20 years ago. The memories fade.
So I recommend reading Eric Gillin #8217;s wonderful oral history of Epicurious. I was delighted that XOXO brought together the founders of for their 20th anniversary; I wish I could have watched. I hope that other pioneers have the courage to show their gray hairs and dredge up their memories before they are lost. We were there at the start of it all.
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