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  • Geebo 9:14 am on June 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , CUNY, journalism   

    Journalism school to be named after journalism’s arch-nemesis 

    Journalism school to be named after journalism's arch-nemesis

    It’s not unusual for a university to name one of its major programs or buildings after a generous donor. However, this is not a practice that isn’t without controversy as a name given today can end up being an embarrassment for a university years later. That’s why I was a little bit more than surprised when the City University of New York (CUNY) announced that it would be naming its graduate journalism school after craigslist founder Craig Newmark.

    The university announced the name change after Newmark made a $20 million donation to the school. However. many of CUNY’s journalism school alumnus have a problem with the school being named after Newmark. Many blame Newmark for the decline in print media since craigslist is said to have taken away the majority of classified ad revenue away from the newspapers. While I’m no fan of Mr. Newmark, I would allege that was more of a failure on the part of print media for not adapting to an emerging digital market. However, other detractors of the name change also point out craigslist’s sordid history of once being the leading online marketplace for human trafficking and because of that Newmark’s name should not be associated with the journalism school. In my opinion, this is a more apt argument as Craig Newmark and craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster would avidly avoid the press when they were embroiled in that very controversy. It took the so-called ‘ambushing’ of Craig Newmark by CNN’s Amber Lyon to get a somewhat genuine answer out of Craig Newmark.

    While craigslist may have removed the adult ads section and closed its personals that doesn’t mean that craigslist won’t be involved in some other scandal in the future. As we have pointed out craigslist is still full of scams and hate speech, and they still refuse to moderate any of their ads. Who’s to say this donation made by Mr. Newmark isn’t just a way of him trying to buy his way into the good graces of journalists?

     
  • Geebo 9:02 am on April 26, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , journalism, ,   

    Victory for Journalism: Peter Thiel agrees not to buy Gawker 

    Victory for Journalism: Peter Thiel agrees not to buy Gawker

    Back in January, billionaire venture capitalist, and possible real life super villain, Peter Thiel made it known that he had plans to bid for Gawker’s remaining asset, that being the website itself. As you may recall, Thiel bankrolled the lawsuit against Gawker filed by former pro-wrestler Hulk Hogan, the same lawsuit that bankrupted Gawker. Most of Gawker’s assets were sold to television network Univision, however, the website itself was not part of that sale. Previously, we speculated that Thiel maybe trying to buy the website in order to erase Gawker’s negative coverage of him and for him to have the ability to sue anyone who may try to republish the Gawker articles. Now, Thiel has reached a legal agreement where he has promised not to buy the now defunct but still online website.

    The administrator of Gawker’s estate sought to block Thiel from bidding in the website claiming that “the auction could have a “chilling effect” on bidding and that the auction would “elicit greater interest and higher bids” without Thiel’s participation.” Thiel agreed not to bid on Gawker after the Gawker estate promised not to further investigate Thiel in order to bring legal action against Thiel for secretly funding several lawsuits against Gawker.

    This is a big deal because it shows that not all media outlets can be bought by billionaires looking to silence any criticism against them. While Gawker may not have been the quintessential bastion of journalism, without curtailing actions against them like Thiel had allegedly planned where would it have stopped? What if it led to someone buying an outlet like the New York Times in order to quash any criticism against them? At that point we may have witnessed the death of objective journalism.

     
  • Geebo 10:03 am on January 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , journalism,   

    Is Peter Thiel trying to erase his critics from the internet? 

    Is Peter Thiel trying to erase his critics from the internet?

    It’s been reported recently that billionaire and Silicon Valley bigwwig Peter Thiel may have out in a bid to buy the remaining assets of the now defunct news and gossip blog Gawker. Thiel is infamous for admittedly funding the lawsuit by former pro wrestler Hulk Hogan that bankrupted Gawker media. Most of Gawker Media’s assets were sold to television network Univision, however, the Gawker website itself was left behind as part of a bankruptcy estate.

    So why is this news? Well, the Gawker archives are still online, that includes many stories critical of Peter Thiel and the story that started Thiel’s apparent vendetta against Gawker where Gawker outed him as being gay. One of Gawker’s former reporters alleges that if Thiel purchases Gawker he could potentially delete the archives and use copyright law to force any copies of them offline. While you may debate the merits or lack thereof of Gawker itself, this would be a dark day for journalism as it shows that information can be controlled if you have enough money.

    However, if Thiel chose to pursue this path it could have the opposite effect. Thiel is risking what’s been dubbed the Streisand Effect. The Streisand Effect is a term coined by the internet after celebrity Barbara Streisand who tried to have photos of her home suppressed from publication. What followed was a flood of Streisand’s home being posted online. If Thiel were to try to erase articles that were critical of him they would almost surely reappear in other places on the web. Not just that, but the web can be so ephemeral that once one story was removed, ten anonymous replacements would take its place.

     
  • Geebo 10:33 am on December 4, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Australia, , journalism,   

    Another government wants to investigate Facebook 

    Another government wants to investigate Facebook

    In the wake of the Russian ad scandal, and its fake news problem, many in the US have been calling for federal regulation of companies like Facebook. Now another major world government is set to investigate Facebook for anti-competitive practices. The Australian government has announced their intentions to investigate companies including Facebook and Google believing those companies are harming Australian news media.

    It’s widely believed that between Facebook and Google, the two companies control close to 40% of all media advertising in Australia. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will be investigating the two tech giants along with any other digital platforms that affect the quality of news media in the country.

    Thanks to Facebook’s pervasive influence on our lives, many media outlets have sacrificed quality in order to get clicks and pageviews. They are forced to fight against less than reputable news sources and false memes that are viewed as gospel by some, making true journalism in this and other countries a rare occurrence.

     
  • Geebo 10:01 am on August 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , journalism, , , Tom Scocca   

    Gawker writer: Censorship is for sale 

    Gawker writer: Censorship is for sale

    True censorship can only come from the government since it’s the First Amendment that guarantees a free press. However, Gawker writer Tom Scocca makes the case that a free press is threatened by those who can afford to have the press bent to their will.

    In his post entitled ‘Gawker Was Murdered by Gaslight’, Mr. Scocca makes the point that only one person killed Gawker and the man holding the smoking gun is none other than Peter Thiel. Scocca makes great points about Thiel’s personally financed vendetta against Gawker, especially with the infamous Hulk Hogan lawsuit. He points out that without Thiel’s backing the Hogan lawsuit was without merit since federal courts ruled that the publishing of excerpts from Hogan’s sex tape was considered newsworthy and therefore protected speech. It’s also pointed out that media outlets have insurance policies for such lawsuits and Mr. Scocca not only points out that the New York Post settled out of court for publishing pictures of two men they thought were responsible for the Boston Marathon bombings, but also that in previous instances Gawker never had to pay anything close to a million dollars for any such mistakes prior to Mr. Thiel’s revenge by proxy campaign.

    According to Gawker, Thiel just kept throwing money at more lawsuits for anyone who perceived that they may have been wronged by Gawker. He basically bankrupted Gawker in a war of attrition by outspending them all because Gawker outed Thiel as gay, which as salacious as that may sound was also considered newsworthy therefore also protected. After the $140 million judgement was ordered against Gawker they were immediately denied any kind of appeal in court. That sounds a lot like Peter Thiel’s money speaking for the court and since the court is part of the government maybe Gawker’s death is true censorship after all.

    Peter Thiel should not be mistaken as some kind of privacy champion. Instead he should be seen as the public face of a number of entitled billionaires who are buying favorable press and financially crushing any dissension.

     
  • Geebo 10:06 am on June 1, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , journalism, ,   

    Gawker needs to beat Hulk Hogan and Peter Thiel for all of journalism 

    Gawker needs to beat Hulk Hogan and Peter Thiel for all of journalism

    Everyone wants to root for the good guy. Even more, everyone wants to be the good guy.

    Take Terry Gene Bollea, more famously known as Hulk Hogan, for example. For the better part of his professional wrestling career Hulk Hogan played the good guy against the series of villains who always fell to the power of Hulkamania. Behind the scenes Hogan wasn’t all that much of a good guy. Due to his success he had massive political pull within the World wrestling Federation. He often used his clout to not only protect and promote his friends but he would often also refuse to work with up and coming stars who he felt threatened his position at the top of the company.  As most of you may know Gawker.com leaked a sex tape of Hogan and his best friend’s wife that was recorded without Hogan’s knowledge. A second leak of the tape showed Hogan talking to his bedmate about his daughter’s singing career and during that conversation Hogan let a few racial epithets fly. Because of the second leak Hogan lost a very lucrative ‘legends’ deal he had with World Wrestling Entertainment and has been persona non grata in the pro wrestling business. In interviews Hogan still tries to portray himself as the good guy who was victimized. Hogan sued Gawker on the grounds of privacy invasion and was awarded a $140 million settlement. That amount is being appealed by Gawker since if they have to pay that amount to Hogan they’ll essentially be out of business.

    Recently it was made public that Silicon Valley investor and big-wig Peter Thiel bankrolled Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit to the tune of $10 million. Thiel feels like Gawker’s sister blog Valleywag outed him as being gay in 2007. By most accounts Mr. Thiel had only told a number of close business confidants and friends but didn’t advertise his sexual preference, although it was said to be known to most movers and shakers in the alley.  SInce then he’s been allegedly ‘helping’ people who have been supposedly wronged by Gawker Media. Thiel seems to think that he is the good guy by trying to shut down this supposed media menace in Gawker Media.

    In reality neither of the above mentioned entities are the good guy. So who is? Much like in pro-wrestling storylines the good guy has to face what seems like insurmountable odds before triumphing over the man or men that wronged him. The underdog good guy in this scenario is the First Amendment.

    While what Gawker did may seem distasteful, Thiel is continuing a dangerous tradition that harkens back to WIlliam Randolph Hearst. Thiel is using his money and influence to strong-arm Gawker Media out of existence simply because he doesn’t like them. You may say that Gawker deserves it but where does it end? Say that there’s a strangely coiffed billionaire running for federal office and a large media outlet that has a large influence in the country decides to endorse his opponent. In theory that billionaire could buy that media outlet and heavily influence what stories they report about him. Before you know it other billionaires get into the game and have the news skewed in their favor. If you don’t think that will happen you may already be too late. While he has yet to commit any egregious overreaches of journalism Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post. A better example might be Las Vegas business magnate, Sheldon Adelson, who bought an entire newspaper that was often critical of him in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Reports have said that Adelson is squashing any story that may be critical of him. Before you know it most media will be skewed one way or another, not necessarily by political view but by how it can benefit their billionaire owners.

    For those reasons the $140 million settlement awarded to Hogan should be denied on appeal. If not it will set a dangerous precedent where those with the money can buy any kind of news coverage they want. While some of us were worried about the government possibly curtailing the free speech of journalists we should have been paying more attention to the financially elite. Sometimes a bad guy needs to win so the good guy’s triumph is more impactful.

     
  • Greg Collier 8:25 am on October 14, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: content, digital news, , , journalism, newspapers, newsroom, NYT   

    Slashing journalism won’t bring new readers, more revenue to newspapers 

    newsroomNearly 20 years after the Internet became a thorn in the side of newspapers, the old-school print industry continues to take steps to soften the blow that the Web has had on its business model.

    The problem is that newspapers, as part of their effort to become one with the digital side of news, keep making the same mistake. They keep chopping the journalism side of the business, the side that creates the original content that keeps visitors – and the eyeballs for their ads – clicking on their sites.

    This time around, it’s the mighty New York Times that’s slashing newsroom jobs so it can “shift more resources to digital news products,” according to a recent post in USA Today.

    Let’s not be mistaken, though. By digital news products, they’re talking about products that help drive revenues and increase profits – things like mobile apps and “native ads” that are paid by large advertisers. They’re not talking about expanding the types of journalism that are reaching a broader audience of readers.

    Look, I’m not naive enough to think that the newspapers make money by simply producing quality journalism. It’s been long understood that advertising is what brings the money into a news outlet. But in an age where content is king, the NYT and other newspaper companies shouldn’t necessarily be slashing the newsroom for the sake of making their bottom lines look better.

    At the New York Times, it’s 100 newsroom jobs – or about 7.5 percent of the newsroom. It’s a small percentage, I realize. But the quantity of the cut isn’t what matters here. In the USA Today post, it’s noted that The Times is also shuttering a recently launched mobile app of opinion content because it wasn’t getting enough subscribers.

    Is subscriptions really the problem? Or was it advertising?

    I’ll applaud the NYT for giving a mobile app of opinion content its own platform but that was more of an experiment in what might work – and less of an way that reflects the way people find content today. Today’s news readers click on links in social media and news feeds for their information. Sure, there are those faithfuls who open the NYT or the WSJ or the Washington Post every morning – but a new generation of readers is clicking on a link in Twitter.

    Does a reader really need a mobile app just to read opinion content? Or does the reader want to read a compelling, well-thought opinion piece that has some viral pickup across social media, that provokes social chatter and sparks some national debate over hot topics?

    At the end of the day, newspapers – or news companies, as they should be called – should stay focused on creating quality content that educates and informs the readers about world, national and local issues, They should strive for timeliness and relevance. They should extend their reach across a number of different platforms to grow an audience that puts value in their words.

    That’s what not only brings the audience, but what also keeps the audience. If the audience is there, the advertisers will follow. That’s been the drill since Day One – and, despite the struggles that newspapers face in a digital age, it should continue to be the drill.

    The Internet didn’t arrive yesterday. News companies realized long ago that they have to adapt for a new business model. And yet, they continue to make decisions that are bad for the long-term.

    Nearly 20 years later, there’s no excuse for cutting journalism for the sake of an investment in digital. In the short-term, it may help the bottom line. But in the long-term, it just hurts the brand.

     
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