10/22/2009 3:50:33 PM
It's that time of year again... We've named the 2009 Utne Reader visionaries and you can read all about them in the November-December issue. If you want more, we've created a list of every Utne visionary with a Twitter account and with one click, they'll show up in your feed.
And while you're clicking, you can add the Utne Reader editorial staff.
10/21/2009 5:12:33 PM
The deals are a “stunning one-two punch,” according to All Things Digital: Microsoft announced today that it has struck agreements to integrate real-time feeds of status updates from Twitter and Facebook into Bing. The deals are nonexclusive—which means Google could follow suit—but for the time being, Bing has something the search giant has yet to tap, at least in the case of Facebook. And get this: Microsoft is paying for it—exact terms, of course, haven’t been disclosed.
This is nonetheless “a precedent that the ability of search engines to index and link to content is worth some money,” Ryan Chittum writes for Columbia Journalism Review. “Where this goes from here no one knows. . . . Would the AP yank its news off Google if Bing paid and Google didn’t? Would it be worth it in the lost revenue from not showing up in as many search results? That’s too early to tell.”
One thing is clear, as Chittum says: This will be worth watching.
Sources: All Things Digital, Columbia Journalism Review
10/21/2009 2:08:23 PM
How much money did your favorite writer make off that last book? You have no idea, right? With his next book, science fiction writer, copyright activist, and Utne Reader visionary Cory Doctorow is heading the demands of nobody (who ever demands financial transparency from writers?) and publishing every dime he earns in a column at Publishers Weekly. The transparency piece is intriguing enough, and it's just one piece of an ambitious publishing experiment:
Here's the pitch: the book is called With a Little Help. It's a short story collection ... Like my other collections, it will be available for free on the day it is released. And like my last collection, Overclocked, it won't have a traditional publisher ... Doctors swear an oath to do no harm. For this project, I've taken an oath to lose no money ... In the ideal world, every object I make available will either cost nothing to produce or will be physically instantiated only after it has been ordered and paid for. With this in mind, let me run down the packages.
The run down is lengthy but worth a look. Here's the elevator version:
+ Free E-Book
+ Free Audiobook
+ Print-on-Demand trade paperback
+ Premium hardcover edition
+ Commission a new story: $10,000
Many of these tactics are not new for Doctorow. He's been giving away e-books for free since 2003. This is where the transparency piece comes in. Doctorow explains:
This business of my giving away e-books is a controversial subject. I encounter plenty of healthy skepticism in my travels, and not a little bile. There's a lot of people who say I'm pulling a fast one, that I'd be making more money if I didn't do this crazy liberal copyright stuff, or that I'm the only one it'll ever work for, or that I secretly make all my money from doing stuff that isn't writing, or that it only works because I'm so successful. Of course, when I started, they said it only worked because I was so unknown. People want proof that this works—that I'm not deluded or a con artist.
In a recent interview with Utne Reader Doctorow spoke succinctly to the non-believers: "Of all the people who fail to buy my books today, the majority do so because they’ve never heard of them, not because someone gave them a free e-book."
Source: Publishers Weekly
Image by Paula Mariel Salischiker , licensed under Creative Commons.
10/20/2009 10:44:02 AM
I fell so completely in love with the new blog My Parents Were Awesome that I contacted its owner, 26-year-old Brooklynite Eliot Glazer, within minutes of discovering it. First, I wanted to say thank you (and apparently he gets a lot of that). And I wanted to know more about his daily submissions-based stream of decades-old family photos. In just one month Glazer has collected more than 900 submissions.
Glazer is an editor at Urlesque and a comedian and performer with the (fabulous) Upright Citizens Brigade . “I've always been in awe of old photos of my parents and grandparents,” he wrote in an email. “To see my own parents and grandparents look so effortlessly cool (and even glamorous) while my generation tries so hard to look unintentionally fashionable (not that there's anything wrong with that, of course) is pretty entertaining, too. I'm consistently surprised by the overwhelmingly positive feedback, especially when people submit photos of someone who has recently passed away.”
He's worked his own family into the mix. Here's his mom, his dad, his grandpa, his grandma, and his great-grandpa. We've assembled a slideshow of our favorites from the first month of My Parents Were Awesome. Enjoy!
10/16/2009 1:36:49 PM
"Thus far in American history, the fact that men have escaped an
onslaught of advertising for beauty products is a triumph of gender
ideology over capitalism," wrote Sociological Images blogger Lisa Wade in a 2008 post. "Companies, after all, could double their
market if they could convince men that they, too, were unsightly
without make-up." The post examined a few attempting to market make-up for men and left the matter alone until this week when she discovered a vintage ad by Mennen. Ah, the humiliation of "face shine."
Source: Sociological Images
10/14/2009 3:22:55 PM
As retailers like WalMart are shrinking aisle space devoted to magazines, Minneapolis-based Target has launched a bold digital newsstand, a joint project with digital content provider Zinio, reports MinOnline. Consumers can buy single issues or discounted subscriptions, choosing from a largely mainstream selection of publications.
As a company, Zinio has an unlimited-access, “comprehensive device” philosophy: “As the consumer you should only need to buy the digital version of [a publication] one time and have the freedom to access it on every device on an ongoing basis,” Zinio chief marketing office Jeanniey Mullen told MinOnline. So you subscribe, log into your Zinio account from wherever, and the content is formatted for how you've chosen to access it.
“Call it the counterpart to the emerging ‘TV everywhere’ model in which cable and premium network subscribers have online and mobile access to all of their TV programming,” writes MinOnline. It’s a forward-thinking strategy: “The current e-ink technology driving the Amazon Kindle, Sony reader and its upcoming rivals simply are not capable of showing magazines off very well. And while the Amazon Kindle allows for direct subscription and wireless downloads of more than a score of titles, these magazines are formatted specifically for that device.”
10/9/2009 6:12:53 PM
Simpsons fans, brace yourselves. The Huffington Post picked up an AP report that Marge Simpson will be on the cover of the November issue of Playboy, available on newsstands October 16, apparently in an attempt to attract 20-something readers into the audience—whose average age is 35.
I hate to ask a perhaps obvious question, but… shouldn’t die-hard Simpsons fans also skew that way? Not that the humor of the longest-running American sitcom doesn’t transcend the ages, but choosing a character from a show that debuted in 1989 and garnered its greatest praise in the 1990s seems a bit of a weird choice for nabbing the 20-something set.
But then there’s really nothing not weird about any of it. Kelsey Wallace over at Bitch catalogs the panoply of unanswered questions:
Honestly, I don't know what is weirdest about this. Is it:
- Playboy thinking that a cartoon character is remotely erotic/sexy to the average reader?
- The Simpsons thinking that putting their animated character on the cover of a nudie magazine is a good idea?
- That the rest of the cover is also laid out in a decidedly creepy “The Simpsons Does Porno” cartoon style? (Sorry Benecio! Bum luck getting in this issue!)
- That Playboy CEO Scott Flanders insists that the three-page spread of Marge inside the magazine contains only “implied nudity”? (Thank goodness, because the real worry here was that we might see a cartoon nip slip.)
- That this all might turn out to be a wild success, proving that I am unknowingly hooked on crazy pills?
Kelsey, you are not hooked on crazy pills. It is Marge, it is Playboy, and it is baffling.
Sources: Huffington Post, Bitch
10/9/2009 5:30:43 PM
If you’ve ever fantasized about running a private prison, we have just the video game for you—it’s Prison Tycoon 4: Supermax, a “surprisingly sociological video game” that’s reviewed in the current issue of Contexts (summary only available online).
The Supermax player-as-warden builds a private prison from the ground up, choosing “when and where to build cellblocks, industry, recreation, educational and medical facilities, a chapel, dining halls, staff quarters, guard towers, and fences.” Then the real fun begins, with the day-to-day management of the prison—and that’s where this “remarkably mundane” game is particularly true to life behind bars.
“Prisons are boring,” the Contexts reviewers explain, especially since, over the past couple of decades, their focus has shifted from rehabilitating inmates to simply managing them (and, in the case of private prisons like the virtual ones in Supermax, profiting from their incarceration). So it’s appropriate that Supermax’s “primary game-player tasks are strikingly tedious, involving little more than creating schedules and allocating inmates to particular cell blocks and workplaces.”
The Supermax player must balance the same profit-minded motives as private prison companies today: “Such companies can’t spend too much money on rehabilitation programs, security staff or facilities,” the magazine writes, but they must also “maintain order and avoid escapes (something we never did figure out with Supermax) so they don’t lose their government contracts. Without governments providing a steady stream of clients to fill their facilities, profits would evaporate and their businesses would fold.”
There’s no exciting victory at stake here, the reviewers note; the marker of success is simply that you get to keep playing.
"In real life as in Supermax, then, the success of private prison entrepreneurs in the new era of the new penology isn’t marked by the ‘correction’ of prisoners, but by control and profitability," Contexts concludes. "In this respect, they, too, 'win'—not by rehabilitating prisoners or reforming the penal system, but only by continuing to play the game lucratively."
10/9/2009 4:41:55 PM
It happened again. Our humble magazine found its way into a Jon Stewart bit, this time about magazine mergers. The last time that happened we bought monocles and called a friend with a camera . This time, we're just pointing and laughing. If you want to see the segment, you'll find it at the Daily Show website.
10/9/2009 12:59:26 PM
You don’t have to be a cross-country skier or a snowboarder to appreciate the Zen-like athleticism of the new sport of cross-country snowboarding. Here’s a hilarious video introduction to this “outsider sport of an outsider sport” from the folks at Fuel TV:
(Thanks, Mountain World.)
10/9/2009 10:37:45 AM
Starting at the end of the month the Washington Post is holding a contest to suss out “America’s Next Great Pundit” (that assumes we have one now…). Justin Peters over at Columbia Journalism Review came up with a clever new lineup of reality TV inspired contests the paper could (or might?) roll out next. Peters suggests plotlines for The Next Top Bad Idea, I Live in Georgetown, Get Me Out of Here!, Who Wants to Marry Fred Hiatt?, Impartial Idol, and these two gems:
: Ten reporters are set loose in the Post newsroom and tasked with sticking around for as long as possible without being laid off, reassigned, or forced to appear on an unfunny Web video segment. Watch as participants employ survival strategies such as hiding, marrying up, or impersonating Bob Woodward. The last reporter standing wins a thirteen-week contract and a full set of Kaplan LSAT prep books.
: Fifty civilians are given prestigious, unpaid Post internships and set to work producing a daily newspaper. Each week their tasks get more difficult as another round of salaried and experienced employees gets laid off or bought out. Watch the hilarity as the apprentices guilelessly quote press secretaries, insert themselves into stories, and report on events by watching them on television. There are no winners in this contest.
Source: Columbia Journalism Review
10/9/2009 9:00:44 AM
There's a rather inspiring look at Kickstarter over at Poynter:
As journalists face pay cuts and are asked to do more with fewer
resources, it has become increasingly difficult for them to find the
time and money to pursue large-scale enterprise stories or personal
But some journalists are finding a way to make it work. In recent months, they have raised thousands of dollars on Kickstarter, the crowd-funding journalism site, but it isn't limited to journalists.
projects on the site, journalists say, has given them the opportunity
to pursue passions, think entrepreneurially about their work and find
new ways of interacting with audiences, not only after completing a
project, but while they're working on it.
"The truth is, you
can get better results if you tap the collective brain power of a big
group of people" on the front end, said Robin Sloan, who has raised
about $7,000 more than the $3,500 he set out to raise since launching his book project on the site at the end of August.
There is hope, friends. Now get out there and ask for some money!
10/6/2009 3:22:31 PM
When everything but the news is stripped out of a newspaper, publications tend to look a lot thinner. Inspired by a blog post by Clay Shirky, I decided to perform a “news biopsy” of the today’s issue of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. I wanted to separate the news from everything else in there.
I began by buying two copies of the newspaper, cutting them up, and separating the articles. One copy was for the odd-numbered pages, the other was for the evens. I then separated the articles into three categories: “news,” “advertisements,” and “other.” The “other” consisted of the opinion columns, sports, weather, comics, anything that was neither an ad nor reported news.
Here were the results:
News: 3.9 oz
Ads: 4.9 oz
Other: 7.3 oz
I then took the news pile and separated that into two categories: “created” and “acquired” news. The created news was anything with a byline from the Star Tribune. The acquired news consisted of articles sourced from the New York Times, the Associated Press, or anything outside of the Star Tribune.
Here were the results:
Acquired: 1.5 oz
Created: 2.3 oz
The paper fared better than the Columbia Daily Tribune, the paper tested by Shirky, where two-thirds of the news was acquired and only one-third was created. Still, out of more than 16 ounces of newspaper, just 2.3 were news created by the Star Tribune. The rest, according to Shirky:
It’s not news, and it’s not hard to do, and it’s not hard to replace. No one surveying the changes the internet is bringing to the newspaper business is saying “My God, who will tell me about Big 12 football! Where will I find a recipe for spicy chicken wings!”
Source: Clay Shirky
10/5/2009 2:54:13 PM
The New York Times has found a new source of funding for journalism: Isaac Mizrahi-designed raingear. In a memo to the company, New York Times president Scott Heekin-Canedy called the $99 coat and umbrella combo, “a summer sensation for The Times Store,” according to the Nieman Journalism Lab’s Zachary M. Seward. The New York Times has also tried creating a wine club as a way to cure their budget woes.
It’s easy to poke fun at the Times for the coat and the wine club, but Seward writes that this kind of merchandizing is “likely to play a significant role as news organizations scramble to replace print advertising revenue.”
The efforts are “a double edged sword” according to Megan Garber of the Columbia Journalism Review. Newspapers often engage in community building, and events like wine clubs—which USA Today and The Wall Street Journal are also trying—could be seen as an extension of that. And it’s not a big deal if the New York Times sells coats, as long as they use that money to fund cutting-edge journalism. On the other hand, Garber says, “it’s unfortunate that it’s not, strictly speaking, journalism.”
Both the coats and the wine club could also be seen as a replacement for the classified sections of newspapers, a revenue source that has been gutted by free services such as Craigslist. Classified ads, like the coats, had very little to do with journalism beyond funding the newspaper.
The real problem, however, is that media outlets haven’t yet figured out a way to fund their work using journalism. According to Garber, “I don’t know that we’ve proven that people aren’t willing to pay” for news. Newspapers simply haven’t figured out how to do it effectively, so far.
Nieman Journalism Lab
Columbia Journalism Review
the New York Times store
10/5/2009 2:43:10 PM
What do you think of Utne.com? The editorial staff over here at Utne Reader would love to know. Are there any parts that you particularly like? Or are there parts that you can’t stand? This is your opportunity to help us make our website the best it can be. Here’s a link to the survey:
Thank you very much for your time and help.
Source: Reader Survey
10/5/2009 12:50:06 PM
Dan Gillmor, director of the
Knight Center for Digital Media, has issued 22
new rules for news organizations. He offers up his edicts as
weapons against lazy and unimaginative journalism. Here are four of
- Transparency would be a core element of our journalism. One
example of many: every print article would have an accompanying box
called "Things We Don't Know," a list of questions our
journalists couldn't answer in their reporting. TV and radio stories
would mention the key unknowns. Whatever the medium, the
organisation's website would include an invitation to the audience to
help fill in the holes, which exist in every story.
- We would replace PR-speak and certain Orwellian words and
expressions with more neutral, precise language. If someone we
interview misused language, we would paraphrase instead of using
direct quotations. (Examples, among many others: The activity that
takes place in casinos is gambling, not gaming. There is no death
tax, there can be inheritance or estate tax. Piracy does not describe
what people do when they post digital music on file-sharing
- If we granted anonymity and learned that the unnamed source had
lied to us, we would consider the confidentially agreement to have
been breached by that person, and would expose his or her duplicity,
and identity. Sources would know of this policy before we published.
We'd further look for examples where our competitors have been
tricked by sources they didn't name, and then do our best to expose
- Beyond routinely pointing to
competitors, we would make a special effort to cover and follow
up on their most important work, instead of the common practice today
of pretending it didn't exist. Basic rule: the more we wish we'd done
the journalism ourselves, the more prominent the exposure we'd give
the other folks' work. This would have at least two beneficial
effects. First, we'd help persuade our community of an issue's
importance. Second, we'd help people understand the value of solid
journalism, no matter who did it.
What would you do differently?
10/2/2009 1:30:27 PM
Since film director Roman Polanski was arrested in Switzerland last weekend, well-respected celebrities have come out in droves—et tu, Whoopi Goldberg?—to defend him or suggest that it's time to move on. So it’s an overwhelming relief to read Katha Pollitt’s searing piece for The Nation, in which she calls out Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, Bernard-Henri Lévy, Tilda Swinton, and the other “international culture stars” who have stepped forward to support a man who drugged and raped a 13-year-old girl. Pollitt writes:
The widespread support for Polanski shows the liberal cultural elite at its preening, fatuous worst. They may make great movies, write great books, and design beautiful things, they may have lots of noble humanitarian ideas and care, in the abstract, about all the right principles: equality under the law, for example. But in this case, they're just the white culture-class counterpart of hip-hop fans who stood by R. Kelly and Chris Brown and of sports fans who automatically support their favorite athletes when they're accused of beating their wives and raping hotel workers. No wonder Middle America hates them.
Chris Rock is one “culture star” who isn’t falling in line; he was on The Jay Leno Show Thursday night expressing his own disbelief over the controversy in appropriately simple terms: “Rape! It’s rape!”
He went on: “People are defending Roman Polanski because he made some good movies? Are you kidding me? He made good movies 30 years ago, Jay! Even Johnnie Cochran don’t have the nerve to go, 'Well, did you see O.J. play against New England?'”
Watch Chris Rock's entire one-minute Polanski rant at Jezebel.
Source: The Nation, Jezebel
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