All Penn, No Teller
> Why Penn Jillette kind of makes sense as a tech magazine’s back-page columnist
> But Jillette was something different. He was already famous—certainly more famous than Pournelle, an established science-fiction author, thanks to being a regular fixture on television during much of his career and starring in a legendary Run-DMC music video—and he likely did not need a nationally distributed computer magazine column to make a living. Jillette simply liked computers and knew a lot about them, which meant that he could rant about the details of an Autoexec.bat file just as easily as he can about politics. He gave the tech writing form something of an edge, while maintaining the freewheeling nature established by fellow pre-blogging voices like Pournelle.
Some good quotes and links here.
Tucker Carlson: Washington Post ‘noticed’ the story that it broke on Joe Biden
> Fox News host Tucker Carlson finds himself in a pickle: On the one hand, he must do his propagandistic duty of discrediting top-tier Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden; on the other, doing so requires crediting enemy media outlets.
> “The worst part is, the story wasn’t even true. It turned out to be a jumbled mashup of a bunch of different stories with all of the facts wrong. Even The Washington Post noticed. And trust me, they’ve got every incentive to lie about it, they often do,” said Carlson, articulating the most churlish, petty and envious story credit ever to air.
How the woman who broke the news about World War II was also first to the ‘Third Man’ spy
> Much of the coverage following the death of Clare Hollingworth has focussed upon her reporting on the outbreak of World War II and the fact that she broke the first stories about Germany’s invasion of Poland. But a little more can perhaps be said about her role in another major 20th-century news story. Hollingworth played a significant part in the outing of Kim Philby as the so-called “Third Man” in the Cambridge Spy Ring, following his disappearance from Beirut in January 1963.
New York Times lawyer on Palin editorial: ‘It was an honest mistake’
> Sarah Palin has launched countless bogus attacks against what she calls the “lamestream media.” Virtually all of them disintegrate upon articulation, but one of them is lingering: On Aug. 6, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit restored a 2017 defamation lawsuit Palin filed against the New York Times over an editorial that falsely depicted the impact of her political action committee on the national discourse.
This is a much longer column than I expected, covering a lot of detail about proving defamation against a public figure.
Engagement Is the Enemy of Serendipity
> Whenever I’m grumpy about an update to a technology I use, I try to perform a self-audit examining why I’m unhappy about this change. It’s a helpful exercise since we are all by nature resistant to even minor alterations to the technologies we use every day (which is why website redesign is now a synonym for bare-knuckle boxing), and this feeling only increases with age. Sometimes the grumpiness is justified, since one of your tools has become duller or less useful in a way you can clearly articulate; other times, well, welcome to middle age.
> The New York Times recently changed their iPad app to emphasize three main tabs, Top Stories, For You, and Sections.
Trump Consultant Is Trolling Democrats With Biden Site That Isn’t Biden’s
> For much of the last three months, the most popular Joseph R. Biden Jr. website has been a slick little piece of disinformation that is designed to look like the former vice president’s official campaign page, yet is most definitely not pro-Biden.
> The website’s success was not accidental. Mr. Mauldin put it up well before Mr. Biden’s official website and aggressively pushed it out on Reddit, getting clicks and links and exposure. It had a big boost in May when a handful of media outlets — The Daily Caller and CNET, among others — wrote stories about the fake page beating Mr. Biden’s and linked to it. Links from established media websites are weighted heavily by search engines.
Hey everybody, look at this thing we don’t want people to see!
The case of the Photoshopped female CEOs
> This week, I dedicated approximately three hours to an investigation that seemed, at varying times, important, obscure, symbolic and deeply, deeply petty. The task at hand: determining whether two women who were photographed at a tech summit in Italy were, in fact, at this tech summit in Italy.
[Statute of] Queen Anne’s Revenge? Supreme Court Grants Certiorari in Allen v. Cooper
> Most media reports concerning the case, however, were less concerned with the legal principle involved, and more interested in the factual situation out of which the dispute arose: the discovery, in 1996, of the 300-year-old wreck of the Queen Anne’s Revenge, the flagship of Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard the pirate. Coincidentally, Blackbeard named his ship for the same Queen Anne who gave royal consent to the first British copyright act, the Statute of Anne, in 1710. In the same year, Bristol merchants completed a ship named Concord, which was later sold to French merchants who called it La Concorde. Blackbeard captured the ship in 1717, outfitted it with additional cannon, and renamed it Queen Anne’s Revenge, because he had served as a British privateer during the war against France and Spain that lasted for almost the whole of Queen Anne’s reign.
> Allen v. Cooper raises a host of interesting issues regarding the relationship between the states and the federal government vis-à-vis copyright infringement and the ability of a state to declare a copyrighted work to be a “public record.” The U.S. Supreme Court granted certoriari only on a single threshold issue: whether the states have sovereign immunity from suits for copyright infringement under the Eleventh Amendment. Even if the Supreme Court rules in favor of sovereign immunity, as expected, the possibility of a state lawsuit for inverse condemnation remains. Thus, more than 300 years after the Queen Anne’s Revenge ran aground, her voyage through the American judicial system is far from over.
The end of political cartoons at The New York Times
> In April 2019, a Netanyahu caricature from syndication reprinted in the international editions triggered widespread outrage, a Times apology and the termination of syndicated cartoons. Weeks later, my employers tell me they’re ending political cartoons altogether by July. I’m putting down my pen, with a sigh: that’s a lot of years of work undone by a single cartoon - not even mine - that should never have run in the best newspaper of the world.
> I’m afraid this is not just about cartoons, but about journalism and opinion in general. We are in a world where moralistic mobs gather on social media and rise like a storm, falling upon newsrooms in an overwhelming blow. This requires immediate counter-measures by publishers, leaving no room for ponderation or meaningful discussions. Twitter is a place for furor, not debate. The most outraged voices tend to define the conversation, and the angry crowd follows in.
The Urgent Quest for Slower, Better News
> Media outlets have been reduced to fighting over a shrinking share of our attention online; as Facebook, Google, and other tech platforms have come to monopolize our digital lives, news organizations have had to assume a subsidiary role, relying on those sites for traffic. That dependence exerts a powerful influence on which stories are pursued, how they’re presented, and the speed and volume at which they’re turned out.
> Lately, I have begun to wonder, like Newport, whether the sheer volume of online news actually runs counter to the goal of keeping people informed.
Mistakes, we’ve drawn a few
> At The Economist, we take data visualisation seriously. Every week we publish around 40 charts across print, the website and our apps. With every single one, we try our best to visualise the numbers accurately and in a way that best supports the story. But sometimes we get it wrong. We can do better in future if we learn from our mistakes — and other people may be able to learn from them, too.
A great gallery of good and bad graphs.
The Mueller report: How long can cable news talk about a document it doesn’t have?
> And that’s why — as the Erik Wemple Blog was finishing this post — all the channels were still going strong as they worked toward three hours of gabby analysis, “breaking news” bits and speculation. On CNN, legal analyst Joey Jackson was talking about President Trump’s protection from indictment. On MSNBC, Melber was talking to Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) about releasing the report. On Fox News the great Chris Wallace was saying, “We’re all tired of this investigation. . . . I think the country at large has been suffering Mueller fatigue, investigation fatigue.” It’s also known as cable-news fatigue.
Post-Charlottesville Doxxing and Misidentification Creates Legal Risks–Vangheluwe v. GotNews
> Am I reading that right? Did someone actually argue that they were reasonable in presenting something they found on 4Chan as fact? Indeed, the court is not persuaded by reliance on 4Chan. In the context of dealing with the “wire service” privilege, the court says it is “not convinced that 4Chan is a reputable news-gathering agency.” Not surprisingly, plaintiffs are able to present a plethora of evidence on the freewheeling nature of 4Chan.
When Twitter Threads Fly Away
Mostly about threads and plagiarism, but also in conclusion:
> Twitter is not a blog. It’s not meant to be a blog. This is a blog. Compare the thread that I wrote with what I transcribed to this blog post. Is there more information in the thread? Mm, maybe. There’s different information. But is the important information available here, edited for clarity, removing the random wandering thoughts and audience participation? Yes. Is this format better suited to a blog post? Yes. Is the twitter thread better suited to twitter? Absolutely.
I don’t like twitter threads, but like the multiple levels of bottom feeders even less.
How the BBC Visual and Data Journalism team works with graphics in R
> Over the past year, data journalists on the BBC Visual and Data Journalism team have fundamentally changed how they produce graphics for publication on the BBC News website. In this post, we explain how and why we have used R’s ggplot2 package to create production-ready charts, document our process and code and share what we learned along the way.
Let’s Save Blogging
> The independent blog has been in decline for years. It doesn’t have to be that way. Here’s why you should start a blog in 2019—and host it yourself.
I liked this a bit more than the average take on the subject.
Screenshotting a Newspaper Page May Infringe a Licensed Photo–Hirsch v. Complex
> Any opinion that starts out with the following introduction will get my attention: “This case, which is factually very straightforward but presents a whole host of legal issues, would — in the parlance of law school — make for a good issue-spotter examination.”
> Once again, photos create unexpected legal problems for folks. The court says “For the first two seconds, the Photograph is clear as day, and its prominence unmistakable — it is the thing being featured in the video and takes up most of the screen.” News videos routinely show screenshots of third party newspaper coverage of the same topic. Usually the screenshot highlights the headline, though sometimes it highlights a pull quote. It’s unclear if screenshotting newspapers is categorically problematic. However, this opinion suggests that any collateral copyrighted material in the screenshot–such as a photo the newspaper licensed from a third party–is liability bait, no matter how briefly it’s shown. Fortunately, there is an obvious but suboptimal solution. Video producers taking screenshots of third party newspapers need to blur EVERYTHING–ESPECIALLY PHOTOS–other than the minimum they need to establish their point.
Information is Beautiful Awards 2018: The Winners
> Let’s raise a glass to dataviz that pushes boundaries, illuminates truth, and celebrates beauty. Thank you to everyone who joined us on the Information is Beautiful Awards journey this year - now see which entries took home trophies at tonight’s spectacular ceremony.
Another collection: https://www.wsj.com/graphics/year-in-graphics-2018/
Taking shit from the chancellor
> “It generated quite a shitstorm,” she said, using the English term — because Germans, it turns out, do not have one of their own.
The City That Shaped The New Yorker
> Like so many figures who come to be enshrined as “quintessentially New York,” Harold Ross, the founder and first editor of this magazine, was an outsider who arrived in the big city nursing an ambition.
> Ross subsisted on nicotine, coffee, and nerves. The hours he kept were horrible, and his three marriages failed. But he fulfilled his dream. The New Yorker found its footing during the Depression. And although the magazine began to venture far beyond midtown with the start of the Second World War, the city remained an essential terra firma, a spirit and a home.
> This week, while we digest one holiday and prepare for more, we’ve decided to open the archive and republish a sampling of New York stories, New York essays, New York poems, and New York drawings. There’s even a classic New York cover, by the Mexican artist Matías Santoyo. All the pieces you’ll find in this issue, fiction and nonfiction, are set in the city, and all are deeply personal.