Is the domination of dramatic language online really bringing people together, or does avoiding real words drive them apart?

Jarod Majeika, age 19, peruses Twitter, where he has more than 29,000 followers. He tweets most frequently about movies, music, and pop culture in general. Most tweets rely on images as part of dramatic reactions to events.

“Good morning, world. I’m dead inside.”

Gesturing grandly, Jarod Majeika announced his emotional state to the world from a forested area near his home in Rhode Island. The then-high school student wore a black backpack and a t-shirt bearing a map of the northeastern United States and eastern Canada. White earphones hung from his ears.

“hte jarod,” as he was known, made this pronouncement on Vine, the Twitter-owned looping video social network where he had more than 270,000 followers. By the time Vine shut down in 2017, Majeika’s videos had been viewed roughly 200 million times, he said. …


Your values as an organization need to be part of not just your editorial strategy, but your design, too.

“A person browsing articles in an app on a black iPhone” by +Simple on Unsplash

Recently, I read a post on Recode that defined the work of publishers in a way I simply cannot believe: “Publishers create and aggregate information and present it to users in return for their attention, which they sell to advertisers.”

I mean, sure, that’s what publishers spend a lot of time doing right now. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Competing in the attention game is a race to the bottom, so we as news producers should step out of that game entirely by focusing on something else: the purpose we accomplish and values we convey. …


When publications prioritize “engagement” or page views, telling compelling and accurate stories seems like merely a secondary goal

Image via Pexels

I don’t trust anyone.

When it comes to news, at least.

When I decided to pursue a journalism career a few years ago, I knew I wanted to “fix” the industry. But I don’t think I realized at the time how broken it is. And I’m not even talking about “fake news” or media companies struggling to stay profitable, though these issues are connected. What I mean when I talk about trust is: There is no news organization out there today that I believe is fully doing what’s best for me, its audience, or itself. …


When Mark Zuckerberg announced on Jan. 11 that Facebook’s goal would shift to fostering “meaningful social interactions,” he explained the rationale as being rooted in research. The company has found that while connecting with others online is good for users, “passive” consumption of content is “not as good.”

So when I recorded my news consumption habits for an entire day last week, I was a little dismayed to realize how passive those habits are. I suppose that means my news routine is “not as good” — but does that matter?

Out of the hundreds (if not thousands) of tweets, headlines…


Design products for the people who use them, not for your newsroom.

On the day I began writing this, I woke up to find a new survey from the American Press Institute that identified one key reason young people pay for news:

“For younger audiences to be willing to pay, they must bond with your mission and purpose.”

What this means is that news organizations have to do their work with the public in mind. Reporting that is irrelevant, stiff and haughty, self-serving or elitist is not going to strike a chord with an audience looking to subscribe to journalists whom they believe in.

Fighting the journalistic ego that leads to these…


News in 2017 doesn’t need to follow the production cycle of news in 1987.

Hey, news industry, you’re doing it wrong.

As part of a USC Annenberg class looking at how to create new journalism products, I asked some of my fellow USC students what got in the way of their news consumption today. It was a pretty open question, but they had some common answers. Here’s a selection of some themes:

News sites aren’t clearly laid out, making it hard to find relevant articles. Advertising and non-important links are too prevalent:

“Whenever I try to search for anything that’s not immediately breaking, like if I wanted to learn more about Betsy DeVos, it’s hard to find backlog articles or archived pieces.”

Story length and format:

“I don’t find it super appealing all the time to sit down…


A USC junior creates a mobile app business from the ground up

When Josh Javaheri entered college in 2013, he knew he wanted to start a business. As a freshman at Boston University, he said, he was surrounded by entrepreneurs, and the environment for technology startups was picking up steam. After one unsuccessful venture, Javaheri came up with his crowning idea in the spring of 2014: a mobile game called Lucky Day.

“It came from my enjoyment of arcades,” Javaheri said. “What I loved so much about these places wasn’t necessarily the games, it was winning the prize, the money. …


Here, the terms “azure” and “machine learning” can be used in the same sentence

HackSC participants gather around a laptop with an Apple engineer (left). This area was a designated space for consulting Apple employees for help with coding. Apple also provided test hardware for HackSC participants to test their ideas on. (James Tyner/Neon Tommy)

When HackSC began on the night of November 13, the rooms of USC’s Annenberg building were abuzz with chatter. About 700 college students from various schools were brainstorming and embarking on a journey to create something new at the hackathon.

One group — who called themselves the “Soylent homies,” after the nutritional beverage — thought to build “machine learning for restaurants.” Then they realized that such a service already exists. They changed their idea to an app to scan a user’s photos and then recommend what activities to do next. But that wasn’t feasible, so they finally settled on an…


Free streaming raises questions about neutrality

T-Mobile CEO John Legere mingles with T-Mobile and Metro PCS employees outside of Shrine Auditorium before the Uncarrier X event on Wednesday, where the company announced “Binge On,” among other things. Photo courtesy of T-Mobile.

When T-Mobile announced Music Freedom — unlimited music streaming not subject to data caps — customers rejoiced. As the company puts it, T-Mobile is “setting music free.” The company was at it again on Tuesday when it announced Binge On, which extends free streaming to a variety of video services.

But while these offers may appear highly enticing and consumer-friendly, they have a darker side — and it has to do with something called net neutrality. Let’s dive in.

What is net neutrality?

In a neutral Internet, all service providers treat all Internet traffic equally. No special treatment, no paid “fast lanes,” no discrimination…


Obama administration shuts down pipeline project, welcoming a new era of clean energy

Routes of completed and proposed phases of the Keystone pipeline system. Keystone XL is Phase 4, marked in green. (“Keystone-pipeline-route” by Meclee — Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons)

Seven years after it was announced by TransCanada, the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline project was rejected by the Obama administration this week. The project, lauded by some and reviled by others, has been a mainstay of Obama’s presidency, announced just months before he took office.

James Tyner

I’m a USC Annenberg grad at the intersection of technology, product design, and editorial. Find my work here: https://jamestyner.com

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