An ad agency tried to save a language after reading a seemingly credible story in a major newspaper. There was just one problem.
By Richard Wooley
The title of the article that started all the ruckus appeared in the London Guardian, and was headlined, “Language at risk of dying out — the last two speakers aren’t talking.” Technically, when the last speaker of a language dies, it’s classified as extinct. This headline came across like something in between, a kind of linguistic TKO.
The article, which ran in 2011, was based on a story circulating about a dying language that could survive only if some old men buried the hatchet. After an impressive thousand-year run that brought the word cocoa to the world, the imminent death of the language made for a gripping and heartbreaking human-interest piece. …
Why have so many publishers become event producers, and what does it mean for journalism?
By Robin Kaiser-Schatzlein
An hour into the Future of Everything Festival, I began to wonder what I was doing there. I am a journalist who writes about economics, and like all journalists, am on a constant hunt for leads and stories. I suppose a subway advertisement for the festival subtextually intoned that this was an event for me. …
A government proposal to build a media database was cancelled last year amid backlash. Was the alarm justified?
By Rebecca Heilweil
In April of 2018, an online database of government requests for proposals called FedBizOpps posted a solicitation from the Department of Homeland Security. DHS was looking for a media analytics company that could monitor 290,000 news sources in more than 100 languages, and provide a database of “top media influencers,” a category that included journalists, editors, bloggers, and prominent voices on social media. …
AB 5 is meant to penalize abusive employers like Uber, but it could affect many part-time workers — especially women and people of color.
By Rebecca Bodenheimer
Freelance writer Vanessa McGrady is very worried about AB 5, a California bill recently signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom that will take effect in less than two months. Intended to punish companies who misclassify their workers as independent contractors, the law threatens her small business, built up over a number of years. She’s a single mom whose daughter’s father died this year, and she doesn’t have a lot of backup for childcare — she needs to be available to pick up her daughter from school or stay home with her if she’s sick. In short, freelance work is the only sustainable option for her. …
Text-message interviews with big-name sources are on the rise. But are they as authentic and transparent as boosters claim?
By Audrey Carleton
The advent of digital media has ushered in a range of new journalistic formats, each seemingly easier to digest than the last. The latest bite-sized story style is the text message interview: on-record conversations with celebrities, politicians, and other well-known figures, conducted with thumbs by direct message. Across the web, screenshots are the new transcripts.
Buzzfeed News is one of the larger names to adopt and fuel the trend, publishing a series of text threads in its presidential election newsletter, “The Stakes 2020.” Each week since August, Buzzfeed News editor-in-chief Ben Smith has released a series of screenshots with one democratic candidate, in which they discuss events on the campaign trail, their policy proposals and hobbies. …
Facebook, Google and Twitter face pressure to regulate state-funded media ops seeking to game the Internet. But which ones, and how?
By Nithin Coca
As the protests in Hong Kong grew and intensified over the summer, observers on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube began to notice a trend: Chinese state-run media outlets, such as China Central Television (CCTV) and Xinhua News, were blanketing platforms with promoted tweets, boosted posts and advertising content containing false or fictitious accusations against protesters, who since June 5 have been calling for the withdrawal of a controversial anti-extradition law, universal suffrage, and more.
It got so bad that on August 17, Maciej Cegłowski, a web developer, wrote a tweet thread highlighting the disparity between the messages on his Twitter feed and what he was seeing on the ground. His thread went viral, with journalists and protesters concurring that Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube were all filled with promoted content presenting a heavily distorted view of the protests. …
Late and missing payments upend lives and deplete the ranks of non-wealthy journalists. Is an organized response underway?
By Tatiana Walk-Morris
Micco Caporale was not blindsided by the difficulties of freelance life. Growing up, her father did contract work for the sets of commercial and independent film projects. When business was good, he made financial decisions for the family based on five-figure commissions. When clients failed to pay him on time, things were harder. At one point, multiple clients missed or failed to make their payments, causing his business to go into a tailspin. …
What a struggling Western community taught me about reporting outside the bubble in a time of industry tumult.
By Jill Rothenberg
“Hi there,” I said to the woman pushing a cart through the narrow aisles of the Dollar General. There are 18 dollar stores and counting in Pueblo, the southern Colorado city of 111,000 where I have lived and reported for the past six years.
“I’m writing about dollar stores for the Colorado Sun, a digital news site based in Denver,” I told the woman. “Can I ask you some questions?”
“Who’s this for again?” …
The arrest of Bay Area freelancer Bryan Carmody after he published leaked SFPD documents has national implications for a free press.
By Jim Knipfel
On February 22, San Francisco public defender Jeff Adachi died of an apparent heart attack at age 59. Adachi, who’d held his post for sixteen years, was the only elected public defender in California. During his time in office, Adachi earned a reputation as a vigilant watchdog when it came to matters of police misconduct and corruption. …
Invisible labor and the undervaluing of cultural criticism in the journalism economy.
By Rebecca Bodenheimer
It’s a difficult time to be a writer. Independent of the type of writing you do, staff jobs are disappearing, mushrooming the ranks of freelancers and creating ever-fiercer competition. Freelance rates are not only sagging way behind inflation, but have actually plummeted since the advent of digital media.
But most writers who do cultural criticism — a rubric that includes book, TV, film and music reviews and essays, visual arts criticism, and broader socio-cultural commentary — are struggling even more than the average technology, science or business reporter. Bluntly stated, most are unable to make a living. …