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Chompsky

An interesting look at the downfall of Adam Neumann — but one lacking the juiciest details on exactly how it happened.

In the world of tech, a ‘unicorn’ is a private startup valued at more than $1 billion. So-called, of course, because of how rare and unlikely this is: only a few hundred ‘unicorns’ have ever existed, a classification made up of unique, massive, and complex beasts such as SpaceX. Generally, surfers in their 20s who rent desk space do not end up alongside them.

Yet, in less than a decade, co-working startup WeWork became — or, rather, a handful of tech bros incorrectly claimed it had become — a unicorn 47 times over, allowing the ‘We Company’ to expand into…


A world wide web.

Credit: Ethan Hu

In my head, the term ‘pop culture’ will always conjure the ancient realm of the 1990s. Comic books, glossy magazines, cartoons, neverending banks of music video channels — a colossal, largely tangible entertainment industry that delivered top-down, mandatory super-fun-times. A rockin’ and rollin’ mass culture peppered with originality, generously layered with toxic tropes, and delightfully lacking in self-awareness.

Today, while not much has changed in terms of power — the industries are still colossal, top-down, and sometimes, super fun — pop culture looks wildly different. …


A guide to why everyone hates it, and how activists are trying to change it.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

‘The Media’…

…is a complex beast. When we talk about ‘It’ — even when specifically pinpointing, for example, the dreaded 👻 ‘mainstream media’ 🧛— we’ve immediately lost all nuance and detail. (Which is surprising, given how reasonable and listen-y everyone is in the digital age.)

‘The Media’ is not only a huge number of different companies, people, financial structures, etc. It’s also a huge number of different media.

It could mean newsrooms. It could mean entertainment. …


An ‘unfortunately necessary’ update to 2003’s groundbreaking doc is convincing, provocative, and surprisingly uplifting.

I can’t recommend 2003's The Corporation enough. A polemic about our fabulously irredeemable corporate overlords, it’s full to the brim with case-studies from The Walt Disney Company to industrial flooring manufacturers. It has long been one of my favourite films; my only gripe being its combination of a 2 hour and 45-minute runtime with the most beautifully soporific, velvety narration in cinema history. It was not easy for my teenage brain to digest three hours of information about exactly how and why my future was doomed, accompanied by an eerily erotic lullaby.

But if you can stay awake and maintain…


In the same week the press comes under harsh scrutiny, media activists remind us that they’re armed with tools for change.

Credit: Bruce Detorres

For any activist, a return of focus to your campaign is bittersweet because it almost always means that something has gone badly wrong. In the week before 2021’s Media Democracy Festival, the fallout from Meghan and Harry’s Oprah interview has seen an explosive reaction in and around the tabloid press, throwing a spotlight on the case for the media reform movement.

The couple illuminate a particularly high-profile version of some of the media industry’s most pernicious effects, subtle and overt. And in their responses, the press and the public have largely proven the couple’s point.

The last several decades have…


These recent examples of the Conservatives’ transparency issues show engagement with the press isn’t one of them.

By Parrot of Doom, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A Freedom of Information request by PA Media yesterday revealed that Downing Street spent over £2.6m refurbishing No 9 with a new press briefing room, leading Boris Johnson’s Cabinet Office to defend the decision as a move towards “transparency and accountability”.

The news emerged just hours after the backlash over a 1% pay rise for NHS staff hit headlines, resulting in comparisons by politicians, journalists, and the public between the value and urgency of the two decisions.

Labour has called the renovation a “vanity project”. …


A five-year wave of labour organising across international media and tech companies is picking up speed.

School-age NYC newsboys, whose infamous 1899 strike changed Pulitzer and Hearst’s business models. (1908, Lewis Hine)

**NB: this post is now being actively updated on our Substack page.

Five years ago, Gawker Media became the first digital newsroom to unionise. Since then countless digital and legacy news outlets have followed, prompting two Canadian journalism professors to pen a recent article for The Conversation titled What’s behind the new push for unionization by journalists. It stated:

“By our count, since 2015, journalists have unionized at more than 80 digital and legacy media outlets, including at BuzzFeed, VICE Canada, Vox, Canadaland and 28 brands owned by the conglomerate Hearst Magazines.”

Around the same time, Axios lent their excellent…


Winners of Australia vs Facebook include Big Tech, Big Media, and conspiracy theorists: everyone but the public.

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

The first post I wrote for Chompsky’s launch last year was Can Australia Save Journalism?, a brief explainer on the country’s proposed ‘media bargaining code’ that sought to force the Big Tech ‘duopoly’ of Facebook and Google to give back some advertising revenue to news outlets. One response in the comments cited Betteridge’s Law of Headlines: “any headline that ends in a question can be answered ‘no’”.

While I wasn’t entirely naive about the code’s limited ability to revolutionise the news, media, and tech industries for good I was hopeful about the development.

Yesterday, as the code was days away…


Curtis’ postmodern style is loved by some and derided by others. In his latest film, it’s a unique playbook for reality.

I just spent over six hours watching all of Adam Curtis’ new film. I won’t say I didn’t understand it, because I mostly did. But it’s probably more accurate to say I felt my way through it, which makes sense for a film called Can’t Get You Out Of My Head: An Emotional History of the Modern World.

It’s a film about how, in the face of a lack of control, humans respond emotionally: either by hunkering down (learned helplessness) or by acting out (following a “strong leader” to authoritarianism) and in either case reinforcing the same old power structures…


Workers across departments at Medium have voted to “make sure actions matter.”

On Feb 11 a majority of Medium’s 140 workers in engineering, editorial, design, product, and other departments, announced the launch of a new union. The Medium Workers Union (MWU) voted to join their local chapter of the Communication Workers of America (CWA) in San Francisco.

A statement on their local CWA site under the heading ‘We Build Medium’ explained the MWU’s motivations for organising:

“…both tech and media are at a crossroads, and it is more important than ever that companies in both industries are equitable and supportive of their employees. This is the age of newsroom buyouts, startups folding…

Chompsky

Power and Pop Culture. Anything and everything at the intersection of media and politics.

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