The Desolation of News


So a “singer” — which Apple plastered on the front page of their music service for many months with a whole boob hanging out — says something controversial about COVID vaccines — which the CDC is already refuting — and Tucker Carlson — arguably the most popular talking head on TV at the moment — makes that tweet news.

I don’t care what she said about COVID. I just want to point out what a crazy world we live in that crazed rants and resulting ratio-ing on Twitter is now news. How is anyone supposed to make head or tails of anything any more?

In the process, though, she proved the old adage true, that even a broken clock is right twice a day. You have to seek clarity from a higher power.

Leo Morris: News ‘philanthropy’ is a bad idea

Now, advertisers seek targeted audiences rather than broad coverage, and savvy consumers read online reviews of everything before making a purchase. People glimpse the news in their Facebook feeds and find amusements through social media forums. They complain bitterly on Twitter, then look around and wonder where the sense of community went.

Source: Leo Morris: News ‘philanthropy’ is a bad idea

The problem has been debated for about 20 years now. But I think history will look back and find one point he made to be the most-compelling problem: “the sense of community.” The internet has eliminated the “gatekeepers” or the “arbiters” or the “curators” of common knowledge. There was a guy who became famous for describing “the long tail,” and that people could find anything they wanted with the modern internet, and people could make money filling those desires, no matter how obscure or arcane. The internet has allowed each person to radicalize along intensely-individualized lines, and be virulently opposed to anyone who differs in any way. This is the problem. It’s just that Twitter found a way to capitalize on this virulence.

We can’t get along any more, because we all presume ourselves the final authority on everything. So there’s very little room in the market for a journalistic publication that’s supposed to offer a wide swath of “important” stories. No one agrees on what those stories are, let alone why they’re important, and what they infer. The entire idea of a publication has been (almost) destroyed by the internet. Only a few bigs will remain. It has much less to do with how to monetize it as it has to do with people’s desire to consume it. I guess what I’m saying is that I think what people really wanted all along was Facebook, but the closest thing we had was the local paper. I mean, look at the orchids and onions in The Republic. It has always been a “compelling” reason to get it. Facebook is just that, times a million.

While linking my local paper, I see that there are twenty-seven trackers and ads on that page, and this is another thing to talk about in the future.

Jeff Bezos’ $500M real estate portfolio: See all his luxury houses

Get a peek inside the good life of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who has a home for each climate.

Source: Jeff Bezos’ $500M real estate portfolio: See all his luxury houses

At some level of wealth, it must become really aggravating to the 1% that they can’t do anything about the fact that they have a physical body, and can only occupy about 2 cubic feet of space, like the rest of us slovenly plebeians.

NYTimes Peru N-Word, Part Two: What Happened January 28? | by Donald G. McNeil Jr. | Mar, 2021 | Medium

On Monday, February 1 — by coincidence, my birthday — Dean and Carolyn Ryan called me at about 10:30 A.M.My notes of the conversation are sparser than I normally take, but I also recounted it right afterward to a friend, so I think this is accurate.

As I remember it, Dean started off by saying “Donald, you had a great year — you really owned the story of the pandemic….”As soon as I realized he was talking in the past tense, I became tense and started taking notes.

“Donald, I know you,” he went on. “I know you’re not a racist. We’re going ahead with your Pulitzer. We’re writing to the board telling them we looked into this two years ago.”

“But Donald, you’ve lost the newsroom. People are hurt. People are saying they won’t work with you because you didn’t apologize.”

“I did write an apology,” I said. “I sent it to you Friday night. I sent another paragraph on Saturday morning. Didn’t you get it?”

Dean didn’t answer.

“I saw it,” Carolyn said.

“But Donald,” Dean said, “you’ve lost the newsroom. A lot of your colleagues are hurt. A lot of them won’t work with you. Thank you for writing the apology. But we’d like you to consider adding to it that you’re leaving.”

“WHAT?” I said loudly. “ARE YOU KIDDING? You want me to leave after 40-plus years? Over this? You know this is bullshit. You know you looked into it and I didn’t do the things they said I did, I wasn’t some crazy racist, I was just answering the kids’ questions.”

“Donald, you’ve lost the newsroom. People won’t work with you.”

“What are you talking about?” I said. “Since when do we get to choose who we work with?”

“Donald, you’ve had a great year, you’re still up for a Pulitzer.”

“And I’m supposed to what — call in to the ceremony from my retirement home?”

Carolyn stepped in: “Donald, there are other complaints that you made people uncomfortable. X, Y and Z.”

I remember looking at the snow in my garden.

“May I know exactly what X, Y and Z are? And who said I did X, Y and Z? I’m happy to answer anything — but I have to know what I’m being accused of.”

Neither of them responded. To me, it felt like an attempt to intimidate me.

“Let me give you an alternative view of who’s ‘lost the newsroom,’” I said. “I’ve been getting emails and calls from bureaus all over the world saying, “Hang in there, you’re getting screwed.” People are outraged at how I’m being trashed in the press and by the Times. If you fire me over this, you’re going to lose everybody over age 40 at the paper, all the grownups. All your bureau chiefs, all your Washington reporters, all your Pulitzer winners. Especially once they realize how innocuous what I really said was and that you didn’t find it a firing offense in 2019. And they’ll talk to every media columnist in town. The right wing will have a field day.”

“We’re not firing you,” Dean said. “We’re asking you to consider resigning.”

“You’re twisting my arm.”

“We’re not twisting your arm.”

“Just mentioning it, just bringing it up, is twisting my arm. Nobody in 45 years has suggested I resign. Charlotte has threatened to fire me a couple of times, but that’s different. That was always bullshit. But nobody’s ever suggested I resign. I should shut up and get a lawyer. I need a lawyer.”

Dean and Carolyn seemed to pretend to not hear that, either.

“We’re not twisting your arm. We’re asking you to consider it.”

“No. I’m not considering it. I’m not just quitting like this.”

The conversation then trailed to an end, with them saying “consider it” and me saying no.

Source: NYTimes Peru N-Word, Part Two: What Happened January 28? | by Donald G. McNeil Jr. | Mar, 2021 | Medium

I had read about this in bits in pieces. It was good to read about the whole thing from his side.

In the post-modernist society in which we live, no matter how they start, memes have become reality. All this guy did is quote the word back to a person asking a question. But if a viral mob forms over a perceived slight — no matter groundless it may be — you’re done, and there’s nothing you can do about it. There’s no amount of record-straightening, apologizing, or telling people to go pound sand that will make it go away. You will be canceled. The only thing that the mob will accept, by way of peacemaking, is your job, career, and future prospects. They want to see your entire livelihood destroyed. It’s a good thing this guy was already retirement age.

PewDiePie on YouTube used the word in question in an actual offense. He still has 109M subscribers. Those kinds of numbers suggest he is still making 10’s of millions of dollars a year on the platform. This guy got the boot after a 45-prestigious-year career, for a direct quote.

I think he’s right. I think the Times will lose readers over this. Not me, of course. The Times tipped its hand a few years back that this was the path they were going to take. They were heading to become the Paper of Record, but for Wokeness. If they can find enough people to pay for the service of having their political egos massaged, then, hey, “ain’t that America,” and good for them, but don’t pretend that this is anything other than the mirror image of the situation at Fox News or Breitbart.

When I realized this was their direction, I started paying for the WSJ.