Monthly Archives: March 2014

How Daily Candy and Television Without Pity paved the way for the modern internet

Despite their different subject matter and audience, both Daily Candy and TWoP were in the at first enviable position of being innovators in their fields — it’s hard to imagine a world where Thrillist, Urban Daddy, Flavorpill, Very Short List, and Tasting Table, among others, exist without Daily Candy coming first. And likewise, TWoP paved the way for every culture site under the sun doing their version of a recap. But the problem with being an innovator is when you can’t keep up with the changes around you, and that’s what happened to both these sites. Tara Ariano, one of TWoP’s founders (who has not been affiliated with the site since selling it to NBCU, and now runs Previously.tv), told me that the longform recap “feels like a relic of a time when there wasn’t video online — they really served a functional purpose. In some cases, we would hear, ‘I’m overseas, I can’t watch Angel!’ Their only recourse was the recaps.” And in an age before widespread adoption of DVR, TiVo, or OnDemand programming, Ariano recalled, people in the forums would sometimes have VHS tape exchanges of episodes they’d missed.

Why The Closing Of Television Without Pity And Daily Candy Marks The End Of An Era

Why are VCs suddenly investing in news orgs?

VCs and investors have been pouring millions of dollars into new media ventures recently, ranging from Ezra Klein’s Vox to Glenn Greenwald’s First Look to Jonah Peritti’s BuzzFeed. Why the sudden interest? Typically, a VC invests in a company with the hope for a large return many times the initial investment once the company goes public or is acquired. Do any of these new news organizations really have that short-term potential, and is the investment creating the right kind of incentive structure to practice quality journalism? Gawker’s Nick Denton doesn’t think so:

Not every media company has chased venture capital funding, however. Gawker Media, for example, has bootstrapped its entire operation since its founding in 2003. It is, however, an exception.

“We never raised money because we fund growth from cashflow,” said Nick Denton, CEO of Gawker Media by email. “And the journalistic pursuit of the truth is not compatible with outside investment. It’s impossible because of venture funds’ sensitivity to criticism, short time horizons and attachment to conventional wisdom,” he said.

Another reason for the Right to hate Obamacare: It’s registering people to vote

Nationwide, Obamacare could ultimately be responsible for registering anywhere from 3 to 7 million voters—potentially over 10% of the total number of eligible voters who aren’t registered today—over the next eight years.

“We think it’s a huge opportunity to reach people,” Sarah Brannon of Project Vote, which worked on the California settlement, said of the health care law.

Here’s why: Under the 1993 National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), which aimed to boost voter registration, people applying for public assistance—as well as DMV customers—must be offered the chance to register to vote. That means every state insurance exchange like California’s, as well as the federal exchange, will need to ask people whether they want to register. Even those people who end up getting covered via Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion or through other parts of the law, rather than through the private market, will still be offered the chance to register to vote.

Obamacare helping millions register to vote

How Paul Krugman evolved from an elitist economist to a populist critic

The key to understanding Krugman’s feuds is that he is driven by a very particular kind of professional elitism that can cut in two directions. He rose to fame as a public intellectual in 1994 as the author of “Peddling Prosperity,” which was both a popular primer about economic policy and a lacerating attack on what Krugman called “policy entrepreneurs,” his term for non-economists who sold politicians on simplistic but false economic remedies. Krugman reserved his deepest ire for supply-siders on the right, but partially balanced that out with attacks on liberals like Robert Reich. Krugman’s premise was explicitly elitist: He believed economic policy needed to stay in the hands of real economists, not amateurs with spreadsheets.

Krugman’s attack on the credentials of populist liberals like Reich made him nearly as much of a hate figure on the left as the right. A 2001 cover story by Robert Kuttner in the liberal American Prospect called him “the conservative’s ideal liberal.” It was decorated with a cartoon depicting Krugman in the trench coat of a seamy peddler, or perhaps a flasher.

Krugman has since rocketed to higher levels of fame by assailing the phony economics of the Bush administration in the last decade, and then, what he called the “Very Serious People,” who clung to superstitious fears of debt and inflation in the face of overwhelming evidence that the economy needed more demand. Krugman’s first incarnation positioned him as a snobbish defender of the economic elite, and his more recent incarnation, as a populist critic. But they both reflect a very particular kind of veneration for credentialed economic expertise.

Why Paul Krugman Turned Against Nate Silver

How do you open your news org up to unpaid bloggers without sacrificing quality?

That’s a question Entertainment Weekly is going to have to answer now that it’s opening itself up as a “platform” for amateur TV bloggers:

Clearly, a big challenge for EW will be to get to the scale it wants without lowering its standards. The publisher is starting out with 20 or 30 bloggers, but it wants to get that number as high as 1,000. That will require spending on technology to automate the editing process and monitor posts for Federal Trade Commission-mandated disclosures, a function that’s now being performed by human editors.

“It’s tough when you’re known to be a traditional publisher,” said Jeff Sonderman, deputy director of the American Press Institute. “When you pivot to say, some of our content is coming from outsiders and you can’t necessarily vouch for it, it’s hard because your readers have built up a different expectations. If you’re the Huffington Post, it’s a little different — you didn’t have the legacy of being something else.”