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Writers and Editors (RSS feed)

What do you make of the 'Bad Art Friend'?

For friends and readers who have found this literary incident perplexing, I share links to some commentary. What do you think?

Who Is the Bad Art Friend? (Robert Kolker, NY Times Magazine, 10-5-21) Art often draws inspiration from life — but what happens when it’s your life? Inside the curious case of Dawn Dorland v. Sonya Larson. This is the 10,000-word article that started it all. "It includes all the hot-button topics for writing and publishing: questions of artistic license, plagiarism, and copyright; status anxiety in the literary world; gossipy writing groups; social media use; and race."
The Short Story at the Center of the “Bad Art Friend” Saga (Katy Waldman, New Yorker, 10-10-21) "On Twitter, where much of the “Bad Art Friend” debate has flourished, my colleague Helen Rosner observes a “tension between writers who define themselves via their writing and writers who define themselves via ‘being a writer.’ ” To me, the slippage between these two categories gives the Dorland-Larson saga its heat. When you put a person’s life in your art, you risk misrepresenting them. But when you put another writer’s life in your art, you commit a kind of proleptic plagiarism—you steal their material. A growing interest, in some publishing circles, in “own voices” and “lived experience” intensifies this dynamic: a premium is placed on authors’ personal familiarity with the worlds they summon. There’s a corresponding sense that the person who inhabited a story in real life should get the first crack at fictionalizing it."
Bad Art Friend and how getting dragged into art doesn’t always feel like a compliment (Emily Donaldson, Globe & Mail, 11-1-21) As a slew of recent viral examples prove, writers borrowing from the real world for their fiction can lead to some unexpectedly thorny outcomes.
What ‘Bad Art Friend’ and the Facebook whistleblower say about our ‘connected’ lives (Christine Emba, Washington Post, 10-9-21) On Oct. 5, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen gave the Senate damning testimony about her former employer, and the New York Times Magazine published a nearly 10,000-word piece by Robert Kolker about two feuding writers and an organ donation. Both events went viral. And both painted an unflattering picture of how the social media giant is affecting our everyday lives. It makes a weird sort of sense that “Who Is the Bad Art Friend?” and Haugen’s Senate takedown debuted on the same day. Both were cautionary tales about the insidiousness of social media — Facebook in particular.
How Bad Art Friend Became Twitter’s Favorite Parlor Game (Robert Kolker, Times Insider, NY Times, 10-20-21) The email was straightforward: She believed she'd been plagiarized in a short story by another writer named Sonya Larson. Now they were in court. Kolker explains how he approached his reporting and what he thought about the online discourse around the story. His article on a literary quarrel between Dawn Dorland and Sonya Larson was a popular subject of conversation on social media.
Grub Street Tackles 'Art Friend' Fallout (Alex Green, Publishers Weekly, 11-1-21) While the nonprofit organization was not directly involved in the controversy, its employees and board members were. Among others, Sonya Larson has departed from her role heading up the annual Muse & Marketplace conference. Artistic director Christopher Castellani has asked for forgiveness and remains with the organization. (H/T The Hot Sheet)
'Bad art friend': should fiction writers ever lift stories from other people's lives? (The Guardian, 10-6-21) Great writers have always been inspired by friends and lovers, but a viral article has revived the moral arguments around muses. In the age of the internet, does using someone else’s story feel like a violation? Does this story have a moral? Yes: it's that writers are terrible people and you should cut them all from your life immediately. OK, so can I tell my story now?


And again, what do you think?

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Will journalism survive? In what form?

by Pat McNees (updated 5-24-22), orig. published 10-2-15)
The days of "the internet wants to be free" are ending. As the advertising-pays-for-print-journalism model stops working, will the blog-for-free-because-it-will-give-you-exposure-and-a-platform model replace it in the name of "citizen journalism"? What are the alternatives? Here are links to some of the debates and articles circulating on this topic -- most recent at the top:

Soaring newsprint costs make life even harder for newspapers (The Economist, 11-6-21) A British newspaper boss tells The Economist, “It’s like tasering an elderly person who’s already on pacemaker.”
Tough Business (Columbia Journalism Review series, 60th anniversary issue,12-20-21) Sewell Chan on the journalism industry’s persistent struggles.
---What E.B. White Told Xerox The literary demigod delivers a broadside against corporate sponsorship of the news
---Build the Wall (David Simon) Most readers won’t pay for news. But if we move quickly, maybe enough of them will
---The Baby Bind (Mary Ellen Schoonmaker) Can journalists be mothers?
---Balance of Power Jean Schwoebel on the miracle Le Monde wrought
---A ‘Daily News’ Diary (Mary Ann Giordano)A play-by-play of a paper up for sale
---The Pain of Being Terminated (John Long) A veteran TV reporter reflects on being unceremoniously ousted
Does Journalism Have a Future? (Jill Lepore, New Yorker, 1-28-19) The more desperately the press chases readers, the more it resembles our politics. In an era of social media and fake news, journalists who have survived the print plunge have new foes to face. "Even as news organizations were pruning reporters and editors, Facebook was pruning its users’ news, with the commercially appealing but ethically indefensible idea that people should see only the news they want to see....Every time Facebook News tweaks its algorithm—tweaks made for commercial, not editorial, reasons—news organizations drown in the undertow....BuzzFeed surpassed the Times Web site in reader traffic in 2013. BuzzFeed News is subsidized by BuzzFeed, which, like many Web sites—including, at this point, those of most major news organizations—makes money by way of “native advertising,” ads that look like articles. In some publications, these fake stories are easy to spot; in others, they’re not. At BuzzFeed, they’re in the same font as every other story....
"The Times remains unrivalled. It staffs bureaus all over the globe and sends reporters to some of the world’s most dangerous places. It has more than a dozen reporters in China alone. Nevertheless, BuzzFeed News became more like the Times, and the Times became more like BuzzFeed, because readers, as Chartbeat announced on its endlessly flickering dashboards, wanted lists, and luxury porn, and people to hate."
"The broader problem is that the depravity, mendacity, vulgarity, and menace of the Trump Administration have put a lot of people, including reporters and editors, off their stride."
BBC & The New York Times — where the R&Ds meet the news (Global Editors Network, 1-31-19) "Some things obvious to newsrooms today, were most probably thought of by a Research & Development team before becoming norm. Though some R&D teams have been around for years, others are just now starting to develop interesting projects. Whether focusing on AI and machine learning, blockchain, or smart speakers and voice devices, the R&Ds are aiming to help advise newsrooms on what’s next; identifying where technology and news, unitedly, can fuel what will drive the media industry forward...."In a media landscape where twists and turns are common, the Research & Development teams don't only have to help in the now, but also predict the future. So where do they get their ideas from, how do they interact and implement their solutions, and in what direction do they see news and technology to be headed next?"
Five myths about the news business (David Chavern, Outlook section, Washington Post, 12-3-2020) 'Clicks' pay for newsrooms, Subscriptions alone will pay for journalism, Newsrooms depend financially on coverage of Trump, Billionaires will save the news business, and ...what's #5? from the Post's excellent5 Myths series.
Newsonomics: Tronc’s selling, and buying, and just generally shapeshifting (Ken Doctor, Nieman Lab, 5-31-18) Patrick Soon-Shiong, the one-time Tronc vice chairman, finally close on his nearly $600 million buy of the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union-Tribune. For a company that’s known little but chaos in its short life, the degree of uncertainty is now as high as ever. Just about the only thing we know: Tronc execs will come out well in the end. Could the Los Angeles Times come out a better paper?
Mort Rosenblum Laments AP (Aileen, AdWeek 2-20-06) Suggestions for preserving AP's virtues from a man who worked for AP for decades. A good inside-the-biz story.
Newsonomics: “Everything I believe about the news business is being violated” at The Denver Post (Ken Doctor, Nieman Lab, 5-7-18) "The Post has been totally gutted of news coverage and of editorial coverage. That's a fact."— former Denver Post owner Dean Singleton. Meanwhile, the current owners plan still another round of cuts, under hedge fund control — and consider killing editorial pages entirely.
The Hard Truth at Newspapers Across America: Hedge Funds Are in Charge (Gerry Smith, Bloomberg, 5-22-18) Coast to coast, financial firms are playing a bigger role at local papers struggling to adapt in digital age. Investors like Alden Global Capital LLC and Fortress Investment Group LLC have acquired ownership stakes in newspapers that have struggled to adapt in an online world, from the Denver Post to the Providence Journal. Funds have brought their cost-cutting know-how to help restructure several newspaper chains in heavy debt after the 2008 financial crisis. “They’re not reinvesting in the business,” Ken Doctor, a longtime newspaper analyst and president of the website Newsonomics, said about Alden Global. “It’s dying and they are going to make every dollar they can on the way down.” A hedge fund's news formula: Cut well-paid but unproductive reporters and ask the rest to write more.
The Denver Post’s rebellion and ‘a crisis in American journalism’ (Pete Vernon, CJR, 4-9-18)
The American experiment was built on a government-supported press (Will Meyer, CJR, 5-7-18) The advertising business model for journalism only gained traction 150 years ago. From the 1790s onward, news publications received a postal subsidy that slashed as much as 90 percent off postage fees. (It was met with resistance in the South; slaveholders loathed it.) Today, the United States trails far behind many of its industrialized counterparts in supporting the press.
What Could Blockchain Do for Journalism? (Nicky Woolf, Medium, 2-13-18) For an industry under siege, a potential solution to account for “billionaire” shutdowns and funding challenges. 'An ecosystem of micropayments, in which everyone pays fractions of a penny for every article they read, has long been thought of as the holy grail for online journalism, the theoretical future solution. But there has never been a way to process payments like that in reality — until now. “Blockchain technology can create both chains of authenticity and a level of security,” Emily Bell, director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, tells me....On top of that, she says, cryptocurrencies offer an opportunity for “marketplaces which bring journalists and interested communities together to fund work.”'
Blockchain Will Be Theirs, Russian Spy Boasted at Conference (Nathaniel Popper, Technology, NY Times, 4-29-18) 'Another delegate who had a separate conversation with the head of the Russian group remembers a slightly different wording: “The internet belonged to America. The blockchain will belong to the Russians.”'

Industry Insight: How a New Breed of Billionaire Owners is Shaping the Newspaper Business (Matt DeRienzo, Editor & Publisher. 4-17-18) Certain points are highlighted in this review of Dan Kennedy's book The Return of the Moguls: How Jeff Bezos and John Henry Are Remaking Newspapers for the Twenty-First Century. Basically: "Hoping a random billionaire buys your local newspaper and makes everything great again is probably not a solid plan for saving journalism in most of America. But examples of just that in Boston and Washington, D.C., are providing room for experimentation." Kennedy's book "explores turnarounds at the Washington Post and Boston Globe, failed attempts elsewhere, and the overall limits and pitfalls of the 'billionaire savior' model....Instead of a Jeff Bezos, you could end up with a Sam Zell, whose leadership of Tribune newspapers was disastrous, or a Warren Buffett, who has taken a hands-off, wind-down-the-business approach similar to the most-criticized corporate newspaper chains."

Journalism’s New Patrons: Newspapers deepen embrace of philanthropy (David Westphal, CJR, 2-8-18) On January 30, the Charleston Gazette-Mail staff learned it would receive philanthropic support for two news-side reporters in 2018. The money, from Report for America and ProPublica, will cover about 15 percent of the Gazette-Mail’s news reporting salaries (excluding features and sports reporters). And it becomes the latest example of how philanthropy is becoming an ever-larger part of the revenue streams of newspapers and other for-profit news companies. The West Virginia paper is one of seven news organizations being subsidized by ProPublica to intensify investigative reporting over the next year. Separately, it’s one of three participants in a Report for America pilot program that will shine a spotlight on life in Appalachia.
Bikini slideshows and other click bait: Do paywalls usher in better content? (Mollie Bryant, Big If True, 2-1-18) An interesting discussion of online ads, paywalls, clickbait, slideshows of bikini contests, and other approaches to declining revenue for journalism. "Wired’s new subscription package is a helluva deal. For $20, readers get a year’s worth of the magazine’s print and digital products, including online access. To sweeten the deal, the package offers a rarity in online subscriptions – no website ads. That means no standalone ads thrust in your face like a jack-in-the-box while you’re mid-sentence. What a concept!" But it’s not going to save print journalism.
Learning from the New Yorker, Wired’s new paywall aims to build a more “stable financial future” (Ricardo Bilton, Nieman Lab, 2-1-18) “People who have studied the information age at this point recognize that there were a bunch of problems and side effects to the fact that people weren’t asked to pay for content in the early years of the internet.” "Wired’s brand and mission may align it closely with the koan of the internet revolution that “information wants to be free,” but the days of unlimited free content at Wired.com are coming to an end." Wired editor-in-chief Nick Thompson, who joined the magazine last January after seven years as editor of NewYorker.com, said that developing a Wired paywall topped his agenda from the earliest stages of taking on the job because “it is my strong sense that paywalls are an essential part of the future of journalism.
Paywalls make content better, Wired editor Nick Thompson says (Eric Johnson, Recode, 2-1-18) Wired’s wall goes up today: Four free clicks, then $20 a year.
The Problem With Journalism Is You Need an Audience (Hamilton Nolan, Gawker

h, 1-14-16) "Many writers believe that our brilliant writing will naturally create its own audience. The moving power of our words, the clarity and meaning of our reporting, the brilliance of our wit, the counterintuitive nature of our insights, the elegance with which we sum up the world’s problems; these things, we imagine, will leave the universe no choice but to conjure up an audience for us each day.
"The problem is that nobody ever bothers to inform the audience....The history of journalism is littered with the corpses of good publications. The “new media” world is no different. The “long tail” and “audience segmentation” and every other buzzword term does not change the nature of the business. The audience for quality prestige content is small."

Three tools to help digital journalists save their work in case a site shuts down (Laura Hazard Owen, Nieman Lab, 11-21-17) “So many people who work professionally on the Internet really don’t know, until too late, that their work is this fragile.” She writes about
---Save My News, site launched by Ben Welsh, editor of the Data Desk team at the Los Angeles Times, lets journalists (about 300 of them so far) save their links to Internet Archive and WebCite, so they won't be lost when sites suddenly shut down.
---If You See Something, Save Something – 6 Ways to Save Pages In the Wayback Machine (Alexis Rossi, Internet Archive, 1-25-17)
--- Gotham Grabber (available as open source code on Github).

Why a divided America has united against the media (Gillian Tett, Financial Times Magazine, 7-14-17)

Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online (Data & Society, 5-15-17). Download free report. "the spread of false or misleading information is having real and negative effects on the public consumption of news."
"Online communities are increasingly turning to conspiracy-driven news sources, whose sensationalist claims are then covered by the mainstream media, which exposes more of the public to these ideas." Great links to other, related stories, including: Who Controls the Public Sphere in an Era of Algorithms: Case Studies (Laura reed and Robyn Caplan Data&Society, 5-13-16), "a collection of case studies that explores how algorithmic media is shaping the public sphere across a variety of dimensions, including the changing role of the journalism industry, the use of algorithms for censorship or international compliance, and more." and Google and Facebook Can’t Just Make Fake News Disappear Danah Boyd, Wired, 3-27-17) "That’s the beauty of provocative speech: It makes people think not simply by shoving an idea down their throats, but inviting them to connect the dots."

The Web of Deceit: Can Journalism Survive the Internet? (Aidan White, Ethical Journalism Network, 2-12-15) Andrew Keen, a veteran of Silicon Valley, says cyberspace "has become a dangerous place for everyone except power-hungry capitalists and snooping governments and the rest of us are its victims....Keen underscores how the net’s free for all culture, including news, has caused havoc in the creative industries. There were promises that the Internet would come up with solutions for the crisis that has overtaken people in publishing, music and entertainment, but 25 years on nothing has emerged....although the Internet, together with the World Wide Web, personal computers, tablets, and smartphones, has ushered in a mighty communications revolution, and one of the greatest shifts in society since the dawn of the industrial age, as Keen points out it also has had deeply negative effects....His first book, The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet Is Killing Our Culture, was a lacerating critique of the obsession with user-generated content. He then asked how quality content can be created in an online environment (including journalism) that demands everything for free." Interesting analysis.
See also The great internet swindle: ever get the feeling you've been cheated? (Jon Henley, The Guardian, 2-9-15) The internet was meant to liberate and empower its users. But the real effect has been to create vast monopolies and turn us into victims, argues web sceptic Andrew Keen in his controversial new book The Internet Is Not the Answer.

How will journalism survive the Internet Age? (Reuters, 12-11-09) "First, journalism is not synonymous with newspapers... Second, journalism will do more than survive the Internet Age, it will thrive. It will thrive as creators and publishers embrace the collaborative power of new technologies, retool production and distribution strategies and we stop trying to do everything ourselves.... I continue to believe and support the link economy....Like many we grapple with the coverage, cost and value issues of content scarcity vs. abundance as well as content uniqueness vs. utility. We choose to maximize the value of each of these four quadrants and have adaptive business models and markets which allow us to. For example, we focus principally on the importance of vertical and niche markets that have subscription-oriented models — this where our firm derives the vast majority of its revenues.... the newfangled aggregators/curators and the dominant search engines are certainly not the enemy of journalism."

Can Journalism Survive?: An Inside Look at American Newsrooms by David M. Ryfe

Meet The Modern-Day Journalist (Ruth E. Thaler-Carter, Association Media and Publishing, May/June 2015) "The nature of how journalism gets done has changed drastically in recent years – digital communications and social media, media organization consolidations, downsizing and disappearances of traditional newspapers, citizen journalism, blogging as an alternative to professionalism, and multiple responsibilities for reporters....The big driver, of course, is the transformation in the ways that digital technology has changed or ruined business plans, such as advertising, which has been undermined until it's difficult to make the kinds of profits that larger publications need to survive."

American Press Institute Conducts Largest-Ever Journalism Survey (Rob Stott, Associations Now, 8-14-15). American Press Institute conducted a survey of more than 10,000 journalism and communications graduates spanning two generations and hailing from 22 U.S. universities. "News flash: Journalism in 2015 looks lot different than it did 30, 20, and even 10 years ago. Newspapers are still around, but they’re struggling. Content marketing is on the rise. And social media is becoming the go-to news source for all Americans—not just millennials."And 60% of journalism and communications graduates "have a mostly negative view of sponsored content and believe it crosses ethical boundaries.... Still, 50 percent of journalists said their news organization publishes sponsored content."

Informing the News: The Need for Knowledge-Based Journalism by Thomas E. Patterson The message: .As the journalist Walter Lippmann noted nearly a century ago, democracy falters “if there is no steady supply of trustworthy and relevant news.” Today’s journalists are not providing it. Too often, reporters give equal weight to facts and biased opinion, stir up small controversies, and substitute infotainment for real news. Even when they get the facts rights, they often misjudge the context in which they belong.'

Bringing the trolls out of the dark: Russian ‘troll’ awarded 1 rouble damages (Joanna Gill, EuroNews, 8-18-15) "Samchuk claims that she and hundreds of other employees in the St Petersburg agency were paid to run several social media accounts, flooding the internet with pro-Putin comments as well as doctoring images that ended up on Russian and Western websites."

Riptide: An oral history of the epic collision between journalism and digital technology, from 1980 to the present (Nieman Lab, September 2013). Three veterans of digital journalism and media — John Huey, Martin Nisenholtz, and Paul Sagan, Fellows at the Joan Shorenstein Center at the Harvard Kennedy School — interviewed dozens of people who played important roles in the intersection of media and technology — from CEOs to coders, journalists to disruptors. Riptide is the result: more than 50 hours of video interviews and a narrative essay that traces the evolution of digital news from early experiments to today. It’s what really happened to the news business.

Digital Journalism: How Good Is It?
(Michael Massing, NY Review of Books, 6-4-15--the first of three articles) "The distinctive properties of the Internet—speed, immediacy, interactivity, boundless capacity, global reach—provide tremendous new opportunities for the gathering and presentation of news and information. Yet amid all the coverage of start-ups and IPOs, investments and acquisitions, little attempt has been made to evaluate the quality of Web-based journalism, despite its ever-growing influence."

‘Farewell, readers’: Alan Rusbridger on leaving the Guardian after two decades at the helm Rusbridger reflects on two decades of sweeping change – from broadsheet to Berliner, Aitken to Snowden, and newsprint to pixels – and recalls his fervent wish when he took the job: “Please, please let me not drop the vase.” Excellent overview of basic changes in the industry.

The decootification of media companies (Jeff Jarvis, Buzz Machine, 8-5-14). Do read this one. "...media companies do not have the stomach, patience, capital, or guts to do the hard work that is still needed to finish turning around legacy media. So they spin them off. What used to be Gannett, Tribune, Scripps, and Belo are now TV companies. What used to be News Corp. and Time Warner are now entertainment companies — companies that might merge not, in my opinion, because that’s such a wonderful deal but because the best path they see to growth is not innovation there either but instead cutting costs and consolidating negotiating power to outmaneuver (with help from legacy telcos) the Netflixes of the future. "

The Economist hosts online debates on the future of news (July 7 to Aug. 3, 2014) (ijnet) What business models will best serve news firms? How important is objectivity in the news industry? Is the power of the press now diminished? And how much does that matter? See related story What is the future of news? (The Economist 7-7-11)

Small Pieces, Loosely Joined: On the End of Big News (Nicco Mele, Nieman Reports, Spring 2013). Fascinating analysis of what's happening to newspapers, and especially to investigative journalism--with some hints of new ways to support it.

Change Starts Small: The Texas Tribune Chooses Efficiency Over Size (Kate Galbraith, Nieman Reports, Spring 2013)

“The Story of a Lifetime” (David L. Marcus, Nieman Reports, Spring 2013) Boston Globe editor Brian McGrory on the Boston marathon bombings, paywalls, misinformation, and social media.

Five questions publishers need to ask before charging for content, or Pitfalls of the pay wall. "Before they jump into charging for content, news organizations must bypass the 'quality journalism' argument and answer these five questions instead," writes Michele McLellan, and you can read about those five questions on the Knight Digital Media Center website.
Among columnists she thanks for blogging about paid content, which helped her understand the issues: Steve Yelvington (Fatal Assumptions), Steve Outing (Attributor: Will it be used for good or evil?) and Jeff Jarvis, BuzzMachine The Golden Link, on whether to charge for linking to content. (I don't know if those are the specific blogs she was grateful for, but they are interesting, and take you to those bloggers' sites.)

Low pay or no pay, but exposure. Discussions about writing for low pay or no pay, partly for the "exposure, " can get fairly heated. Here are a few examples.
A Day in the Life of a Freelance Journalist—2013 (Global Editor of the Atlantic Magazine digital edition asks Nate Thayer to write a story, for no pay. Say what?? Nate Thayer responds.)
A Day in the Life of a Digital Editor, 2013 (Alexis Madrigal, a senior editor at The Atlantic, responds to Nate Thayer. "The biz ain't what it used to be, but then again, for most people, it never really was." And "You have to want to be jacked into the Internet all day long, every day. This is not the life most journalists imagined when they were looking at 1970s magazines." And "As a rule of thumb, it sucks to take free work from people who are freelancing for a living."
Joe Dator New Yorker cartoon on working "for exposure".
When People Write for Free, Who Pays? (Cord Jefferson, Gawker, 3-8-13)
Artisanal Journalism (Reg Chua, (Re)Structuring Journalism blog, 6-11-12). Chua recommends rethinking three aspects of journalism: information gathering, presentation ("everything from a tweet to a 10,000-word piece, graphics, data visualizations, photo slideshows, documentaries and forms yet to be invented"), and publication ("not just getting it in print/on a show/online, but the entire process of thinking about what news product should be presented, and how. Should you report on politicians’ statements, or create a site that tracks how truthful they are? How much automation/machine-generated content should you embrace? What focus and audience should you aim for?").

The Newsonomics of the shiny, new wrapper (Ken Doctor, Nieman Journalism Lab, 6-21-12). "Publishers are getting more aggressive about repackaging their work into ebooks, iPad magazines, and other new forms, in the hopes of creating something readers will pay for....Consumers aren’t paying just for content; they may not know or care a product’s origin. They are also paying for some sense of discovery and convenience. Credit the iPad, the table-setting, placement-rearranging marvel of our times, for this new thinking. It is making possible reader — and publisher — reassessment of news and magazine product. In a sense, the tablet is just a new container.... news and magazine design never found a metaphor that seemed pleasing for readers. Tablet design, borrowing many of the principles of print, but making use of features print could never support, connects with readers."

Brand-Name Journalists Cross a Vanishing Journalistic Divide (David Carr, NY Times 10-20-10).

Internet con men ravage publishing John R. MacArthur, publisher of Harper's Magazine, makes a powerful argument about how fast-talking Internet promoters have fooled publishers and writers into thinking they can make any money publishing online. (Providence Journal blog, 3-12-12). MacArthur quotes from Screened out and isolated (Tyler Brûlé, Fast Lane columnist, Financial Times, 1-20-12). "What Brûlé was describing was the physical manifestation of what the novelist Scott Turow calls 'siloing,' that is, the cordoning off of information and elimination of the haphazard, sometimes random, adjacencies, so vital to learning and, for that matter, romance. Adjacencies such as the story on the lower-left-hand corner of the page adjacent to the less interesting story you happen to be reading. Adjacencies such as the book on the shelf next to the book you were looking for."

Paper Con Man Ravages the Internet Alexis Madrigal's response to John Macarthur's essay attacking the whole enterprise of online journalism (The Atlantic, 3-13-12)

Two interesting reviews of Chris Anderson’s new book, Free: The Future of a Radical Price: Malcolm Gladwell's
Priced to Sell: Is free the future?, in the New Yorker (7-6-09), and $0.00 by Virginia Postrel (NY Times Sunday Book Review, 7-10-09)

The Death of Journalism (Gawker Edition) by Ian Shapira (Washington Post, Outlook, 8-2-09), with follow-up discussion on Tuesday, August 4: Outlook: How Gawker Ripped Off My Story and Why It's Destroying Journalism

Priced to Sell: Is free the future?, in the New Yorker (7-6-09), and $0.00 by Virginia Postrel (NY Times Sunday Book Review, 7-10-09)

A conversation with entrepreneur and software engineer Marc Andreessen. (video) On the Charlie Rose show, the founder of Netscape talks about how print newspapers are on the way out, to be replaced by a web of Internet interactivity

All Hands On Deck: 4 Editors on the SF Chronicle Implosion (the Daily Anchor Editorial Team)

An extremely expensive cover story — with a new way of footing the bill Zachary M. Seward, Nieman Journalism Lab. Sherri Fink's 13,000-word story about the New Orleans hospital where patients were euthanized in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, a New York Times Magazine cover story that is simultaneously available on ProPublica's site, may be "the most expensive single piece of print journalism in years." The new economics of journalism. Investigative journalism is labor-and-brain-intensive! Mother Jones on the same story: Cost of the NYT Magazine NOLA Story Broken Down (Clara Jeffery, Mother Jones 8-28-09)

Barry Diller: ‘The Internet is a miracle … Newsweek is an evolutionary process’ (L.A.Lorek, Poynter Online, 3-14-11). “We are in the very early period of a great revolution,” he said. “Once you can push a button and publish to the world you can go over the top and around all of these systems.” Diller's advice to entrepreneurs: “only get enough money to get it started, give away as little as possible, keep your head down, do not listen or talk to anybody, when it gets out there. Listen to your audience, unless it makes no sense, early audiences don’t always get you,” Diller said. “Keep going on your path. It will either work out gloriously or it will be another failure.”

Brill's secret plan to save the New York Times and journalism itself (Stephen Brill, Romenesko, 11-08)

Content Farms: Why Media, Blogs & Google Should Be Worried (Richard MacManus, NYTimes, 12-13-09). See also Content Mill Demand Media Expands Its Reach -- To More Newspapers! (Erik Sherman, b-net, on race to the bottom, 5-21-10)

Craig Newmark: I Didn't Kill Newspapers, it's an "urban legend" and David Carr Agrees (Beet.TV)

David Simon's Testimony at the Future of Journalism Hearing (David Simon, Real Clear Politics, 5-9-09). Simon says, among other things, "...high-end journalism - that which acquires essential information about our government and society in the first place -- is a profession; it requires daily, full-time commitment by trained men and women who return to the same beats day in and day out until the best of them know everything with which a given institution is contending. For a relatively brief period in American history - no more than the last fifty years or so - a lot of smart and talented people were paid a living wage and benefits to challenge the unrestrained authority of our institutions and to hold those institutions to task. Modem newspaper reporting was the hardest and in some ways most gratifying job I ever had. I am offended to think that anyone, anywhere believes American institutions as insulated, self-preserving and self-justifying as police departments, school systems, legislatures and chief executives can be held to gathered facts by amateurs pursuing the task without compensation, training or for that matter, sufficient standing to make public officials even care to whom it is they are lying or from whom they are withholding information." But it is not the internet that is killing newspapers, says Simon. "...my industry butchered itself and we did so at the behest of Wall Street and the same unfettered, free-market logic that has proved so disastrous for so many American industries. And the original sin of American newspapering lies, indeed, in going to Wall Street in the first place....In Baltimore at least, and I imagine in every other American city served by newspaper-chain journalism, those ambitions were not betrayed by the internet. We had trashed them on our own, years before. Incredibly, we did it for naked, short-term profits and a handful of trinkets to hang on the office wall. And now, having made ourselves less essential, less comprehensive and less able to offer a product that people might purchase online, we pretend to an undeserved martyrdom at the hands of new technology."

The Deal from Hell: A Cautionary Tale Every Publisher Should Read (Peter Cook, Publishing Perspectives, 7-5-11). Guest book review of The Deal from Hell: How Moguls and Wall Street Plundered Great American Newspapers by James O'Shea

The Death of Journalism (Gawker Edition) by Ian Shapira (Washington Post, Outlook, 8-2-09), with follow-up discussion on Tuesday, August 4: Outlook: How Gawker Ripped Off My Story and Why It's Destroying Journalism

Editors Only: The Newsletter of Editorial Achievement (discussing the changing nature of content delivery), sister pub to STRAT: The Newsletter of Print and Online Magazine Publishing Strategy

Disrupted: The Internet and the Press Jay Rosen and Clay Shirky discuss what's happening in journalism after its disruption by technology, conversations sponsored by NYU Journalism/Primary Sources)

8 Industries That Will Sit Out a Recovery. (Rick Newman, US News & World Report). Moody's rates media as one of the industries that won't be climbing back up any time soon. "... Media. It's hard to imagine what else could go wrong for traditional print and broadcast media companies. Even without a recession, newspapers, magazines, and TV and radio broadcasters have been losing their audience to the Internet. At the same time, a crushing downturn in the retail, automotive, and financial industries has led to double-digit cuts in advertising, the biggest source of revenue for many media companies. And there's no historic election, accompanied by millions in political advertising, slated anytime soon to help pick up the slack, as there was in 2008. Many newspapers are in such bad shape that investors have virtually no interest in buying them, at any price, according to Moody's. Magazines are doing so poorly that McGraw-Hill is struggling to find a buyer for BusinessWeek, one of the most venerable titles on the market."

The End of Hand Crafted Content (Michael Arrington, TechCrunch, 12-13-09)

End Times:Can America’s paper of record survive the death of newsprint? Can journalism? (Michael Hirschorn, The Atlantic, January-February 2009) and End Times: A Response from the Times

Enter Austin Post: New online venture seeks to create a 'conversational democracy' (Kevin Brass, Austin Chronicle, 7-10-09, on how "citizen journalism" may be an aggregation of "sloppy bloggers" in a system offering exposure for personal agendas instead of payment for professional journalism).

Five questions publishers need to ask before charging for content, or Pitfalls of the pay wall. "Before they jump into charging for content, news organizations must bypass the 'quality journalism' argument and answer these five questions instead," writes Michele McLellan, and you can read about those five questions on the Knight Digital Media Center website.
Among columnists she thanks for blogging about paid content, which helped her understand the issues: Steve Yelvington (Fatal Assumptions), Steve Outing (Attributor: Will it be used for good or evil?) and Jeff Jarvis, BuzzMachine The Golden Link, on whether to charge for linking to content. (I don't know if those are the specific blogs she was grateful for, but they are interesting, and take you to those bloggers' sites.)

Gerry Marzorati on the future of long-form narrative

Google CEO Eric Schmidt's Q&A at Newspaper Association of America convention, on advertising, micropayments, and subscriptions (Julie Moos, Poynter Online, and you can listen to the speech)

Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations and BoingBoing on Clay Shirky's masterpiece (with links to more Clay Shirky pieces)

How to Save Your Newspaper (Walter Isaacson, Time) and The bell tolls for Time, too (Alan Jacobson, Brass Tacks)

The Intelligence Briefing model of media (Conover on Media, a front-row seat at the final bonfire, 9-23-05)

Lesson from WisconsinWatch: Nonprofit Journalism Isn't Free (Robert Gutsche Jr., Poynter Online, 8-11-09)

Let’s Invent an iTunes for News (David Carr, NY Times, argues for a pay-for-news-by-item business model to save newspapers)

Losing the News: The Future of the News That Feeds Democracy by Alex Jones. "[S]ignificance may not be governed by the clock. The most valuable element in journalism is often enough not an episode that occurred today, yesterday or, horrors, the day before. It’s the creation of a new awareness provided by either months of investigation or relentlessly regular coverage," writes Harold Evans in The Daily Show, his review in the NY Times of this book, which Howard Gardener calls an "authoritative account of why journalism is vital, how it has lost its bearings," and what can be done to reinvigorate this foundation of a democratic society.

Monetize Online (Brass Tacks)

The newspaper business isn't dying, it's evolving (Kirk LaPointe, Vancouver Sun, 5-1-09)

Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable (Clay Shirky)

The Newspaper Suicide Pact (Xark 6-3-09, on "paid content")

Over 60, and Proud to Join the Digerati (James R. Gaines, Preoccupations, NY Times 11-28-09)

**• The Price of Truth (Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery, Mother Jones, Sept/Oct 2009). "The old model, where journalism was heavily subsidized by advertising, is over. The recession has made the divorce faster and more acrimonious, but the knives were already out. And online advertising is turning out to be a harsh mistress....Sure, information wants to be free. Alas, it's not....Reporting takes money." A concise summary of the issues.

Priced to Sell: Is free the future? Malcolm Gladwell's review in the New Yorker of
Chris Anderson’s new book, Free: The Future of a Radical Price. See also $0.00, Virginia Postrel's review of the book in the NYTBook Review.

The Printed Blog ("Publisher Rethinks the Daily" by Claire Cain Miller, NY Times)

Spackman of Times Online, UK, speaks of interweaving journalism and search optimization, counsels against becoming a "traffic tart" (Martin Stabe, Press Gazette, UK)

StreetVibes: Advocating Justice, Building Community (Gregory Flannery on a newspaper with a sense of purpose)

Talk Radio Gets Angrier as Its Revenues Drop (FrumForum on radio hosts who believe that anger is their only path to survival)

TimeSelect Content Freed (Holly M. Sanders, New York Post)

True/Slant: Angling for News Sponsors Howard Kurtz, Media Notes, Washington Post 6-8-09)

True/Slant Tests Another Model Of Web Journalism (Walt Mossberg,WSJ, Personal Technology, 4-8-09)

United, Newspapers May Stand (David Carr, The Media Equation, NY Times 3-8-09)

Urgent Deadline for Newspapers: Find a New Business Plan before You Vanish (Knowledge@Wharton Strategic Management Research Article - Requires free membership)

End Times:Can America’s paper of record survive the death of newsprint? Can journalism? (Michael Hirschorn, The Atlantic, January-February 2009) and End Times: A Response from the Times

U.S. bill seeks to rescue faltering newspapers (Reuters, 3-4-09, on allowing newspapers to become nonprofits)

Web Sites That Dig for News Rise as Watchdogs (Richard Pérez-Peña, NYTimes, 11-17-09, onVoiceofSanDiego.org

Storyful, a startup that started filtering videoclips about the turmoil in Egypt, is partnering with YouTube's CitizenTube, YouTube’s news and politics channel, in an experiment in teamwork to "curate" the news knowledgeably. Read Storyful Now: Egypt in Revolt (Nieman Journalism Lab, 2-4-11)

Will paid content work? Two cautionary tales from 2004 Tom Windsor, Nieman Journalism Lab, 2-10-09

Why Obama should stiff-arm "save the newspapers" legislation Jack Shafer, Slate, on Saving Newspapers From Their Saviours, 9-21-09)

Why iTunes is not a workable model for the newspaper business (Clay Shirky)

Why Small Payments Won’t Save Publishers (Clay Shirky)

Why the End of Newspapers Is Not the End of News (Larry Kramer, The Daily Beast)

You Can't Sell News By the Slice (Michael Kinsley, NY Times opinion page, 2-9-09)

All Hands On Deck: 4 Editors on the SF Chronicle Implosion

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Critical race theory: What is it and why is everyone arguing about it? (and about The 1619 Project)

Updated 4-22-22

Debates about critical race theory are coming to your district, board room, and classroom. Here's what you need to understand about CRT and the chilling effect of legislation not to teach about divisive concepts such as race and gender and sexual orientation. Needless to say, the topic has become highly politicized. One component of the discussion: The 1619 Project.

What Is Critical Race Theory, and Why Is It Under Attack? (Stephen Sawchuk, Equity & Diversity Explainer, Education Week, 5-18-21) "The basic tenets of critical race theory, or CRT, emerged out of a framework for legal analysis in the late 1970s and early 1980s created by legal scholars Derrick Bell, Kimberlé Crenshaw, and Richard Delgado, among others. A good example is when, in the 1930s, government officials literally drew lines around areas deemed poor financial risks, often explicitly due to the racial composition of inhabitants. Banks subsequently refused to offer mortgages to Black people in those areas." In other words, racism is imbedded in our institutions.
So Much Buzz, But What is Critical Race Theory? (Associated Press, NBC, 8-30-21) An excellent "Explainer." Former President Donald Trump has railed against it. Republicans in the U.S. Senate introduced a resolution condemning any requirement for teachers to be trained in it. And several Republican-controlled states, including Texas, have invoked it in legislation restricting how race can be taught in public schools. The concept known as critical race theory is the new lightning rod of the GOP. But what exactly is it?
     "Critical race theory is a way of thinking about America’s history through the lens of racism. Scholars developed it during the 1970s and 1980s in response to what they viewed as a lack of racial progress following the civil rights legislation of the 1960s.

      "It centers on the idea that racism is systemic in the nation’s institutions and that they function to maintain the dominance of white people in society.
      "The architects of the theory argue that the United States was founded on the theft of land and labor and that federal law has preserved the unequal treatment of people on the basis of race. Proponents also believe race is culturally invented, not biological."
What Does Critical Race Theory Have to Do with Early Childhood Education? (Barbara Kaiser and Judy Sklar Rasminsky, Children with Challenging Behavior, 1-3-22) "This notion of systemic, structural racism displeases many conservatives, from Tucker Carlson to former President Trump to parents fed up with the pandemic and angry at having their children out of school. Although CRT remains an academic subject taught almost exclusively in higher education, they have misinterpreted it and turned it into a catchall phrase for any initiative that advocates improving outcomes for children of color in elementary, middle, and high schools." Early childhood educators aren’t teaching CRT or discussing structural racism, and it isn’t clear when it would be appropriate to introduce these issues. At what age can children grasp them?...Early childhood educators can make a difference when they encourage children to recognize everyone’s strengths; when they teach them to empathize, to be kind, to be caring, and to acknowledge and believe that everyone has rights and everyone can make a contribution to society."

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Florida rejects math books with ‘references’ to critical race theory (Valerie Strauss and Lindsey Bever, WaPo, 4-16-22) "In its latest attempt to be the nation’s leader in restricting what happens in public school classrooms, Florida said it has rejected a pile of math textbooks submitted by publishers in part because they “contained prohibited subjects,” including critical race theory.... "Critical race theory is an academic concept centered around the idea that racism is not simply individual prejudice but it is systemic, woven into our legal systems. One example of this is when government officials in the 1930s deemed certain areas — often inhabited by Black people — as bad financial investments, making it hard for them to get mortgage loans and buy their own homes, according to Education Week.

Why are states banning critical race theory? (Rashawn Ray and Alexandra Gibbons, Brookings, 7-2-21) "Critical race theory (CRT) has become a new boogie man for people unwilling to acknowledge our country’s racist history and how it impacts the present. CRT does not attribute racism to white people as individuals or even to entire groups of people. Simply put, critical race theory states that U.S. social institutions (e.g., the criminal justice system, education system, labor market, housing market, and healthcare system) are laced with racism embedded in laws, regulations, rules, and procedures that lead to differential outcomes by race."

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UMass Panel To Explore “Telling The Truth About History” (Amherst Indy, 4-1-22) "For not the first time in U.S. history, the content of public school curricula is being challenged across the country. Since January 2021, 41 states have introduced bills or taken other steps that would restrict the teaching or discussion of “divisive concepts,” such as racism, sexism, critical race theory, and the 1619 Project. A Tennessee school board recently banned teaching the Pulitzer Prize-winning Holocaust novel Maus. And at least 16 states are considering “don’t say gay” laws, which restrict discussions of sexual orientation or gender identity.
"This panel of scholars, political leaders, and teachers will address the ongoing national assault against teaching accurate and evidence-based history at the K-12 level, and increasingly, at the community college and university levels. Panelists will consider the history of public school educational disputes around race, sex and sexuality and the impact these educational gag orders have, not just on the teaching of history, but most importantly on our democratic system of government and the meaning of equality in the United States."

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The law that prompted a school administrator to call for an “opposing” perspective on the Holocaust is causing confusion across Texas (Brian Lopez, Texas Tribune, 10-15-21) Lawmakers say schools are misinterpreting a new measure designed to keep critical race theory out of public schools. “The point of public education is to introduce the world to students. It’s not there to protect students from the world.” ~ Paul Tapp, attorney with the Association of Texas Professional Educators
Joint Statement on Legislative Efforts to Restrict Education about Racism and American History (PEN America, 6-16-21) "We, the undersigned associations and organizations, state our firm opposition to a spate of legislative proposals being introduced across the country that target academic lessons, presentations, and discussions of racism and related issues in American history in schools, colleges, and universities. These efforts have taken varied shape in at least 20 states, but often the legislation aims to prohibit or impede the teaching and education of students concerning what are termed “divisive concepts.” These divisive concepts as defined in numerous bills are a litany of vague and indefinite buzzwords and phrases including, for example, “that any individual should feel or be made to feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological or emotional distress on account of that individual’s race or sex.” These legislative efforts are deeply troubling for numerous reasons."
Critical Race Theory (1970s-present) (Purdue Online Writing Lab, Literary Theory and Schools of Criticism) Helpful for students and teachers.

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Lesson of the Day: ‘Critical Race Theory: A Brief History’ (Jeremy Engle, The Learning Network, New York Times, 9-20-21) Culture wars over critical race theory have turned school boards into battlegrounds, and in higher education, the term has been tangled up in tenure battles. Dozens of United States senators have branded it “activist indoctrination.” In this lesson, students will look at the spread across the country of legislation opposed to critical race theory. Then they will consider the impact of these bills on their own schools and learning.
Attorney General Hunter to U.S. Department of Education: Keep Critical Race Theory, the 1619 Project Out of Education Priorities (Office of the Oklahoma Attorney General). 'In the proposed rule, the Department of Education embraces the much-criticized “1619 Project,” which argued that U.S. history should be defined by our worst moments, as well as critical race theory scholar Ibram X. Kendi, who advocates for a form of racial discrimination euphemistically called “anti-racism.”  The comments, filed by Attorney General Hunter and 19 other state attorneys general, call the teachings of the “1619 Project” and Mr. Kendi deeply flawed and controversial.
What is Critical Race Theory and is it taught in North Carolina? Answers to common questions. (T. Keung Hui and Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan, News & Observer, 9-28-21) A series on a school board battle. Republicans in North Carolina and nationally, including former President Donald Trump, have called for a ban on what they call “toxic Critical Race Theory” in schools. Many schools say they are not using Critical Race Theory but are trying to make lessons more relevant to an increasingly non-white student enrollment.
What Is Critical Race Theory and Why Are People So Upset About It? (Lauren Camera, US News, 6-1-21) Most Americans are not familiar with the term critical race theory, but that hasn’t stopped some from getting upset about attempts to reckon with the sprawling repercussions of slavery.

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Critical race theory (Wikipedia) and The 1619 Project are particularly helpful Wikipedia entries, which explain and link to many facets of both topics, liberal, conservative, and objective.
The New York Times’s 1619 Project: A racialist falsification of American and world history (World Socialist Web Site, 9-6-19) A long piece, presenting an opposing viewpoint: "The 1619 Project is one component of a deliberate effort to inject racial politics into the heart of the 2020 elections and foment divisions among the working class. The Democrats think it will be beneficial to shift their focus for the time being from the reactionary, militarist anti-Russia campaign to equally reactionary racial politics."

Laugh at the outrage over ‘sexy seahorses’ – but there’s nothing funny about conservatives trying to rewrite history (Arwa Mahdawi, The Guardian, 9-25-21) The rightwing playbook: outrage, leading to the passage of deliberately vague laws and advocacy groups diligently weaponizing those laws. The Moms for Liberty have been methodical: they’ve sent the Tennessee department of education a detailed spreadsheet outlining their complaints about the books being foisted on their children. A book about Galileo is “anti-church.” Over the past year, US conservatives have become obsessed with “critical race theory” (CRT). "None of the people raving about CRT are actually able to explain what the academic concept means; to them it just means anything that is less than complimentary about white people."

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Podcasts about health, health care, medicine and medical science

Aging (Hear Arizona, KJZZ-FM) What it's like to grow old in Arizona.
AMA Podcasts (AMA Moving Medicine, Making the Rounds, AMA Doc Talk)
America Dissected (host Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, on Crooked Media)
Anamnesis (MedPage Today) The story side of medicine. Personal stories from clinicians that baffle, delight, and might make you cry.
AP Cardiology Andrew Perry, MD, hosts a cardiology podcast for internists, residents and medical students.
An Arm and a Leg (A podcast about the high cost of health care, KHN)
Armchair Expert Dr. Nadine Burke Harris
Annals On Call (Annals of Internal Medicine)
A Second Opinion Rethinking American Health with Senator Bill Frist, MD
Aspen Ideas to Go

Be a Powerful Patient (NPR) Two doctors share insider tips from the medical world to help you take control of your health care.
Behind the Knife: The Surgery Podcast
Bedside Rounds (host Dr. Adam Rodman)
Ben Greenfield Fitness (for hardcore exercise junkies)
Better Health While Aging
BMJ Talk Medicine
Broome Docs
Business of Health Care (KWBU)

Cancer.net (American Society of Clinical Oncology, or ASCO)
Catching Health (Diane Atwood)
Contagious Conversations (CDC Foundation)
Conversations on Health Care Co-hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter lead in-depth discussions on health policy and innovation with industry newsmakers from around the globe.
Diabetes Core Update Presenting and discussing the latest clinically relevant articles from American Diabetes Association's four scholarly journals, monthly.
Don't Touch Your Face (APIC) Infection prevention.
Dr. Death (Laura Beil, Wondery) A scary story about a charming surgeon, 33 patients, and a spineless system--about Christopher Duntsch, an accredited but incompetent Texas neurosurgeon who was convicted of gross malpractice after 31 of his patients were left seriously injured after surgery, and two others died during it. See also Laura Beil Dissects a Criminal Doctor’s Surgical Rampage (Rachel Zamzow, The Open Notebook, 1-22-19)

Empowered Patient (Karen Jagoda) A window into the latest innovations in digital health and the changing dynamic between doctors and patients
Epidemic (Dr. Celine Gounder)
Everyday Emergency (a podcast about Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres, bringing you true stories from people on the frontline of humanitarian emergencies across the world.
Ethics Talk (AMA Journal of Ethics) Illuminating the Art of Medicine

FOAMcast: An Emergency Medicine Podcast
Food Sleuth Radio (KOPN via PRX and Pacifica) Melinda Hemmelgarn,interviews experts who connect the dots between food, health, and agriculture (30-minute format). See Food Sleuth Radio archives
Fresh Air (Terry Gross, Why An ER Visit Can Cost So Much)
The Future of Healthcare

Healthcare Is Hilarious (Casey Quinlan, an advocate for more open access to one's own patient data).
Health Literacy Out Loud Helen Osborne interviews those in-the-know about health literacy.
Health Report (Dr. Norman Swan, Australia)
Healthwatch (Medpage Today) Listen or read.
Hidden Brain (NPR)
The Hilarious World of Depression (John Moe, host, APM Podcasts) "Frank, moving, and, yes, funny conversations with top comedians who have dealt with this disease"

The Impact (Vox-- a weekly narrative podcast about the consequences that laws have on real people's lives)
Inside Health (BBC Radio 4) Dr Mark Porter demystifies health issues, clarifying fact from fiction on conflicting health advice, with GP Margaret McCartney
Intelligent Medicine Dr. Ronald Hoffman on alternative/preventive medicine, integrative health, and natural healing.
Invisibilia (entertaining stories that explore why we think, act and feel the way we do)

Johns Hopkins Medicine Podcasts
Kaiser Health News (KHN) podcasts
Legends of Surgery

Mayo Clinic Radio
MJA (Medical Journal of Australia)
NEJM This Week (Audio Summaries by the New England Journal of Medicine)
Only Human (Mary Harris, host, WNYC)
The People's Pharmacy (pharmacologist Joe Graedon and medical anthropologist Terry Graedon talk to experts about drugs, herbs, home remedies, vitamins and related health topics, NPR, North Carolina Public Radio)
QUESTioning Medicine (produced by two residents, this podcast encourages healthy skepticism of medical convention, which arose from residents and hospitalists wondering why seemingly straightforward cases gave rise to so many varying opinions)

Radio Health Journal
RadioLab (WNYC, investigating a strange world)
The Recommended Dose (with Dr. Ray Moynihan, produced by Cochrane Australia and co-published with the BMJ) In particular, try this one (interesting backstory on Cochran Collaborative) New is not always better; more is not always better; and so on.
Reset (Vox) Every story is a tech story. We live in a world where algorithms drive our interests, scientists are re-engineering our food supply, and a robot may be your next boss.Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday morning \Arielle Duhaime-Ross explores why — and how — tech is changing everything.

Science Friday (Ira Flatow interviews guests on a range of subjects)
A Second Opinion (Rethinking American Health with Senator Bill Frist, M.D.)
Second Opinion (KCRW, an examination of medical ethics and the practioners who define them.)
The Short Coat Podcast (A Podcast By Medical Students, For Medical Learners of All Kinds)

TED Talks About Science and Medicine
Think: Health (Jake Morcom and Cheyne Anderson, 2SER, Australia) Examines new thinking and new evidence from researchers and academics.
This Podcast Will Kill You Ecologists and epidemiologists Erin Welsh and Erin Allmann Updyke tackle a different infectious diseases each episode, from its history, to its biology, and finally, how scared you need to be.
Track the Vax (MedPage Today) Listen or read.
2 Docs Talk (Medical Radio for Smart People, 15-minute podcasts about healthcare, the science of medicine, current issues in medicine and health policy, and everything in between--cohosts Kendall Britt and Amy Rogers, MDs)

The Undifferentiated Medical Student
The Weeds (Vox's podcast for politics and policy discussions). Every Tuesday and Friday, Matthew Yglesias is joined by Ezra Klein, Dara Lind, Jane Coaston and other Vox voices to dig into the weeds on important national issues, including healthcare, immigration, and housing.
What the Health? (excellent Kaiser Health News podcasts about health news and policy, with Julie Rovner and journalists from the Times, Washington Post, Politico, and other news outlets)
The Workaround (Side Effects Public Media) Stories of the difficult and sometimes shocking things people do to work around roadblocks in the U.S. healthcare system. On NPR's Shots program, for example, To Get Mental Health Help for a Child, Desperate Parents Relinquish Custody

Hat tips to Karen Brown, James Bullen, Joe Burns, Dave Rosenthal, Janice Lynch Schuster, Sue Treiman for suggesting some of these podcasts. Go here for a wonderfully full set of links from Covering Health, "Monitoring the pulse of health care journalism," from which I have borrowed liberally.

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Gems from Biographers' International 2021 Zoom conference

Links to BIO's excellent notes on what was discussed on various topics at the 2021 Zoom conference of Biographers International Organization (BIO):


One Subject, Three Ways: Agatha Christie Moderator Laurie Gwen Shapiro kicked off the session with the question, "How does the form chosen to tell a subject's life shape its content?" In this case, the subject was Agatha Christie. Exploring Shapiro's question were three panelists Zooming in from England and France


The Art and Technology of Interviewing Moderator James McGrath Morris and panelists Claudia Dreifus, Brian Jay Jones, and John Brady presented similar views about successful interviewing in this panel. They agreed that a biographer should find out as much as they can about the interviewee and be equally prepared when something unexpected arises in the conversation and pursue that topic. 


Researching Underdocumented Lives This panel continued the morning's plenary discussion, delving deeper into the particular challenges and rewards of researching overlooked and marginalized lives, particularly people of color and those who identify as LGBTQ. Moderator Kavita Das kicked off the discussion by asking what drew the panelists to their subjects.


How to Pay for It, or Funding Your Biography Moderator Heath Lee started the session by noting that advances, even from major publishers, have been declining in recent years, and she hoped the panel (Carla Kaplan, Mark Silver, and Steve Hindle) would help biographers find other ways to finance their work.


Writing the First Biography of Your Subject Panelists Justin Gifford, Abigail Santamaria, and Carol Sklenicka, along with moderator Debby Applegate, explored some of the challenges and rewards of writing the first biography of a subject. With Raymond "Carver, Sklenicka heard there was a 'big rift' between his two former wives, which may have put off potential biographers. Publishers like to know that you have the cooperation of a subject's family or estate, but she said the lack of it is not necessarily a roadblock."

Swipe Right for Your Subject: How Do You Know It's the Right One?  Moderator Gayle Feldman asked panelists Mary Dearborn, Eric K. Washington, and Gerald Howard how they have chosen their subjects, quoting Jean Strouse: "If you want to do biography the right way, and get it right, you'd better have chosen the right subject." 

What Biographers Can Learn from Obituary Writers Along with Margalit Fox, moderator Bruce Weber and panelists Adam Bernstein and William McDonald have all written and/or edited obituaries.  Obits are "not the whole life" but "the kernel is there," making an obituary "a really good first stop" for a biographer.

Do I Know Enough? Navigating the Relationship Between Research and Writing Both Kai Bird, author of a recent biography of Jimmy Carter, and 2017 BIO Award-winner Candice Millard, working on a book on the search for the headwaters of the Nile, agreed on the need for extensive amounts of research before beginning to write, but once they reached that point, the two writers couldn't be farther apart on how they work.


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Are fictional characters protected under copyright law?

Let me know if I am missing anything relevant to and important about this topic.

Are Fictional Characters Protected Under Copyright Law? (Kathryn Goldman on Jane Friedman's blog, 7-14-21) Goldman, an intellectual property lawyer, writes: "Jack Ryan, the analytical, yet charming CIA analyst, made an appearance in federal court in Maryland earlier this year. The heirs to Tom Clancy’s literary legacy are fighting over him. Unlike in the movies, he’s not in a great position to fight back....

      "Here’s the crux of the current court battle: When Clancy mistakenly transferred his copyright in the book Red October to the original publisher, did the copyright to the character Jack Ryan go with it? Or did Clancy retain the character copyright? In normal practice, the sale of the right to publish a copyrighted story does not stop the author from using its characters in future works. "Courts have held, in certain circumstances, that fictional characters are protectable in their own right."...

     'The “well-delineated test” is the most widely accepted legal test used to decide whether a fictional character is protected by copyright, but it is not the only one....

      'A character is protected under the “story being told” test when he dominates the story in a way that there would be no story without him." An excellent account of the issues on an important topic. Be aware of the implications, especially if the character you create might appear in a movie one day.

Protecting Fictional Characters Under U.S. Copyright Law (Richard Stim, Nolo) Fictional characters can, under U.S. law, be protected separately from their underlying works as derivative copyrights, provided that they are sufficiently unique and distinctive. This is based on the legal theory of derivative copyrights. A survey of court cases, among other things.

Copyright protection for fictional characters (Wikipedia) An overview of the issues and court cases. "Historically, the Courts granted copyright protection to characters as parts of larger protected work and not as independent creations. They were regarded as ‘components in a copyrighted works’ and eligible for protection as thus. Recognition of characters as independent works distinct to the plot in which they were embodied came about only in 1930 in the case of Nichols v. Universal Pictures. Following Nichols, the American judiciary has evolved two main tests to determine whether a character in a work can be eligible for copyright protection": The Well-delineated test and the Story being told test.

Copyright in Characters: What Can I Use? Part I Bryan Wasetis, Aspect Law Group, 5-9-14) Learn how copyright law affects video game characters, and ways to avoid copyright infringement. The first part in a three-part series. See also Part II (12-22-15, What are fair use exceptions) and Part III (8-4-18), about characters and trademark.

Marvel and DC’s “Shut-Up Money”: Comic Creators Go Public Over Pay (Aaron Couch, Hollywood Reporter, 7-16-21) "The star writers and artists behind major comic book characters are becoming increasingly outspoken about "paltry" deals that don’t account for their work being adapted into billion-dollar blockbusters.... Conventional wisdom within the comic book industry is to go to Marvel and DC to build your personal brand, then leave, bringing that audience over to publishers that allow you to retain character rights....Creators working at Marvel and DC sign work-for-hire contracts granting the publishers ownership over their characters and storylines."

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The man who invented "Guided Autobiography" (aka GAB)

Jim Birren and Cheryl Svensson

 Cheryl Svensson wrote a tribute recently to the late James Birren, a pioneer in the field of gerontology. Jim wrote the first Psychology of Aging textbook (1964) and founded the first school of gerontology in the nation. With Jim as dean, USC's school and gerontology center flourished. Best of all, he invented the "Guided Autobiography" approach to memoir writing. Here's Cheryl's story of how GAB came into being:

"One summer in the early 70's, Jim Birren took a sabbatical and taught a Psychology of Aging class at the University of Hawaii. The class consisted of for-credit students and older retirees who were part of the extended learning program on campus.


"As Jim told the story, the class was 'flat', dull, and not engaging. One day in frustration, he threw up his hands, told everyone to go home, write two pages on a 'branching point' in their lives and then be prepared to read it aloud in class the next day. This was an 'ungraded' assignment. Jim said that the next day, after they had all read their stories, the class came alive. The older people were talking with the younger students; they were making connections with one another that lasted throughout the remainder of the class sessions.


"Jim knew he was onto something but was not sure what it was. He returned to USC and gathered grad students (including his son Jeff) into a seminar class to research and study the history of autobiography, expressive writing, small group process, etc. From this he created Guided Autobiography, a small group process to help people write their life stories. Guided by a facilitator with 'priming' questions based on life themes, the students write two pages at home, return to class, and read them in their small group. The reading and sharing life stories in the small group is where the magic of GAB takes place.


"Jim Birren, the scientist, made a sharp turn in his own career path, a new branching point. His colleagues and peers must have looked at Jim--who changed from respected scientific aging researcher to soft academic interested in writing, life stories, group process--and wondered what happened? Jim was unfazed....


"Over the past 40 years, Jim has written three books on GAB, conducted many research projects beginning as early as 1980, and written countless articles. In the late '90s, a group of friends and colleagues of Jim's gathered around him at UCLA. By then he had retired from USC (a word Betty always said Jim knew how to spell but didn't know what it meant.) We formed the GAB workgroup (Birren disciples, when there were actually 12 of us), and sought ways to develop and extend GAB into new venues. We met as a group frequently and became best of friends. We created spinoff classes such as GAB II, Life Portfolio, Family History, and even an online e-GAB writing class. We built a website. We created a DVD legacy to Jim, we won the ASA award for most 'Innovative Older Adult Learning Program,' and Jim and I presented GAB workshops across the nation. We followed Jim's command to, 'Launch GAB!' "


Reprinted by permission.



See also:
Why I love teaching Guided Autobiography by Lisa Smith-Youngs
Guided Autobiography (The Birren Center)
Telling the Stories of Life Through Guided Autobiography Groups by James E. Birren
Writing Your Legacy: The Step-by-Step Guide to Crafting Your Life Story by Richard Campbell and Cheryl Svensson. As of June 2021, Cheryl has trained 546 GAB instructors from 26 countries.
Telling Your Story, dozens of useful links to resources for capturing your life story or someone else's.

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Nicknames of the major Western demographic generations

Nicknames and birthdate ranges for the major demographic cohorts of the United States, with links to the excellent Wikipedia entries for each. See Wikipedia's excellent Generation timeline.

Lost Generation  Born 1883-1900, came of age during World War I. Gertrude Stein coined "You are all a lost generation" and Ernest Hemingway popularized it in ~coined by Gertrude Stein and popularized as the epigraph for his novel The Sun Also Rises.
Greatest Generation Born 1901-27. Also known as the G.I. Generation and the World War II generation.
Silent Generation Born 1928-45. The "Lucky Few" Small because of the Depression and World War II
Baby Boomers     Born 1946-64. The Me Generation.
Generation Jones Born 1955-1965 "Keeping up with the Joneses"
Generation X or "Gen X" Born 1965-1980. The "baby bust" because of smaller numbers; sometimes called the "latchkey generation."
Xennials              Born 1977 -1983. A "micro-generation" or "crossover generation," with an analog childhood and digital adulthood.
Millennials           Born 1981-1996. Gen Y and the "echo boomers" as children of boomers; sometimes called "digital natives" as growing up familiar with the Internet, mobile devices, and social media,
Generation Z or Gen Z or iGen  Born 1997-2012. Sometimes called "Zoomers." "The second generation after Generation X, continuing the alphabetical sequence from Generation Y (Millennials)."
Generation Alpha or Gen Alpha  Born in early 2010s-mid-2020s. First to be born entirely in 21st century and to live through the Covid-19 pandemic.


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Here's the deal with ISBNs: A note to authors who self-publish

guest post by Maggie Lynch


ISBNs are required with print books, unless you are only selling direct (out of your car or from your website) and not distributing anywhere else. ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. ISBNs are used all over the world as a unique identifier for your printed book. Think of it like your book passport. The unique ISBN number carries a lot of information--the area where your book was created (e.g., North America), the language of your book (e.g., English), the name of the publisher name issuing the ISBN, a mathematically calculated identifier for your book that includes the title, the format, and edition number. And finally a check digit to ensure it is unique.

That last part of the identifier (title, format, and edition number) is also a cue as to what you can and can't change without getting a new ISBN. If you change your title, your format (ebook, paperback, hardback, large print, audiobook), or do a new edition you will need a new ISBN number. If you are re-issuing a book where you have received rights back from a traditional publisher, you will need a new ISBN number.


It used to be that ISBNs were required for ebooks. Amazon was the first company not to require them, coming up with their own inventory system (ASINs). Amazon assigns the ASIN once you load your book for sale. I can't remember when the other major distributors stopped requiring them, maybe six years ago or so.

So, a lot of people ask why should I buy an ISBN for an ebook? The answer for me is tracking.

Certainly, you can let each distribution entity assign an ISBN or use their own inventory control system for your books. All the major ebook distributors and aggregators (D2D, Smashwords, Publish Drive, etc.) no longer require you to have an ISBN. However, it makes it a lot harder to track your book's distribution from one distributor to another if you don't. It also makes it difficult to track how a widespread promotion is working over various distributors because they each have a different number assigned to your book. Finally, for those who are career authors building a brand for their publishing imprint, when you use the ISBN offered by Amazon or Ingram or Lulu or whoever you use for self-publishing, it is their name associated with your book on that ISBN, not yours.


On print books, IMO, it is even more important that you control your ISBN for the following reasons:

• You have complete control over what is entered in your book's metadata—that is, the descriptions and categories, the keywords and editorial 'pull quotes'. All of these help libraries, bookstores, retailers, and readers around the world discover your book and decide whether they want to purchase it. In today's digital world, your book's metadata can hugely impact its chances of being found and purchased by your target audience. When you own the ISBN you can get in and change this metadata whenever you want. (For ebooks, this is not as a big a deal because when loading to ebook retailers you are already filling out all that metadata information online.)

• As you are the publisher of record, your ISBN will remain unchanged even if you change your publishing service company or publish with multiple companies. If you decide to do a second edition (something often done with nonfiction books) you again have complete control over taking the first edition off sale or leaving it, and tying the two books together.

• Any individual bookstore or organization with larger orders or inquiries about your book will approach you as the publisher of record rather than a publishing service company (e.g., Amazon,, Ingram, Book Baby, LuLu, Books Fluent, etc.) that may not have your sense of urgency or care about how to respond to these requests. For me, I'd rather be approached directly instead of through a publishing service company.


Since shifting from traditional publishing to becoming a publisher myself, I have always purchased my own ISBNs because I've always looked at the long game for my career. However, for those who are only publishing a single book or perhaps plan two or three in their lifetime, using the free ISBN provided by a distributor or publishing services company is perfectly fine with very little downside.


You can purchase ISBNs at any time and then use them as you need them. The key is to complete the information needed once the book is released.


For example, I purchase 100 ISBNs at a time for my imprint. Because purchasing ISBNs can be expensive (i.e., $125 to purchase one or $275 to purchase ten) it is best to purchase more instead of one at a time. Some years, we have enough authors publishing that I use all 100 in a year. Other times it has taken two to three years to use all 100 before I make my next purchase.


On the other hand, if you are only writing one book, it may be beneficial to use the free ISBN provided by most distributors  (Ingram Spark, Amazon, D2D and many other print and ebook distributors will provide a free ISBN under their name.)


What's your experience?


Maggie Lynch




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Should Norton have unpublished the Philip Roth bio?

Could there be a better topic for debate? Meat for discussion:
•  Philip Roth: The Biography by Blake Bailey. Note the many glowing reviews quoted on the book's Amazon page.
Norton Takes Philip Roth Biography Out of Print (Alexandra Alter and Jennifer Schuessler, NY Times, 4-27-21) The publisher also said it would make a donation to sexual abuse organizations equal to the advance it paid Blake Bailey, the author accused of sexual assault.
• Author Guild Statement about W.W. Norton's Removing Blake Bailey's Books from Circulation (AG, 4-29-21) W.W. Norton issued a memo on April 27 that it will permanently take Blake Bailey's biography of Philip Roth out of print in response to credible allegations that Mr. Bailey sexually assaulted multiple women and behaved inappropriately toward his students when teaching eighth grade English. The Authors Guild condemns sexual assault and sexual harassment. Nevertheless, we are deeply troubled by W.W. Norton's decision to take Blake Bailey's books, including the recently published Roth biography, out of print.
Blake Bailey's Life as a Man (Katha Pollitt, The Nation, 4-28-21) "The disgraced writer's Philip Roth biography is a document of a misogynist literary world. But I had to read the book to get the whole story."

I Was 12 When We Met (Eve Crawford Peyton, Slate, 4-29-21) "Blake Bailey was my favorite teacher. Years later, he forced himself on me. Why did I seek his approval for so long...One by one, women from many different years of his class started sharing our stories. There were so many of us.

Rebecca Traister on the Connection Between Power and Abuse (Amanpour & Company, PBS, 4-28-21) Bailey faces accusations of his own: that he sexually assaulted multiple women and "groomed" underage students prior to making advances once they came of age.
Why stopping the distribution of the Philip Roth biography was a bad idea (Alyssa Rosenberg, Washington Post, 4-22-21) Better to publish than to squelch.
What We Lose When Only Men Write About Men (Ruth Franklin, NY Times, 4-30-21) The recent uproar surrounding Philip Roth's authorized biographer, Blake Bailey — whose book has now been taken out of print in the wake of accusations of sexual assault and inappropriate behavior — has refocused attention on literary biography's man problem and the question of who is allowed to read and quote from a writer's materials, and under what terms.
Philip Roth and His Defensive Fans Are Their Own Worst Enemies (Jeet Heer, The Nation, 4-30-21) Why did it take a sexual assault scandal to raise red flags about a deeply flawed biography?
The Philip Roth biography is canceled, Mike Pence’s book could be next — and publishing may never be the same (Ron Charles, Book World, Washington Post, 4-27-21) Even by the standards of the #MeToo movement, Bailey’s descent has been precipitous...."Critics will claim that Bailey, Pence and others are being silenced, but that ignores the reality of our marketplace. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) had no trouble finding another publisher when Simon & Schuster dropped him for promoting falsehoods about the presidential election. Even Woody Allen found another publisher!"
If the Author Is a Bad Person, Does That Change Anything? (Judith Shulevitz, The Atlantic, 4-27-21) "Bailey’s comeback to his former students’ complaints—that his behavior was deplorable but not illegal—indicates a Humbert Humbert level of narcissistic detachment. As it happens, Bailey taught Lolita at the New Orleans middle school where he is said to have groomed his students."
The Blake Bailey Fiasco Implicates Everyone (Jo Livingstone, New Republic, 4-23-21) Philip Roth hand-picked Blake Bailey for the job of writing his biography. He was jealous of his legacy, and had fired a previous biographer who had a “mean, insatiably vilifying spirit,” according to the great writer. What effect will accusations of sexual assault have on the acclaimed biographer’s champions?
Philip Roth’s Revenge Fantasy (Laura Marsh, New Republic, 3-22-21) The novelist wanted his biography to settle scores. It has badly backfired.



I intended to give links to stories that provide a broad overview of the Roth-Bailey biography and the issues that arise because of it. Let me know if I've missed something important.


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