Capturing the history of our early web: &

The design studio four32c posted a tribute/obit for recently and though it was good to see recognition for its pioneering work, for the sake of digital history, it’s also important to get on the record some corrections about the story. It´s also important given the impact the pioneering work at Style and — more to the point — had on digital coverage of fashion that has followed.

My friend and frequent collaborator Joan Feeney — the genius who led so much of the innovation of the early web at Condé Nast — sent the four32c a note with some clarification and edification; they didn’t run it and so I volunteered to. Joan writes:

The obituary of the site that either missed or misrepresented some significant facts and circumstances about the origins and early days of the site. There was no place to comment, so Jeff offered to post this note I wrote to get the record straight, in case anyone cares someday. I likely wouldn’t have written it except that my recollections about the start of Epicurious have been in demand of late, in celebration of that site’s 20th anniversary, and so many of these Condé Net memories and details are front of mind as is the lack of reliable histories and records about those days.

Contrary to what was posted on four32c, we launched the year before we started Style. And, not Style, was the site that shot and posted every single look from every runway show on the day of the show from the major fashion cities — which, as noted, was revolutionary in many ways.

Until then, designers had restricted the number of looks that could be published to fewer than half a dozen, and even that small sample could be published only during a brief window for a specified period after the show (runway shows typically featured about 60 or 70 looks). No one but Vogue, meaning Anna Wintour, could have done that — it was Anna, and her proxy at, Anne Buford, who persuaded the designers to let us in, despite the fashion houses enormous general misgivings and specific fear of piracy.

If Anna hadn’t decided it was right and timely to open up fashion shop on the Internet, I believe it might not have happened to this day, so resistant, reluctant, and occasionally hostile were the designers and their businesses to the idea. But because Anna blessed it, it came to pass. A startup would have had no sway with the designers, let alone enough yank to get almost every one of them to agree to something so alien and that they couldn’t see as offering any benefit to themselves.

(Even with Anna’s tremendous support and Anne’s tremendous efforts, a few French designers blocked us from attending their shows; and even after we got the designers’ permission, the models’ union, which was very strong in France, forbade us to use the models’ images. It was a vastly complicated enterprise, and it all happened on Vogue’s watch and because Anna decreed it. Fiona da Rin, the Paris editor for American Vogue was a huge help with the diplomacy effort. She would take me from fashion house to fashion house with my laptop to demonstrate not only the website and prototypes of the coverage, but often showing them the Internet for the first time, assuming they had a connection, which they often did not; I had a canned presentation to show in that case.)

One of the other extraordinary things did with the show coverage was to tag the photos so that users could search/sort by collection or piece (all Italian skirts from Fall 2000, for example, or all Ralph Lauren sweaters from every season). One of the selling points we made to designers was what a great resource it created for their own use and historical archives, which it did. It was effectively instantaneous coverage — something completely foreign to fashion at that time.

Melissa Weiner was the genius who made all those amazing tools back at the office. We took the Voguemobile RV to the European shows, and transmitted photos back to the US, where Melissa did her magic getting them tagged, labeled, and online within an hour or so, no matter what time of night it was. The first shows we did were in New York, September of 1999, in the tents at Bryant Park, and we briefly went dark when a hurricane flooded the tents.

“Cams” were a big thing back then — it was considered cool to aim a web cam at the office coffee pot so you could check to see if there was fresh coffee, I guess you had to be there — and we had a camera with a live feed posted at the models’ entrance to the tents, which unfortunately ended up trained on the portable toilets. Inevitably this became the Can Cam and was very popular. Those, as we say, were the days.

Part of why we insisted that the runway coverage be the comprehensive and that their be nifty tools to manipulate the data (searching, sorting, saving) was because we were very vigilant in those days not to compete or reproduce what the magazine did. So we always began the development process by figuring out what magazines were unable to do, and making those things as our creative brief. We had infinite space, data bases, and no time delay, and committed to defining our products by the use of these attributes unique to the web. If something could appear in print, we didn’t need to put it on a screen. I believe that zero “repurposed” material appeared on the site.

I was editorial director (or editor in chief, I forget) of and later came up with the notion for, using the model Rochelle Udell had come up with for a new online brand (Epicurious) to host Gourmet, BA, and other branded and original content., of which I was editorial director (or whatever) would be home to Vogue and the Fairchild brands (WWD, W), as well as other CNP and original fashion content, and moved into that tent. ( was also intended to help centralize the many various foreign editions of the magazine brands at one location.)

The original and brilliant designer for both and was Lesley Marker. I bought the name/url from the Limited. I don’t recall how or even if they had used it, but once we owned it, it was never a gossip site (as the obituary states). Many of the other tools, approaches, and systems we used for and also came from the work we were doing on other Condé Net sites, which then included Epicurious, Swoon, Phys, and Concierge. For example, the Neiman-Marcus e-commerce arrangement was based on one we had done for Epicurious with Williams-Sonoma.

In the spring of 2000, did an online event with Chanel, where we hosted the resort collection live and let invited users pre-order looks based on detail shots we took of every item the second it came off the runway. Chanel was interested not just in selling outfits but in finding out what looks/colors/fabrics shoppers were interested in before the company even began the manufacturing process; fifteen years ago, they were aware of how valuable that data was to making their business more efficient and effective. Chanel was always one of our most enthusiastic partners. It was dissonant and thrilling that the Chanel executives brought our team up to Coco Chanel’s preserved apartment to discuss our Internet partnership. became the larger home for the runway coverage; I think we still branded it as Vogue, though I am not sure.

There are several other key contributors who deserve credit for inventing fashion coverage online back in the late ‘90s; if anyone is interested, I can send more information. The early photographers did extraordinary work when the equipment and the support were unreliable and unwieldy. While Anna Wintour is given some credit in the Fourc32 telling of the story, it isn’t made clear the kind of coverage we were able to do would never, ever have happened if it hadn’t been for Anna’s decision and commitment to make it happen. I believe no other person or group could have persuaded the fashion industry to participate. Then or now.

I’m glad to have this bit of history not only because I go to watch all this magic as it transpired but because I think it’s important that we not lose the memory of how the web began. It amazes me that Epicurious is 20 years old. I started my first site for the parent company, Advance (a weather site called, just to get our feet wet) 20 years ago. The memories fade.

So I recommend reading Eric Gillin’s wonderful oral history of Epicurious. I was delighted that XOXO brought together the founders of for their 20th anniversary; I wish I could have watched. I hope that other pioneers have the courage to show their gray hairs and dredge up their memories before they are lost. We were there at the start of it all.

Advertising sucks. Let us listicle the ways.

From my Observer column (read the whole thing here):

Advertising sucks, let us listicle the ways:

1. Advertising is almost always irrelevant.

2. Advertising is oppressively repetitive. That is only worse now that so-called retargeting advertising will note when you look at a pair of pants online so those pants can stalk you across the web for months.

3. Even with all its newfound data and artificial intelligence, advertising is still stupid. It doesn’t know that you already bought those damned pants and keeps selling them to you.

4. Advertising interrupts—first radio, then TV, and now our Facebook streams.

5. Advertising is intrusive of privacy. I will argue that the humble cookie has been unjustly demonized by the Wall Street Journal, for cookies do useful things like reducing the frequency with which ads are served to you (see complaint No. 2). Still it’s true that the advertising, media, and technology industries gather much data without giving their users any control or transparency into the reasons and consequences.

6. Advertising is irritating. It always has been. Go to anyone over the age of 50 and whine, “More Parks Sausages, Mom,” then watch them cringe.

7. Advertising is tacky, a glaring, blaring blight on the visual and auditory landscape. On most sites, there is just too much of it.

8. Advertising in inefficient. The only advance on the net is that marketers now have a better chance of determining which half of their dollars is wasted.

9. Advertising lies.

So how do we fix it? Not with native advertising. That is just another lie, designed to make us think an ad is not an ad. But we’re not as stupid as advertisers—and media companies—take us to be. As online metrics company Chartbeat has learned, users engage with a web page—that is, they scroll through it—71 percent of the time when the page contains real content but only 24 percent of the time when it carries so-called native advertising. And that leads me to one more complaint to fill out this listicle:

10. Advertising is an insult to our intelligence.

The column is devoted to fixing this.

Trump’s press

American news media: You are Donald Trump’s bitch*. You are making him what he is. And that makes you something worse yet: You are lab assistants to our modern media Dr. Frankenstein, the man who invented Trump as politician, the man who more than anyone else has divided this nation, Roger Ailes. You, the press, should be exposing Trump’s idiocies for what they are and his demonization of the others — the aliens, the Mexicans, the Jews** (oops, that was someone else) — for the racism that it is. You should be instructing the public in the definition of demagoguery.*** Instead, you fawn.

As Trump’s Iowa pep rally ended a few days ago, this is what you said to America:

You are helping him to turn American democracy into his reality show. You schmucks.

It gets worse, of course. Yesterday in Iowa, Univision’s Jorge Ramos was the one reporter who tried to question Trump about his ridiculous immigration plan to rip citizenship out of the hands of people born here, to deport millions of people without due process, to build a wall around our nation, to rise in the press and the polls on at tide of hatred. Trump had him ejected:

At that moment, why didn’t every reporter in the room stand up and leave? Why didn’t you all at least ask the same question he was blocked from asking? The rest of you in the room: When Ramos was kicked out, did any of you think, “Oh, good, now it’s my turn for camera time”? If Jake Tapper had been shoved out of the room by Trump’s goon, what would you have done? Did any of you agree with Trump: Why don’t you go back to Mexico … er, I mean, Univision?****

And what happens as soon as Ramos is ejected trying to ask the question of this campaign? Another reporter asks about Trump’s feud with Megyn Kelly. Because the show must go on!

Trump did finally deign to allow Ramos to return to ask his questions. I’ll let you judge whether he answered any of them.

– – – –

*I tried to think of another way to say this but I couldn’t. Lapdog just doesn’t carry the same oomph.

**I agree with Lauren Weinstein that Godwin’s Law does not apply to Donald Trump. To quote:

Let’s get this straight once and for all: Comparisons between Adolf Hitler and Donald Trump do not invoke Godwin’s Law.

Godwin’s Law applies to discussions where Nazi analogies make no sense. Comparing a strict physical education teacher with Hitler, for example, is an obvious invocation of Godwin’s Law.

However, Godwin’s Law explicitly does not apply when actual Nazi parallels are in play.

In the case of Donald Trump, we have a grandiose buffoon spouting outright lies and hate speech, triggering racial violence, demanding the deportation of eleven million plus people including American citizens, retroactive stripping of citizenship, and attracting crowds who shout “white power” and hand out literature lauding that “Trump will do to the dirty Hispanics what Hitler did to the dirty Jews.”

The parallels are obvious and on-point.

Godwin is not in scope.

Nazism and 1930s Germany very much are.


***Leave it to CNN to decide that Trump is not a demagogue. I’d rather listen to Jack Shafer on this point.

****Let us also not forget that after first making his offensive remarks about Mexicans, Univision ended its relationship with Trump, who in turn threatened to sue them. To those who said to me in a discussion about this on Facebook that Ramos was just speaking out of turn, I say let’s not be naive; Trump knew exactly what he was doing. He always does.

I leave you with this image from — to use Ramos’ own word — Trumplandia:

LATER: Here’s The New York Times on Hispanic media’s relationship with Trump. Meanwhile, the Washington Post played the story properly, atop the homepage.

Hacking through Amazon’s jungle of coverage

The New York Times exposé of working conditions at Amazon lacks two key attributes: context and — I can’t quite believe I’m saying this — balance.

Like everyone in my feeds, I read the story with something verging on horror. Since then, I’ve seen many tweets presenting another perspective and just read a point-by-point rebuttal by an Amazonian.

Where’s the truth? in the mix. Except as a reader, I had to go search for that mix.

First, context: Last night on Twitter, I half-joked that Amazon sounded like many newspaper newsrooms:

Jay Rosen later responded:

You get the point: Where is the context about work as a whole? Is every office as wonderful as Google and Facebook are supposed to be? No, of course not. We all know that. So to what standard is Amazon being held? Is it better or worse than comparable and realistic (read: unGoogle) workplaces? That’s not in the piece. It needs to be.

Now to balance. Nick Ciubotariu, an engineer and executive at Amazon, wrote a very long rebuttal on LinkedIn, which I found only thanks to a Dan Gillmor link. Amid some amusing techcospeak (an issue “gets actioned”) are clear and sincere explanations for much of what The Times thinks it has exposed. For example, the orientation at any company, taken out of context, might sound like brainwashing; that’s normal. He says that the cases of how employees with pregnancies and health and family issues were allegedly mistreated are appalling and the company must address them. He acknowledges that Amazon might have changed between its founding and his hiring 18 months ago. But he likes working there. He, like many colleagues, is attracted to tackling huge problems — and that is obviously not easy work.

The Times talked with some Amazon employees but makes a point of saying that they were offered up by the company and so they are presumed to be like North Korean media handlers; they are to be discounted. Most of what The Times garnered from unofficial sources was negative. Most of what Ciubotariu says is positive.

We, the readers, are left to balance these accounts ourselves. And that’s my problem. The Times should have presented enough of that conflicting evidence so that we could weigh evidence and decide for ourselves whether Amazon is hell in Seattle.

But The Times decided that for us. It wanted to expose Amazon’s working conditions. It devoted two reporters for six months to do just that (who would devote such resource to finding out that it’s an OK place to work, if you have to work?).

The Times had an agenda. Well, some of you might remind me: Haven’t you, Jarvis, argued that journalism is by definition advocacy? Yes, and it’s clear The Times wanted to tackle the issues that arise from such demanding work. But as a journalistic institution, The Times is still required to exhibit the intellectual honesty to credibly and fairly present evidence that counters its worldview. It is still required to give us in the public the respect and trust to make our own decisions about what it presents.

But that’s not what The Times did. I am not doubting the truth of what The Times presented, only the selection. I am also not saying that after balancing all this, I would want to work at Amazon. I can’t stand the idea of a culture that enables an anonymous feedback system, which The Times exposes and its employee defends; I sure as hell won’t want to see that trend spread to other workplaces. I worry about a culture that can allow the cases of cold-hearted lack of empathy for employees’ lives that The Times presents, even if they are just anecdotal. On the other hand, I admire greatly the commercial and logistical miracle that Amazon has built. I love the idea of working side-by-side with people as smart, accomplished, dedicated, and passionate as the people who have built Amazon. I also read the piece worried that all this publicity would lead — Gawkerlike — to unionization, and I think that could jeopardize its growth.

On that last point, you may think I sound like an owner. I am. I have long held a few shares in Amazon. So you should judge what I say here with that conflict of interest well in mind. You’re probably scolding me right now for not saying it at the top of this piece. You’d be right. And that is how I illustrate my last point: The Times did not say until halfway down its very long piece that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post, which some say is closing in on The Times.

The problem at a moment like this is that once one starts to believe The Times might have an agenda, one is left trying to suss out what it might be: against Amazon and its owner, Bezos, who is a competitor; against technology, a direction too much of media is taking (you should see the latest from Der Spiegel; its technopanic should be printed in purple ink); in favor of big labor? I wouldn’t be wondering that if The Times had given me greater context and balance and sufficient information to let me decide about Amazon for myself rather than having it decided for me. And that’s too bad. There is much good reporting here. There are important issues and modern-day phenomenon that deserve discussion. Instead, we’re starting to discuss The Times.

LATER: I think I’m clear about this but let me be extra clear: I am not saying The Times has a competitive agenda against the Post and thus Bezos. I am saying that it will open itself up to such questioning by not being sufficiently transparent and not exhibiting intellectual honesty by providing sufficient balance to make clear that in the end the judgment is the reader’s.

BEZOS RESPONSE: The letter Bezos sent to Amazon staff:

Dear Amazonians,

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to give this (very long) New York Times article a careful read:

I also encourage you to read this very different take by a current Amazonian:

Here’s why I’m writing you. The NYT article prominently features anecdotes describing shockingly callous management practices, including people being treated without empathy while enduring family tragedies and serious health problems. The article doesn’t describe the Amazon I know or the caring Amazonians I work with every day. But if you know of any stories like those reported, I want you to escalate to HR. You can also email me directly at Even if it’s rare or isolated, our tolerance for any such lack of empathy needs to be zero.

The article goes further than reporting isolated anecdotes. It claims that our intentional approach is to create a soulless, dystopian workplace where no fun is had and no laughter heard. Again, I don’t recognize this Amazon and I very much hope you don’t, either. More broadly, I don’t think any company adopting the approach portrayed could survive, much less thrive, in today’s highly competitive tech hiring market. The people we hire here are the best of the best. You are recruited every day by other world-class companies, and you can work anywhere you want.

I strongly believe that anyone working in a company that really is like the one described in the NYT would be crazy to stay. I know I would leave such a company.

But hopefully, you don’t recognize the company described. Hopefully, you’re having fun working with a bunch of brilliant teammates, helping invent the future, and laughing along the way.

Thank you,


What Would Alphabet Do?

Eakins, Baby at Play 1876.jpg
You’d expect me to say this but Google’s transformation into Alphabet is a brilliant move that enables Page, Brin, and their company to escape the bonds of their past — They’re just a search company. Why are they working on self-driving cars and magical contact lenses and high-flying balloons? — and go where no one has thought they would go before.

To Wall Street and countless bleating analysts — not to mention its competitors and plenty of government regulators — Google was a search company, though long ago it became so much more. I don’t just mean that it also made a great browser, the best maps, killer email, an open phone operating system and some of the best phones, and a new operating system (and the damned fine computer I’m writing on right now) — and that it acquired the biggest video company and the best traffic data company. I don’t just mean that Google has for a long time really been the powerhouse advertising company.

No, Google long ago became a personal services company, the post-mass-market company that treats every user as a customer it knows individually. That is the heart of Google. When they say they “focus on the user and all else will follow,” they mean it.

But Google was also a technology company, working on projects that didn’t fit with that mission.

So this move lets Page and Brin move up to the strategic stratosphere where they are most comfortable. It lets them recognize the tremendous job Sundar Pichai has been doing running the company that is now “just” Google. It lets them invest in new experiments and new lines of business — cars, medical technology, automated homes, and energy so far, and then WTF they can imagine and whatever problems they yearn to solve. It lets them tell Wall Street not to freak at a blip in the ad market — though, of course, the vast majority of the parent company’s revenue will still come from Google’s advertising business.

A journalist asked me a few minutes ago whether there was any risk to the change. I couldn’t think of any then. I suppose one risk is that this will only freak out especially European media and regulatory technopanickers, who will now go on a rampage warning that — SEE! — Google does want to rule the world. But what the hell. They were going to do that anyway.

A few weeks ago at Google I/O, I had the privilege of meeting Page. To introduce myself, I said that I wrote a book called What Would Google Do?. “Oh, I remember,” he said with impish grin and then he asked: “What would Google do? I want to know.”

See, I don’t think even Larry Page knows what Google — er, Alphabet — will do. He is now setting himself up for discoveries, surprises, exploration, experimentation, and a magnificently uncertain future. Who wants a certain future? That’d be so damned boring. So horribly conventional.

Disclosure: I own Google — er, Alphabet — stock. And I now lust after Alphabet swag.

New video powerhouse


The amazing Samir Arora, CEO of Mode (née Glam), called with some impressive numbers on his company’s new platform and aggressive push into video.

A two-minute video illustrating 100 years of fashion gained 1 million views in six days, 10 million in 21, and now — a bit more than eight weeks out — has 58 million views. Almost three-quarters of those views came on Mode’s own network — where they can prioritize users based on relevance and influence; the rest on Facebook, YouTube, et al.

In two months, Mode is now the 13th video property according to ComScore; it was already the 7th web property.

Through this, Mode is building two big video revenues streams: half from prerolls (YouTube’s territory), the other half from distributing brands’ video content and from sponsorship of its own video content. Video, of course, has enviable CPMs running $20-$45 for this kind of content.

Note well that with Mode, creators always get paid for their content — whether as revenue share or for hire. Importantly, under certain circumstances, distributors also get paid.

Glam started as a network; that is what brought Samir and me together. It then set about building tools for content creation, curation, and distribution. Samir’s big lesson, he said, is that an ecosystem needs a platform.

Mode still is under the radar for many in media. I’d reset your radar.

Here’s VentureBeat on the these numbers; and Scoble, too.

Journalism is not a crime: A letter to German authorities

A large group of key figures in journalism and technology in Germany and elsewhere has published an open letter to German authorities in a critical fight for press freedom there. The letter is below. I am among the signatories. The editors at Netzpolitik and their sources were being investigated for treason for sharing government documents openly. A furor ensued in German media and online. The case was supposedly called off. Then the German justice minister called for the resignation of the chief prosecutor who had started the investigation. Rather than going quietly, that prosecutor is accusing the justice minister of interfering in a case; this is now being called a constitutional crisis. This case and the danger are not over.

Jacob Appelbaum put out a call on Twitter for those who would want to join in a letter to German authorities. I did; so did many I respect. Here it is:

“The investigation against for treason and their unknown
sources is an attack against the free press. Charges of treason against
journalists performing their essential work is a violation of the fifth
article of the German constitution. We demand an end to the
investigation into and their unknown sources.”

“Die Ermittlungen gegen die Redaktion und ihrer
unbekannten Quellen wegen Landesverrats sind ein Angriff auf die
Pressefreiheit. Klagen wegen Landesverrats gegen Journalisten, die
lediglich ihrer für die Demokratie unverzichtbaren Arbeit nachgehen,
stellen eine Verletzung von Artikel 5 Grundgesetz dar. Wir fordern die
sofortige Einstellung der Ermittlungen gegen die Redakteure von und ihrer Quellen.”

“Les charges contre et leur source inconnue pour
trahison sont une attaque contre la liberté de la presse. La poursuite
pour trahison des journalistes qui effectuent un travail essentiel pour
la démocratie est une violation du cinquième article de la constitution
allemande. Nous demandons l’arrêt des poursites contre les journalistes
de et leurs sources.”

“La investigación en contra de y su fuente por traición
es un ataque a la libertad de la prensa. Acusaciones de traición a la
patria hechas contra periodistas quienes estan realizando su labor
esencial es una violacion del quinto artículo de la Constitución
alemana. Exigimos que se detenga la investigación en contra de y su fuente desconocida.”

Mahsa Alimardani, University of Amsterdam/Global Voices
Pierre Alonso, journalist, Libération
Sebastian Anthony, editor, Ars Technica UK
Jacob Appelbaum, independent investigative journalist
Jürgen Asbeck, KOMPASS
Julian Assange, editor-in-chief, WikiLeaks
Jennifer Baker, founder, Revolution News
Jennifer Baker (Brusselsgeek), EU correspondent, The Register
Diani Barreto, Courage Foundation
Mari Bastashevski, investigative researcher, journalist, artist
Carlos Enrique Bayo, editor-in-chief, PÚBLICO, Madrid, Spain
Sven Becker, journalist
Jürgen Berger, independent journalist
Patrick Beuth, journalist, Zeit Online
Ellery Roberts Biddle on behalf of Global Voices Advox
Florian Blaschke, blogger and managing editor,
Eva Blum-Dumontet, Privacy International
Anne Bohlmann, freelance journalist
Detlef Borchers, freelance journalist, Heise
Stefan Buchen, journalist, NDR
Silke Burmester, journalist
Jan Böhmermann, late night TV host
Wolfgang Büchner, managing director Blick-Group, Switzerland / former
editor of DER SPIEGEL, Germany
Shawn Carrié, News & Politics editor, medium
David Carzon, deputy editor, Libération
Marina Catucci, journalist, Il Manifesto
Robin Celikates, associate professor of philosophy, University of Amsterdam
Graham Cluley, computer security and privacy columnist,
Gabriella Coleman, Wolfe Chair in Scientific and Technological Literacy,
McGill University
Josef Ohlsson Collentine, journalist, Pirate Times
Tommy Collison, opinion editor, Washington Square News
Ron Deibert, director, The Citizen Lab, Munk School of Global Affairs,
University of Toronto
Valie Djordjevic, publisher and editor of
Daniel Drepper, senior reporter, CORRECT!V
Joshua Eaton, independent journalist
Matthias Eberl, multimedia journalist, Rufposten
Helke Ellersiek, NRW-Korrespondentin, taz.die tageszeitung
Carolin Emcke, journalist
Monika Ermert, freelance journalist
Anriette Esterhuysen, executive director, Association for Progressive
Cyrus Farivar, senior business editor, Ars Technica
Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, journalist, Motherboard, VICE Media
Carola Frediani, journalist, Italy
Erin Gallagher, Revolution News
Johannes Gernert, journalist, TAZ
Aaron Gibson, freelance journalist and researcher
Dan Gillmor, author and teacher
John Goetz, investigative journalist, NDR/Süddeutsche Zeitung
Gabriel González Zorrilla, Deutsche Welle
Yael Grauer, freelance journalist
Glenn Greenwald, investigative journalist, The Intercept
Markus Grill, chief editor, CORRECT!V
Christian Grothoff, freelance journalist, The Intercept
Claudio Guarnieri, independent investigative journalist
Amaelle Guiton, journalist, Libération
Marie Gutbub, independent journalist
Nicky Hager, investigative journalist, New Zealand
Jessica Hannan, freelancer
Sarah Harrison, investigations editor, WikiLeaks
Martin Holland, editor heise online/c’t
Max Hoppenstedt, editor in chief, Vice Motherboard, Germany
Bethany Horne, journalist, Newsweek Magazine
Ulrich Hottelet, freelance journalist
Jérôme Hourdeaux, journalist, Mediapart
Johan Hufnagel, chief editor, Libération
Dr. Christian Humborg, CEO, CORRECT!V
Jörg Hunke, journalist
Mustafa İşitmez, columnist ,
Eric Jarosinski, editor, Nein.Quarterly
Jeff Jarvis, professor, City University of New York, Graduate School of
Cédric Jeanneret, EthACK
Simon Jockers, data journalist, CORRECT!V
Jörn Kabisch, journalist, Redaktion taz. am wochenende
Martin Kaul, journalist, TAZ
Nicolas Kayser-Bril, co-founder of Journalism++
Matt Kennard, Bertha fellow at the Centre for Investigative Journalism,
Dmytri Kleiner, Telekommunisten
Peter Kofod, freelance journalist, boardmember, Denmark
Joshua Kopstein, independent journalist, Al Jazeera America /
contributor, Motherboard / VICE
Till Kreutzer, publisher and editor of
Jürgen Kuri, stellv. Chefredakteur, heise online/c’t
Damien Leloup, journalist, Le Monde
Aleks Lessmann, Bundespressesprecher, Neue Liberale
Daniel Luecking, online-journalist, Whistleblower-Network
Gavin MacFadyen, director for Center of Investigative Journalism and
professor at Goldsmiths University of London
Rebecca MacKinnon, journalist
Tanja Malle, ORF Radio Ö1
Dani Marinova, researcher, Hertie School of Governance, Berlin
Alexander J. Martin, The Register
Uwe H. Martin, photojournalist, Bombay Flying Club
Kerstin Mattys, freelance journalist
Stefania Maurizi, investigative journalist, l’ESPRESSO, Rome, Italy
Declan McCullagh, co-founder & CEO, Recent Media Inc
Derek Mead, editor, Motherboard (VICE Media)
Johannes Merkert, Heise c’t – Magazin für Computertechnik
Moritz Metz, reporter, Breitband, Deutschlandradio Kultur
Katharina Meyer, Wired Germany
Henrik Moltke, independent investigative journalist
Glyn Moody, journalist
Andy Mueller-Maguhn, freelance journalist
Erich Möchel, investigative journalist, ORF, Austria
Kevin O’Gorman, The Globe and Mail
Frederik Obermaier, investigative Journalist, Germany
Philipp Otto, publisher and editor of
David Pachali, publisher and editor of
Trevor Paglen, freelance journalist and artist, America
Michael Pereira, interactive editor, The Globe and Mail, Canada
Christian Persson, co-publisher of c’t magazine and Heise online
Angela Phillips, professor Department of Media and Communications,
Goldsmiths University of London
Edwy Plenel, president, Mediapart
Laura Poitras, investigative journalist, The Intercept
J.M. Porup, freelance journalist
Tim Pritlove, metaebene
Jeremias Radke, journalist, Heise, Mac & i
Jan Raehm, freelance journalist
Andreas Rasmussen, danish freelance journalist
Jonas Rest, editor, Berliner Zeitung
Georg Restle, redaktionsleiter, ARD Monitor
Frederik Richter, reporter, CORRECT!V
Jay Rosen, professor of journalism, New York University
Christa Roth, freelance journalist
Leif Ryge, independent investigative journalist
Ahmet A. Sabancı, journalist/writer, co-editor-in-chief and
Co-Spokesperson of
Jonathan Sachse, reporter, CORRECT!V
Philip Di Salvo, researcher and journalist
Don Sambandaraksa, Southeast Asia Correspondent, TelecomAsia
Eric Scherer, director of future media, France Télévisions
Kai Schlieter, Reportage & Recherche, TAZ
Christian Schlüter, journalist, Berliner Zeitung
Marie Schmidt, journalist, Die Zeit
Bruce Schneier, security technologist and author
David Schraven, publisher, CORRECTIV
Daniel Schulz, Redaktion wochenende
Christiane Schulzki-Haddouti, independent journalist and researcher
Merlin Schumacher, editor in chief, for Zebrabutter
Clay Shirky, associate professor, NYU
Teresa Sickert, author and radio host
Christian Simon, editor, Social Media Watchblog
Claudia Simon, kultur propaganda, Berlin –
Mario Sixtus, Elektrischer Reporter
Michael Sontheimer, journalist, DER SPIEGEL
Efe Kerem Sozeri, journalist,
Matthias Spielkamp,, board member of Reporters without
Borders Germany, member of the advisory council of the Whistleblower
Volker Steinhoff, Redaktionsleiter ARD Panorama
Andrea Steinsträter, journalist and editor at the news team of the WDR
Catherine Stupp, freelance journalist
Batur Talu, media consultant, Istanbul
Trevor Timm, co-founder and executive director, Freedom of the Press
Dimitri Tokmetzis, journalist, De Correspondent
Ilija Trojanow, journalist
Albrecht Ude, journalist
Martin Untersinger, journalist, Le Monde
Nadja Vancauwenberghe, editor-in-chief, EXBERLINER
Andreas Weck, journalist
Jochen Wegner, editor-in-chief, ZEIT ONLINE
Stefan Wehrmeyer, data journalist, CORRECTIV
Rob Wijnberg, founder, editor-in-cheif, De Correspondent
Jeroen Wollaars, correspondent for Germany and Central Europe, Dutch
public broadcaster NOS
Krystian Woznicki,
Maria Xynou, researcher, Tactical Tech
John Young, Cryptome
Juli Zeh, author
Christoph Zeiher, independent journalist

Exploding our ideas of membership: A CUNY summit

We are holding an important event at CUNY on August 26 exploring membership strategies for media — beyond pledges and paywalls.

Let’s be honest: In most news organizations, membership is just another word for subscription or for hawking tote bags. At this event, I want to see us push far beyond the present state of the art and challenge ourselves to reimagine what membership can mean for news organizations and their relationships with the people and communities they serve.

We will start with sessions led by two innovators in membership: public-media genius Melody Kramer (who just released a superb report with her latest ideas) and local media’s best friend, Josh Stearns, who is working on membership experiments in the New Jersey news ecosystem. We will learn about best practices in membership from outside the media industry (what could the frequent-flier miles of news be?). And — this is the critical part — we will take all that information and inspiration and then, in the best spirit of the unconference, brainstorm new opportunities for membership for news organizations of various types and sizes.

Here is the sign-up for the event.

I see three frontiers for innovation:

* New tribes: A person might feel an urge to join a club called the Guardian because it takes on causes or NPR or even The New York Times out of patronage. But does anyone really want to belong to — will they feel an affinity and loyalty to and want to brag about their special relationship with — say, Columbus Dispatch? Not so much. But one might well want to belong to the Columbus pissed-off commuters’ club or the Columbus school improvement society or the Columbus environment alliance or the Columbus senior club. My point: communities are internally, not externally defined; they are not built outside-in or top-down under brands. The premise of our social journalism program at CUNY is that we must begin by listening to communities and understanding their needs before we can serve them well. The same goes for membership. The opportunity is to build membership from the bottom up by serving many communities with many affinities, loyalties, and needs that we can answer.

* New currencies for contribution: We can extract value from our relationships with the public we serve in so many forms other than just cash. Indeed, we must learn to value our people — our users, our readers — beyond just their circulation dimes or CPM pennies. We must value them as individuals rather than as members of an anonymous mass. To join a community, we should value and credit the public’s effort, expertise, contributions of content, volunteer marketing (i.e., social media love), commerce (buying things through us or from our advertisers), and showing up (coming to our events). I explored some of these notions in a long-ago post that speculated about a reverse pay meter; Melody explores many more in her report.

* New currencies for reward: When we give our members nothing more than access to our content, then we are merely putting a new label on an old business model: the subscription. We can reward members in so many more ways: with access to events and our journalists, with some voice in the allocation of our resources, with social capital, with discounts from our advertisers….

Out of these ideas and more that we will explore on August 26 will come many new models for membership. The product of the day will not only be potential new business models but also new ways to look at–to quote my friend Jay Rosen–the people formerly known as the audience. When our members are our collaborators, the recipients of our services, experts, and our friends, then the nature of our product — our service — called journalism changes fundamentally. If we have any hope to compete with Google, Facebook et al for the attention and affection of the public we serve — and for the first-party data that will rescue us from advertising commodification — we must reconsider our essential relationship with them. We must become members of the same clubs.

If this is of interest to you and your news organizations, please sign up now.