Posts about News


Umair Haque reviews the state of TV news in America:

Now that I’m in the States, when I make the mistake of trying to watch some news, I get, instead, a dose of catastrophically stupid anchorbots yelling at each other (or better yet, at me). You know the score – O’Reilly, Anderson Cooper, Paula Zahn, etc…

This is a mini case study in why Media 1.0 is dying such an agonizing, painful, awful death. I mean, here in SF I get about 10 news channels – and I still can’t get any news. All I can get is screaming, shouting, honeymoon murders, infotainment, blah, blah. Not to mention about 30 mins/hr of ads.

Forget strategy for a second. We don’t need any economics to tell us why media’s dying anymore: (how can I put this nicely) it sucks. Beyond sucks. It absolutely blows. There are no words to express the suckage anymore.

Well, that’s perhaps too much of a blanket condemnation. But I have had the experience of having cable news on just to have something on and then looking back after two hours to realize I didn’t learn a damned thing new.

Tragic error

One terrible lesson of the West Virginia mine tragedy is that you can’t trust the news. You never could; it has always taken time to see whether stories pan out, to get all the facts, to find out the truth. But now, in our age of instant news and ubiquitous communication, the public sees this process as it occurs. It’s not the news that’s live; it’s the process of figuring out what to believe that’s live. Now, indeed, everyone is a reporter and an editor and the public is learning, as reporters learned, that they need to find their ways through the fog of news. The next time I hear someone being haughty about professional news vs. citizen’s news, I’ll remind them of the West Virginia tragedy, where news traveled ahead of the facts, where everyone was horribly wrong.

: Thanks to a reader, here is a clip of Anderson Cooper learning this morning that the 12 miners had not survived but had died.

: LATER: Here’s a BBC story that quotes this post.


This is getting ridiculous: The AP is treating the NSA’s use of web cookies as if it is Big Brother spying. They’re just cookies.

: And the Guardian piles on. What a nonissue. Every advertiser sets cookies that last into the next universe. The unchecked assumptions about (1) privacy and (2) government spying come together in an absurb meme.

Un transit

New York transit is on strike. I won’t be able to go to work today, like millions of others, who also won’t be able to shop or go to restaurants. The city will lose hundreds of millions and untold millions will lose millions in turn. And what for?

Every indsutry in the U.S. economy has had to go through radical restructuring to find new efficiencies. But not government and civil service. And that is what this strike is about.

The transit union was demanding that its workers be able to retire at 55 on pension, and the city, which wanted to raise the age for new workers to 62, buckled last night. I don’t have a pension, do you? I have a 401K, one for every employer in the last 20 years; I’m sure most of you are in similar boats. Retire at 55? Ha!

At the same time, the union has been insistent about maintaining artificial, wasteful, expensive manning levels. In most other cities, subways are run by one person. In New York, they are run by two. In many other cities, when electronic ticketing machines are introduced, staffing in booths is drastically reduced. Here, it was a big deal that the booth workers got out of the booth to actually answer questions… if you can find them.

The Times gives us a touchy-feely sympathetic piece about the poor transit workers this morning, quoting a tender-hearted sociologist:

“The working conditions are more physically onerous, the treatment by managers more disrespectful, and the abuse from the public more hurtful, than any other group of public workers in the city experiences,” Dr. Swerdlow said.

What a load of crap. We’re an abusive, hurtful public — otherwise known as their customers. How about the abusive, sadistic conductors sand dispatchers who shut doors and move out just as transferring passengers arrive in a station? They have more of an ability to irritate more people in one day than anyone I know and I’ve seen too many of them do it too often.

The union broke the law this morning, costing New Yorkers their own pay and businesses their business and the city its tax resources so that its members could keep pensions that most Americans don’t have and retire sooner than most Americans could dream of doing and keep inefficient jobs for which there is no need.

Thank you for not riding the New York City subway. Have a rotten day.

: Lots of bloggers are stranded by the transit strike. This will be like babies in a blackout: lots of blog posts will be born.

: There is always another use for CraigsList: NYC ride sharing. [via Gothamist]

SSE (aka two-way RSS) and news

I haven’t fully gotten my head around Ray Ozzie’s announcement of SSE, a two-way RSS that allows you to not only receive new data but send and sync new data. I’m delighted that he consulted Dave Winer in the process, by the way. Ozzie mentions SSE’s use in such applications as calendaring and contacts. But I wonder if there’s not something else here, something about making one-way feeds two-way, something about making RSS conversational.

I have to believe there are applications for news here: various correspondents share the latest news on a story, for example. Perhaps this is how we update disaster reports. Perhaps this is how first-responders do, too. Or perhaps this is how we can keep data bases of current inventory and prices of materials. Maybe it has an application in shared reviews. Or maybe I’m getting it wrong.

How do you think SSE could be useful to news?

: Crunchnotes says new companies will be built on the back of SSE.

: LATER: See good discussion in the comments.

: I wonder, also, whether this is one way to handle corrections.