3 to read: The media masters of Facebook (you’ve never heard of) | Gawker postmortems | 98 things Facebook knows about you

  1. The masters of Facebook’s political-media machine (and you’ve never heard of them): A fascinating peek at a thriving subculture of sites that are doing extremely well at getting their political messages in front of you. These are the real masters of using Facebook. And you’ve never heard of them. From the NYT mag’s John Herrman, and with a cool hedline too: “Inside Facebook’s (Totally Insane, Unintentionally Gigantic, Hyperpartisan) Political-Media Machine.”
  2. Two interesting Gawker postmortems: Never mind Peter Thiel. Gawker killed itself. “Gawker has inspired plenty of laudatory eulogies, which is interesting, since it primarily traded in muck.” A blistering takedown of the site by Simon Dumenco of AdvertisingAge. And Some questions for those who are cheering Gawker’s demise: Hard, sobering questions about what this means for newsrooms in the future, like Who’s next? An ugly legal chapter may be opening up against the news industry. By Trevor Timm for Freedom of the Press Foundation.
  3. Facebook knows *what* about me?: Everyone knows that Facebook knows a lot about its users. But here are some specifics — 98 data points (sometimes wrong) that Facebook knows about you and uses for ad targeting. Alls I can say is: Yikes. Great story by the WaPo’s Caitlin Dewey.

Matt Carroll runs the Future of News initiative at the MIT Media Lab.


3 to read: What makes Steve Bannon tick | All about shield laws | RIP, John McLaughlin

By Matt Carroll <@MattatMIT>

Aug. 23, 2016: Cool stuff about journalism, once a week. Get notified via email? Subscribe: 3toread (at) gmail.com.

  1. The most “dangerous political operative in America” is at Trump’s side: In a seismic shift last week, Trump shook up his campaign staff, bringing on board Breitbart’s Steve Bannon. Bloomberg’s Joshua Green wrote a fascinating take on Bannon, with this sub hed: “”Steve Bannon runs the new vast right-wing conspiracy — and he wants to take down both Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush.” It’s a year old feature, but still offers fascinating insight into what makes Bannon tick.
  2. Shield laws & journalist’s privilege: Welcome to the incredibly confusing and complicated world of journalism shield laws, where protection for reporters ranges from OK to pathetic, depending on the type of case and where you work. Jonathan Peters of Columbia Jrn Review pens “what every reporter should know about shield laws.” Informative.
  3. RIP, John McLaughlin, provocateur of public affairs TV: John McLaughlin’s TV career spanned decades; his influence as host of The McLaughlin Group was legendary. His bellow — “Wronnng!” — became a catchphrase. A wonderful obit by Erik Wemple of the Washington Post on one of journalism’s stars from a fast vanishing era.

Bonus: Deepstream turns the chaos of livestreams into curated order: Livestreams are popular — whether it’s a revolt in Turkey or a house fire across town, people are increasingly tuning in. But livestreams pose problems — for instance, context is usually lacking and it can be difficult to find the stream you want. Deepstream aims to tame all that. And they are looking for media partners. (Transparency alert: I’m hopelessly conflicted, as I’m helping Gordon Mangum, the founder. Still, it’s cool.)

How not to respond to John Oliver | Understanding Medium | 10 common data mistakes

  • How not to respond to John Oliver’s ode to local newspapers: John Oliver created a hilarious — and thoughtful — video on the importance of journalism. Was it cheeky? Heck, yeah. It’s John Oliver, after all. But at its heart it presented a serious defense of journalism. So what does the president of the Newspaper Association of America do? Trashes Oliver. Not smart. Margaret Sullivan, the media columnist for the Washington Post, takes the guy over the coals. A fun read.
  • Understanding Medium as a tool for publishing: Medium is becoming a major player as a platform that publishers are eager to use. What’s its secret? Its incredible network that connects writers, readers, and ideas. John Battelle interviews founder Ev Williams on building a networked platform for publishing.
  • How to avoid 10 common mistakes in data reporting: I’m not a huge fan of listicles because they tend to be so click-baity. But this is an exception. Sean Mussenden of the University of Maryland’s Capital News Service gives good advice for anyone interested in using data for a story. Good for newbies and veterans. eg: Don’t overestimate the meaning of your data.

BONUS: NewsPix helps digital newsrooms reinforce their brand: NewsPix is a free, open-source tool that presents a stream of news photos to readers. The Chrome extension is now open to any newsroom developer who’s interested. So dive right in. Asahi Shimbun, one of the world’s largest news organizations, just started using it. (Transparency alert: I helped develop NewsPix with my partner, Catherine D’Ignazio, a professor at Emerson College.)

3 to read projects

NewsPix: A cool tool for newsrooms that shows a stream of news photos  to readers, which helps to raise brand awareness and increase engagement. More information here, and this is the download for the Keene (N.H.) Sentinel. Emerson Professor Catherine D’Ignazio and I encourage interested newsrooms to reach out to us if you are interested in testing NewsPix.

FOLD.cm: A fascinating storytelling platform that encourages the use of contextualized information that can range from text to video, from maps to pictures. Free and easy to use.