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Dear readers: Please stop calling us ‘the media.’ There is no such thing.

When my students refer in passing to “the media,” I know what they mean, but I ask them to be more specific, noting that handwritten notes, carvings on stone tablets, and papier mâché are all examples of “media.” So I agree with this WashPo observation that the term is so general it is meaningless. Not too long ago “the press” was a perfectly well-understood nickname for print journalists. When working…

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Yes, Virginia, There Is a Journalist!

My new hero is NPR’s Michael Oreskes. Scott Detrow had a terrific story today about Donald Trump’s appearance at a Black church. The pastor called Trump on the carpet for attacking Hillary Clinton when he had promised not to be partisan. Trump later attacked the pastor and misstated key facts about what actually happened. Why was this story terrific? Scott was one of a handful of reporters in the church…

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World Trade Center Literary and Cultural Reflections (first posted September 11, 2001)

Not knowing what else to do, in the numb hours after the towers fell, I made a web page that explored the World Trade Center in literature and culture, as well as urban technology in general. I updated it a bit over the next few weeks or months, but have mostly left it as an historical record.    As journalists improvised to meet the public’s demand for online updates (in…

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Facebook’s Censorship Problem Is What Happens When a Tech Company Controls the News

Facebook makes editorial decisions that affect its presentation of news through its “news” (?) feed. But Facebook is in the business to make money for Facebook, and the trending topics feed is just a tool to keep people on Facebook. Someone needs to assign Facebook a faculty adviser. In the space of a single day, Facebook has managed to: Draw condemnation from a Norwegian news organization for censoring a famous…

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Facebook does not care about truth. Facebook wants to sell your attention to the highest bidder. 

  Don’t trust your Facebook feed. All Facebook wants is for you to spend time on Facebook, so that they can sell your attention to the highest bidder. Facebook recently fired 18 employees whose job was to write headlines for and monitor the “Trending Topics” list. When that list fell under scrutiny for an alleged anti-conservative bias, Facebook conducted an internal review, and reported that it found no evidence of…