The Media Bubble is Real — And Worse Than You Think

In the early 20th century, print journalists often identified with the working class. Small newspapers were created by and read by people who live and often grew up in the same area. Online jobs tend to clump around big cities, meaning that reporters increasingly live in a media bubble that isolates them from the life experiences of Americans who live outside the big cities. This article doesn’t romanticize rural conservatives,…

Boston Herald Guild Members Boycotting Twitter After Reporter Suspended

Members of the Herald’s editorial guild are boycotting Twitter this week after reporter Chris Villani was suspended without pay for three days for violating the company’s social media policy. Villani’s misstep? An April 20 tweet stating, “The notes found in #AaronHernandez cell were letters to his daughter & fiancee, saying he loved them & would see them in heaven, per source.” It was a legitimate scoop in the highly competitive national…

Dozens of Colleges’ Upward Bound Applications Are Denied for Failing to Dot Every I

I’m not saying that the Upward Bound kids deserved to be punished because application writers didn’t follow formatting instructions. I am saying that formatting matters. When your professors put “formatting” on the rubric, they aren’t simply trying to make your life difficult. For the want of double spacing in a small section of a 65-page grant application, 109 low-income high-school students will be cut off from a program at Wittenberg…

The Religious Origins of Fake News and “Alternative Facts”

A good exploration, in the light of current interest in “fake news,” of the troubled relationship between conservative Christianity’s understanding of truth and secular experts’ understanding of facts. (Mainstream Protestantism and Catholicism have negotiated this difference much more smoothly.) But it wasn’t Christianity, or religious faith itself in general, that helped make Republican voters more likely to be duped by fake news than their Democratic compatriots. (There were, and continue to…

Captain, the Fake News Detectors are Offline!

Slate has a good article about William “Captain Kirk” Shatner’s involvement with a Twitter incident that involved Autism Speaks, the alleged connection between vaccines and autism, and the ready availability of easily Googled but unreliable “information.” Shatner is a celebrity, which means that he has outsized influence. That he would use his platform to lend credibility to such sites, spreading them to 2.5 million followers, could have terrible consequences. Shatner…

Three challenges for the web, according to its inventor

A letter, published a few weeks ago, in which the inventor of the World Wide Web discusses personal security, fake news, and political transparency. Today marks 28 years since I submitted my original proposal for the world wide web. I imagined the web as an open platform that would allow everyone, everywhere to share information, access opportunities and collaborate across geographic and cultural boundaries. In many ways, the web has…