The U.S. government and Facebook are negotiating a record, multibillion-dollar fine for the company’s privacy lapses

Are you still relying on Facebook to filter your news for you? Zuckerberg will probably apologize — yet again — and then keep on Zucking. The Federal Trade Commission and Facebook are negotiating over a multi-billion dollar fine that would settle the agency’s investigation into the social media giant’s privacy practices, according to two people familiar with the probe. The fine would be the largest the agency has ever imposed on…

A hedge fund’s ‘mercenary’ strategy: Buy newspapers, slash jobs, sell the buildings

For Alden and its subsidiary, the Gannett empire’s newspapers are clearly an attractive feature. But by purchasing the Memphis building and others like it, Alden has already begun coming for what it may consider a bigger prize: Gannett’s real estate. […] The tactics employed by Alden and Digital First Media are well-chronicled: They buy newspapers already in financial distress, including big-city dailies such as the San Jose Mercury News and…

Journalism Isn’t Dying. It’s Returning to Its Roots.

An important reminder that “objective” journalism is a recent innovation. In the past, even a small town would have a liberal paper and a conservative paper. If you wanted to be truly informed, you’d subscribe to both. Out-of-town publishing chains with more interest in profits and less investment in the communities started buying up both local papers, and meeting both the liberal and conservatives audiences with a single just-the-facts news…

Enjoying my “Dystopia in American Literature” class.

After a kind of prelude in which we looked at Washington Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle” and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” as proto-dystopias, my “Dystopia in American Literature” class looked at Jack London’s post-apocalyptic “The Scarlet Plague” last week. Because it’s an online class that never meets face-to-face, I’ve been posting regular 15-20m context lectures, in order to convey the kind of background info that I would ordinarily just slip…

Why Fears of Fake News Are Overhyped

Facebook seems to have made changes that mean it is less involved in the spread of fake news. Overall, and for reasons that extend beyond whatever unknown changes Facebook may have made to its algorithm, fake news seems less prevalent now than it was in 2016. “[T]he role of Facebook in the spread of fake news appears to have changed. In 2016, the site differentially appeared in web traffic just…

Student: “Just wanted to let you know that your class has benefited me outside of just literature studies and thank you.”

In my online class on literary dystopia, I am asking students to post one-minute podcasts to share with each other, so the class doesn’t feel so lonely. About half of the students chose to do audio recordings, and half chose videos. While this isn’t a media production course, I am still giving tips on eye contact, lighting, and vocal delivery. A student just sent me this note, which I’m reproducing with…