The crisis in local journalism has become a crisis of democracy

The paucity of reporters has triggered an invisible power shift toward elected officials. A Pew Research Center study of Baltimore showed an increase in local stories based on press releases from elected officials. The trends in journalism exacerbate the divide between the coasts and the rest of the country. In 2014, almost 1 out of 5 U.S. reporters worked in New York, Washington or Los Angeles, compared with 1 in 8 in 2004.…

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Superman Comic about Sympathy and Hope

Just in case someone out there could use it, here’s a powerful comic that emphasizes the power of sympathy (written by J. Michael Straczynski, creator of my second favorite TV show). No sunshine and rainbows, no victim-blaming, no finger-pointing — just humane compassion. (Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.) Superman on sympathy and hope

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I am shocked — SHOCKED — to find that TV journalism is scripted, shallow eye candy.

Don’t trust the scary bad interweb. Do trust us, your local TV talking heads, who will do all the scary thinking for you!   Seeing local TV devote air time to discuss fairness and accuracy in journalism is a good thing. But when scores of newscasters read word-for-word the exact same statement, which blames social media, complains that “some media outlets publish these same fake stories,” and warns about “some…

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What’s an environmental issue? — Gus Speth

I don’t know the provenance of this quote attributed to Gus Speth, which affirms the role of the humanities in a STEM-obsessed world, but I did find this interview, conducted by Steve Curwood. “You know, what’s an environmental issue?” And if the answer is air pollution, water pollution, climate change…then we’re really right where we’ve been. But what if an environmental issue is something that has a big effect on…

How Zuckerberg’s Facebook is like Gutenberg’s printing press

Historian Niall Ferguson notes that Silicon Valley is not that interested in history, which is one reason why technological gurus keep making the same mistakes. Technology that decentralizes power brings its own problems. According to Ferguson: “The idea that witches live amongst us and should be burned went as viral as anything that Martin Luther said … Indeed, it turned out that witch burning was more likely to happen in…