I had this after another incident/discussion in the queue for quite some time, but now I'm (and others) are signing up with our position on it.
If you like to be added, let me know.
This is also a vote of confidence for basically all tech communities I've ever been part of, my (exclusively) male mentors, my editors, most of my bosses and ALL of my coworkers and literally very nearly every male techie I ever encountered.
I often tell my students that where they see a problem, they should find the opportunity. Well, we’ve been told over and over this weekend that we had a big problem with misinformation after the Boston Marathon bombing. Breaking news, haven’t you heard, is broken.
So I see an opportunity, a big journalistic opportunity. I also tell my students this:
* Journalism should add value to a flow of information that can now occur without media’s mediation — verifying facts, vetting witnesses, debunking rumors, adding context, adding explanation, and most of all asking and answering the questions that aren’t in the flow, that aren’t being asked, i.e., reporting. Let’s acknowledge reality: There’s no stopping or fixing that flow. What witnesses see will be shared for all to see, which is good, along with rumors, rank speculation, and the work of the New York Fucking Post, which is bad.
* The key skill of journalism today is saying what we don’t know, issuing caveats and also inviting the public to tell us what they know. Note I didn’t say I want the public to tell us what they think or guess. I said know.
So the opportunity: If I ran a news organization, I would start a regular feature called, Here’s what you should know about what you’re hearing elsewhere.
Last week, that would have included nuggets such as these:
* You may have heard on CNN that an arrest was made. But you should know that no official confirmation has been made so you should doubt that, even if the report is repeated by the likes of the Associated Press.
* You may have heard reports repeated from police scanners about, for example, the remaining suspect vowing not to be taken alive. But you should know that police scanners are just people with microphones; they do not constitute official or confirmed police reports. Indeed, it may be important for those using police radio to repeat rumor or speculation — even from fake Twitter accounts created an hour ago — for they are the ones who need to verify whether these reports are true. Better safe than sorry is their motto.
* You may see on Reddit that people are speculating about who perpetrated these crimes, including speculation that it could be a missing college students. But you should know that these people are merely speculating and that is about as useful as a rumor, which is worthless. That’s not to say that the amateur sleuthing could not turn up a connection to the crime. But so far, it has not.
* You may have heard reports that there were more bombs. But you should know that we cannot track where these reports started and we have no official confirmation so you should not take those reports as credible. We are calling the police to find out whether they are true and we will let you know as soon as we know.
* You may have seen the New York Post report that there were 12 victims and you may have seen it publish a picture of men with backpacks, implicating them in this crime with no justification. But you should know that this is the New York Post. Need we say more?
That is journalism. That is what every news organization and site should be doing. That they don’t is only evidence of a major journalistic opportunity, perhaps even a business unto itself: The What We Don’t Know News, the only news show you can really trust. It doesn’t ignore breaking news or what you’re hearing. It adds value to that flow of both information and misinformation.
On Howie Kurtz’ CNN show this weekend, Erik Wemple said that news organizations should report nothing until it is confirmed. Lauren Ashburn countered that police did not confirm even the Marathon bombings until nearly an hour after they occurred, so clearly that’s untenable. She’s right. But this is easily solved if journalists say how they know what they know. We know a bomb went off because we saw it and we’re showing it to you over and over and over and over again. We don’t know whether a suspect has been arrested because we didn’t see it ourselves and police haven’t told us yet and hearing it on CNN isn’t good enough.
That is journalism.
So I thought I'd write a final (?) update on the Pixel saga, since my MBA has been retired, and I've actually used the Pixel as my main laptop for two short trips now.
To make a long story short: it's all about the screen. There really isn't anything else special about the machine. Everything else is very much just "adequate", and you know what? It really doesn't matter. The screen was what got me interested, and perhaps more importantly, the screen is what makes it work.
I could write a much longer post talking about the weaknesses, because quite frankly, the rest of the machine really isn't all that special. You can get much better things. But I ended up deleting all my comments about the shortfall of the other individual components, because in the end it just didn't matter to me. The rest was "good enough" to make it work, and the screen sells the machine to me.
So don't get me wrong: it's absolutely not a perfect machine, and the price is unquestionably too high for any kind of widespread use. But I'm hoping it's the beginning of a trend, and we'll see more than just the Pixel and the rrMBP with good screens.
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