April winds down with a mammoth installment of Ask Paul. Happy Friday everyone.
Note: Since I didn’t see any contrary votes on my question about whether only Thurrott Premium members should be able to ask questions in Ask Paul, I’ll start enforcing that next week and will make a note to that effect in each week’s forum post going forward. Thanks, everyone. ---Paul
Big tech, social media, and journalism
I would be interested to hear your take on the role "big tech," social media platforms, and traditional media outlets should be playing, if any, in restoring trust and integrity in journalism in this age of click-bait, deception, and putting ratings and profit over accuracy and trustworthiness.
In my supposedly 'curated' Apple Newsfeed, I see headlines like "Shamari DeVoe Gives Eva Marcille a $70 Gift Card to Pay for the Shoes She Puked On." In USA Today's tech section I see articles of interest to me alongside headlines like "Anthropologie's huge sale-on-sale is here--and these are our top picks." And my favorite of the morning comes from Business Insider: "People are pooping more than ever on the streets of San Francisco." Articles like those, while obnoxious, are but a small part of the larger problem: the erosion of trust in the critically-important fourth estate. NPR ran a story on 4/18 about how the US now ranks as a "problematic" place for journalists and that threats against those journalists are "becoming standard."
I realize the business of journalism is different now than it used to be, and that it continues to (d)evolve. I'm curious what thoughts you have about this since you've been in the business for a long time.
This is obviously a big topic, and, yes, it’s a bit personal for me as well. For whatever it’s worth, I was an early, even prototypical, blogger, and my first public works in writing were self-published.
If you’ve not heard the story, the short version is that I was working in a college computer lab in 1994 and started an email newsletter called WinInfo for the CS and CIS instructors. They found it valuable enough that they asked me to open it up to their students. And those students found it valuable enough that they asked me to open it up to their friends and family; essentially to anyone. Which I did. Concurrent to this, one of the professors there asked me to help him edit a Visual Basic book he was writing. That turned into helping write it, becoming a full co-author, and then actually becoming the primary author. At the time I intended to become a developer, but these two things, together, put me down the career path that I’m still on.
Point being, the forces that are now destroying journalism are the same forces that allowed me entry into a world that, to that point, was a lot more formal and professional. But by 1998, I had been hired by Duke Publishing, the makers of Windows NT Magazine, and I spent the next 15 years there, enduring a very formal and pro...
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