Category Archives: Media

Algeria blocks social media in school test scandal

Why are we not surprised?

From BBC News:

Algeria has temporarily blocked access to social media across the country in an attempt to fight cheating in secondary school exams.

Almost half of students are being forced to retake the baccalaureat exam, starting on Sunday, after the initial session was marred by online leaking.

Many students were able to access questions on Facebook and other social media ahead of the exam in early June.

Algeria has struggled with baccalaureate leaks in recent years.

And in other Facebook news

UPDATE, and also from BBC News:

“The fastest-growing industry in America is marijuana, period,” said Jake Bhattacharya, who recently quit his information technology job to open a cannabis testing lab in Upland.

With medical marijuana legal in 25 states and recreational use allowed in four, pot outsold Girl Scout Cookies in 2015, according to a report from Marijuana Business Daily, a 5-year-old news website covering the industry.

Pot retail sales are expected to hit $4 billion this year, and Marijuana Business Daily is projecting that number could nearly triple by 2020.

The actual size of the industry may already be much larger, too, since California hasn’t tracked its massive medical marijuana market in the 20 years since it’s been legal. And it could skyrocket if voters here and a handful of other states approve recreational use Nov. 8.

Blood on the newsroom floor. . .media shifts

Today, a graphic post following up on yesterday’s post on shifting revenues in the media world.

First up, from the Atlantic, a look at the shift in advertising revenues form 1925 to 2015 as new media emerged, starting with radio, followed by television. and now the Internet:

BLOG Journo ads

Also from the same page of Atlantic, a the overall advertising revenues for all news media over time from 1925 to 2015, expressed as a percentage of the Gross National Product:

BLOG Journo revenues

Next, from the Columbia Journalism Review. a look at the dwindling newspaper advertising revenues, with online advertising growing as revenues of the papers’ dead tree versions fall:

BLOG Journo newspaper ads

Finally, where do we get our news?

BLOG Journo keyThe answer from Digital News Report 2016 from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, an exhaustive survey of news media in the developed world, including detailed analyses of the audiences for a wide range of media and featuring a demographic analysis of just who trusts/distrusts the sources of information we rely on to follow the world around us [the key is to the right]:

BLOG Journo sources

Numbers confirm the delocalization of journalism

From State of the News Media 2016, the annual report on America’s working press from the Pew Research Center:

BLOG Delocalized news

Another set of numbers compounds the problem:

BLOG J Chart

As profits decline for local newspapers and television, more ;layoffs follow, leading to a decline in the quality and quantity of local journalism, leading to more losses of subscribers and viewers, leading to more loss of revenue, leading to. . .an accelerating death spiral.

What the numbers speak to is a worrying trend, the delocalization of journalism.

All politics is local, and so is news

Legendary Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill famously declared that all politics is local, meaning that all political acts impact on all of us.

And what newspapers, local radio stations, and local television news used to do was connect events at the national and international level with the local community.

Thousands of reporters dug into the connections, coming up with stories that tiend events in the larger arena with local businesses, school, community organizations, and individuals.

Reporting on those links brought the political down to earth, revealing the positive and negative implications of seemingly distant events down to earth.

Without that linkage, political discussion becomes generalized and abstract, a tool for division and sowing doubt and confusion.

We would argue that the collapse of community journalism and the relentless drive to find the local linkages iplows the ground for candidates like Donald Trump.

Anyway, that’s what one old curmudgeon thinks in the long, dark hours of night.

Headline of the day: Meet the Christian ISIS

From the Los Angeles Times:

YouTube removes video of Sacramento pastor praising Orlando mass shooting

A YouTube video in which a Sacramento Baptist church pastor praised the massacre of 49 people at a gay nightclub in Florida and called the victims pedophiles and predators was removed Tuesday for violating the website’s policy on hate speech. 

Researchers crack the Amazon price puzzle

From Northeastern University.

From Northeastern University.

We have mixed feelings about online megaretailers like Amazon.

Their predatory pricing kills community-based businesses and reduces labor to role of automata.

But on the other hand, those same predatory prices are virtually irresistible, especially in a society where worker paychecks are steadily losing ground.

But once you’re seduced by the low prices, the rule of caveat emptor still applies.

That’s because the low price you see often isn’t the lowest you can get.

And now some academics have cracked the puzzle of just how to get that lowest price.

From Northeastern University:

You need a new Chrome­book com­puter, so you go online to Amazon and start your search. You click on an attrac­tive item on the product page—an Acer 11.6-Inch, CB3-111-C670. Up pops the computer’s price ($188.88, new, last Friday morning) and, to the right, the ubiq­ui­tous “buy box,” beck­oning “Add to Cart.” You oblige.
Had you looked more closely, you might have done better.

New research [open access PDF] led by Northeastern’s Christo Wilson, assis­tant pro­fessor in the Col­lege of Com­puter and Infor­ma­tion Sci­ence, reveals that Amazon is much more likely to fea­ture sellers in the buy box who use an auto­mated prac­tice called algo­rithmic pricing, even though their prices may be higher than those who don’t. Algo­rithmic pricing read­justs product prices in real-time using com­puter algo­rithms, reacting to vari­ables such as com­peti­tors’ changing prices and sellers’ inven­tory levels. The research was presented at the 25th Inter­na­tional World Wide Web Conference.

That Acer is a case in point: A tiny link below the buy box takes you to 107 other sellers whose prices for the same new machine start at just $149.

When you go to a page on Amazon, what you’re seeing is typ­i­cally not the lowest price avail­able,” says Wilson. “For example, we found that 60 per­cent of sellers using algo­rithmic pricing have prices that are higher than the lowest price for a given product. Now, 70 per­cent of the time they only raise the price by $1, but there are many cases where the price increase is on the order of $20 to $60. So you really have to take that extra step and click through to the list of all sellers for a given product if you want to find the lowest price.”

Pick your strategy

If algo­rithmic pricing sounds too sophis­ti­cated for inde­pen­dent sellers, it’s not: For a fee, any one of Amazon’s more than 2 mil­lion third-party sellers can easily sub­scribe to an auto­mated pricing ser­vice through com­pa­nies such as Sellery, Feed­visor, and Repri­ceIt, becoming so-called algo sellers. They then set up a pricing strategy by choosing from a menu of options like these: Find the lowest price offered and go above it (or below it) by X dol­lars or Y per­centage, find Amazon’s own price for the item and adjust up or down rel­a­tive to it, and so on. The ser­vice does the rest.

Read the rest, after the jump. . . Continue reading

Headline of the day III: The circus arrives

From the London Daily Mail:

Fox News correspondent Ed Henry will NOT cover Hillary campaign in wake of his affair with Vegas stripper, as Trump begins attack on Bill Clinton’s marital indiscretions

  • Veteran stripper met the political journalist at the Sapphire club in Sin City 
  • Natalia Lima (real name Natalie Albrandt), 42, performed steamy $2,000-an-hour routines for Henry in VIP ‘Skybox’ at Sapphire Las Vegas strip club   
  • Chief White House Correspondent took time off after details of his alleged affair emerged
  • Henry has been married to NPR editor Shirley Hung since 2010. They married in Las Vegas
  • Donald Trump will be going after President Bill Clinton for his marital indiscretions during his campaign against Hillary

Bill Moyers takes down Trump, a must-see talk

Bill Moyers has perhaps the longest continuous career as a journalist on the American national stage.

Born in Oklahoma to a working class family and raised in Texas, Moyers worked as a journalist after college, then became a Southern Baptist minister before returning to journalism. He served as White House Press Secretary to Lyndon Johnson, then returned to journalism, working in television and print.

Only last year did he nominally retire, winding up his successful PBS interview Series, Moyers and Company.

In this address, delivered lats month at the University of California, Santa Barbara, offers a truly devastating takedown of Donald Trump, as well as the reasons for the mainstream media’s endless and profitable fascination with all things Trump.

He rightly calls the American political system broken, corrupted by the growing concentration of wealth in the hands of a very, very few, and notes, among other things, that childhood poverty has increased under the Obama administration.

And we have to chide UCSB for editing the word “bullshit” out of Moyers’ talk. Really, folks. That’s bullshit in and of itself.

Give it a listen. You’ll be amply rewarded.

From University of California Television:

An Evening with Bill Moyers

Program notes:

Bringing his expertise, experience and wisdom longtime journalist Bill Moyers looks at the November election and asks if we are in for Armageddon, apocalypse, or rapture? Moyers has received 37 Emmy Awards, nine Peabody Awards, the National Academy of Television’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from the American Film Institute, among others. Recorded on 05/18/2016.