Jamie Kelly

Much like life in the state of nature I am nasty, brutish, and short.

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Tech journalism still must die

From an article in—of all places—the New York Times about the announcement of the PlayStation 4 from Sony.

The console itself was never shown during the two-hour presentation. No release date was given, although before the Christmas holidays is a good possibility. No price was mentioned.

So essentially, the paper of record went to an event where Sony said “We’re going to have this fantastic new console with all of these great features,” but didn’t answer the questions that actually matter to the people who’d buy such a console.

Of course, so did nearly every other member of the tech media.

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Tesla/NY Times lessons

I think the lessons I mentioned earlier on Twitter about the New York Times vs. Tesla pissing match controversy are about the only things we can learn from the whole thing: Most problematic stories are journalists getting sloppy, not making up facts whole cloth, and that Elon Musk is a dick1.

I assume most people have read Musk’s takedown, the Atlantic Wire’s takedown of Musk’s takedown, along with John Broder’s response and the Times’ public editor’s overview.

From the outside, it seems like Broder’s notes weren’t the best (I’m spitballing on that, I’ve never met Broder or even heard of him before this, and I’m guessing most of you hadn’t either. I bet he wishes it had stayed that way.), and he thought his memory was more precise than it actually was. But in his defense, he’s probably not very familiar with electric cars because 1) they’re still quite rare and 2) unlike gasoline cars...

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On being tired of being repetitive

A few months ago I noted that media companies keep firing journalists when they should be firing their executives. That hasn’t changed. And it’s making me feel like a broken record, or whatever the digital media equivalent is.

I’m not saying I’m a lone voice in the wilderness, but by and large the media that covers the media is focused on institutions and models, rather than the people doing the work.

A few weeks ago The Gazette in Cedar Rapids, where I worked for two years, laid off nine people in the newsroom. I knew all of those laid off and respected their work greatly. And in the comments on the Romensko post people note that two other papers had layoffs on the same day.

There’s more that’s bothering me than the fact that I knew the people who were laid off, though. It’s the fact that it keeps happening despite the common sense notion that no business has ever cut its way to...

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The business model isn’t the problem

The problem that media companies are having isn’t that they’re still searching for the right business model, it’s that their structure—the way the create and present content, and the way they structure their staff—is outdated, and doesn’t fit with the business models that we already know are successful.

It’s not easy to make money on the Internet, but neither is it filled with penniless hippies, writing only for the love of it. There are profitable sites, but they are structurally very different from traditional media organizations—even when they serve the same or a similar purpose. Media executives don’t understand how to make their business fit the model, instead of the other way around.

There are a lot of success stories on the web: Sites that are profitable, sites that offer insight into important issues. But none of those successful sites is set up like a traditional newspaper1...

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The best journalism isn’t happening at news organizations anymore

Two stories today got my goat: One from the Wall Street Journal saying Apple has halved its order for iPhone 5 components, indicating a slowing in demand, and one arguing that pubic lice are becoming extinct.

John Gruber, was, of course, quick to call bullshit. And link to others who were also skeptical. Whether it’s true or not remains to be seen, but it’s astonishing how quickly something can pass from an unsourced or anonymously sourced assertion to a meme to established fact. All without any skepticism about ulterior motives.

And then there are the crabs of the not delicious variety. At Skepchick, the charmingly-named bug_girl writes about a story trumpeting the decline of public lice. As she notes, the people behind the press release—salons and beauty products—have a vested interest in the idea that shaving ones pubic hair is a good health move.

So why on earth does it take...

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AutoRip for books would be a miracle

Dan Frommer asks for something that would be a holy grail for me and my wife: Amazon’s AutoRip, but for books. He also notes why it’s unlikely, and how it could go horribly awry. But this exact idea is what my wife wanted three years ago, when I was considering buying her a Kindle or a Nook.

The last time we used LibraryThing, which was four or five years ago, we had more than 1,000 books. Now that total is easily 1,500. We acquire books at an astonishing rate, and Emily reads them even faster, so imagine two dozen library books being around at any given time, as well. And unlike me, she re-reads books, so she doesn’t want an e-reader until she’s able to take an enormous collection with her but not have to carry any physical books alongside the e-reader. I can’t blame her—the beauty of the e-reader is that you just have to pack one thing.

Buying digital copies of all—or even most—of...

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It’s not just tech journalism that needs to die

A reader took me mildly to task about my “Let’s kill technology journalism post, saying that it wasn’t just tech reporters and sites guilty of the infractions I cited. He is completely right, and his point about the flaws inherent in so many sectors of the news—entertainment, politics, the list goes on—is well taken.

The horse-race coverage that defines politics, the shallowness that passes for informed analysis in nearly every area of reporting, are infuriating. They make being aware and engaged with the world more difficult, more off-putting.

Part of the reason I focused my ire on technology is that I simply didn’t have the time or attention span to make a complete list of all the sins of those who claim to be journalists. The other is that I think tech journalism is the most expendable, and aside from celebrity coverage and gossip, provides the least real value.

Try an...

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Let’s kill technology journalism

Despite my frequent Instagram and Klout posts, I’m not a tech pundit. If anything, I think of myself a journalism pundit, and the coverage of Instagram’s Terms of Service debacle has convinced me that technology journalism, at least from anything other than independent bloggers, is dead.

When half-baked bullshit like this post from CNET that, as far as I can tell, was based on a misreading of the terms and a desire to cash in on the hysteria, is what comes from a large organization and even Wired, who I normally respect getting in on the act, it’s clear that there are two kinds of journalism left covering the tech world: regurgitation of press releases and gadget announcements and wild, barely-informed speculation about the latest trending topic.

In fact, about the only bright spot was The Verge having Nilay Patel (who has a law degree) dissect what the terms ACTUALLY mean. And you...

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That didn’t take long

Instagram has already written a post saying they aren’t going to steal sell your photos to the highest bidder.

They’re not even going to use them in ads.

To provide context, we envision a future where both users and brands alike may promote their photos & accounts to increase engagement and to build a more meaningful following. Let’s say a business wanted to promote their account to gain more followers and Instagram was able to feature them in some way. In order to help make a more relevant and useful promotion, it would be helpful to see which of the people you follow also follow this business. In this way, some of the data you produce — like the actions you take (eg, following the account) and your profile photo — might show up if you are following this business.

The language we proposed also raised question about whether your photos can be part of an advertisement. We do not have...

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A very good question re Instagram and news organizations

Craig Hockenberry asks:

I think that’s an excellent question. Using editorial photos for advertising is bad enough, but using them for advertising purposes when the news organization doesn’t get a cut? That is not going to go over well.

And there’s another question: What about non-profit organizations? At the college where I work, we have a strict policy about not accepting or displaying advertising, not licensing our images for advertising except in very limited purposes. One of my goals for the new year was to use Instagram for the college, but now I need to reconsider that, even if I do keep using it for myself (which I almost certainly will).

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