The growth and spread of news deserts
A comprehensive new study released yesterday by the University of North Carolina’s School of Media and Journalism shows that about 1,300 U.S. communities have totally lost news coverage, reports Tom Stites at Poynter. Notably, about 20 percent of all metro and community newspapers in the United States have gone out of business or merged since 2004. The researchers also refer to what they call “ghost newspapers,” the hundreds that have dramatically scaled back coverage. “The growth and spread of news deserts is an unparalleled journalistic tragedy,” says Tony Davis. Lori Streifler calls it a “Sobering study on the nationwide news landscape,” while Jade McDowell points out, “Communities get what they're willing to pay for which, increasingly, is nothing.”
To locate News Deserts, Closures and Mergers of Newspapers, and News Deserts Overlaid with Food Deserts, check out the national maps from the University of North Carolina’s new searchable database.
A, uh, distressing datapoint
Let’s take a minute out for a “Pop quiz: A right wing group was found in Oregon with a bunch of weapons on their way to a protest. Did police 1) detain anyone 2) immediately inform the public 3) immediately inform the Mayor 4) none of the above.” For the answer to Astead Herndon’s quiz, turn to Gordon Friedman of The Oregonian and his new story, Armed protesters were on Portland rooftop in August, police now say. As Shane Dixon Kavanaugh summarizes: “NEWS: During the Aug. 4 Patriot Prayer rally, which drew more than 1,000 counter-protesters to downtown Portland, police found members of the right-wing group stationed on a rooftop w/ a ‘cache of weapons.’ They weren't arrested & public was never told.” Also, “right wingers staging an arms cache on a rooftop overlooking a protest is a, uh, distressing datapoint,” as Patrick Blanchfield observes. Andy Campbell’s take: “Deferential treatment indeed: Portland mayor reveals that on Aug. 4, rally, police found a Patriot Prayer cache of weapons and didn’t say anything until they told the mayor TODAY. Insane.”
Not a particularly great look
Mark Schoofs links to a “BOMBSHELL: A Middle East monarchy hired American former special ops soldiers as mercenaries to assassinate its political rivals in Yemen. ‘There was a targeted assassination program in Yemen. I was running it. We did it.’” That’s right — according to the reporting by Aram Roston of Buzzfeed News, American Mercenaries Were Hired To Assassinate Politicians In The Middle East. Michael Schwirtz highlights, “One member of an American mercenary assassination squad hired by the Emirates to kill people in Yemen was still in the Navy Reserve as a SEAL and had a top-secret clearance, according to @BuzzFeed.” Adin Dobkin points out, “Well that is not a particularly great look in concert with the gov't line ‘we didn't know these guys were over there.’’” Bottom line: “Just a mind-blowing story. Having seen the early iterations of these guns for hire in Iraq in 2003-2006, it makes total sense that we'd end up here,” tweets Luke Baker.
Facebook sleeps while this goes on
Paul Mozur’s new report for The New York Times, A Genocide Incited on Facebook, With Posts From Myanmar’s Military, reveals that Myanmar’s military used fake names and sham accounts on Facebook to fuel the genocide against the country’s mostly Muslim Rohingya minority group. Tweets Ben Collins, “Devastating couple of paragraphs here. Tech execs will never come to a full realization of their platforms' roles in genocide and the rise in authoritarianism, in part because doing it would require an overwhelmingly traumatic personal reckoning.” For Kashmir Hill, it “Still amazes me that a college kid created a site for harvard kids to more easily hook up and now it’s used to make genocide easier.” Adds Mike Butcher, “Horrifying. Facebook sleeps while this goes on.”
Heart-warming (and heart-breaking)
Daniel Nasaw calls this one “A heart-warming (and heart-breaking) look at how Sears improved life for African-Americans during the worst of southern Jim Crow by making quality consumer goods available and letting them avoid local shops run by racist, price-gouging whites.” At The Washington Post, Antonia Noori Farzan explores Sears’s ‘radical’ past: How mail-order catalogues subverted the racial hierarchy of Jim Crow. Paul Farhi adds, “One more bit on the history of Sears: It helped create Delta blues music by selling cheap, previously unavailable guitars to African Americans in the South.”
Meanwhile, David Eads tweets, “And don't miss @AnnieWaldman and @EricaLG's deep dive into Charlottesville, where deep divides in access to education exist within the district and even schools.” He’s referring to the report by Annie Waldman and Erica L. Green of ProPublica on Charlottesville’s Other Jim Crow Legacy: Separate and Unequal Education. “...this new @ProPublica piece focused on #Charlottesville's unequal education system. So much of the systemic racism in this country is concentrated in and perpetuated by school systems,” notes Kaitlin Ugolik.
Yes. So much yes
At the Scroll, Samar Halarnkar husband of journalist Priya Ramani, shares, “My wife faces a union minister, his 97 lawyers. It takes special courage to do that, i write, as i try to match that courage. The consequences of sexual harassment have fallen entirely on India’s women. The men must step up or step aside.” Read his piece, about which Ruth Pollard says, “Yes. So much yes”: My wife faces a union minister, his 97 lawyers. It takes special courage to do that (14,000+ shares). Ramani is one of 16 women journalists (and counting) who have accused Indian union minister MJ Akbar of a range of inappropriate workplace behavior.
Also at the Scroll, one of those women, Tushita Patel, writes, MJ Akbar, stop with the lying. You sexually harassed me too. Your threats will not silence us. Tweets Maya Mirchandani, “Am honestly sickened with the pathology & impunity, the vileness of a man who continues in high office: The 16th woman to speak out: #MJAkbar #MeToo #MeTooIndia.”
How to end a high-end smartphone review in 2018
For this one, Mat Honan explains, “I reviewed the new Pixel 3 from Google. But it also seemed like a good time to consider the phone's place in society. So I reviewed that too.” That piece, for BuzzFeed News, is The Google Pixel 3 Is A Very Good Phone. But Maybe Phones Have Gone Too Far. Tom Gara says this is “How to end a high-end smartphone review in 2018: ‘This is a great phone. I highly recommend it. But it's no longer totally clear to me that the information systems we've built to help us navigate life are net-beneficial to society.’” Olivia Rudgard is “Extremely here for dystopian, stream-of-consciousness tech reviews,” and Ben Parfitt admits, “This is a pretty good representation of my internal monologue when I read most tech pieces.” Also, says Casey Johnston, “.@mat is our greatest living artist.”
What a legacy
Of Paul Allen, who died yesterday from complications related to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Mike Baker says, “I don’t think anybody has had a bigger impact on Seattle over the past generation. Building the region’s largest employer. The redevelopment of South Lake Union. A Super Bowl ring. Brain science. The arts. Philanthropy. Conservation. RIP.” He links to the Seattle Times obituary by Rachel Lerman, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen dies at 65. Allen’s holding company, Vulcan, announced his death in a statement. Steve Lohr has the New York Times obit, Paul Allen, Microsoft’s Co-Founder, Is Dead at 65. Tweets Natalie Brand, “NBA Commissioner fittingly remembers Paul Allen as the ‘ultimate trailblazer.’ What a legacy he leaves on the Pacific NW and beyond.”
“Anyone who wants to understand what makes seemingly normal people do extraordinarily brave things should study the life of Chiune Sugihara. Moving piece by @RabbiWolpe, who is in Japan to honor Sugihara and the 6,000 lives he saved,” tweets Bari Weiss. She’s referring to David Wolpe’s piece in The New York Times about Chiune Sugihara, The Japanese Man Who Saved 6,000 Jews With His Handwriting.
Rina Chandran links to a “Brilliant feature: The people who moved to #Chernobyl. It is still illegal to live inside the exclusion zone, but about 130 to 150 people do. Many are #women, still farming their ancestral land.” That’s the BBC feature, The people who moved to Chernobyl, by Zhanna Bezpiatchuk.
Yasmin Gagne says she “Really enjoyed talking to @jmessler from @PlayersTribune about making it in the male-dominated world of sports & being a mentor to other women for @Inc #femalefounders 100.” Read her interview with Jaymee Messler at Inc., Derek Jeter's Players’ Tribune Is an Online Juggernaut. She’s the Secret Force Behind It.
Making the rounds
CNN’s Clarissa Ward and Tim Lister report that the Saudis are preparing to admit that Jamal Khashoggi was killed (109,000+ shares) and that his death “was the result of an interrogation that went wrong, one that was intended to lead to his abduction from Turkey.” Michael Weiss predicts, “Here’s what they’re going to do: 1. ‘He was an Islamist enemy of the state, we didn’t mean to kill him, just bring him home to face justice.’ 2. ‘How can America lecture us about torture or extrajudicial killing? KSM, Awlaki?’ 3. ‘So we lied. Big deal.’”
A big story last night, “Stormy’s secondary lawsuit against Trump was just tossed out. The fate of her primary suit is up in the air. Breaking tonight in federal court.” Elise Viebeck links to her coverage in The Washington Post, Judge throws out Stormy Daniels’s lawsuit against Trump (131,000+ shares).
“You may recall that many Republicans said their tax cuts would ‘pay for themselves’ through increased growth/revenues. In the first nine months, they are not -- by any measure,” says Jim Tankersley of The New York Times. His story on the topic finds, Budget Deficit Ballooned in 2018, Treasury Says (47,000+ shares). Trip Gabriel is calling it, “Tax cuts not paying for themselves, Chapter XXXV.” Tweets Chris Voss, “So glad I dont have kids. trump flushed your kids financial future down the toilet. BTW during the Kav hearings, they made the tax cuts PERMANENT.”
On that note, in their piece for Bloomberg, Alex Wayne and Saleha Mohsin highlight the fact that Trump Says Sears Was Mismanaged. Mnuchin Was on Its Board. Tweets Mike Dorning, “#UhOh: Trump says Sears was ‘obviously improperly run.’ Among those overseeing its management, his Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, Sears board member from 2005 until Dec. 2016.”
In other finance news, Liz Hoffman, Greg Bensinger and Maureen Farrell of The Wall Street Journal have the scoop on an “Eye-popping offering”: Uber Proposals Value Company at $120 Billion in a Possible IPO. To put that into perspective, “This is amazing. A taxi company who owns no cars is worth 120 billion dollars,” tweets Tyler Cralle. “Earnings shmernings, @lizrhoffman, @GregBensinger & @maureenmfarrell have the real big news of the day,” says Dana Cimilluca. Meanwhile, Erin Griffith wonders, “what do they call unicorns that think they're worth more than 100bn?”
And this is not good news. Ben Guarino of The Washington Post reports that a ‘hyperalarming’ study shows massive insect loss, writing, “Huge numbers of bugs have been lost in a pristine national forest in Puerto Rico, the study found, and the forest’s insect-eating animals have gone missing, too.” Tweets William Ramsey, “Alarming story. (Side thought: How many people in the US will read this story, and not realize this is in America?).” Yet another depressing thought.