Friday Reading S05E01
Friday Reading is a weekly series of recommended reads from journalist and designer Martin Belam covering journalism, media and technology. That is now back on my own website instead of on Medium. Because reasons…
Former colleague and inspirational figure Matt McAlister wrote about what they’ve learned about “Using human editorial decisions to make a better algorithm” from working on Kaleida.
There’s one stat that leapt out at me: “Only about 5% of the articles promoted on publishers’ home pages earn over 2,000 engagements on Facebook.”
That sort of suggests that the other 95% promoted is stuff that an audience of over a billion people isn’t interested in talking about. Makes you wonder why it is being published, huh?
Sarah Schmalbach has a brilliant turn of phrase:
“Seeing news from a source I like, or a story shared by a brilliant friend is like receiving tons of tiny digital presents for my brain every morning.”
Here she is talking about what our Facebook feeds would look like if they didn’t contain any news.
“One can imagine that some day we’ll have near complete data centre automation using robots similar to those that pick goods in Amazon warehouse to fix problems and swap out boards.”
Chris Thorpe thinking here about how AI isn’t just like HAL in 2001, it has real world implications for the “boring” things like tax and geography and that we never talk about that stuff in science fiction.
“‘I froze, realising I’d stepped on a body’: Syrian journalists in their own words”
This is a raw but useful read from Ann Scantlebury about coping with grief and the effects of it: “After Dad Died”
“Twitter is tight-lipped about usage numbers for Moments. Fitzgerald did not provide specifics but categorized the tool as having ‘grown enormously’ and having ‘built a larger audience in one year than most major digital properties have grown in 10.’”
“What Twitter is doubling down on amid all the cutbacks” – Kerry Flynn, Mashable
“Transgender feminazis have joined forces with BBC communists to force innocent kids into sex change operations.”
Well, they haven’t, have they? That is why everybody who works in the media should read Paris Lees dishing out “Some Important Lessons for Journalists Treating Trans People as Punching Bags”
“When you are holding your phone and looking [at] it and it feels like it’s your hands, that is a big factor in why you feel connected to the media. We didn’t invent the top-down format, but the combination of that plus the way we think about media—which is social—and then plus food has created this amazing combination.”
“Why BuzzFeed’s Recipe Videos Are So Insanely Popular”
“Consider the difference in the examples of the John F. Kennedy assassination and 9/11. While you’ve probably seen only a single film clip of the scene from Dealey Plaza in 1963 when President Kennedy was shot, hundreds of television and amateur cameras were pointed at the scene on 9/11. Yet neither issue is settled for Americans; in one recent survey, about as many people said the government was concealing the truth about 9/11 as those who said the same about the Kennedy assassination.”
I enjoyed this essay on “How the Internet Is Loosening Our Grip on the Truth” by Farhad Manjoo, but I also couldn’t help think about this tweet from friend Richard Beech:
Read the newspaper that reflects your political views
Read mags that reflect your interests
Facebook is an echo chamber”
Hack drinks sex god Jonn Elledge is in the US doing a road trip in order to meet people and chat about the election. This is a great piece from him about it, especially the bit where he gets trapped by hospitality into having a very long tour around a yard full of broken up bits of trucks.
Got to be honest, though, this has pretty much killed the genre: “The Only Article You Need To Read About Why Trump Voters Are Angry”
The Telegraph has gone a little bit paywall.
This list fails to include “Because Trinity Mirror is going to shut it all down and make you redundant” but otherwise it is a great list of “Ten Ways Your Data Project is Going to Fail”
For Halloween I wrote a piece about seventies childrens’ TV show Rentaghost and had no idea just how popular it would prove. 60k+ page views when I was genuinely hoping it might just about hit 3,500.
I also got the opportunity to go the media launch of the BBC’s new animated Doctor Who episodes, and got to meet Anneke Wills, and it was pretty much the most perfect day of my professional career. Here’s what I wrote about it: “Which Doctor Who story will they animate next after ‘Power of the Daleks’?”
Before the Article 50 High Court ruling seized the news agenda, it was all about poppies. I wrote this tiny short fiction to explain why I think FIFA are right to not want them on shirts at football matches.
But it wasn’t as good as this. Nooruddead Choudry has been writing consistently good stuff for Joe and this is no exception: “The sanctimonious poppy police should perhaps spend more time in quiet remembrance”
Ed Jeff deserves an award for using his stint at CityMetric to cram a reference to Shippam’s Paste into an article about Euston Station’s architecture.
And finally…why move from Medium?
Well, a couple of things. Medium made a slight change that meant all of the “Friday Reading” editions I had sent out as “Letters” were no longer appearing on the publication homepage. It made it look like I hadn’t written anything since November 2015. And then the closure of Vine reminded me that controlling your own content and URLs is the safest way of keeping them alive. After all, my first ever blog post from 2002 still survives. So here we are. Back on my old website. I hope you’ll stick with it.
Friday Reading is a weekly series of recommended reads from journalist and designer Martin Belam, covering journalism, media and technology. Martin is Social & New Formats Editor for the Guardian in London.