Friday Reading S06E05

Friday Reading is a weekly series of recommended reads from journalist and designer Martin Belam covering journalism, media and technology. It is also available as an email newsletter – sign up here.

I wrote an opinion piece for the Guardian about how journalists need to consider how they deal with a White House that is literally spreading its own #FakeNews:

“The challenge for journalists is that it is a lot easier for the far right to assert these things as ‘facts’ that the media are suppressing than it is to refute them.”

Hussein Kesvani’s cousin accused me of a smear in the piece. The dolt.

Adam Tinworth wrote a follow-up where he described the asymmetrical nature of the battle between neo-Nazis of the alt-right who organise on the web: “Journalism is losing the culture war, because it’s fighting last century’s battles“.

Talking of the neo-Nazi alt-right, I got directed to this, arguing that pushing back against the troll playbook is playing into their hands. The problem, of course, is that ignoring these dickwads doesn’t make them go away, and if you give people access to speak on campus, this is what happens.

In the meantime, here’s a Channel 4 doco segment on the neo-Nazi alt-right.

Cautionary tale for the left making sure they double check their sources too: “How Liberal Websites Pushed A Dubious Claim That Trump ‘Turned Off’ A Recorder For His Call With Putin

“Though Gubarev’s lawyer insists that his client is in no way tied to the president’s administration, and the suit is not political, it does pose a major question for BuzzFeed: what are the potential repercussions of its aggressive approach to journalism, which pushes beyond some of its more traditional competitors? And in the Trump era, how should it balance the risk and reward of hard-hitting journalism at a company that makes most of its money on light-hearted entertainment?”

Lengthy look at the court action Buzzfeed faces for publishing that dossier.

“Some of these servers, especially the Discord chat spun out of 4chan’s far-right stomping ground /pol/, use their room to coordinate ‘raids’ on other servers with ease and impunity. Trolls acquire invite links to other servers and post them in a room called ‘Raids’ (formerly ‘Raids Defense’), encouraging the chat’s 1000+ members to descend en masse on vulnerable or unsuspecting communities, bringing with them a tidal wave of abuse.”

How a Video Game Chat Client Became the Web’s New Cesspool of Abuse” – Bryan Menegus

“Pew stayed in touch with more than 2,000 U.S. adults who said they got at least some news online over the course of a week and asked them twice a day for a week last February whether they’d gotten news online within the past two hours.”

Lots of interesting data in here.

Finally Google fixes a big problem with AMP, now lets you view and share a publisher’s own links.

Well, this is awkward: “Infuriating Guardian Writer Slags Off Technology While Writing on the Guardian Website

“What I really love is playing video games – but in Boyle’s world I’d have no time for that as I’d be too busy skinning animals or burying my children who have died at birth.”

“The voice of this generation is noticeably absent from mainstream media, online comment pieces and from news reports. Oi, editors! What are you so scared of? Why aren’t you commissioning us?”

If you are under 24 you can pitch to get your essay into this book and fix that.

“For a miraculous 24 hours or so, I was happy! We were happy! Why? Because Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter announced that she is pregnant with twins! TWINS. She didn’t do it in a boring, pedestrian way, no. She gave us a glorious photoshoot to share and adore. Of course we can’t enjoy anything on this dumpster-fuck planet, because not hours later came tweets and posts criticizing people for being happy. Apparently we’re not allowed to simultaneously enjoy good news while being fully aware of how many of us are going to be affected by a Trump presidency.”

White Women: This Is Why Your Critiques Of Beyoncé Are Racist” – the structural lack of diversity in our industry means you’ll get Sarah Vine slagging off Beyoncé in the Daily Mail, and barely anybody who isn’t white commissioned to write about her at all. See also: 100 think-pieces when Pink Floyd release a box-set, but very little serious writing in the national press about genre music that isn’t white men with guitars.

“By the time the case had finally been conclusively adjudicated in 2011, Pierce Marshall was dead, Anna Nicole Smith was dead, and whatever power she had once held, real or imagined, was gone with her. Her infiltration of the American consciousness had come in two distinct waves: first with her rise as the Marilyn Monroe of the 1990s, and then with her presence as a reliable staple of the early-2000s reality TV–fuelled celebrity shame machine.”

Long read about Anna Nicole Smith which is fascinating in what it says about media culture of the 90s and 2000s.

When people say “We should learn more about our proud British heritage!” etc etc they seldom mean things like “The Great Hedge of India” which I reckon you’ve never heard of, but which has some similarities with Donald trump’s plan for a big beautiful wall.

I’m not entirely sure this isn’t an April Fool story that accidentally got published early: “When London’s tube tunnels were painted white

You have to admire the chutzpah of anyone who writes the sentence “Of course, no one could sensibly suggest that Brexit is a magic bullet for the restoration of the stable married family” in the middle of 800 words ludicrously headlined: “Brexit is an opportunity to reverse the tragic decline of marriage in Britain

34 different ways that programmers can misunderstand time.

This gets quite technical in parts, but it is a lovely write-up of the tech development of IMDB from the early 2000s onwards by someone who helped build it. If you worked on websites back then, there will be loads of little references that make you think “Wow, I hadn’t thought of THING X for over a decade”

Amazing 1979 BBC music documentary looking at new electronic sounds in music. [May include Doctor Who references]

The Quietus are throwing a 60th birthday party for Mark E. Smith of The Fall. I don’t expect he is going but I suspect I possibly will.

A final, not very cheering thought from this blistering op-ed in the Baltimore Sun:

“The men and women who reportedly handcuffed small children and the elderly, separated a child from his mother and held others without food for 20 hours, are undoubtedly ‘ordinary’ people. What I mean by that, is that these are, in normal circumstances, people who likely treat their neighbors and co-workers with kindness and do not intentionally seek to harm others. That is chilling, as it is a reminder that authoritarians have no trouble finding the people they need to carry out their acts of cruelty. They do not need special monsters; they can issue orders to otherwise unexceptional people who will carry them out dutifully.”