Real Journalism, an Example of High School Science Club Management, or Just Bad Judgment?

January 14, 2021

I read “A Proud Boy in Disguise Helped Lead the Insurrection at the Capitol.” The content of the write up was not what caught my attention. I noted one throwaway paragraph which I found suggestive, maybe insight inducing. Here’s the passage:

(Gavin McInnes was a co-founder of VICE. He left the company in 2008 and has had no involvement since then. He later founded the Proud Boys in 2016.)

I asked myself:

  • Does this provide some helpful background about the Vice operational base?
  • Are other individuals involved with the organization in the gravitational pull of the identified individual?
  • Has the “real” journalism generated by the Vice entity been influenced by the founder’s precepts?

I don’t know. I found the inclusion in the interest of “full disclosure” fascinating. Why now? Posturing, TikTok style handwaving, or looking good? Perhaps a whiz kid MBA will crunch big data and generate useful information?

Stephen E Arnold, January 14, 2021

Hasta La Vistas, ROSS Intelligence

January 7, 2021

Artificial intelligence is useful for all fields, especially for legal professionals. Legal-based AI is specifically designed to process legal research, including litigation. ROSS Intelligence developed a legal research product using AI, but lawsuit from Thomson Reuters forced the company to shutdown. LawSites shares more details in: “Legal Research Company ROSS To Shut Down Under Pressure OF Thomson Reuters’ Lawsuit.”

In May 2020, Thomson Reuters sued ROSS because they alleged ROSS stole Westlaw data. ROSS “stole” the Westlaw data to design their own competing product.

“Within a day of the lawsuit, ROSS responded with a vigorous denial of the allegations. Cofounders Andrew Arruda, CEO, and Jimoh Ovbiagele, CTO, asserted that TR’s lawsuit was nothing more than an anticompetitive tactic by TR to squelch an up-and-coming competitor. ‘By filing this lawsuit despite its lack of merit, Westlaw is interfering with our chances of securing more funding or merging with other companies, which we need to do in order to innovate and compete with Westlaw,’ they said at the time. ;This is not the first time Westlaw has used litigation as a weapon.’”

The lawsuit prevented ROSS from starting another round of funding. They were forced to send their clients to other legal research platforms and fire their staff. ROSS will continue to battle Thomson Reuters in court using insurance money.

Will Westlaw use litigation as a business method in the future? Do lawyers send invoices?

Whitney Grace, January 7, 2021

No Big Deal: Anyone Can Make a Mistake, Including the Gray Lady

December 21, 2020

Yes, I pay for a subscription to the tree killing, paper edition of the New York Times. No, I don’t listen to the New York Times’ podcasts and I pay less and less attention to the mewlings of their expert reporters who pop up on other outfits’ podcasts.

I do want to point out that the “new” New York Times with its cute use of hip new words like maskne made a very small, almost miniscule error. NBC New York’s article “New York Times: ‘Caliphate’ Podcast Didn’t Meet Standards” stated:

The New York Times admitted Friday that it could not verify the claims of a Canadian man whose account of committing atrocities for the Islamic State in Syria was a central part of its 2018 podcast “Caliphate.” The series had won a Peabody Award, the first ever for a podcast produced by the newspaper, but within hours administrators said the Times would return the award. The Overseas Press Club of America said it was rescinding its honor for “Caliphate.”

What’s the fix? Mea culpas and moving the reporter off the “terrorism beat.”

What about the boss of the podcast? What about the HR Department green lighting the hire? What about the senior management of the Gray Lady?

I don’t have answers to these questions, but for the Gray Lady, maybe it’s time to think about some special care for the elderly and actual newsroom management by the thumb typers who work at the outfit.

Stephen E Arnold, December 22, 2020

Technology and Sociology: Excitement Ahead

December 11, 2020

I read “Falling Out of Love with Apple, Part 3.” I also read “Tech Research Becomes Hazardous Ground.” As it turned out, I checked both these articles back to back. No plan, just part of the newsfeed output.

I am fascinated with the shift from technology writing in the late 1980s to today. In the late 1980s, I worked for Ziff Communications, a publisher of computer and software related magazines as well as operating a flotilla of other businesses. The content, as I recall, was product centric, how-tos, and opinion pieces about the speed of processors or the quirks of software. A big picture story about the cost or complexity of managing an enterprise system or network would add spice to the flood of innovations. Today, the focus of technology writing is more varied. One of the techniques in use by “real” journalists is what I call “turkey basting.” The idea is that the “bird” (in this case a technology hook) is daubed or immersed in socio-politico broth.

Crank up the heat and let that recipe loose.

The Apple story focuses on an interesting point. Here’s a passage I noted:

This is a massively slippery slope, and especially worries me as Apple operates in so many countries across the world. If oppressive governments are able to work with Apple to censor anti-government speech, Apple could end up playing a key role in suppressing democracy across the world. I believe Apple should simply refuse to cooperate with oppressive governments – but this is an unlikely scenario, as they have extremely close ties and dependence to China, a current perpetrator of genocide against the Uyghurs.

Here’s a passage from the Google Gebru article:

The bottom line: Cynthia Yeung, an industry veteran who spent five years at Google, put it bluntly: “Maybe the trade-off should be more clearly spelled out so researchers can make informed decisions before they accept a job offer: You get paid academic salaries in exchange for intellectual freedom, and you get paid Silicon Valley salaries in exchange for allowing your name/likeness to be used for brand/PR purposes and your research to be censored arbitrarily.”

What’s happened between the late 1980s and the quite remarkable 2020s is that technology has become more than how to connect a printer to a personal computer or ways to reduce the cost of adding a new user to the corporate network.

More than half a century after the digital shift began, individuals are looking at the world and finding it is a datasphere. Better late than never or a convenient way to criticize what social structures exist. A hippie movement on bits and bytes?

Stephen E Arnold, December 11, 2020

New York Times Divulges Core Trade Secret by Recycling Old News

November 27, 2020

The New York Times published a detailed explanation of one of its crown jewels,  an honest to goodness trade secret. The news appears on page A2 of the November 26, 2020, newspaper of record. Some may quibble with today’s dump of secret information, but apparently the Gray Lady was not will to let old news rot from indifference. A version of today’s announcement appeared in May 2020 here.

What was this Eureka moment? Here’s the clue:

A Wirecutter Obsession: Spreadsheets

Yes, a digital page with rows and columns. Yep, there was a crude precursor in the distant past by an alleged Babylonian scribe. There there was LANPAR just 50 years ago. But the technology remained undiscovered but for a few trivial products like VisiCalc, 1-2-3, and every MBA’s touchstone, Excel.

Crowing like a coq galois, I noted this statement:

Wirecutter journalists have to be data nerds.

With such a momentous revelation appearing on a day when many fierce but technologically challenged competitors doing the faire le pont, the NYT may be able to recover from this inadvertent recycling of trade secrets.

Button up, people. This is not the slow moving era of Yellow Journalism. This is thumb typing time for those too busy to do “real news.”

But a spreadsheet? Brilliant. Who said invention was dead in the US of A?

But the NYT should be worried. The Norwegian chicken producer Norsk Kylling is shifting from Excel to Info Cloud Suite. Catch up with those chickens so another rooster crow can grace the Gray Lady’s barnyard. But wait! Maybe the NYT uses Oracle, Google, or possibly green ledger paper?

Stephen E Arnold, November 27, 2020

The Atlantic: Inventing Reality Using Real Journalism

November 11, 2020

I read “The Atlantic Apologizes for Ruth Shalit Barrett Story After Fabrication, Multiple Inaccuracies Revealed.” The write up may be a hoax about a hoax. Who knows? But this “real journalism” thing is becoming increasingly amusing. The Atlantic? This was a go to source for those in my high school English class at term paper time. Who knew that the information in a publication founded in 1857 could have lost its connection with facts and reality?

The write up report:

The Atlantic said it regrets commissioning and publishing a feature story written by Ruth Shalit Barrett — who was fired from The New Republic in the 1990s over incidents of plagiarism — which has been revealed to include a fabrication and multiple inaccuracies. In a lengthy editor’s note added to Barrett’s edited story, “The Mad, Mad World of Niche Sports Among Ivy League-Obsessed Parents,” late Friday, The Atlantic said, “new information emerged” about the article that was published in the outlet’s November 2020 print edition and on its website Oct. 17 “that has raised serious concerns about its accuracy, and about the credibility of the author, Ruth Shalit Barrett.”

What about that fact checking from the publication which published the work of Oliver Wendell Holmes?

If the story is accurate, the Atlantic will cruise happily along the river of facts on which the good ship Atlantic floats.

Stephen E Arnold, November 11, 2020

Wiley in India: A Covid Benefit?

November 4, 2020

COVID-19 has decimated some industries, while others are booming in pandemic driven business. Wiley is an internationally recognized leader in education and research. One of Wiley’s Asian branches, Wiley India, has seen record growth with its digital products through its subsidiary WileyNXT. The Hindu Business Line tells the story in: “Demand For Wiley’s Digital Products And Services Has Grown Markedly.”

WileyNXT developed new digital products and services, including a data driven product management course and trainings related to data analytics, data science, blockchain, and AI. Head of WileyNXT Vikas Gupta, MD, spoke about how Wiley India was forced to adapt to a new environment and the company will continue to see record demand for more Digital products and services.

Gupta hammered education’s stagnant growth, particularly universities, who have remained the same for decades:

“We have been on a journey of transformation since well before Covid, executing a bold strategy to deliver tech-enabled products and services that accelerate the success of the world’s researchers, learners and professionals. As with digital courseware, online education is now past the inflection point and is broadly accepted as a mainstream way to get a degree or certification. This was true before Covid, but the disruption of the past six months has driven home the value of high quality, fairly priced education that can fit the life-and-career-needs of the broad public. This momentum is reflected in enrollment trends, in a good pipeline of potential university partnerships both in the US and abroad and with our key partners, most of whom are evaluating online expansion opportunities. Over the years, the university model has remained unchanged, functioning as a well-regulated institution, with a structured and consistent approach towards curriculum development and pedagogy, academics, and overall governance. But the pandemic seems to have shocked the system into action.”

Gupta is exactly right about the university model and the COVID-19 shock to its system. There needs to be change within the education in response to the pandemic but as well as continuing education due to advancing technologies.

Wiley is an old school publishing company, but they have adapted with the changing times. COVID-19 has grown one part of Wiley India, so that subsidiary will receive more investment and development.

Whitney Grace, November 4, 2020

The Beeb and Misinformation: But Not Today. Of Course Not

November 2, 2020

With the chatter about misinformation buzzing about, I found “BBC Apologizes for Using Fake Bank Statements to Land Famous Princess Diana Interview” interesting. If the story is accurate (but who knows these days) a “real” journalist jimmied some documents and was able to speak directly with Princess Diana. The story included this comment:

“Suggesting that mocked-up documents were genuine was wrong then and it’s wrong now; the BBC of today is happy to apologise for this. The BBC’s editorial processes are now even tougher and this would not happen today,” a statement from a BBC spokesperson sent to The Post said.

Righto. Such an incident “would not happen today.” That’s good to know. The only hitch is that the allegation of fancy dancing exists.

Stephen E Arnold, November 2, 2020

Google Publisher Payoff is Murdoch Approved

October 26, 2020

Back in 2018, News Corp. Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch took Google and Facebook to task for publishing news sites’ content on their platforms without compensation. News Corp has also consulted on a number of investigations into these companies’ practices and pressed for new regulations. Now, though, it looks like Google’s recent move to appease regulators has the news magnate convinced that company is ready to play fair. Axios reports, “News Corp. Changes its Tune on Big Tech.” Writer Sara Fischer tells us:

“One of the biggest news publishing companies in the world has slowly backed away from its harsh public criticism of Big Tech platforms, as companies like Google and Facebook have begun to open up their wallets to news companies.

“Why it matters: News Corp. has for years been the driving force behind much of the regulatory scrutiny of Big Tech and its impact on the publishing industry. Now it’s becoming a beneficiary of the massive pockets of several of the largest tech companies.

“Driving the news: News Corp. CEO Robert Thomson put out a statement lauding Google’s new efforts to pay publishers around the world more than $1 billion to license and curate their content last week. ‘There are complex negotiations ahead but the principle and the precedent are now established,’ he wrote.”

In fact, News Corp already has profitable partnerships with Facebook, Apple, Twitter, Spotify, Snapchat, and Amazon. Google may just be next to fall in line. Fischer observes:

“There was a time several years ago that media companies, with proper investment and scale, could demand big ad dollars via traffic from platforms like Google and Facebook. Today, media companies with value and investment can pull something even more sustainable from those platforms: licensing fees.”

There is nothing like a boost to the bottom line to change one’s point of view.

Cynthia Murrell, October 26, 2020

Free Book Plus a Data Vacuum

October 22, 2020

DarkCyber spotted an innocuous item offering a “free” book about Microsoft Office 2019, a product the research team no longer uses. TextMaker works just fine, thank you. Curious about the pitch and how trade publishers are responding to the challenge traditional niche publications and publishers are dealing with the impact of thumb typers on print, one of the DarkCyber team filled in the form.

Here’s what we learned. Start the process by navigating to this link.

We received the download link from this link.

Then an online form requires name, address, email, and other useful marketing bits.

The system from then matches the book to specialist topics and titles and displays books in a category, which in this case had a technology slant:


Click a title and the fun begins. Each title gathers substantially the same information. One can repeat this process a number of times to obtain free magazines. Some are in theory still in print and will be delivered to the DarkCyber offices.

So what?

Several observations:

  1. The data collection is overt
  2. Data must be entered multiple times
  3. The download link did not arrive.


TradePub does not operate from the business capital of the rust belt. According to the firm’s Web site, the firm is in California. The company says: is owned and operated by NetLine Corporation. NetLine Corporation empowers B2B Marketers with the reach, technology, and expertise required to drive scalable lead generation results and accelerate the sales funnel. Operating the largest B2B content syndication lead generation network, NetLine’s AudienceTarget™ technology drives prospect discovery, quality customer lead acquisition, and buyer engagement from real prospect intent as professionals consume content directly across the network. Superior quality, on demand access, and advanced campaign reports enable all clients to achieve lead generation success. Founded in 1994, NetLine is privately held and headquartered in Campbell, California.

For more information about navigate to this link.

How much junk mail will arrive at the “real” DarkCyber email address? Monitoring is underway. The DarkCyber researcher reported that within 10 minutes of registering, three email spam items were received by the “real” DarkCyber email address.

Since the marketing set up has been in operation for a quarter century, why haven’t trade publications and specialist publications outperformed their stakeholders’ expectations?

This is a good question which some study from home, soon to be MBA may want to answer. At least the approach is not chock full of search engine optimization goodness. That’s a plus.

DarkCyber was able to download the book. It is an 800 page tome, which is definitely going to become the research team’s night time read. One of the DarkCyber research crew observed, “This outfit should pay me to read this book.”

Unlikely, right?

PS. The “free” book? It contains zero information about inserting images and controlling their location in the document. Minor point? No, representative of the value of “free.”

Stephen E Arnold, October 22, 2020

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