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Longform journalism is dead! You read it here first

May 20th, 2014 Comments off

Longform shmongform. If you’re emulating Marcel Proust, don’t do it online.

“Why do you spend so much time reading those long boring articles in the New Yorker?” my husband inquired sniffily, before resuming his enjoyment of Neatorama.

Why indeed, I ask myself – well, not when it’s an instructive account of Berlin’s hipp-est clubs , as in a few issues back, or Lizzie Widdicombe’s fascinating “The End of Food” in the May 12 issue.

But sometimes you (that is, I) find the finger sneaking forward to scroll down – and there’s more – and more- and more – and for heavens’ sake, I have a life to live! Part of which includes reading all the other interesting stuff on the internet, and keeping up with the latest viral rabbits-eating-raspberries genre.

Another quote: “Longform is dead,” proclaimed the slender, sensitive, journalism graduate by my side as we quaffed institutional wine and celebrated the surprisingly good magazine which he and his peers had produced as a final-year assignment.

The magazine was both on paper and online – there was more content online, but the editor, my companion, assured me that it didn’t run on and on like Beowulf. “Always loved reading,” he said, “but I’ve realized there’s no point in putting long articles on my own website. It’s all about music, and I can see from the views and hits that people will watch the video, but just about nobody reads the equivalent article.” Read more…

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Privacy is just a construct – really?

May 9th, 2014 Comments off

OMG, leave privacy alone! Without it we are nothing. Angela’s view…

I’m a private kind of gal, somewhat shell-shocked by the public nature of the digital world, so the issue of privacy is a big one for me on two levels.

Firstly, there’s the platform privacy question: how much does Facebook/Google/the NSA know about you and your personal preferences, and what are they doing with that knowledge?

Second, the moral, philosophical value of privacy, the integrity of the individual in what used to be called their souls – what happens to that in an all-on, all-out-there, 24-hour society?

[And the usual qualifier that in talking about the digital society, we are talking about one-third of mankind, not the 4 billion or so who don’t have the internet.]

Privacy is no longer a social norm, Mark Zuckerberg told a techie conference several years ago, and he’s been followed by many parrots since.

Read more…

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Assange and Wikileaks – reflection

November 28th, 2013 Comments off

This is a paper I wrote last year, and have belatedly decided it’s not half bad – though of course will be updating for lectures this winter...

THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS has a number of angles. One is the theme of free speech/power to the people; one is of the ‘little guy’ who takes on the global establishment and leaves it red-faced and determined to get revenge; one is the privacy or privileged nature of certain communications – or whether that never exists at all.

For people in the news media, one interpretation is that their role is undermined, even made redundant, by the Wikileaks phenomenon. At its core, Julian Assange’s project does away with mediation – the material goes straight from initiator to the public, so there is  no ‘mediation’ (filtering, editing, selecting) and so no role for media.

Wikileaks has blown open journalistic procedure. Yet it has also highlighted the need for professional journalistic practice, in selecting, editing, and presenting important information so it is of use to the public (which, it could be argued, the undifferentiated dumping of thousands and thousands of government messages can never achieve). In its first global coup, the release of the State Department cables in late 2010, Wikileaks could not have achieved the amount of coverage and controversy if it had not partnered with leading newspapers across the globe, whose senior journalists combed through the cables and selected the material which was most important and made the best stories.

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Youth unemployment ‘could destroy the EU’

September 28th, 2013 Comments off

The world of work can be a pretty rotten place. That’s even setting aside the boring tasks, colleagues with bad breath, and unpleasable bosses. But at least it’s work. Work is turning to a monster for many people because of the conditions imposed on them to hang on to that job, and a wage that continues to shrink – if you get a wage at all. Unpaid internships have ballooned out of control, and here in Ireland unscrupulous employers have been quick to jump on the government’s ‘JobBridge’ bandwagon to grab staff for nothing. (In JobBridge, the person employed is paid only €50 a week on top of their social welfare transfer. See also Scambridge, a website which tries to expose the failings of the scheme.) These morose ruminations came as a result of a seminar on employment and a living wage, organised by Irish Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, and colleagues in the Labour Party.

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After Lean In, The World Needs ‘Clean In’

May 27th, 2013 Comments off

There’s been a lot of buzz generated by Lean In, the snappy book from Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO (and if you don’t know what COO stands for, the book is perhaps not for you).

It means “chief operating officer”, which makes Sandberg a Very Important Person indeed in modern corporate America. And the world, given Facebook’s claimed billion users, with around 650 million of those active daily.

The title refers to a Sandberg exhortation to women in business to “lean in” when they’re at meetings, rather than hanging back, not speaking, lurking in the corners of the room. It’s a manifesto for career women to stop accepting second place, Seize the Day, and the balls of the alpha males. And it’s good.

Setting aside the relentless energy and obsession with work – which Sandberg acknowledges – the book has a lot of universal truths about the respective roles of men and women in society, whether dressed up as equality in western countries, or blatantly unequal in other regions. When it talks about women downgrading their skills (often internally), not going for the big job, dropping out of a promising job because they can’t juggle children and career, it makes a lot of points easily recognizable by any woman who’s worked outside the home in the last 30 years.

Read more…

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