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Media Bits & Bytes - Late Late Edition edition

Al Jazeera journos jailed; NYT beats war drums; Giants behaving badly; Facebook messes with your mind; News biz renaissance; Newspaper requiem.

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A cartoon, circa 1780, captioned "An Englishman's delight or news of all sorts," listing 10 different papers., Trustees of the British Museum, London // Boston Globe

Journalists Around The World Protest Egypt's Verdict Against Al Jazeera Journalists

By Katherine Fung
June 24, 2014
Huffington Post

Egypt's stunning prison sentence for three Al Jazeera journalists has given way to protests from hundreds of journalists around the world.

After six months in jail in Cairo, Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohammed were found guilty on Monday of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and sentenced to seven to 10 years in prison. The verdict has triggered international outcry.

Hundreds of journalists from BBC, Al Jazeera and other news organizations gathered to protest the decision in London on Tuesday.

Covering New War, in Shadow of Old One

By Margaret Sullivan
June 28, 2014
New York Times/Public Editor

Many readers have complained to me that The Times is amplifying the voices of hawkish neoconservatives and serving as a megaphone for anonymously sourced administration leaks, while failing to give voice to those who oppose intervention.

I went back with the help of my assistant, Jonah Bromwich, and reread the Iraq coverage and commentary from the past few weeks to see if these complaints were valid. The readers have a point worth considering. On the Op-Ed pages and in the news columns, there have been very few outside voices of those who opposed the war last time, or those who reject the use of force now.

But the neoconservatives and interventionists are certainly being heard.

Giants Behaving Badly: Google, Facebook and Amazon Show us the Downside of Monopolies And Black-Box Algorithms

By Mathew Ingram
May 23, 2014
Gigaom

Google, Facebook and Amazon have shown us again this week why the combination of a quasi-monopoly, vested interests and an inscrutable algorithm can be a dangerous thing for internet users, since it allows them to influence what we see, know and buy.


Facebook can Manipulate Your Mood. It Can Affect Whether You Vote. When Do We Start to Worry?

By Laurie Penny
June 30, 2014
New Statesman

When you clicked the little box that said you agreed to Facebook's terms of service, you agreed to be a lab rat.

The internet is alight with news of a study conducted by the social media company's research department into "emotional contagion". Over 600,000 people had their Facebook newsfeeds altered to reflect more "positive" or "negative" content, in order to determine if seeing more sad messages makes a person sadder. The "negative" content wasn't entirely censored from the newsfeeds of the test subjects - if you checked in to your friend's personal page, you could still see if he'd had a good day or not. But the newsfeeds themselves were tweaked without warning, and the emotional responses of test subjects tracked, judged by changes in their use of language.

The findings of the study - that people are influenced by the emotions of others online as they are offline - surprised precisely nobody. The findings are not the point. The point, and indeed the fact that has sent ripples of outrage around the web, is that Facebook can do this. Facebook can manipulate the emotions of hundreds of thousands of people just to see what happens.

A New Golden Age for Media?

By Justin Fox
April 16, 2014
The Atlantic

For the first time in a long while, people with money are excited about the news business. Some are investing in it-most bounteously, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who bought The Washington Post for $250 million, and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, who has pledged the same amount to his new First Look Media; but also the executives at Disney-owned ESPN in Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight, those at Vox Media in Ezra Klein's planned wonkipedia, a bunch of top-shelf Silicon Valley venture capitalists in the publishing platform Medium, and lots of others.

The reason some of these moneymaking ideas seem fresh or strange or maybe even a little dodgy now is that we've just been through roughly half a century during which news organizations could fund themselves more than adequately with straightforward advertising, supplemented with a bit of subscription revenue. But it didn't always work that way. And the immediate future of news media may end up looking a lot more like the pre-1950s landscape than what we've become accustomed to since.

Newspapers, A Brief Interlude in a Multimedia World

By Rebecca Onion
May 18, 2014
Boston Globe/Ideas

In "The Invention of News: How the World Came to Know About Itself" (Yale University Press), Pettegree shows how Europeans in the 15th through 19th centuries got news from a cacophony of sources: their friends and neighbors, government edicts, songs sung by itinerant performers, sermons, letters, and expensive manuscript newsletters. Even after newspapers became available, they weren't universally embraced. It took technological change, urbanization, and a few big political events to cement the daily newspaper at the center of the news ecology.

Today, that's shifting once again, as we move back toward a messy, rich media landscape like the earlier one Pettegree describes-which, for all our nostalgia for the newspaper age, may be something closer to the norm. To Pettegree, it's time for a new view of history inspired by our times: "The first histories of news were written when the newspaper looked like it was the end of the story," he says. "Now that we're getting to a post-newspaper age, or at least an age in which the position of newspapers looks uncertain, the multimedia news world of the age before newspapers makes more sense to us again."