Trending, Encryption, and Algorithms Galore: this week on Fresh Powder

Manufacturing  Trend

The Facebook identity crisis of 2016 continues: a former curator of the “trending stories” section is saying that those stories may not have been trending at all. A group of curators were tasked with the management of the trending stories section, escalating or suppressing news stories according to Facebook guidelines, and sometimes according to personal taste. And they were instructed not to trend stories about Facebook at all, even in cases where those stories were getting a lot of traffic. This wouldn’t be a thing if Facebook were simply a media outlet, but it’s not, and it’s assertion that the trending stories section is just a collection of the most popular stories at any given time, is just not true. Facebook, of course, denies all of this. Incidentally, after Gizmodo released their story revealing the deceptive practice, suddenly the very same article showed up in Facebook’s trending stories widget. Smooooooth, Facebook.

Protect Yo-self

The next four to eight years are going to be a strange time for American journalists, and it’s time to start thinking about protecting yourself. Trump wants to loosen libel laws, making it easier to sue reporters over unflattering coverage. And, given a proper warrant, the government can request information from technology companies, putting both the reporter and protected sources or whistleblowers at risk. What’s to be done? The Atlantic’s Kaveh Waddell says: encrypt. Everything. All the time. It’s easy to do, and it’s important, even with a Commander-in-Chief who skips his daily intelligence briefing. Maybe especially, actually.

Fake-t Checkers

Over the last couple weeks, we’ve all become a lot more aware of fake news, and we’ve learned a lot about how to identify it, thanks to lists like this one, that delineates the hallmarks of news fakery. Naturally, though, there are people cooking up algorithms that should be able to spot and squash fake news before it makes its way into our newsfeeds. There are a couple ways to do it, including basic ones like source-weeding, but those can be overly simplistic and blunt. Other tools that follow the way news stories move around on social media are a more comprehensive approach, and could provide the solution we need to kill fake news before it shows up on our screens.

TV Toughs

Everyone is abuzz about the way CNN anchor Jake Tapper pressed Mike Pence for answers in a recent interview. Pence, not surprisingly, dodged questions about pursuing security clearance for Mike Flynn’s son, but Tapper, surprisingly, pushed back. He never did get a straight answer from Pence, but that’s not the point. The point isn’t even that he pushed back. The point is that he’s a stand-out as a reporter, simply because he did his job. This is a problem. It’s going to be a tough four years for journalists (and, probably, everybody) but with an administration like the one we’re about to face, the pursuit of truth and information even in the face of intimidation and uncooperative behavior, has got to remain paramount. It won’t be easy, but none of this will, so put on your big kid pants and get after it.

Here’s some other stuff: For those of you new to the Teacher’s Lounge: a comprehensive list of rules that shall be observed in every high school Teacher’s Lounge, everywhere, for the rest of time. And for those of you who are already pre-mourning the end of the holiday season and dreading the long, cold stretch of the winter ahead of us, you can start get a head start on award season by watching all of the movies and wikipedia researching all the celebs nominated for the 2017 Golden Globes.

Academics, Bias, China: this week on Fresh Powder

Do Not Go Gentle

It’s a sad thing, and maybe not a new one, but being a journalist is dangerous business. What’s really disturbing is that it’s particularly difficult for student journalists and journalism advisers, who increasingly face hostility and censorship from school administrators. And it’s all about image. Universities and colleges are so invested in their “brand” that free speech and freedom of the press don’t get considered if a story might be detrimental to the school’s reputation. And if student’s refuse to cooperate? Pull funding. Easy peasy. But students have rights, and the New Voicesmovement is seeking legislation to protect the rights of secondary and college journalists. It’s still a long road, but one well worth walking. So rage on, kids, rage on.

Check Your Bias at the Door

So, no one would argue that bias isn’t a thing, and journalists are (ideally) constantly striving to be mindful of, and check, their own. But personal bias is sneaky–– it can be hard to identify and sometimes even harder to keep out of stories. So Jennifer Cox, an assistant professor at Salisbury University, decided to approach bias from a different vantage point: she took her class on a canoe trip. The students were expected to take photos documenting their experience, and then put together a collection of images to tell a story. The catch? The students couldn’t use their own photos, so they were forced to think hard about what each picture was showing and why, and remove themselves from the story. Kinda cool.

Identity Crisis

Facebook is becoming a teenager in a few months and just like most teenagers, the social media platform seems to be having a crisis of identity. After the election, CEO Mark Zuckerberg balked at the idea of Facebook’s having had any effect on the election, and seemed to want to take a hands-up, not-my-problem approach to the management of fake news. Now, some anonymous Facebook employees are talking about the company’s work on a plan to introduce extreme censorship tools in order to enter China, where the platform is currently banned. This feels like a slippery slope to broader social media censorship that could spread outside of China, and Facebook is built on a foundation of free speech. So who are you going to be, Facebook? A platform so loose fake news can prevail, or one that supports censorship? But the bottom line, it appears, is the bottom line. China’s untapped market of 1.4 billion people must look pretty lucrative indeed, regardless of the cost.

Finnish-ed with the American Education System

Turns out, teaching in America is not the same as teaching in Finland. Go figure! But what Finnish teachers in the American education system are saying is that the differences are so dramatic, and the autonomy so lacking, that it doesn’t even feel like the same vocation the left in Finland. The constant monitoring by school officials in the name of quality control and test prep squashes any creativity that might naturally bubble up for teachers, and the runrunrun school day makes it nearly impossible to devote real time and effort to quality teaching. Huh. Unfortunately, though, busy days and constant monitoring aren’t the biggest problem with the education system, and last-in-the-nation Nevada public schools have their hands full just trying to stay above water. In sum: we got problems.

This also happened: Fake news became IRL terror when a man showed up at a fast food restaurant with a gun, investigating, he said, a (fake) news story about Hillary Clinton. That’s uncool and scary, and it’s just more evidence that we need to practice mindful media consumption. On a lighter note, though, here are some images that will please the perfectionist in you. You’re welcome.

Academics, Bias, China: this week on Fresh Powder

Do Not Go Gentle

It’s a sad thing, and maybe not a new one, but being a journalist is dangerous business. What’s really disturbing is that it’s particularly difficult for student journalists and journalism advisers, who increasingly face hostility and censorship from school administrators. And it’s all about image. Universities and colleges are so invested in their “brand” that free speech and freedom of the press don’t get considered if a story might be detrimental to the school’s reputation. And if student’s refuse to cooperate? Pull funding. Easy peasy. But students have rights, and the New Voicesmovement is seeking legislation to protect the rights of secondary and college journalists. It’s still a long road, but one well worth walking. So rage on, kids, rage on.

Check Your Bias at the Door

So, no one would argue that bias isn’t a thing, and journalists are (ideally) constantly striving to be mindful of, and check, their own. But personal bias is sneaky–– it can be hard to identify and sometimes even harder to keep out of stories. So Jennifer Cox, an assistant professor at Salisbury University, decided to approach bias from a different vantage point: she took her class on a canoe trip. The students were expected to take photos documenting their experience, and then put together a collection of images to tell a story. The catch? The students couldn’t use their own photos, so they were forced to think hard about what each picture was showing and why, and remove themselves from the story. Kinda cool.

Identity Crisis

Facebook is becoming a teenager in a few months and just like most teenagers, the social media platform seems to be having a crisis of identity. After the election, CEO Mark Zuckerberg balked at the idea of Facebook’s having had any effect on the election, and seemed to want to take a hands-up, not-my-problem approach to the management of fake news. Now, some anonymous Facebook employees are talking about the company’s work on a plan to introduce extreme censorship tools in order to enter China, where the platform is currently banned. This feels like a slippery slope to broader social media censorship that could spread outside of China, and Facebook is built on a foundation of free speech. So who are you going to be, Facebook? A platform so loose fake news can prevail, or one that supports censorship? But the bottom line, it appears, is the bottom line. China’s untapped market of 1.4 billion people must look pretty lucrative indeed, regardless of the cost.

Finnish-ed with the American Education System

Turns out, teaching in America is not the same as teaching in Finland. Go figure! But what Finnish teachers in the American education system are saying is that the differences are so dramatic, and the autonomy so lacking, that it doesn’t even feel like the same vocation the left in Finland. The constant monitoring by school officials in the name of quality control and test prep squashes any creativity that might naturally bubble up for teachers, and the runrunrun school day makes it nearly impossible to devote real time and effort to quality teaching. Huh. Unfortunately, though, busy days and constant monitoring aren’t the biggest problem with the education system, and last-in-the-nation Nevada public schools have their hands full just trying to stay above water. In sum: we got problems.

This also happened: Fake news became IRL terror when a man showed up at a fast food restaurant with a gun, investigating, he said, a (fake) news story about Hillary Clinton. That’s uncool and scary, and it’s just more evidence that we need to practice mindful media consumption. On a lighter note, though, here are some images that will please the perfectionist in you. You’re welcome.

Hold-outs, Small Towns, and What Now’s: this week on Fresh Powder

Print Win

Community Impact is a monthly paper out of Texas, and they say print’s their model and they’re sticking to it. While many newspapers are shifting focus from print editions to online platforms, Community Impact intends to keep it old school. At first glance, it sounds like brand suicide: how can a monthly print paper keep up with the demands of an ever expanding, give-it-to-me-now digital audience? But John Garrett, founder of Community Impact, says focusing on the print model gives the publication the space to build a quality product, complete with fact checking and even grammar police, areas that are woefully neglected by some online publications. And hey, Community Impact is getting delivered to 1.7 million homes every month, so maybe they’re onto something.

Collaboration Nation

Three weeks ago Americans became unequivocally aware of the dramatic divide between the way we think things are, and they way things actually are. The blame, from outset, has landed squarely on the media. It’s true, journalists and news outlets are responsible for keeping the public informed. But we missed a huge swath of the nation, those areas considered rural, when we covered the election, so now what?There’s a gap, it’s clear, but the solution isn’t. To start, we can support the already operating rural news orgs through collaboration, and we can start to reconfigure our thinking around news coverage. Clearly, small doesn’t mean insignificant, and this lesson was long overdue.

Crisis of Desire

It’s not news, nor is it surprising, that people want to lay blame in the wake of the confounding election results. We should have been able to anticipate this, right? Everyone wants to blame the media and examine lack of coverage, media bias, siloed information, and so on and so on. But it’s also a super dangerous time to be a reporter. So what’s going on? We demand to be informed, but journalists are routinely suppressed and censored, and the frequency of violent physical attacks on journalists is straight up alarming. Do we want the news or don’t we? What we do know is that the next four years will be a challenging time for journalists, given the vehemently anti-media sentiments of our new president, and we can expect that our collective crisis of desire will deepen as press access becomes more narrow and coverage becomes more imperative. Another thing we know? We’ve got to press on.

Twitterpated

We’re a divided nation right now, that much is obvious. But one thing we can agree on? We love the Donald on Twitter. His reactive, bombastic, stream-of-concious-ey Twitter presence kindles sensation on both sides and we either love to love him, or love to hate him. But here’s the thing: we, and those among us who represent the media, too, are all responsible for letting Trump’s over-the-top tweets dictate the news. We’re so busy fact checking his latest hyperbolic social media comment that we miss the real news. It might be time to recalibrate the gravity we place on off-handed social media blathering (which, heretofore, hasn’t been a problem in the Oval Office, but it’s a new day!) and attempt to focus on actual news. (We know, though. It’s hard. We’re tweeting about it right now.)

This also happened: Jill Stein collected enough money to call for a Wisconsin recount, and the Clinton camp is backing it. Stein says it’s not about changing the results, but rather taking the system to task. Of course, the recount ruffled Trump’s feathers, and the boss-elect tweeted (ugh, Twitter does it again, but it’s so good!) a baseless voter-fraud conspiracy, claiming that millions of people voted illegally. We’re not sure how he thought that would undermine the recount effort, but hey, logic has nothing to do with it, right?

Boss’s Orders, Child’s Play, and Pressing for Access: this week on Fresh Powder

So Says the Boss

Journalists, here’s your new job: stop the fake news. With only a handful of weeks left as our acting president, Obama has called attention to the proliferation of fake news, and is taking journalists to task. In our blinking-eyed new world where bewilderment still dominates, we have a president-elect who makes false statements and piles of journalists making bucks on sensational fake news, so it’s imperative that the press seek out and uphold the truth. Fact checking still needs to be a thing. And if you’re wondering how this fake news phenomena became a thing, and who’s writing it anyway, check out this fascinating take from a lead purveyor of fake news, who’s convinced Trump made it into the White House because of him. And if you’re wondering why, and how they make money writing fake news anyway, you’ve GOT to read this. And even if you’re not a journalist or a writer, it’s a good time to practice conscientious social media-ing, lest your tweet go viral like this false one about fake Trump protesters (and that guy only had 40 followers).

The Kids Aren’t Alright

Two weeks ago our country elected a new leader. Decades ago, schools emerged in our consciousness as potentially dangerous places to be. Today, kids at school feel unsafe because of our new leader. What’s happening? Here’s the thing: kids are malleable, and they’re learning. It’s our job, all of our jobs, to teach them how to be people. As a nation, we’ve just taught them that’s it’s ok to use racial slurs, to make threats, and to sexually assault people. And the kids? They’re learning, and they’re acting out our message in the school environment. Incidents are bubbling up in schools across the nation, and our students are feeling genuinely afraid. What can be done? Write about it. And keep writing about it. The past two weeks have brought significant social unrest, but they’ve also occasioned an opportunity for great student journalism. We’re super proud of the fearless student journalists who cover hot-button, might-even-make-the-school-look-bad issues, and the advisers who support them.

Secrets Don’t Make Friends

What happens now? We’ve got a president-elect who shows open disdain for the press (I don’t need to repeat his words, you’ve all heard them), and an incoming chief strategist who formerly edited a media org that felt more like a Trump campaign outlet. Trump has denied press access with unprecedented extremity, effectively eliminating transparency in his campaign. The precedent has been set, so how will journalists keep the public informed? The answer is: we don’t know. But it’s gonna be a fight, and we’ve got to hope that the press is game.

Mojo Baby, Yeah!

So, yeah, the recent election has made living in 2016 feel like a bizarro dance back in time, but at least we’ve got some sweet technology, which is nice. The continuing advances in smartphone technology have made the general population more mobile and that’s cool (even if that does mean scores of people walking down the street transfixed by the glowing device in their hand instead of watching where they’re going,) and it’s particularly awesome for journalists. Now, instead of lugging camera and mic equipment everywhere, journalists can brush the hair out of their eyes, practice a quick smile, and record high quality footage on their phone anywhere, anytime. It’s mobile journalism, and ‘mojo’ is pretty killer.

This also happened last week:

Kanye West would have voted for Trump, if he’d voted. He stopped a San Jose concert last week to tell fans as much, and to reaffirm his 2020 presidential aspirations. We all laughed when he first said he’d run for president but now? He might actually have a chance, and that’s terrifying. But Thanksgiving is coming up, so it’s time to change gears now and prepare for a huge meal with family and friends, and maybe that random vegan, because someone has to stand up for turkey rights.

The Facebook Issue(s): this week on Fresh Powder

The Cool Kid

Facebook is America’s favorite social media platform, and it’s not just by a little bit. In fact, we Americans love our newsfeeds so much that we interact with them in numbers at least one and half times greater than the volume of people who watch the Super Bowl in any given year. And we do it every. Single. Day. But we can’t help it: our country’s collective consciousness is utterly intoxicated by Facebook’s just-for-you-because-you’re-special algorithms, even in spite of the fact that, well, facts (that is, truthful, accurate,vetted news-facts) have nothing to do with it.

Facebook the Facts

You probably saw at least one of them last week: “news” articles claiming that Obama issued an executive order for a vote recount or that Pope Francis endorsed Trump for president. The fake articles were all over Facebook newsfeeds and they were being shared over and over again, aiding the media sensationalism that was so pervasive in this election cycle. So, did Facebook have a responsibility to fact check stories circulating on it’s platform? And how much responsibility should the social media outlet take for the outcome of the presidential election by allowing the rapid proliferation of fake news? Or, do we just want something to blame for last week? Facebook is finding itself at the center of the roiling storm of post-election anger and confusion, and it’s finding out that being the most popular kid on the playground isn’t always as glamorous as it sounds.

Brought to you by

It’s only natural that as America’s premier social media platform and a lead purveyor of news both fake and real, Facebook should take on the responsibility of shaping of tomorrow’s journalists: now you can get trained on using Facebook for journalism, by Facebook. The first free, online course featured Facebook Live and was released on November 3rd. As much as Zuckerberg would love to maintain a hands-in-the-air, we-just-provide-the-platform stance, it’s clear that Facebook executives are recognizing the site as the powerful media sharing outlet it is, and are taking some initiative in service of journalism. We think.

About Face(book)

At least it only took a little viral public shaming to get Facebook to decide to stop being terrible. The social media platform had been allowing advertisers to target ads to specific groups based on algorithmically derived “ethnic affinities.” But afterProPublica exposed the practice, Facebook decided that sanctioning racism isn’t cool, and has stopped offering the option for housing and employment ads. We forgive you Facebook, at least you learned. Now, with your broad, almost reckless reach, do us a favor and remind America that racism isn’t cool, no matter what the president-elect says.

This also happened last week:

We lost Gwen Ifill yesterday and it feels bad. But the PBS news anchor’s legacy will remain a powerful example of journalistic integrity, courage and strength, and we’ll keep on keeping on, in her honor. In better news, Brendan Dassey, whose story broke all our hearts when he was convicted for murder along with uncle Steven Avery (Netflix’ documentary, Making a Murderer, investigated the case), will be released from prison today. So we have that.

Where, Where, Where and Where: this week on Fresh Powder

Where the readers are

They’re online, that’s where they are. The increasing movement of readers away from print publications to online ones is leaving an advertising vacuum and it’s taking big papers down with it. It’s not surprising that print papers have fallen out of fashion: news is super easy to consume online, it’s less burdensome (like, who wants to carry around a giant paper?) and it’s not limited to region: readers can consume news from anywhere in the world. Obviously, advertisers know that where go the readers, so must go the advertising dollars. So what’s a paper to do? The writing’s on the digital wall.

Where the news is

NPR covered October’s major DDoS attack using Facebook Notes. No, the news coverage didn’t drive traffic from Facebook to NPR, it didn’t even necessarily convert non-NPR-consuming Facebook users to NPR-curious ones. But that wasn’t the point. NPR says the goal was to get the news to the people, and while Facebook has never produced fantastic numbers for NPR stories, the news org says they’re reaching people they might not get otherwise. And with the election so close, NPR isn’t going to risk glitchy coverage, so Facebook Notes is looking like a pretty good backup option, too. Bravo, NPR, for making it about news coverage and not about site traffic.

Where the buzz is

Buzzfeed is taking audience-tailored news to a new level: the company recently programmed its internal messaging platform, Slack, to notify editors the moment a story goes viral. The editors can see where in the world the story is trending and who is interacting with it, and then tailor the content to that specific audience. It’s cool, and it goes way beyond just translating stories into other languages. Using this of-the-minute attention to analytics, Buzzfeed is putting local face on its content and people dig it. Pretty neat.

Where the Hype is

Well that didn’t take long. Vine was murdered just last week, but already a new start-up called Hype aims to take it’s place. Hype offers users many of the same tools Vine did, with the aim of providing a platform for building short, shareable videos. But Hype has more bells and whistles, and the co-founders are hoping that these extra features will give Hype the edge it needs to tread water against giants Facebook and Snapchat. It looks like a cool platform, so let’s hope it can get off the ground–– we all know social media platforms eat their young.

This is also happening right now: Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg are friends, and it’s pretty adorable. The pair will debut their new cooking show, Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party, tonight on VH1. It will be a well timed relief from (what we hope) is the last night of this punishing campaign season, but keep your fingers crossed that we don’t months and months of a disputed win ahead of us, a la Florida ‘00. Or, if this election has got you’ totally addicted to drama now, we’ll give you a head start on your next fix: some fresh Brangelina divorce sensationalism. You’re welcome.

Truth, Bullies, and Rebranding (badly): this week’s Fresh Powder Report

The Embarrassing Truth

Last week the kids at Palmer Springs High School in Monument, CO, were at the center of controversy after the school newspaper’s editorial board ran a story announcing their endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president. Parents and community members didn’t hesitate to jump onto the school’s online newspaper, The Bear Truth, to start heaving abuse. What’s awesome about this? The school board, school officials, and even the Denver Post stood behind the newspaper staff, who were exercising their unequivocal right to free expression. What’s also awesome about this? It’s a valuable lesson to those angry, hate-slangin grown-ups: once you post your vitriol on a website that you don’t control, it can live forever in embarrassing infamy.

The Google Facebook Publishing Funnel

Looks like we may have a couple new bullies on the online publishing playground, and they’re pretty burly.  Last summer, Google released Accelerated Mobile Pagesand Facebook released Instant Articles. The tools are designed to provide a platform for publishing content faster than through traditional online platforms. The problem? Well, there are a few. First, in spite of WordPress plugin and other stop-gap measures, the proprietary software can be inaccessible to non-code savvy users. But more importantly, Google search results prioritize articles published with AMP, and Facebook does the same with IA. Effectively, Google and Facebook are creating a vacuum that pushes online publishers to use their platforms, or be destroyed by the suck of traffic away from their sites. You can learn more about it, but it might not stop these heavies from twisting your arm behind your back at recess.

tronc: Legacy

tronc, Inc. It doesn’t even type peace-ably into word processing software. Nevertheless, it’s the new name of Tribune Publishing and it’s meant to rebrand the company in an effort to cast a broader appeal to its online audience. As publications are increasingly going digital, the urge to rebrand is becoming more common. Or, we think that. In reality, the mad dash to keep readers has been in effect since print publishing came into existence, and we can expect that it will continue as we move increasingly into the digital realm. The take-away? However often you decide to rebrand, and for whatever reasons, don’t leave your readers wondering how a roomful of people actually agreed on an absurd new name like tronc, Inc. Incidentally, this Last Week Tonight clip lampooning the company also offers an apt analysis of the state of journalism that’s smart and funny and totally worth watching.

Buzzfeed Got Some Money…

…is essentially the net of the Wall Street Journal article on NBCUniveral’s $200 million investment in listicle startup Buzzfeed. If you’re interested in hard hitting journalism, you should definitely read the article, wherein sources like, “people familiar with the matter,” and, “a Buzzfeed spokeswoman,” are quoted. Buzzfeed, we’re happy for you. No one caters to our straight-to-the-bullet-point population quite like you do. Wall Street Journal, we’re not mad, we’re just disappointed in your lazy journalism.

These things also happened last week:

Leonardo DiCaprio almost died while diving in the Galapagos Islands but Ed Norton saved him, and everyone is talking about it. That it happened in 2010, more than half a decade ago, doesn’t seem to be a factor in the sensation surrounding this story. Take it as a symptom of campaign fatigue. Or, if you’re not tired of the political circus (or snarky stories about it), here’s some McSweeney’s for you, cause, McSweeney’s.

Free Speech Week, Shameless Fabrication, and First Person POV: this week’s Fresh Powder Report

First Things First, Amendment

It’s Free Speech Week–– a week dedicated to the promotion and celebration of our first amendment rights. Get into it! The folks over at FSW have a ton of great ideas for joining the celebration. In journalism, we’re acutely aware of the importance of freedom of speech; use this week as a good excuse to start a habit of self-expression.

Whadda Pisa Work

Yeah, the Amanda Knox case is old news, but the documentary about it is new, and it’s fascinating. Cliffs notes: 20-year-old American Amanda Knox is convicted, along with her Italian boyfriend, of killing Amanda’s roommate in Italy. Turns out, neither were involved at all. But what’s really interesting is the way media spin actually affected lives for real, like, Italian prison-real. Nick Pisa, a journalist whose stories on the case were prolific, salacious, and actually just made up, says of his work: “it’s not as if I can say, right, hold on a minute, I just want to double check that myself in some other way, I mean, goodness knows how, and then I let my rival get in first before me, and then I’ve lost the scoop. It doesn’t work like that, not in the news game.” Actually Nick, that is how it’s supposed to work. Turns out, the Knox doc is an illustrative primer on journalistic integrity: a what-not-to-do.

First Person Shooter

Vox started running personal essays in it’s First Person section last year. Personal essays aren’t a new thing, but they’re new to Vox. When they ran an essay defending the ownership of AR-15’s recently, their typically left-leaning, left-accustomed audience reacted negatively. But Vox says it’s a way to balance their reporting. By running narrative essays, the publication offers a pivot to their news features–– real-life stories from real-life people. And if personal essayist Roxane Gay, whose comment is featured in the article above, finds Vox’s personal essays offensive, well. Maybe she should pitch a story about it for First Person.

No-bel Prize, Apparently

Last week Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, and it felt like a big middle finger to American writers of all stripes. The odd choice has been subject to heavy speculation among the literary community, and reactions range from Anna North’s altruistic belief that the  Nobel committee surely didn’t intend to slight the entirety of the American lit crowd by handing the award over to a musician, to Kevin Drum’s theory that Dylan was chosen for that express purpose. Dylan’s reaction so far? Radio silence.

This also happened last week:

The in-all-ways outspoken Amy Schumer blasted Trump as part of her routine at a Tampa Bay show last weekend and received a chorus of boos and walk-outs. What’s not surprising is that Schumer had cutting commentary on the presidential candidate. What is surprising is that the comic has (or shall we said had) fans who are also Trump supporters. Fortunately, Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is pushing for a post-election Trump TV option (hedging against his father-in-law? Probably smart business), so maybe Schumer will have a chance to win some fans back as a guest of the on the orange man’s show.

Special Friends, Self-teaching and Super Textual News:this week’s Fresh Powder Report

A new email leak from the Clinton campaign is so shocking-not shocking. Turns out, the campaign has a few journalists it likes to keep close. Turns out, they like to wine and dine their special reporter friends in super secret “off the record” gatherings. And, they like to feed the media stories. In short, the Clinton campaign likes to curate their media coverage. Are we surprised? Absolutely not. Why? Because we among the cynical expect that all politicians do it. We just don’t want them to write it down.

Teach Yo’self

You’ve heard it before: the best way to learn is to teach. Recently, the University of Missouri School of Journalism and the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Instituteemployed this model of learning by tasking journalism students with creating a web resource for journalists covering race and hunger. Students weren’t given a model and were expected to identify and distill elements of reportage. It was useful; students learned what kind of resources aid effective journalism and built a useable website. Check it out the result: “Reporting Stories Hidden in Plain Sight.”

Show me the… text?

Here’s a surprising thing: younger adults prefer to get their news via text rather than video. A new study from the Pew Research Center shows that while people over the age of 50 prefer to watch their news rather than read it, people between the ages of 18-29 choose text platforms, and online ones at that. But it makes sense: text-based news online can be consumed at will, anywhere and anytime, without the commitment of carrying around a physical paper or listening to a news story. Web publishers, who have been increasingly focusing on video-based news delivery, may have to recalibrate if they want to maintain audience engagement. And with younger adults less interested in the news overall, news orgs will just have to knuckle under and give this petulant population what they want.

Your reading list just got super long

The longlist got shorter, but your list of required reading got longer: finalists for the National Book Awards were announced last week and it looks like good stuff. Roll up your sleeves, get reading, and see if you can pick the winners ahead of the ceremony on November 16th. You’ve got five weeks: go!

The time of our lives

This is the best thing that happened this week, and it’s pretty good.

These things also happened last week:

Clowns became a thing: in a bizarro manifestation of every coulrophobic nightmare ever, people dressed as creepy clowns began appearing around the country, sometimes making menacing threats or chasing passers-by. Clown expert and author of Bad Clowns, Ben Radford, theorizes that clown sightings are more common during times of social anxiety.

Incidentally, the second presidential debate took place on Sunday night and featured it’s own tangerine-skinned, goofy-haired buffoon. After tapes emerged Friday of Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women (minimized by the capering candidate as “locker room talk,”) he spent the evening channeling his clownish brethren by lurking behind his opponent as she spoke. Social anxiety? Radford is right. We can thank the clowns.