Could you describe the ruckus, sir: this week on Fresh Powder

The lede

It feels almost impossible anymore to imagine a world in which we don’t have podcasts to listen to. I’m listening to one right now; that is, both as I write this and later as you read this. But it wasn’t all that long ago when options were limited and Pandora with commercials was your best option for background noise. In the last decade, the podcasting industry has blossomed from a series of booms. For example, the true crime genre was born out of the Serial boom, and the daily news genre (The Daily launched in 2017), like political podcasts, can be tied to the 2016 election. Now the question is what comes next. Vulture: “The 2016 presidential elections kicked into high gear about a year after Serial’s myth-making debut season, and the news moment offered a wide spectrum of media companies an opportunity to try and catch the emergent podcast wave. The producer Jody Avirgan, then with the stats-driven FiveThirtyEight, had described the situation pretty succinctly at the time: ‘There’s this perfect storm of people who think that podcasting is an easy money thing, and there’s big news cycle event coming, and so they just put the two things together. I’m sure if this was Brazil and the World Cup was coming up, you’d see a lot of World Cup podcasts.’ Such were the conditions that led to the flourishing of the election podcast subgenre. But while the 2016 presidential election cycle was consequential to podcasting, the impact going the other way around is less clear. Has podcasting become big enough to shape election politics?”

. . . Crooked Media, a political podcast juggernaut, is planning to expand its empire with shows on sports, race and religion. (The Hollywood Reporter)

. . . Is The New York Times about to buy Serial? (The Wall Street Journal)

Seconded

Ben Smith, the BuzzFeed News editor now writing for NYT: “The Times so dominates the news business that it has absorbed many of the people who once threatened it: The former top editors of Gawker, Recode, and Quartz are all at The Times, as are many of the reporters who first made Politico a must-read in Washington. I spent my whole career competing against The Times, so coming to work here feels a bit like giving in. And I worry that the success of The Times is crowding out the competition.” (Big numbers: NYT has more digital subscribers than The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and 250 local Gannett papers combined and employs 1,700 journalists of a national industry total between 20,000 and 38,000.)

#MillennialProblems

It’s election season. Have you been catfished? “Andrew Walz calls himself a ‘proven business leader’ and a ‘passionate advocate for students.’ Walz, a Republican from Rhode Island, is running for Congress with the tagline, ‘Let’s make change in Washington together,’ or so his Twitter account claimed. But there’s just one problem: Walz does not exist.” A high school student created a fake 2020 candidate. Twitter verified it. (Tough look for Twitter; tougher look for Michael Bloomberg’s spending strategy.)

Sports!

“It is nostalgic to think about it, until you start playing.” BBC: How to win Monopoly in the shortest possible time. (I don’t know, the longer games sound more fun.)

This also happened last week: Jill Biden sent those stage-rushing vegans packing.

I wasn’t a failed DJ. I was pre-successful: this week on Fresh Powder

The lede

Donald Trump has tipped the scale with which we grade our politicians in that everything they do gets compared to him. He also makes these assessments himself. By commuting the prison sentence of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, he’s measuring what he’s gotten away with against what Blago did and doesn’t see a problem. Anderson Cooper invited Blagojevich onto his show Friday night but as soon as Rod tried using the appearance to jockey for some political favor, Anderson was ready for it and put him in a prison of his past. “What’s sad is that you hadn’t actually learned that when you mattered, when you actually were the governor. You talk about working for criminal justice reform. There are a lot of people in Chicago, a lot of people in Illinois, who actually like spit up when you say that because when you were actually in power and actually governor, you could’ve helped thousands of people with clemency cases and you blew it off. The governor after you inherited a huge backlog, nearly 3,000 clemency petitions, that you failed to review; in fact, you were sued as governor by Cabrini Green Legal Aid to try to pressure you to actually pay attention to clemency cases instead of extorting people for money and campaign contributions. So it’s a little ironic and frankly a little sad and pathetic and hypocritical you talking about getting a commutation of a sentence, which is within the president’s right, but you ignored a whole hell of a lot of people who were hoping you might give them clemency when you actually mattered. I’d be happy to work with people on criminal justice reform, but I wouldn’t work with you.”

. . . Chicago Tribune: “With Democrats caught up in corruption probe, Illinois GOP appeared to have a ready-made campaign message. Then Trump freed Blagojevich.”

Seconded

“Twenty years is a lot, and there have been hard times in my career as a photojournalist. But there are no words to describe the last two years. You give and you give, and the traumas add up, and eventually, I wondered if I owed this business any more of myself.” Joshua McKerrow: I reported through a mass shooting at my own newspaper. Now I’m taking a buyout.

TGIThursday

Bernie Sanders, to have positioned himself as the leading candidate for the Democratic nominee for president so far, is doing something right, for sure. But not all of his winning tactics are idyllic. For instance, when was the last time you heard of Sanders, one of his campaign aids or one of his supporters attacking the media? Vanity Fair: “Sanders has long contended that the agenda of ‘corporate media’ doesn’t necessarily reflect the people’s needs, and his 2020 campaign has doubled as a rolling media criticism shop. On Twitter, Sanders’s speechwriter David Sirota, a veteran reporter, has become a one-man rapid-response machine; last week, he chided a New York Times reporter for downplaying Sanders’s victory in the New Hampshire primary. Several key campaign figures hail from the media’s left flank: deputy campaign manager Ari Rabin-Havt (Media Matters), national press secretary Briahna Joy Gray (The Intercept), and Shakir (ThinkProgress). Sanders himself has suggested that the Washington Post “doesn’t write particularly good articles about” him because of his efforts to raise the minimum wage at Amazon, the company founded by the newspaper’s owner, Jeff Bezos. He’s also railed against networks taking Big Pharma ads while on the debate stage.”

#MillennialProblems

New Jersey’s largest online news source, NJ.com, is shutting down comments on its site permanently starting today, a shocking move that both eliminates the functionality going forward and removes all comments from existing articles. Kevin Whitmer: “It was never our intent, but we ultimately gave a small number of people a license to say things they would never say in their workplace or at their dinner table without the cloak of anonymity.” (I can only assume it has been very bad for a long time. It’s not a unique problem to NJ.com. Truly shocking.)

. . . On Twitter, replies to NJ.com’s announcement were, surprisingly, mixed.

Sports!

There is no better sporting event than the Olympic Games: my column. For as long as I’ve had those two weeks this summer circled in my calendar, the idea now that they could be canceled is unfathomable. But, according to a senior member of the International Olympic Committee, there’s a real possibility the games in Tokyo could be called off, rather than moved or delayed, if the Coronavirus is not yet considered under control. “There is a three-month window — perhaps a two-month one — to decide the fate of the Tokyo Olympics.” (AP)

This also happened last week: Finally, a personal pronunciation victory to transport me from the “verboh” Vrbo hate train: Jif peanut butter is teaming up with Giphy to make it abundantly clear that Jif is not how you pronounce GIF. (I can’t do this. Be VRBO or be nothing.)

Not the steak: this week on Fresh Powder

The lede

“Two kindergartners in Utah told a Latino boy that President Trump would send him back to Mexico, and teenagers in Maine sneered ‘Ban Muslims’ at a classmate wearing a hijab. In Tennessee, a group of middle-schoolers linked arms, imitating the president’s proposed border wall as they refused to let nonwhite students pass. In Ohio, another group of middle-schoolers surrounded a mixed-race sixth-grader and, as she confided to her mother, told the girl: ‘This is Trump country.’ Trump’s words, those chanted by his followers at campaign rallies and even his last name have been wielded by students and school staff members to harass children more than 300 times since the start of 2016, a Washington Post review of 28,000 news stories found. At least three-quarters of the attacks were directed at kids who are Hispanic, black or Muslim, according to the analysis. Students have also been victimized because they support the president — more than 45 times during the same period.”

Seconded

“Listening is hard. We come into conversations with our own agendas and low attention spans, and that can be a dangerous combination.” You’re a Bad Listener: Here’s How to Remember What People Say. (As important in journalism, as in life.)

TGIThursday

“Freshly yet firmly on the other side of fame’s door, de Armas is in the rare position to fling it open, to be frank about what it means to be in the spotlight, to have your life reduced to a stereotype, to be sick of Los Angeles (by the time you read this, she’ll be gone). Just a few years ago she was spending seven hours a day sitting in a classroom, learning to speak English, which she did in four months. Now she’s one of Hollywood’s most efficient multitaskers: She’s about to appear in No Time to Die, the 25th James Bond movie … she stars in the upcoming erotic thriller Deep Water with Ben Affleck … as well as in The Night Clerk … and in Netflix’s political drama Sergio; she will be going back to her roots (she was a towheaded child) to become Marilyn Monroe in Blonde. The fact that her earlier work alongside Ryan Gosling and Keanu Reeves is already so far down her IMDB page is fairly astounding.” Ana de Armas is reinventing the Bond girl. “So how did she get here?” (Vanity Fair)

. . . Listen to Billie Eilish’s new James Bond theme.

#MillennialProblems

In an Olympic year, college athletes have a decision to make: Stay in school and continue competing for your team, or drop everything and dive into around-the-clock training? Star Tribune: “According to the NCAA, the U.S. team for the 2016 Rio Olympics included 50 athletes who were on college rosters at the time of the Games. In some sports, such as diving, it’s typical to put college on hold for a year while training toward the Olympics. In others, including men’s gymnastics and wrestling, college competition is considered an ideal pathway into the Games.”

Sports!

A date baseball circles on the calendar annually had extra drama this year. Pitchers, catchers, and, specifically, Astros reported for Spring Training last Wednesday and Thursday. Out from under the covers of the offseason, you might say the Astros were greeted by a larger than normal media contingent wanting answers. How’d it go? ESPN’s Jeff Passan: “Houston Astros owner Jim Crane’s latest attempt at damage control blew up in spectacular fashion Thursday. In the span of 27 minutes at a news conference, he claimed his team’s routine cheating during its 2017 championship season didn’t impact the game, declared he shouldn’t be held accountable for the organization he runs, used commissioner Rob Manfred’s report on the Astros’ malfeasance as a binky and so often repeated talking points that the Apology.exe program he tried to install in his head looked as if it were glitching. The entire charade devolved into a glorious conflagration, Crane’s mouth a veritable fountain of lighter fluid.”

. . . “In an attempt to understand the scope of the cheating and the players involved, I decided to listen to every pitch from the Astros’ 2017 home games and log any banging noise I could detect. These are the results of my efforts. I’ve logged over 8,200 pitches and found banging before over 1,100 of those pitches.” These are the Astros’ Pentagon Papers.

Thinking ahead

McClatchy, the second-largest newspaper publisher in the United States, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last Thursday. UPI: “The filing ended McClatchy’s 163-year family ownership and hands over control to creditors, whom the company says support independent journalism.” (Is your local newspaper owned by McClatchy? Check here.)

. . . “The city’s second-oldest high school, built with funds from the New Deal in 1937, is named for C.K. McClatchy, the late editor of The Bee. There’s a McClatchy Park in Oak Park and a McClatchy Library in the old family homestead in Poverty Ridge. Sacramento is the ‘city of trees’ in part because C.K. McClatchy championed tree planting and even had the paper publish front-page ‘obituaries’ on trees that had been killed by vandals or developers.” And now, regrettably, an obituary on itself: The Sacramento Bee, on the permanent impact and legacy of the McClatchy family in its hometown.

This also happened last week: For VarietySharon Choi wrote about her experiences as the interpreter for “Parasite” this awards season.

I have lovely small feet, the best in the family: this week on Fresh Powder

The lede

If you watched the Oscars on Sunday night, you were part of the record-low 23.6 million viewers to witness “Parasite” become the first foreign-language film to win Best Picture. You saw a lot of director Bong Joon-Ho because of it, but heard more from his translator. Meet Sharon Choi, the translator everyone wanted to know after the awards (NYT and CNN). On an aspiring filmmaker taking on a different role during her first awards season, IndieWire: “Choi has been by Bong’s side since the “Parasite” world premiere at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. The “Parasite” Oscar campaign has taken Choi around the world and to countless awards ceremonies, where more often than not she took the stage with Bong to accept awards. From the Oscars to the Critics Choice Awards, BAFTAs, and Golden Globes, Choi was the undisputed MVP of Oscar season.”

Seconded

Why would a 71-year-old retiree save a dying weekly newspaper in a town of 300 people? “‘Simply put,’ he wrote, ‘the horrible thought of this venerable institution folding up and vanishing after 166 years of continuous operation was simply more than I could bear.’ The newspaper, he wrote, was ‘something we need in order to know ourselves.’” The New York Times: Meet Carl Butz, savior of California’s oldest weekly newspaper. (A wonderful read.)

#MillennialProblems

“For the record, the full conspiracy theory goes like this: with Sanders surging in the Iowa polls, the Democratic Party, or cronies thereof, contracted with an unaccountable, nefariously named company to fix the election, either by stealing it outright or by muddying the waters.” Meet Tara McGowan, the millennial CEO behind the app that failed the Iowa Caucus. (The New Yorker)

. . . Wanted: Influencers. Mike Bloomberg would like to pay you to make him seem cool. (This only works if he launches a skin care brand.)

Sports!

“Daniel instantly charmed everyone with his joyful smile, sweet demeanour, and undeniable fluffiness. Carrying his bright blue Sporting ribbon off in his mouth, it seemed impossible to conceive there could be a gooder dog in the competition.” Normally, a dog show isn’t the place to find an angry mob, but add a competitive Golden Retriever to it and… #DanielWasRobbed

Thinking ahead

The anticipated sequel to “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” uploaded to Netflix Wednesday. If the sequel is anywhere as charming and fresh as the first, it’s a must-watch. Entertainment Weekly“To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You” is another sweet escape into teen romance.

This also happened last week: Samsung’s foldable smartphone is here — for close to $1,400 (and it is making me very uncomfortable).

We’re not in Kansas anymore: this week on Fresh Powder

A summary of journalism news and pop culture brought to you by  SNO

The lede

As of Wednesday, the coronavirus had killed 492 people and infected more than 24,500 more worldwide. (The latest: CNN.) In an effort to better treat the growing number of patients, China ordered a hospital to be built in 10 days in the city of Wuhan. It’s finished. The New York Times: “In a ceremony on Sunday, Zhou Xianwang, the mayor of Wuhan, officially handed the new hospital over to the military, which will be in charge of operations. Boxes containing ventilators and medical equipment lay piled on a sidewalk on Monday. Trees sat in large trucks, ready to be unloaded. One volunteer offered free rides around the vast construction site on his flatbed tricycle. On a sign, he had scrawled: ‘Go, Wuhan! Go, Fire God Mountain!’”

. . . Here are 19 photos that show how China built a hospital in 10 days.

Seconded

“Facing fourth-and-1 from the 49ers’ 5-yard line in the first quarter, the Chiefs lifted a play from the 1948 Rose Bowl between Michigan and USC.” The synchronized spin-o-rama. 

#MillennialProblems

It’s been a banner week for system failures. First, the senate impeachment “trial” (what they called it) failed to do the trial part and the impeaching part. Then, the U.S. Senate was subsequently killed off on Wikipedia. (“It died January 31, 2020, when senators from the Republican Party refused to stand up to a corrupt autocrat calling himself the president…”) In between all of that, in the most millennial thing ever, a mobile app went down during the Iowa Caucus, the very moment it was built for: RIP, Iowa Caucuses. Basically, we can all stop pretending any of these systems work anymore. Susan Glasser in The New Yorker: “All fifteen previous impeachment trials in the U.S. Senate, including the two previous Presidential-impeachment trials, included witnesses. But Lamar Alexander has spoken. Donald Trump’s stonewalling will succeed where Nixon’s failed. Perhaps Alexander has done us all a favor: the trial that wasn’t really a trial will be over, and we will no longer have to listen to it. The Senate can stop pretending.

. . . Journalism as a system is still operable, in certain spots, according to ProPublica. “Judging from the conversation in Washington … it’s reasonable to conclude that many there no longer listen to the facts and it’s rare for journalists’ stories to make a difference. That may be true in our nation’s capital, but our experience shows that state leaders across the country are still listening and things can change.” (Good vibes only.)

. . . Iowa politics, though being publicly shamed, has worked for Pat Rynard, founder of Iowa Starting Line, a start-up news site covering politics in Iowa: The New York Times. (No doubt a supremely anticlimactic ending to the very show at the heart of the site’s existence: “Everybody Wins, And Nobody Wins, The Iowa Caucuses.”)

. . . Des Moines RegisterHere’s how Monday night became a “total mess.”

Sports!

Some people watch the Super Bowl for the game. Some watch it for the halftime show, for the food they’ll get to eat, or for the commercials. Sunday’s slate of advertisements, Axios reports, had more to do with brands selling viewers on their core values than their products. (Here’s a list of four commercials I really liked: 4321.)

. . . UproxxThe Good, The Bad, And The Ugly.

Thinking ahead

Wendy’s will start serving breakfast next month. (Start your morning with a Biggie breakfast.)

This also happened last week: Spotify is buying Bill Simmons’ The Ringer, putting the music streaming service into the web publishing business for the first time. “Spotify intends to hire Simmons and all of his approximately 90 employees,” Recode reported, suggesting that the great website will continue with everyday business as usual.

I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts: this week on Fresh Powder

A summary of journalism news and pop culture brought to you by  SNO

The lede

On Sunday, Jimmy Garoppolo and Patrick Mahomes will quarterback their teams in the Super Bowl. Football people might call them “field generals.” On Monday, there’ll be a different big game played: the Iowa Caucus, which you might say is the Super Bowl for field organizers. Their job is not easy. “Convincing Iowans to support a candidate requires a field organizer to forge genuine relationships; the caucus process takes hours and is conducted in full public view, so voters need to believe in a campaign to subject themselves to it.” And that’s not all. Field organizers then have to identify supporters who can be coaches on the field, if you will, when it comes time to take action (and re-action, in the re-vote) Monday. “A field organizer’s next hurdle is turning ordinary supporters into volunteers. This is an important step for not only expanding the campaign’s network, but also because of the role volunteers can play during the caucuses. On a fully staffed campaign like that of Biden, Buttigieg or Warren, each field organizer is responsible for roughly 10-20 of the Iowa caucuses’ 1,678 precincts, but because organizers themselves can’t actually supervise more than one caucus site at a time, they designate certain volunteers to be “precinct captains” — some precincts even get a full “precinct team” — to wrangle supporters and undecideds alike to the ‘right’ corner of the room on caucus night.” FiveThirtyEightInside The Field Offices Of The Iowa Caucuses. Which team will most successfully mimic Barack Obama’s legendary Iowa field operation? It’ll be decided on the field.

. . . Polls can be wrong, as we know, especially for caucuses. But why? Because they don’t account for the very nature of the caucus, that it’s more a marathon game of Red Rover than a couple quick clicks at an ATM. Saying you’ll support a candidate doesn’t mean you’ll go out and play the game. Ed Kilgore: “To put it another way, while we’ve always known there are primary voters (in Iowa and elsewhere) who don’t go to the trouble of caucusing, there are also apparently registered voters — particularly young activist types — who don’t bother to vote in primaries but will show up on a cold night in January to spend hours caucusing for Bernie.”

. . . For journalists, it sounds like deciphering Monday’s Iowa Caucus is going to be impossible. Poynter: “As much as headline writers and TV analysts want to declare winners and losers, Iowa adopted new rules to an already complicated system that defy crisp declarations. … This year, in an effort to be “transparent,” Iowa will report not one, but three results.”

Seconded

“We have spectacular candidates, and we still have decision-making that’s irrational. I don’t want to pick on anybody, I really don’t, but it’s hard to justify Freddie Kitchens being hired and overlooking Eric Bieniemy.” Black NFL executives and coaches sound off at town hall: ‘We just want a fair shot’ (The Undefeated)

TGIThursday

Rolling Stone’s recap of the best and worst moments from the Grammys on Sunday is exactly why you intentionally “miss” the Grammys: Who are 90 percent of these people?

#MillennialProblems

“We didn’t think anything of it, and then it blew up.” Isn’t that always the way? The Story Behind Oregon Softball’s Viral Videos: “It wasn’t even our intention to even try to get the attention that we did get from it. It was more just us having fun and bringing light to our sport.” (Beyond sport, Haley Cruse is capable of bringing light to your life. Follow her.)

Sports!

To a cardboard hoop in your bedroom, in your neighbor’s driveway or at the school gym, his is the name you exclaim — “Kobe!” — when you’re calling your shot, planting your foot for a stepback jumper from long range. You didn’t have to be a fan of his, or even of the NBA, to use him as a verb. You could be in awe of him without rooting for him. You can be rocked by his death without having known him. Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash Sunday morning in Calabasas, California, along with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others. In Los Angeles, the city is suddenly in mourning. Los Angeles Times: “At an East Hollywood Metro station, a man wearing earphones watched a YouTube video on his phone — ‘Kobe Bryant’s TOP 40 Plays of His NBA Career!’ Two other men walked up behind him to see. He nodded and unplugged his earphones so everyone could hear the audio.” He was 41.

. . . Bill Plaschke: “Kobe was your childhood hero. He was your adult icon. For 20 years he was on posters in your bedroom, on the television in your living room, in the lunch talk in your school cafeteria, in the smack talk at your office water cooler, and ultimately riding on a truck down Figueroa Street while you cheered and bragged and bathed in his greatness.”

. . . “There’s a whole basketball generation out there that patterned their game upon Bryant’s—if you think NBA fandom just segued artfully from Michael Jordan to LeBron James, you’re missing a big, essential group of people for whom Kobe was The One.” The Wall Street Journal“What Kobe Bryant Meant”

. . . Jackie MacMullen: “Horrific news travels at Mach speed, even when you have no cell service.”

. . . “She said it might be true. Then her next question was, ‘Have you heard from your brother?’ and I was confused.” Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife and daughter were among the other victims of the crash. Altobelli, 56, was about to begin his 28th season with the school Tuesday. He was a national coach of the year and five-time college state champion, earning more than 700 wins in his career. (Orange County Register)

. . . Wondering how the media handled it? “The news seemed to put anyone who’d ever heard of him into a state of shock. As has been the case for much of the past decade, people took to social media, many skeptical that this was just another internet hoax. As it became clear it was not, people began their search for answers. Those answers, at least for the next hour, would not be easy to find. A collection of false reports, poor wording, and a collective news media playing catch-up only added to confusion, frustration, and an ultimate distrust in what was being reported.” Here’s a timeline of bad information in the first wave of the Kobe Bryant story.

Thinking ahead

To the 2020 election… The Daily BeastDems Are Buying ‘Tens of Millions’ of Cellphone Numbers in Huge Voter Contact Push. “The committee also plans to continuously update its list of cell phones throughout the cycle, and expects the total number of voters available for contact to grow before election day.  They’re also constructing a proprietary data science model dubbed ‘Sonar’ to help campaigns prioritize who to call or text.” (Sonar, you had a good run.)

This also happened last week: Following Elle Duncan’s tribute to Kobe Bryant, the hashtag #girldad took off on Twitter. Some of the best tributes came from the people who were given the stage to make them. Here’s just one you’ve got to read.

You got your shot, now give me mine: this week on Fresh Powder

A summary of journalism news and pop culture brought to you by  SNO

The lede

“It was like Armageddon, basically.” Australians exited the weekend further reeling from their summer of disastrous weather after a dust storm preceded a massive hail storm, with hurricane-force winds, in the southeastern part of the country. “The storm was intense and fast-moving. The territory’s Emergency Services Agency reported receiving a record 1,900 calls for help — more than three times the average for a storm.” (NPR)

. . . “Dozens of communities across Australia’s southeast are still reeling from fires which have been described as the most destructive on record. Since September, blazes have killed at least 30 people, destroyed over 2,000 homes and burnt through 10 million hectares of land – an area almost the size of England.” The latest from BBC: Australia’s brushfires are far from over.

. . . Despite the brushfires, the Australian Open tennis tournament got started without delay Sunday, though not without disputes over the safety of the air quality ahead of time. AP: One player complained, “people in Melbourne were advised to keep their pets indoors on the day he played, ‘and yet we were expected to go outside for high intensity physical competition?’”

Seconded

“The editorial board is an institutional voice, but it is not the voice of the institution as a whole. That’s a crucial distinction that often gets lost. The board doesn’t speak for the newsroom. How could it?” The New York TimesWhat is an Editorial Board?

. . . Now that that’s out of the way: The NYT editorial board likes Amy… and Elizabeth. (Top that, Des Moines Register.)

TGIThursday

Where are you shopping this weekend? “In my early 20s, I bought a 300-count box of dryer sheets at Costco. The first problem with the box was that it caused me to contemplate my mortality: The box was going to last me six years, which meant I’d probably only ever need to buy nine more such boxes, and then I would be dead. The box was far from used up when I moved from Washington to New York, and I paid movers to move it along with my other possessions. Shortly thereafter, I threw away the box, which still must have contained more than 150 sheets, because, like a typical millennial, I gave up using fabric softener. (It’s bad for your workout clothes!)” Josh Barro: When Buying in Bulk Is a Mistake

#MillennialProblems

“While she is proud of being ‘born and raised a Jersey girl,’ it was only in Jordan that she began to take pride in her roots. She learned Arabic and appreciated Middle Eastern food and hospitality. When she returned to the U.S., she began to wear a headscarf as an act of defiance against a rising anti-Muslim tide. ‘I lost a lot of friends, people started treating me differently,’ she said. But she also became an ambassador for her faith. Students, even teachers, stopped her in school and asked about the Quran and Islam. ‘I had to learn as much as I possibly could about my own religion, the ins and outs of it, what Islamophobes were saying about it, so that I could understand how to respond.’” Mistreatment in the years after 9/11 forced Amani Al-Khatahtbeh’s family to flee the US, and later inspired her to build MuslimGirl.com, where she’s dispelling stereotypes for two million readers. (AP)

Sports!

The Los Angeles City Council approved a resolution to urge Major League Baseball to strip away the 2017 and 2018 World Series titles from the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox and reward them to the Los Angeles Dodgers. (A hilariously bad waste of time.)

Thinking ahead

No kidding: The Onion is entering the daily news podcast business. It premieres Jan. 29. (Is this bad? This is bad, isn’t it?)

This also happened last week: While Las Vegas has been locked in as host of the 2020 NFL Draft, it was announced that the stage will be on the water at the Fountains of Bellagio. “The players will be transported to the stage by boat.”

Pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon: this week on Fresh Powder

A summary of journalism news and pop culture brought to you by  SNO

The lede

Apparently, you can quit your family. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are showing us the way. “After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution. We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen. It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment.” (People)

. . . “The Queen is not thrilled. Buckingham Palace aides are ‘shocked,’ ‘devastated’ and ‘downright furious.’ And, according to the Daily Mail’s sources, Harry and I ‘spent weeks secretly plotting’ [our] decision … in what one insider branded a ‘staggering level of deceit.’ They were wrong. It has not been weeks. It has been decades.” Washington PostHonestly, I, Meghan Markle, have been plotting this my entire life

. . . BuzzFeed NewsHere Are 20 Headlines Comparing Meghan Markle To Kate Middleton That Might Show Why She And Prince Harry Are Cutting Off Royal Reporters

Seconded

“In less than a month, after Iowans gather to hash it out, the race will move on to New Hampshire and beyond, and Ms. Pfannenstiel, like her predecessors, will have to accustom herself to a sudden quiet.” For now, Brianne Pfannenstiel and The Des Moines Register are the reporter and paper of record in the middle of the Democratic primary. (The New York Times)

TGIThursday

Chain restaurants get a bad rap, man. But they give people jobs, better pay on average than places with fancier plates, health insurance, and foundational on-site training for those who want to pay attention. (Hey, one person’s lizard in a salad is another’s School of Hard Knocks.) NYTCurrent Job: Award-Winning Chef. Education: University of IHOP.

#MillennialProblems

Why does New Jersey’s state government have a Twitter account and how is it so good? Meet Megan Coyne and Pearl Gabel. The New Yorker: “Coyne scrolled through Twitter, looking for material. ‘Someone’s tweeting about how Trenton doesn’t deserve to be the capital of New Jersey,’ she said. ‘We could do a response to that. ‘How rude.’’ They let that idea drop. Gabel surveyed her desk for inspiration: a cucumber water, a half-eaten muffin. ‘Maybe it could just be ‘muffin.’” (Spoiler: The tweet would not end up being, “muffin,” but contemplation is half the fun.)

. . . NYTThe Mystery of Teen Vogue’s Disappearing Facebook Article. “As the debate about the article made Teen Vogue a trending topic on Twitter, another online critic linked to the article and posed the question, “What is this Teen Vogue?” To that, the verified Teen Vogue account replied in a tweet that was later deleted: “literally idk.”

Sports!

From a Major League Baseball investigation into sign-stealing operations, the managers of two of the last three World Series champions have been fired. ESPN’s David Schoenfield: “They knew. They knew what they were doing was wrong. They knew they were cheating. Not much different from the PED users some two decades ago shooting up in secret. They knew.”

. . . Sports journalism news: ESPN is preparing an offer that could make Tony Romo the highest-paid sports broadcaster in history

Thinking ahead

Scarlett Johansson is the first actor in 12 years to be nominated for two Academy Awards in the same year, as she earned nods in the lead and support actress categories for different movies this week. (Weird, because it was supposed to be Margot Robbie’s year.)

This also happened last week: A massive Wizarding World of Harry Potter store, spanning three floors and 20,000 square feet, is coming to New York this summer.

We were on a break: this week on Fresh Powder

A summary of journalism news and pop culture brought to you by  SNO

The lede

We haven’t published a Fresh Powder in 22 days. We’ve eaten many pies in the interim, sure, traveled long distances and watched many football games, but haven’t consumed a whole bunch of news. Luckily, somebody’s been flagging stories along the way to go back to after the Christmas trees came down. (Me. That somebody is me.) The holidays were bananas on the brain, as usual. I can’t wake up on time anymore, I hardly know what day it is, and I completely forgot how to play ping pong (tragic, at our particular place of business). As we all start to remember how to tie our shoes again, there’s a lot of news to catch up on. Some of it’s good and thought-provoking (we’ll get there) and some stuff you just need to know. Let’s start with this: Donald J. Trump is still the president. That’s very clear. Although he was impeached before break, little has moved the needle on it since, as the opposing parties spar with sticks for swords over the rules. Here’s the latest: “Pelosi’s refusal to transmit the articles as she sought information about the scope of the trial, including witnesses, has also spurred a number of Republican senators to craft legislation and strategize about how they could begin the trial without the House’s blessing. But McConnell, speaking privately to his members, made clear that he would not make any moves on a trial until the articles had been formally transmitted.” (Washington Post) This calls for a mom.

. . . What about the Democratic candidates for president? Who’s left? That depends on how long it’s been since you refreshed your feed. Vox: “The field has been expanding up until the last minute. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg filed for the Alabama primary right before the deadline. Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has entered the race. Even Hillary Clinton is taking calls encouraging her to run again, though she says it is exceedingly unlikely she’d seek the White House for a third time.” (I’m with Hillary. Who’s watching this race thinking, “Yeah, I wanna do that!”?) The next debate is Jan. 14.

. . . Even more is going on around the world. Here’s the latest on Australia and Iran.

. . . Politico asked 23 historians, “How Will History Books Remember the 2010s?” How’s this sound? (*clears throat*): “The 2010s, in hindsight, began with the 2007-08 financial crisis. The inability to foresee and prevent that crisis, combined with the subsequent lack of punishment for anyone behind it, served notice to much of the population that the establishment (whatever that was) was no longer doing its job (whatever that meant). As the crisis led to economic collapse in rural and formerly industrial areas, working-class and lower-middle-class citizens responded angrily to what they saw as a broader failure by elites (not just in politics but also in the media, think tanks and academia) to respond to the problems of globalization (including trade, immigration and crumbling communities) that primarily afflicted the left-behind regions. The result was a furious populist backlash—one that played out in country after country across the developed world, with movements that were more or less alike in their grievances and lack of coherent solutions.” (Rolls off the tongue, don’t it?)

Seconded

We have officially made it back to an Olympic year. (Sup, Tokyo?)

TGIF

Game of Thrones came and went in the 2010s, but the deconstructions of its final season — perhaps 2019’s hottest topic in entertainment — seem alive and well. Vox’s Emily Todd VanDerWerff wrapped up the year writing about the falsehoods it tried telling us about those who want power. (It’s a doozy.) “The idea that wanting a thing makes you someone who perhaps shouldn’t have it is too often a pretty fiction designed to prop up an unjust status quo. Those who want to change the status quo, who long for power to make sure that things shift and are altered, well, they’re the ones we can’t trust? … No one less than Donald J. Trump used variations on this idea for much of his public life. (This is a man who, in 1987, famously said that he’d never want to be president.) It was only when he felt as if only he could make America great again that he ran, the gray champion who refuses and refuses and refuses the call until it’s almost too late, and he rides in from the east to save the republic.” (Told ya.)

. . . Speaking of power: “Taylor Swift Bent the Music Industry to Her Will,” in the 2010s (Vulture)

#MillennialProblems

“A deeply felt, mostly unexamined, sense that tech would lead to a freer and more convenient existence was the midwife of our digital present. It allowed the creator of a website to rate the attractiveness of Harvard’s women students to build an advertising platform with $55 billion in annual revenue. It allowed an online shop created to sell books to build a $25.7 billion cloud computing network. It allowed a company that started as a way for rich people to summon private drivers to turn itself into $47 billion, well, whatever the hell Uber is.” Alright, we really let the internet get away from us during the 2010s. BuzzFeed News reporter Joseph Bernstein puts it into perspective really well, I thought, that if, perhaps, our eternal optimism for a future the World Wide Web could create is how we allowed once-niche startups to explode, then, perhaps, we have only ourselves to blame for everything we hate about it today. Bernstein would say it has alienated us more than it ever brought us together: “Even when we get ‘good’ information online, we can’t always be sure where it’s coming from and why we’re seeing it when we’re seeing it. A profit-driven information apparatus uses a huge and growing fake user base to juice the statistics it shows to advertisers. The incentive is not to show you true things, but to be able to claim as many people as possible are seeing something, anything. To be no different to the men with the money than a bot, that’s an alienation. To not know where the things you read and see come from, nor that they’re real, that’s an alienation. To labor to pick out true from false, and know that many Americans don’t bother to do the same, that’s an alienation.”

. . . To the Xanga, AIM and Myspace crowd: Do you know where your content is? “Despite the constant flurries of social startups, when the dust was blown off the chisel, the 2010s revealed that the content you made — your photos, your writing, your texts, emails, and DMs — is almost exclusively in the hands of the biggest tech companies: Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, or Apple. The rest? Who knows? I hate to tell you, but there’s a good chance it’s gone forever.” (Narrator: Fresh Powder is powered by Google, a big tech company.)

Sports!

Video: Butler, Freese, Paterno, Donovan, Rice, and Rousey, the bat toss, the Miracle, the black out, the Masters, and the block. Have you embraced all the feels and re-lived all the memories from ESPN’s Images of the Decade yet?

Thinking ahead

“They’ve grown up with social media, and their fluency with these platforms means they understand how they should and shouldn’t shape discourse. They’ve watched ‘fake news’ become a kitchen-table term. It’s their vantage point, often lower to the ground floor on the issues that impact them, that gives them a unique perspective on where journalism goes from here.” The Future of the News Industry, According to Student Journalists (Teen Vogue)

This also happened during the break: “It’s very Bostonian. The idea of a truck heist involved in Charlestown with lobsters is very, very unique to this great city.” Meanwhile, on New Year’s Eve in Times Square, Dominos was selling pizzas for $30. (It’s OK, they were larges.)

From a pile of stuff: this week on Fresh Powder

The lede

I went to the Newseum for the first time last month. The status update alone prompted many messages of jealousy from my journalism pals, which suggests the mythic aura it holds to those in, or who have studied, media who have never been. I enjoyed it and was very happy to have seen it, but, at the same time, I was chaotically overwhelmed by it. (I was, however, immensely disappointed in the gift shop. I bought the only T-shirt with the name Newseum on it and they had absolutely nothing to buy that had anything to do with the First Amendment.) I commented then that I could’ve spend a full eight hours in the museum. There was so much to see and read, and as a first-time visitor — long-time blind admirer — you don’t think about why you’re overwhelmed or if its a negative that you could spend a full day there. Those with a better perspective, and perhaps a few more visits to their name, now do, as the museum prepares to close its doors Dec. 31. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Michael Hiltzik: “Among the Newseum’s most prominent artifacts are a piece of the Berlin Wall and the antenna mast that stood atop the World Trade Center’s north tower until 9/11. These are items of historical interest, certainly, but what’s the rationale for placing them inside a news museum, other than that they represent events that were, well, covered in the news?” (Come to think of it, spending so much time off the bat in the FBI exhibit definitely affected how much time we had to walk through the Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs exhibit at the end.): Los Angeles Times

Seconded

“Many will recall reading To Kill a Mockingbird and Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, both of which have girl narrators, but these books aren’t about girl culture, whereas several books that center on boys and boy culture have been assigned and canonized, from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer to The Catcher in the Rye. The absence of Little Women in classrooms could suggest that a story about female ambition and adventure should be treated as dangerous.” Little Women Is A Big, Important American Masterpiece. Let’s Treat It Like One. (Elle)

. . . NYTMoments in Reading That Salvaged an Often Sour Year

TGIF

Last spring, we checked into the succession plan for Lori Loughlin as the Hallmark channel’s go-to star for Christmas movies. Here’s an update, from the New York Post, as the spotlight shifts to Gretchen Wieners, from “Mean Girls,” and D.J. Tanner from “Full House.” (Not their real names.)

#MillennialProblems

HuffPostA Guide To The Memes That Defined A Decade (And Where They Are Now)

Sports!

The New York Times caught a glimpse into a week in the life of ESPN’s Mina Kimes. “I like taking calls while I’m walking Lenny, but it’s always awkward, trying to juggle a phone while picking up after your dog.”

. . . More than $150,000 in donations have been pledged to a local food pantry in the Ohio hometown of this year’s Heisman Trophy winner since his speech Saturday night. (ESPN)

Thinking ahead

Vox Media is preparing to lay off hundreds of contracted employees in response to California’s Assembly Bill 5, which requires employers to reclassify their contract workers as full-time employees and offer them benefits.

This also happened last week: A new way to try wrapping Christmas presents. (Happy wrapping and happy holidays from us at SNO!)