[Weekly Rundown] Hulk v Gawk gets a Bond villain; New NFL media policies; Bad headlines

Hulk Hogan’s legdrop on Gawker is tainted by outside interference, Baylor gets busted, the Buffalo Bills block beat reporters, and SEC fandom exposes problems for a local newspaper following a media conglomerate’s process. That, plus paying to sit at a park, that guy with the water bottle, and more.

Summer means my return to semi-regular blogging! Join me as I experiment with a weekly rundown of stories I found interesting.

Media

Was Hulk Hogan a pawn in a billionaire’s vendetta against a media company? It’s not a wrestling storyline. This week, we learned that Hogan’s lawsuit against online tabloid Gawker was anonymously financed by Peter Thiel, a venture capitalist who was a co-founder and CEO of PayPal and sits on the Facebook board of directors. Why? Because Gawker outed Thiel as gay in 2007. Continue reading “[Weekly Rundown] Hulk v Gawk gets a Bond villain; New NFL media policies; Bad headlines”

What was Clickworthy in 2013: Surveillance, Snowden, and the press

Shield laws were a major subject of conversation in 2013. They exist in 40 states to protect journalists from court orders to reveal confidential sources. The idea is that in order for the press to fulfill its watchdog role, dig up the truth, and expose corruption, it must be seen as autonomous. If journalists are but one subpoena away from spilling the beans, then the press is little more than an arm of the government… and then what source with something to lose is ever going to speak out?

As we learned in 2013, shield laws get confusing when a journalist’s work crosses state lines, and that even when a subpoena is eventually overturned, the professional damage may already be done. (Lauren Kirchner, Columbia Journalism Review)

The Guardian
The Guardian

And what of perhaps the biggest story of the year – the expansive surveillance of U.S. citizens by the National Security Agency? What if Edward Snowden did not choose to reveal his identity? What if the Washington Post’s Barton Gellman had to protect the source of leaks that threatened national security? Nevermind Snowden’s primary confidant, Glenn Greenwald, the American citizen living in Brazil writing for a British newspaper. British authorities, by the way, exercised prior restraint, destroyed Guardian computers, and detained Greenwald’s partner, David Miranda, under anti-terrorism laws. So while we’re not unjustified in our concern for U.S. policy, we can remain thankful for the First Amendment’s prominence in our jurisprudence. (Alan Rusbridger, The Guardian)

RELATED: The NSA surveillance leaks in-brief

Never in U.S. history has a journalist been tried for passing along information that someone else stole. The press actually doesn’t have many rights beyond those of ordinary citizens – but rebuffing subpoenas and publishing stolen information are two pretty nice cards to have in a muckraker’s back pocket. You try keeping that nice stereo your sketchy friend sold you for ten bucks…

But in 2013, the Justice Department pushed back against those rights in an attempt to prevent the leaking of unseemly information to the press. The DOJ’s actions, as luck would have it, were leaked.

Continue reading “What was Clickworthy in 2013: Surveillance, Snowden, and the press”

[Clickworthy] The NSA surveillance leaks in-brief

The disclosure of classified documents revealing the breadth of the National Security Agency has garnered a great deal of attention from people of varying political persuasions and interest levels. And while I’m interested in what that means for journalism – a profession already targeted for surveillance, as we’ve learned through this past month of scandal – for now I’ve created this Storify to recap the major developments and must-read articles (it may be updated as needed):

http://storify.com/voiceofd/clickworthy-the-nsa-leaks-in-brief#

 

nsa-storify

Click the screenshot for the rest of the story.

* It was during this process that I realized the inability of my site to embed Storify posts. Quite a shame. If you’re a tech guru that knows a workaround that won’t look horrible (like Storify’s built-in exporter), let me know in the comments.

[Clickworthy] How companies learn your secrets (a “Target”-ed case study)

We are very conservative about compliance with all privacy laws. But even if you’re following the law, you can do things where people get queasy.

So says Andrew Pole, a researcher for Target. The major retailer’s name seems more accurate than ever after a lengthy piece in the New York Times Magazine by Charles Duhigg about data stores collect from consumers… and what can be done with it.

(If you’re not up for the 9-page read, Forbes blogged an abbreviated take on the story.)

The highlight of the article is the story of a Minneapolis teen who received personalized mailers from Target that started offering her maternity and baby products. Her father complained to the store, furious that Target would seemingly promote teen pregnancy. But they weren’t. What Target knew – even though the father didn’t – was that his teen daughter was indeed pregnant.

Pole explains how Target calculates a so-called “pregnancy score” based upon common purchases over a period of time. Buying unscented lotions and particular vitamins? Expect to see coupons for diapers in a few months. Subtly mixed with other offers, of course. Target wouldn’t want you to realize you are in the Matrix.

And it’s not just consumers who enroll in a variety of rewards programs. We know the drill there – we give you access to our purchasing habits, you give us a few pennies off our toilet paper and sodas. It’s a deal most people are comfortable with.

In Duhigg’s piece, we learn that retailers like Target track each credit or debit card swiped at their stores for future purchases. They then use that credit card verification – which includes your name on the receipt – to seek out and purchase, if need be, even more demographic information about you.

Retailers constantly complain about credit card transaction fees, but it appears they have found a convenient way to profit from our love of plastic.

The question is, do we really care? Sure, when it is explained on it’s face, we are discomforted, but is it enough to give up rewards programs; to switch back to cash and constant trips to the ATM; to avoid shopping at certain stores altogether?

I would argue we are perfectly content sacrificing our privacy for discounts and convenience. What say you?