I’m not lucky enough to have access to Facebook’s Today In feature. Odds are you don’t have access to Facebook’s attempt to highlight local news either. It seems kind of a rare beast to spot in the wild.

Facebook graphic Facebook graphic

So I’m relying on Christine Schmidt’s analysis of Today In on Nieman Lab. She seems surprised that it focuses mostly on crime and car crashes. In other words, mayhem.

I’m not shocked. This is the kind of content that attracts engagement on Facebook generally. “It’s often an angry, reactive place where people go to get worked up and to get scared,” Laura Hazard Owen writes. So that’s what is going to be curated.

Consider that local stories for Today In needs to reach some sort of critical mass for Facebook to even generate a page. If there aren’t enough local stories, then the more-is-better Today In algorithm won’t work. It’s going to target the high engagement stories because that’s what Facebook does.

Which is a sign that Today In is a failure. These criteria ensure only high population densities get Today In coverage.

Facebook always had a bias toward the heavy hitters — the publishers and celebrities who had large followings. The algorithmic threshold for Today In meant that Facebook was only interested in places that generated a lot of content.

It’s a business decision. Only deploy resources to the content that gets a certain amount of engagement. It’s not so much about curating local news but harvesting ad revenue that won’t go to the local news publishers who can’t scale enough traffic.

So I don’t have high hopes for the planned News tab on Facebook. I expect more of the same focus on high-traffic opportunities. Which is what a business needs to do. Just don’t expect something noble.

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Is there hope for reader comments on newspaper sites?

I was familiar with The Guardian’s report on harassment in its reader comments. Unfortunately I didn’t find it surprising or shocking.

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May 1, 2016 0 comments Read the full post →

How Ross Perot helped blaze the trail for Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders

Clay Shirky does a multi-tweet analysis of how the evolution of media (from broadcasters to social media) has made it possible for outsiders to break the power of the Republican and Democratic parties in the United States. It’s great work but a parallel timeline could be created to explain how campaign financing laws have eroded […]

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February 18, 2016 0 comments Read the full post →

Why there is no iTunes for TV

I was listening to Walt Mossberg and Nilay Patel review Apple TV on the Ctrl-Walt-Delete podcast for The Verge. Three things that you need to know about this: Ctrl-Walt-Delete is one of the best titles ever. Yes they do discuss their reviews of the new Apple TV, but it does touch upon many issues about TV and media streaming. […]

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November 13, 2015 0 comments Read the full post →

Sorry Yogi, you can’t use that drone to find picnic baskets

While I have no desire to disturb the somewhat peaceful nature of Acadia National Park, I’m bummed I won’t be able to fly drones in any national park. Not exactly a crime against humanity. But the video and photography from a drone’s perspective could be stunning. I guess we will never know. Unless the national parks […]

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June 24, 2014 1 comment Read the full post →

The drones are falling! The drones are falling!

The Washington Post has a very impressive report that covers drone crashes and near misses with aircraft in the United States. It makes the FAA’s case very nicely that drones need to be tightly regulated and restricted. Which makes a certain bit of sense. But too much control and we’re going to lose a lot of […]

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June 24, 2014 0 comments Read the full post →

What else needs to be said?

The great Northern Jerk-Off pic.twitter.com/cg6Eg0ilVd — StuffJournalistsLike (@JournalistsLike) April 22, 2014

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April 22, 2014 0 comments Read the full post →

This actually makes journalism sound like fun

@mathewi The story of daily journalism: Set 'em up; knock 'em down; baffle beyond comprehension; then explain, as to a child. — Margaret Sullivan (@Sulliview) April 22, 2014

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April 22, 2014 0 comments Read the full post →

A troll by any other name…

So what makes you think that requiring real identities will clean up reader comments?

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March 1, 2014 0 comments Read the full post →

Why Amazon just lost my business

Greetings from Maine. This is to inform you that I will not be purchasing anything from Amazon.com. This is a direct result of your unwillingness to pay any advertising fees to associates in Maine. I understand that you need to make a political statement by refusing to send any money to Maine residents. To help […]

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September 27, 2013 0 comments Read the full post →