J563 Demystifying Week 9 Post



The presentations, for the most part, were interesting looks into worlds that I don’t necessarily dip my toes into. A nice, diverse group of choices for presentation topics as well—surfing, crypto, satire, AI and the powers that be.

Presentations ran long, as they usually will. I don’t have any suggestions to solve this issue other than to extend them out to three weeks, which wouldn’t really be possible. With 12 people in class and approximately 120 minutes for each class, maybe have a hard cap of 15 minutes per presentation. If students have further questions, direct them to presenters emails or provide some time at the end of class.

As to the entire class, I enjoyed the structure and really enjoy the diversity of speakers. Even though I don’t have time to enroll for next term, I plan on crashing a few of the open portion of presentations. I also learned quite a bit in my analysis of Ben Thompson’s Stratechery and Derek Thompson’s postings for The Atlantic.

I was always finishing these at the last minute, but I would love to continue my blog just to force myself to read each week. We will see. Onto more interesting issues…

Stratechery, Ben Thompson

Posted on Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Ooo controversy! And a vote for Trump! What the…?

So, President Trump squashed Broadcom’s $117 bb bid for Qualcomm, despite the Singapore-based companies promise to move operations back to the United States, this looks like just another case of Trump being a shortsighted dickwad. But wait! Thompson agrees with the move. Why?

Qualcomm has two-pronged revenue generation—one resulting from chips and another resulting from patent licensing on chip technology. Licensing is the more profitable side of this revenue equation because hardware takes money to research, develop, market and sell whereas post upfront licensing costs, it becomes a rolling source of passive income.

Qualcomm exist in today’s arguably most competitive marketplace: evolving tech. As Thompson notes, they’ve been struggling to stay competitive because of cheaper options on one end and Apple’s encroachment into the chip market by using its own proprietary chips. With profit margins being increasingly squeezed, Broadcom’s most likely strategy with a hostile takeover would be to wring the last of these out over the next few years, pay off while stripping out all parts of the company in order to streamline operations and save money.

As the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States’s (CFIUS’s) letter to Broadcom points out, an acquisition of Qualcomm by Broadcom would, despite a move to the United States, weaken the country’s position as dominant chip maker and risk falling behind Chinese-government backed development of 5G technology. Because the US already has national security concerns concerning Chinese chip maker Huawei, hobbling the nation’s own chip maker to allow Broadcom short-term gain while ignoring long-term reinvestment would not be a smart move.

What’s interesting, Thompson points out, is that Qualcomm’s chips are already proprietary units protected by patent law; it’s the government protecting a monopoly. Thompson asserts that in order to spur more innovation (and push our competitive edge over foreign producers), this country needs to remove or reduce the power of technology patents.

Thompson’s assertion is remarkably similar to Cory Doctorow’s eloquent argument regarding copyright:

“This is why it’s time to stop talking about copyright and creativity and start talking about the Internet. Because someone can be as smart and talented as Don Henley and still think that you can establish nationwide networked surveillance and censorship and all you’re going to touch on is ‘‘piracy.’’

For so long as we go on focusing this debate on artists, creativity, and audiences – instead of free speech, privacy, and fairness – we’ll keep making the future of society as a whole subservient to the present-day business woes of one industry.”

Copyright and patent rights are there to protect the rights of inventors. They are not there to cement the perpetual affluences of inventors, founders, creators and generations of families. For example, copyright helps to keep Disney and its brethren rich off of creative content that’s decades old. Disney fights to keep these creative vaults sealed, despite the public benefit of using this content. This deletoriously affects a myriad of creative industry (books, movies, television, music, education, etc.) because rich old men feel the need to hoard resources and weld the doors shut to everyone else.

Among the million and one issues challenging this country today, copyright and patent law are two of the most negatively pervasive and least well-known. I say we break the doors down.

Second, I understand why Chinese application of chips could be a national security issue because China could use this tech to spy, to spread malware, etc. But isn’t it a bit ironic, don’tcha’ think? A little too ironic that the United States already uses this tech to keep tabs on citizens.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” says the shadow government, “We’re the ones who’re allowed to spy on our citizens. Who would want some nasty Chinaman looking over your shoulder? Just trust in ole’ Uncle Sam. He’s got your best interests at heart…”

Umm…right on?

Derek Thompson, The Atlantic

I just got Derek Thompson’s Hitmakers and plan to at least crack it over break (I’ve got five additional books that are ahead of it in line, but I’ll get there…) The man is a guru and a legend with his John Henry-like content. This week, Thompson covered:

“Busting the Myth of ‘Welfare Makes People Lazy’”

I’m excited to read this because I worked in low-income schools for nine years. I’ve been privy to the million reasons why it’s hard to be living on the edge of comfort and destitution. I consider myself very lucky not to be in that position. And years working in a diversity of these communities makes it obvious to me that the wealth is not equitably distributed. Anyway…

This article was fascinating. Great claims and excellent facts backing them up. Thompson shines a light on what should be obvious and it’s become cliche: it’s not a handout, it’s a handup. Well, it can be a hand up when it’s not a method of social control. As Thompson’s reports indicate, welfare and government assistance programs are much more effective when used in an incentive-based capacity as opposed to a means of social control. (Who in their right mind thinks that people receive government funds should be required not to have a job?)

This conspiratorial line of reasoning harkens to what I believe Thompson’s most salient point in this post:

“Welfare isn’t just a moral imperative to raise the living standards of the poor. It’s also a critical investment in the health and future careers of low-income kids.”

Damn right. I have seen what happens to kids with no hope. In Detroit, in Fort Myers, in San Diego’s Barrio Logan and City Heights neighborhoods, in Chicago and in Milwaukee, the cycle is the same: powerlessness leads to rage, to gangs, to violence and to enrollment in the criminal justice system. I’ve seen it too many damn times and it’s so disgusting to see elites continue to reach for these easily digestible, humanity-degrading answers.

J 563-Audio Storytelling Week 8 Blog

Branded Podcast Quiz

This was a very cool exercise. I got another window into Gimlet Media and heard some interesting anecdotes, which will also serve as research for my Demystifying final project. And it offered a window into the world of branded podcasting, which can be a great revenue stream for media producers (although I’m dubious how much of an impact it provides for branders…)

The Ebay and Big Commerce-sponsored podcast was well produced and punchy. I’m not sure if it’s a branding strategy, but their continued repetition of the nut-reinvent your business or die-really helped to move the narrative.

I was and am bummed about my grade on the assignment, however. I agree with the assessment-that I did not include enough specifics about the podcast, but it’s not because I didn’t have details.

I took about four pages of notes while listening and relistening to a number of sections. I actually didn’t even get finish the episode because there was not enough time. This lack also precluded me from providing a more in depth analysis. A cap on word count I think is fair, but a 45 minute limit is too short, from my perspective.

Bill Siemering

Wow. Bill knocked my socks off. Incredible to hear the words of such an important contributor to the peaceful, positive growth of media and culture.

It’s wonderful to hear an 85-year-old man who still retains such a sharp mind and dedication to his mission. He keeps NPR alive with his spirit as NPR most likely rejuvenates his spirit.

And Bishop Desmond Tutu’s quote could (and might end up) head my portfolio page:

“Do your little bit of good where you are. It’s those little bits of good all together that overwhelm the world.”

I wonder if that would help to convince Professor Dan Morrison. Most likely not….


Meerah Powell

Yeah Meerah! So happy to have had her in class. I admire how well Meerah holds and presents herself as a competent, confident media professional. That’s 90% of the battle.

I also support her entrepreneurial foray into podcasting. I will be proposing an aspect of my terminal project and/or UNESCO Crossings reporting work on the sustainable neighborhood initiative in the River Road neighborhood.


Editing Presentations

These helped a lot. Not only were we able to see editing in actions, but the pro tips from presenters (like, learn the hot keys and incorporating noise reduction) were invaluable.

I also thought that both Connor and Haley were well-spoken and professional.

The only criticism that I would offer is to cut down on the length of the presentation so that students might be afforded the opportunity to apply this learning.


A24 Episode 01: All the Way Home With Barry Jenkins & Greta Gerwig

Sooooo, the transcript identifies the host as ‘Speaker’ and the A24 ‘About’ page has nothing but a weird picture of bubbles framed by bubbles. Get your shit together.

I did enjoy the hostesses voice and hearing from Jenkins and Gerwig. While I’m not that into publishing my own memoirs, it’s always a nice combination of fun and cringeworthy experience hearing other background stories.


Stuff You Should Know: How Flight Attendants Work

This seems like a really interesting podcast, but the topic was not that exciting. My review: good try to bring light to a not-all-that researched topic, but flight attendant history is still not that engrossing.

I do like the lo-fi presentation (more on this later) and the podcast-produced ads.


The Art of Manliness Podcast #141: The Science of Freediving and Breatholding with James Nestor

I’ve already expressed my feelings for this episode: an remarkable journey back to our watery ancestral roots. It’s also encouraging that science is beginning to acknowledge these ‘renegade scientists.’ And this interesting presentation is always carried forward by poignant questions from a well-researched host Brett McKay.

There are little to no special effects or high production value to this podcast. I’ve noticed that the podcasts that I am most interested in usually appear as a simple conversation between people on a topic that I am interested in hearing about.

The philosophical underpinnings of the Art of Manliness take place in an interesting cultural window. At a time when women are being more empowered for standing up and speaking out, there is an undercurrent of pushback from men. This takes both positive and negative forms, TAofM being one of the more uplifting.

McKay, the founder of this show, is one of many proponents of men returning to his classic robust, responsible roots while growing into stronger men by acknowledging their vulnerabilities. Maybe Oregon’s liberal heart has streamed too much into my system, but I am an advocate for this type man as a model; rugged, outdoorsy, competent with tools, daring in his adventures, well read, emotionally supportive and answerable for his actions. Okay, that’ll conclude the sensitive part of tonight’s blog. Adios.


J508-Demystifying Media Blog Watch Week 8

Stratechery, Ben Thompson


Posted on Monday, March 5, 2018

It’s funny that this article popped up because I’ve been considering Spotify as opposed to paying for streaming from both Pandora and YouTube. This consideration emanated from a discussion in class as how people use Spotify. About half of the subscribers in class said that they signed up merely out of convenience: they wanted to get music before heading out on a flight and just continued subscribing afterwards. There was no mention of Spotify’s ads or superior service. Instead the company was the best option (or most well-known) in comparison to other streaming services like Apple Music and Google Play.

The conflicting problem for Spotify, according to Thompson, is that they need to dedicate more resources to earning more users, but cannot afford to because their marginal cost of revenue, i.e. the royalties that they pay record companies, already has the service operating at a negative earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT).

“Spotify is an impressive product and company, and CEO Daniel Ek and team deserve credit for reaching this point. Being a true aggregator, though, means gaining power over supply; Spotify doesn’t have that — the company doesn’t even have control over its marginal costs — and it’s hard to see where the profits come from,” Thompson says.

Thompson asserts that Spotify could try to cut out the middleman and become an aggregator of songs. The problem is users are now willing to pay streaming services, as opposed to buying songs one by one, in order to get access to an artist’s entire catalog. This repositions music labels in their pre-internet powerful stance: as owners and distributors of music. In other words, Spotify is almost forced to keep paying royalties to gain access to the breadth of music users want.

The end of the article is both surprising and expected. Thompson believes that because Spotify is so large and still growing, that continued investment and profitability are an inevitability. This is an interesting and risky proposition. What happens if record labels collaborate to create their own streaming service? What happens if the low royalty costs that Spotify enjoys suddenly rise?

Thompson is probably correct is his assumption, but Spotify need to remain creative and nimble because the calamitous death of big players is not an unheard of notion in this era of unmitigated access to information.


The Atlantic, Derek Thompson

Why Are Corporations Finally Turning Against the NRA? 2/26/18

This is a fascinating look into one, the current impotency of our federal and two, as a consequence, public interest groups turning to large corporations for action and advocacy.

As an example, Thompson examines our country’s most recent mass shooting and our useless, blind, deaf, negligent, self-serving, sociopathic smiling bastards from Janeseville who do nothing about it. Instead, corporations are getting in line to cut ties with the NRA. This is, of course, the nature of corporate culture; once one group does, the rest have to follow suit for public perception, but at least something gets done.

Thompson hearkens to a oft-repeated trope in this age: corporations are being forced to choose a side because of the pervasive nature of social media. Not saying something in response to public outcry is tantamount to backing the offending party.

This is not to say that I am happy about this situation. Our current climate of self-serving, spineless windbags with no vision in our federal government has left our country bereft of all but any hope or help from Washington D.C. Barack Obama was far from perfect but at least he believed in something and stood by that belief while the rest of the rest of the rats scurried around him, scooping up the carnival scraps left to them by the one percent.

I also appreciate Thompson more each time that I read his work. He makes an eloquent point.

“American democracy is not a free market. It is, at best, a two-party duopoly, in which vilification of the opposition often passes for a party platform. As a result, many liberal activists are asking corporations to express the values that they cannot impress upon a Republican-dominated government. Corporations are no longer bystanders in the culture wars. They are on the front lines.”

But, if we are at the point that activism has to have the backing of corporate interests serving the whims of shareholders, we might as well signal the organist to begin tapping out the memorial for this American experiment.


Public Interest Environmental Law Conference, Panel 1:

Protecting Environmental Laws in the Trump Era

(Attended instead of Jeff Oliver, Senior Director of Eugene Family YMCA Operations)

(Below is my blog article for Eugene Weekly reporting on this presentation. You’re welcome to read it, but it’s not a requirement. I just wanted to show some output from being absent from class.)

The spectre of men hellbent on destruction in the name of profit hangs over the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC) like a pall. The death of federal environmental protections is another casualty of responsible governance replaced by blatant catering to corporate interests.

Following the requisite catalogue of the executive branch’s “war on the environment,” though, there was a measure of promise. Despite the administration’s attempts to scale back environmental regulation, protecting our planet remains a legitimate opportunity because of environmental attorneys and local activism.

Scott Pruitt, head of the EPA, has attempted withdrawing from over 70 environmental protections.

This includes limiting formaldehyde burning, protecting drinking water and testing children for chemical exposure. Unfortunately for Pruitt, courts are constraining this zeal for territorial plunder.

“The Obama administration has a very thorough and comprehensive record on pushing environmental protections,” panelist Denise Grab, Western regional director at the Institute for Policy Integrity, says. “(The EPA) must give good reason for undoing these rules and they haven’t been doing that.”

“Even the Legislature, which got off to a blazing start, was only able to pass 15 of 50 repeal proposals through both chambers of Congress,” Jamie Consuegra, legislative director for the Climate and Clean Air Program, says.

There are major legislative battles ahead, though. Both the infrastructure bill and regulatory reform will include a number of riders undermining environmental protections. Various tactics defend against these riders, including activism in traditionally red states.

“Even people in more conservative areas standing up for change,” Consuegra says. “In Kansas City, 125 people showed up to demand keeping open a clean power plant. Only five people showed up to remove it.”

For activists, Freedom of information (FOIA) requests can expose choosing corporate interests over protecting public safety. The World Health Organization, for example, found that this pesticide can cause neurological damage.

“FOIA revealed that the day before trying to change the chlorpyrifos regulation, Pruitt met with Dow Chemical,” Colangelo says.

It’s one thing to expose large scale corruption, but it’s personal narratives that energize change.

“All political movements start at the local level. Our Children’s Trust with climate change here in the Northwest and the students at Stoneman Douglas High School are gaining steam and becoming larger movements,” Grab says. “If you’re not happy, let your local government know. They’re paying attention.”

This executive branch’s assault on environmental reform has motivated people to stand up, but the strange thing is, this administration has only been in office for a year.

“It’s going to be tough, but we need to keep this action up and fight activism fatigue over the next three years,” Consuegra says.

These committed environmental attorneys, along with an invigorated electorate can stifle an executive branch insulating a corporate aristocracy. And local movements can embolden environmental legislation to cultivate a prosperous, sustainable future.

J563 Audio Week 7 2/28/18

Allison Frost

Wow, Frost is a whirlwind. Per usual, the guest appearance afforded some much needed optimism during a rough week. It’s an odd experience to have finally found joy and purpose in a career to only realize that the newspaper industry may not exist in a few years…

Frost’s description of “Think Out Loud” makes it sound like a steady and rewarding place to work. The “On the Road” segment in particular seems like a blast and tailored to my skill set; just starting a conversation and listening almost never fails to elicit engaging stories.

Frost provided good perspective on job expectations—reporters are expected to possess a multimedia skill set, for instance—and recording tips like always, always get more than you think you need. It was also great to hear that as producer, Frost embraces audience participation and solutions-based journalism in particular. Her perspective on the process of convincing OPB to adopt these changes prods me to have some patience where I work.

Interning at Eugene Weekly is an interesting experience because while the paper is open to these ideas, they aren’t yet ready to welcome them with open arms. Organizational change is a patient, political process and I need work in both of those arenas. Native Detroiters tend toward the aggressive and the abrasive side of things…

Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art Field Trip

Just an excellent field trip. I am a huge supporter of art. My feature “Hyperphotographic” to gain entrance to the SOJC covered an art exhibit at the Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend, just north of Milwaukee. I have not found the time yet to visit the Schnitzer yet this year, but it’s a treasure.

Their write offs for private works on loan is a well-known tax shelter so, consequently, the Schnitzer is able to get rare and significant pieces unavailable for public view except for their time at the museum.

It also turns out that the Schnitzer’s got a hell of a staff—enthusiastic, knowledgeable and willing to talk. As I mentioned earlier, it never fails to amaze my what stories just speaking to strangers opens. As our class scooted out the lobby and scattered throughout the museum, eager to get their eyes on art, I lingered, fiddling with my stuff and chatting with the docent.

Inside the right entrance to exhibits, a young man was working on hanging Schnitzer’s newest addition, Don’t Touch My Hair. Turns out his name is Ricky Garcia and it’s his last day working at the Schnitzer. A random job that he landed in college has turned into a career as a museum tech. Ricky’s moving to Seattle to work for a firm hanging paintings for wealthy collectors in their homes and he’s making good money doing it.

After chatting with Ricky awhile, the recently arrived Becky and I headed upstairs and ended up checking out some of the Masterworks on Loan. And holy shit, the list is impressive: Basquiat, Calder, Freud, Grotjahn, Holzer, Klimt, O’Keefe, Picasso, etc.

Yet again, there was someone there working, taking notes on an exhibit in the form of a set of light bulbs hanging from the ceiling. So, after introducing ourselves, Lillian Almeida, Collections Registration Assistant was nice enough to briefly describe her job assessing the condition of works that arrive at the Schnitzer and then move on to explain her love and perspective of the paintings at the museum.  

The experience turned me on to the Schnitzer, but, more importantly, the visit (and Lillian especially) turned a new generational cohort onto art’s transportational experience. This cohort wasn’t even aware such a treasure trove existed at their university. Understandable so deep are we in the microscope of our own perspective. More brilliant is life’s shine when that snow globe gets shaken.  


Haley Submission: Episode 1 of The Monocle’s The Menu Podcast Series “Secrets of the Wine Business,” “Cork Dork”

Bianca Bosker’s epiphany that opened her to the world of wine highlights why I can’t get into wine: I can’t wrap my head around caring so much about wine. I respect people who find something that so consumes every aspect of their lives. Honestly, though, with so much else to explore, I cannot wrap my head around the wine obsession. Licking rocks? Cellar rats? Delivering an emotional experience with a meal? Developing your own sense of taste through clarifying the senses and colors and feelings toothpaste evokes? Actually, that sounds kind of cool. I just don’t have the gastronome gene. Rather than traveling to Milan to walk through an orchard that produces grapes for a Swedish restaurant, I would rather jump off of cliffs in Oregon, surf in Pacific in November or rock my face off. I prefer the salty taste of sweat and grease to the subtle tang of earth and grape…

The podcast production is very clean and the follows an organic flow. I enjoyed this podcast if only because of its quality and ardor that easily transcend the boundary between producer and listener.

Week 6-7 Part 2: Tech Reading Observations and Easy on the Perturbations Cuz’ the World’s Still Turning the Same Way It Always Has

Stratechery, Ben Thompson

Dropbox Comp, 2/26/18

I chose this article because one, I have a good friend who had a similar idea to Dropbox before Dropbox existed and I had no idea what he was talking about when he told me about his business plan at the time. Smith, let’s call me friend, still has a similar data storage business with his brother, but if he had sold his company twelve years ago, holy shit Smith would be rich. Instead, though, Smith is still fine with a nice house in the ‘burbs, a good wife, a couple of kids and a burgeoning art collection. I’m not sure that there’s a point to this other than it’s curious how things break…

And second, I am not nor have I ever been a fan of Dropbox. I have used Dropbox for work and for personal I almost always hit the data limit. Maybe it shows my age, but I will always prefer to have my data on a hard drive where I can physically access it. I use Google Drive, but this is only for my document storage and organization. The major storage I need is for photos, video and audio and Dropbox is shyte for this.

In his post, Ben Thompson draws a line between Dropbox and Box. While Dropbox has marketed to individuals, Box markets to larger firms with a top down approach. It’s a tradeoff that results in Dropbox spending more money marketing and not allowing them to differentiate. Box also has more potential for revenue growth, but there’s an interesting tradeoff: because Box has to pay so much more in marketing per customer, they have shown slower growth and their earnings are so diluted that their owner only owns 5% of the company as compared to 23% for Dropbox.

While Dropbox’s future is not at the cutting edge of enterprise computing, their storage system is still valued at $10bb. Not bad for what looks to be staid growth in the future.

This kind of hearkens back to Thompson’s previous observations about IBM, Microsoft and Google: companies may innovate all they want but in the end, a core product is what makes money.

The Aggregator Paradox, 2/21/18

The argument that Thompson offers here is the for too long (months, weeks?) Facebook ignored it’s only advertising free offering, their News Feed, in aggregating user data. Facebook is losing the advertising war with Google because it does not offer the speed with which Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) pushes publisher content more quickly and specifically while Facebook’s Instant Articles does not align quickly enough marketing and publisher content.

Thompson’s final argument is that this competition between the top two news and advertising aggregators only helps consumers because both of their services are free. I’m not sure that I really care, although this is important info. Because most people get their news from SEO searches on Google or on the Facebook News Feed, the trick then is how to get one’s media organization priority in both of those. I don’t see either Facebook or Google going away so the strategy for media organizations remains the same for the time being…

Derek Thompson, The Atlantic

The Most Expensive Comment in Internet History? 2/23/18

This article interviews Ryan Holiday about his book and at the time inside access to Peter Thiel’s grudge against Gawker Media being played out in court in a lawsuit he funded for Hulk Hogan after Gawker released a tape of Hogan having sex with a friend’s wife.

I am a fan of Gawker and still follow the media suite sans it’s founder and original site. They very much still, as Thompson asserts, “epitomize the barbed brilliance of New York’s young media crowd.” How did this barbed cadre piss Thiel off then? By outing him as gay and saying “more power to him.” Yep. The lesson to media startups then? Don’t piss of billionaires who’ll bear a grudge.

There’s not much more to the interview other the interesting story of how the Hogan video was set up by a shock jock DJ who wanted dirt on Hogan and then the video surfaced because another DJ, who wanted the original’s time slot, stole the video and leaked it.

My observation is that one, it’s good that Gawker Media’s matured into a semi-classy organization that supports specific demographics (African American’s with The Root, women with Jezebel, etc.), but they had that potential all along. It’s a scary world where a billionaire with a grudge can take down an entire media organization.

Wait a minute… did I just type that? That’s the world we’ve always lived in. A media organization with global aspirations eithers blossom into Vice Media and joins the parade of billionaires or gets ground down in the machine. It’s the way of the world. Always has been and always will be.

Airbnb and the Unintended Consequences of ‘Disruption’ 2/17/18

Hahaha, Thompson’s previous post eerily presages his Thiel coverage with an almost Thielian quote. Thompson says that, “we were supposed to get flying cars, instead we got Netflix.” Thiel said the same thing with a different internet startup: “we were supposed to get flying cars, instead we got 140 characters.” Weird…

Thompson goes on to describe how, with Air BnB as an example, the tech disruption ain’t really what it looks to be. Sure, Air BnB is the second most valuable startup in history at $31bb, just behind Uber. But, instead of driving hotels out of business, hoteliers are making more profits instead.

Because Air BnB caters to young, urban travelers and hotels to business travelers, there hasn’t been much disruption…in that market. What Thompson observes, though, is that Air BnB has affected something else more significant: rent.

When downtown housing is used year-round for travelers instead of renters, this leaves a dearth of housing and higher prices.

Seeing as I’m on my second place in six months in Eugene, that I’m lucky to have scored it and slept on a tile for for seven days instead of my truck, I’d argue that Thompson has identified at least a factor. If homeowners can make more money renting out their place on weekends than dealing with tenants, why not?

How do we solve this issue? That’s a question Thompson doesn’t address. But movements like the River Road Neighborhood Initiative that I am covering, who call for more urban, dense housing surrounded by communal institutions with local businesses they’re supporting could be something, even if it is a bit pie in the sky idealistic.

Week 6 Audio Storytelling 2/21/18

Almost midnight at the ‘goat

Editing discussion/presentation: The good, the bad and the ugly I was not in class for. What’s good, however, is the opportunity there is in audio, the bad is my debt as compared with the ugly pay in the industry.

Ashley Alvarado, Director of Community Engagement at KPCC – Southern California Public Radio

I love Ashley’s focus on developing a rapport for and with the community at large. Much of my reporting is concerned with spreading positive news and forging a strong bond with local Eugene.

She nails collaboration to get journalists plugged in and excited. Collaboration, collaboration, collaboration. I am realizing that I did not enter this profession the best of writers (nor am I yet), but my collaboration with my editor Bob Keefer has been invaluable.

(And to digress, it’s tough being an intermittent intern too. I don’t feel that confident in tossing around ideas with the paid crew.)

Ashley also brings up what the Weekly needs to be doing waaay more of—both to get work off of overworked writers’ backs and to open an artery to the community.

“A Day In A Life” 2/20/18 Audio Pitches

Pitch #1 Jan Spencer

1. A strong sense of place.

River Road Neighborhood. Already have nat sounds. Already have an 90-minute interview and a 90-minute presentation with other voices in there too.

2. An interesting story with a with a clear beginning, middle and end.

Certainly not an end, but it begins when Jan moved to the neighborhood about 20 years ago, and picks up steam in the last year when RRCO aligned with Eugene Open Parks & Spaces and the RRCO River Road Santa Clara neighborhood meeting happened.

Continuing now with park adopters, kiosk raising Community Action Council, permaculture meet-up, Dharamlaya, Maiterra and Vistara, Cameron’s drafting, Mike and Cam’s push for local business development, Neighborhood Initiative Grant.

3. Something different and a bit unexpected. Ask: “why should anyone listen to this?”

People should listen to this because it describes a movement toward living in harmony with the environment. I don’t have to pitch this particular group of people too much on this idea but the benefits

The difficult thing to overcome is the cost. People who are not naturally bought into this are not easy to convert. It’s taking action towards living life in a completely different way. It’s scary and it’s difficult because it moves people out of their comfort zone. I did not find meaning or definition in the ‘burbs but many people do. They say they will join up when everybody else does and then nobody does and the same song gets played over and over.

Jan’s story is interesting because he is on the outer fringes and living the life. My eyes are acclimated but comparing this to the way the population lives where I grew up, it’s totally different worlds.

The audience will be introduced to Jan’s world in his environment. Talking at Reality Kitchen and presenting at the Permaculture Meetup.

4. Recorded on an iPhone.


Pitch #2: Design Profile and Discussion Douglas Wiltshire 2/28/18

1. A strong sense of place.

The old airplane hangar that is now the art department at LCC.

2. An interesting story with a with a clear beginning, middle and end.

Will examine design through Doug’s eyes with references from his own art, student art, local artists and art in general.

Why design is necessary.
Principles of good design.
What happens when design gets in the way of function.
What does this mean in real life?
What happens when there is a minimalist design that is no longer functional?

Ex. Leica camera has no settings or button labeled. It’s customizable, but you gotta’ figure it out, Jack.

3. Something different and a bit unexpected. Ask: “why should anyone listen to this?”

There’s a lot of cool art in Eugene and inspiration to discuss.

4. I’ll record on an iPhone.

Delainey Garland Anna Farris’s podcast

Link didn’t work.

George Graziano Sound Exploder “In Cold Blood”

Cool song. Interesting breakdown.

Connor’s Good News

Again, I can’t access iTunes on my Chromebook. It’s an hour before midnight and I’ve only worked one day not till midnight in the last weeks. I’ll check this out later….


Demystifying Week 6-7 Blog Part One: Biz Pitches and Social Media Video Observations

Social Media Observations

The social videos last week were interesting, but I honestly don’t have any notes on them and am not quite sure what the purpose of the assignment was. Even going back to the post, I don’t remember most of them, except for the Dove commercial. The reason I remember this is one, Dove has done an excellent job of branding itself in the last decade as a company who empowers women. I used the company’s body campaign as lessons in my high school marketing classes.

This is a good point for all of us aspiring media professionals: we all brand ourselves in one way or another, so we might as well be conscientious of it. I am happy have very much fallen into a focus on local initiatives. So, when I sell my professional work, it’s not going to behoove me to sell my perspective on federal politics, for example.

Social vids are a great way to drive traffic and attract people. Some of my observations were similar to past ones: these vids need to be short, quick, to the point and witty or cute or both. I am ok with video work, but I’d like to be a little more confident. I am vacillating on whether or not to take documentary production next semester because, as always, it’ll be another chunk on top of a big load. Working at Eugene Weekly as a full-time writer would be ideal, but, if that doesn’t come through, I’ll be substitute teaching at least three days a week in addition to classwork…

Biz Pitches

“And the L & N don’t run here no more…”

A welcome freight train slides by in the early to getting later night. It’s clang, it’s shake and it’s horn are enough to cover The Cranberries mix winnowing it’s way through my headphones. I’ve got three hours to get these blogs done. I swear I’m not going to wait till the last minute next time, but what other time is there than the present?

Pitch #1

What’s the beat?

The business brings awareness to local businesses thriving and spreading good in the community. I have one article published about this already (the second story down is the updated version).

There is also the dichotomy communities like River Road and Santa Clara who are coming together with parks, plans and initiatives and the things that tear communities apart like lack of housing, aggressive unhoused and apathetic, negligent or straight out corrupt institutions that don’t make a difference.

I am (hopefully) in the final stages of crafting two stories deep in depth and wide in girth that represent the above juxtaposition: an expose on zombie houses and a podcast on River Road’s community effort through the kiosk that now sits on the Ruth Bascom Trail.

My research for this class will be to find different authors and publication who specialize in what amounts to a solutions-based perspective that focuses around business and community development.

My target audience is people who believe and want to believe in community. Aimed right now at small to medium towns and big city neighborhoods, especially in the West and Northwest.

The reason I am the person who should tell this story is because I am already neck deep in reporting this stuff, I have a good voice and these narratives need to be told.

Pitch #2

A survey and a search for new new journalism.

Do a historical analysis of Tom Wolfe, Hunter S. Thompson, Oscar Zeta Acosta, Ken Kesey, etc. Search for current authors who publish longform journalism that searches for truth and presses the powers that be (you know, how Vice used to be).

Examine the new new journalism from the writing of Michael Lewis, Matt Taibi and George Packer.

My angle is that we need it. We need to feel the writing. What might help this along, though, is a visual reminder.

I wouldn’t mind trying to publish this as an audio piece, a podcast that’s a part of….?

My target population for this would be journalists and readers, probably from 33 to 93 years old. I’d get some women in there too to give voice to both sexes.

I am the person to tell this story because I am the originator of this story.

2-14-18 Week 5

John Capouya, Florida Soul: Chapter 2, Ernie Calhoun

Nobody knew who Otis Redding was/is?! Blasphemy!

As a native Detroiter, this music is a part of me—those Motown roots that add soul to my spirit.  

Loved how Capouya framed of the rise of soul to coincide with the rise of civil rights.

I would actually have like to ask Capouya more about how gospel singers and the previous generation felt about soul music. As far as I know, they felt the same way about soul as old soul singers today feel about hip-hop: that it is a lewd, sacrilegious take on a pure musical form. Interesting how things change…

“Art can change hearts and minds.” Damn right. If there is one thing consistent in every human society, it is the amalgamation of art and myth that instigate, reinforce and challenge cultural mores.

Oh man, Deep City Records reveals Eccentric Soul’s deep rabbit hole digging into little known tendrils of soul…


GOODBYE GATEKEEPERS, Monday, October 16, 2017 from Ben Thompson’s Stratechery

This article details the fall of Harvey Weinstein through the lens of The New York Times, who has gone from “All the News that’s Fit to Print” to “Journalism Worth Paying For.” Because the only newspaper that matters was a significantly different news organization in 2017 than it was in 2004, the Weinstein story was able to be released. In 2004, Sharon Waxman’s report on Weinstein’s alleged abuses was crushed by thorough pressure from actors and Weinstein’s people. Because the paper relied so much on advertising dollars, especially those dollars generated from the film industry where Weinstein was a titan, the report got quashed. Fast-forward to 2016 and subscriber revenue now outpaced flagging ad dollars.

The rise of the internet has coincided not only with the loss of established news arbiters, but with the eradication of other traditional gatekeepers like Hollywood producers. Through YouTube, independent filmmakers and on-demand show creators like Netflix and HBO, Hollywood is no longer the arbiter of acting stardom.

This has great significance on the arc of my career. In addition to developing reporting and writing chops, I dedicate a set of time each day to reading articles on News Whip, Buffer and Parse.ly and studying strategy in books like Bharat Anand’s The Content Trap and Derek Thompson’s new book, The Hit Makers.


What Investors Really Fear, The specter of inflation—that ever-feared and never-appeared boogeyman—is haunting Wall Street. Derek Thompson, The Atlantic.

Thompson reports and comments upon the Wall Street ‘correction’ last week: a 10% drop in stock prices and a $3 trillion loss in value. This blip Thompson associates with fear of rising wages, which could lead to people being able to spend more money, higher-priced goods as a consequence and hence, duhn-duhn-duhnn, inflation.

Inflation is one of those bugaboos of bankers and financial succubi that may signal hesitation in the hoped-for perpetual growth of financial markets. Thompson seeks to quell any panic about global market meltdowns or even an inflationary bump by citing research, which indicates that while wages crept up in 2017, ‘ “core personal-consumption expenditures”—the Fed’s most commonly used inflation measure—was 1.7 and 1.5 percent in those years.’ In other words, people made a little more money, but, surprise surprise, they didn’t go out and spend it on big screens and boats.

Thompson then asserts one of the more eloquent challenges to our market system in one sentence:

“If investors are wary of central bankers because they think bankers are wary of labor’s gains, it sets up a dynamic where capital specifically defines risk-free success by its capacity to restrain the prospects of labor.”

Indeed, this has always been capitalism’s problem: in order for one person to have more stuff, another has to have less. This is contrary to how tribal homo sapiens have sustained for 99% (or so) of our existence.

The astonishing surge in wealth, health care, technology and the transcendence of man over nature attributed to market capitalism’s ‘success’ since the first stirrings of coal fired factories in London to the rise of artificial intelligence has not come without cost: the eradication of our indigenous knowledge and interconnectedness, the sixth mass extinction precipitated by human hands, a failed ‘war’ on mind-altering substances (leading to mass-incarceration, a system of racial inequity and the escalation of violence death and strong-armed injustice in poor nations throughout the world), repression in the face of fear-mongering, injustice and inequity in access to healthcare, junk food barons, corruption and collusion amid corporate and government conglomerates, an incredible disparity in wealth distribution, lack of consideration for human life and sane policy in catering to powerful lobby groups, and a consistent cycle of government deregulation and economic catastrophe that destroys massive swathes of personal wealth.

Of course, this dipshit, via the dipshits at National Review [my apologies for the non-dipshits at this publication (you know who you are…) ], says that instead of the above, what we need to worry about is the rise of socialism, populism and a call for more sane, humane, equitable policies. Goddamn pinkos!

For the right wing’s part, if they want to play blind man, they can follow the shepherd off of a cliff for all I care. Me, I plan to keep my eyes wide open all the time.

2-14-18 Audio Storytelling

Class observations

Thanks for the constant effort to improve as an educator. Makes students feel like they have a voice and it really adds to class buy-in.

One additional suggestion, as Aubrey has probably already put forth, evaluation forms for partners are always helpful for your feedback and for individuals to show how much they contributed.


Ashley Alvarado, KPCC, Pasadena

Another spot on guest speaker. These are so fun to have because featured former students offer new advice and unique perspective as well as reinforce previous lessons.

Free food. Pardon the gender-specificity, but women always seem to have this technique down.  (Could the men of Madison Avenue even imagine a world where such absolutions exist? Damn…) Unexpected edibles always win over students, clients, co-workers, business associates, etc. One of the easiest paths to hearts. I wonder if this would work in an interview…

Excellent observation on practicing internal engagement. I am trying to do that inside of Eugene Weekly. I am meeting with the web developer next week to discuss how we can further this publication on a digital scale. I work to maintain a conversation with my editor, the head editor, other writers, ad execs and photo directors, even Cecilia who answers phones. This is how I’ve always operated in the workplace, be it in a school, a Merrill Lynch office or washing dishes at Big Boy. Goes to Kyra’s point of identifying what strengths that I bring and how I stand out from the competition.

Ashley echoes Sung Park’s point that even though people are giving their time, realize that this effort serves them as well. This is important on two levels: one, to maintain equal footing and two, to be mindful that this is a person that is being interviewed.

Which brings up Ashley’s cogent observation that’s missed in a multitude of fields, not just in journalism: a business must be reflective of the community that they are serving. Newspapers used to be one a few resources for information for people. Now, there are a hundred choices on how to understand the world. The only way that media organizations will exist is if their readership feels reflected and respected by an engaged newsroom. Again: find your advantage. Only local news can connect with the local population.

KPCC internship sounds excellent. Applications are due Friday. Along with a hundred other things. But I will apply. The only question is how to move to and exist in Pasadena for 10 weeks on $12 an hour…


Transom’s Pitching Story Ideas, Ari Daniel

This is excellent. I’ve got it saved in my “Journalism Lessons and Resources” bookmark now. It reflects and coincides the same topic we were discussing in Advanced Story Development today.

There’s a journalism aphorism that goes ‘if you can’t sum up your story in two sentences, you don’t have a story.’ This article adds meat to that bone to state, ‘if you can’t make your story punchy in two sentences, you don’t have a sellable story.’

Where I struggle most (curiously, because narrative flow is my strength) is creating a title that pops.


Four-Leaf Clovers

Interesting bright. It’s fascinating what comes up just when talking to people. All a reporter, all a human being has to do is listen.

Good tip too: Don’t start recording, writing, reporting until the journalist knows there’s a story and that that story has been accepted in a pitch. I’ve already been caught in that pinch. I did some interviews that didn’t get accepted. I turned it into what I believe is an quality piece, but it ain’t published anywhere so I’ll be the only one to enjoy it…


A Unique Expression Of Love For Math

Mmmmm… not to be a jerk, but this should be obvious. Do your research beforehand. Learn what’s interesting. This is a good reminder as this is not at all easy with multiple deadlines and trying to pull things together. And I am not nearly always able to accomplish doing research. But still…


Probing Dolphins’ Genetic Mysteries

Fascinating take. Poor dolphins, but at least we can learn something…

Goes to my point earlier too. It’s challenging for a beginning journalist. I hear these words echoed in my nightmares from a professor who will remain heretofore unnamed:

“There’s no detail, no sense of story, no tension. And everyone has heard about this idea — there’s nothing to indicate why my story would do something unexpected or surprising.”



Is There a New Beauty Movement?

Already commented upon…


The Woj Pod: Demar DeRozan

Never really cared about him, but this really gave me a hell of an appreciation now.

While I am not that big of an NBA fan (favoring instead, The Land of Sparta), I think that we are in a golden age of NBA players who are stand-up men who serve as integral mentors to their communities and to fans.  

Week 4, 2/7/18: John Capouya Prep, Wambsgans Reflection, Stratechery and Stratechery and Derek Thompson

John Capouya, Florida Soul: Chapter 2, Ernie Calhoun

We (the Royal “we”) hear about this flourishing black section of town throughout the country in the 1930’s and 1940’s. It flows from the Harlem Renaissance all the way down to Tampa Bay where many of the clubs were named after places in Harlem (The Apollo Ballroom). Black artists, bookkeepers, doctors, even lawyers, according to Calhoun. My journalism coverage has really gained a focus on people and businesses in Eugene who are working to build a better community in this city in their own way. I am fortunate enough to witness people coming together in ways unique to much of this nation, which seems stuck in a disparate and antagonistic rut, rivals camped out on the edge of a trench they aren’t willing to cross. We are a very white town here in Eugene. This historical reflection makes me wonder where and how communities of color might be coming together in other areas of the country. I have a good friend, for example, in Portland, who is a principal in north Portland, a traditionally African American section of town that’s also being diversified by an influx of Russian, Southeast Asian and other immigrants in the last 10 years. The school (with my friend’s lead) is helping to create a more verdant community through their relationship with the surrounding population and by improving school performance.

Love that Calhoun’s mother made her primary living gambling.

Whoa, my grandfather was in the Korean War (receiving a Bronze Star, in fact), but I have never heard stories about Chinese propaganda broadcast to black men; fascinating historical detail. It’s too bad that the message was true: why would black man go and fight for a country that did not even respect them as human beings?

That is an intriguing transition from the alto sax to the tenor sax, becoming a ‘slow man.’ From Calhoun’s kind, provocative glance, I can easily imagine the man as a Pied Piper.

Love Calhoun’s assertion that, like Coltran and Hawkins, it does not matter what kind of chops you got, you’ve got to have soul. Besides the mainstream pop machine, an artist’s popularity is so much based upon this soul. This intangible quality transcends fields as well: we are attracted to people who have charisma. It is such a human thing that genuine, magnetic talent trumps almost all else.

Jazz and blues are African American institutions. The impetus for blues comes from lamentations in the bonds of servitude; the motivation for jazz comes from exploring the possibility of improvisation in music. It almost makes me like jazz more. But blues ‘s got more soul. 🙂


Jason Wambsgans, Photographer, Chicago Tribune

Wambsgans was amazing to start. This is probably not an earth-shattering revelation, but he’s a level-headed man for working in a warzone. I know a lot about Chicago, but not a lot about the South Side. I worked in urban schools and heard a lot about what he talked about, but did not experience it first hand like this man.

One of the many things that I take away from this conversation is that traditional media, especially conglomerates like Tronc, could care less about community-engaged or solutions-based journalism. I am making this journey into journalism at a time of great uncertainty in the field that offers wonderful opportunity to grow in a multitude of new ways. And yet, we still still see this opening for innovation ignored by tradition and by unwieldy corporate blocs that refuse to adapt. This only strengthens my resolve to get into a small paper that encourages independent thought and breeds an organic network of readers from a community-based perspective.


Why NFL Ratings Are Plummeting: A Two-Part Theory, Derek Thompson, The Atlantic

According to Thompson, “(t)elevised football has a problem with both form (television) and content (football).” Content I agree with. As an American, I’ve grown up with American football, I played in middle school and high school and suffered a concussion or two (which I can still feel to this day). While my allegiance to my college team remains, my interest in professional football has waned because we, the audience, are watching these men kill themselves, in no uncertain terms. Let’s see what Thompson has to say…

Yes, as pay TV is disappearing, ad revenue is falling. This will not stop, in my opinion. I don’t watch Sunday football almost at all anymore. After moving away from the Sunday games and then trying again to take them in, the constant commercials are not worth the experience. It’s almost like watching one long ad interspersed with 200 pound men destroying themselves as they crash into other 200 pound men at full speed. I do not have a cure for what ails professional football, but they had better become proactive before they react too slowly. The plummeting numbers that Thompson cites indicates that it might already be too late.

I don’t believe that the NFL will necessarily fold, but I am not sure that cable television will even exist in 10 years. On demand TV and action at the viewers’ fingertips makes this made for TV sport an instant anachronism.


Apple’s Middle Age, Chris Thompson, Stratechery

This article comes on the heels of Thompson’s assertion that while Apple is not innovating, they will retain market share. I tend to side with this article for reasons outlined in my previous blog entry as well as for the value of developing and asserting network dominance as explained in Bharat Anand’s The Content Trap. For example: Microsoft. Not a major market player in cell phone hardware, tablets, search engines, social networks and the plethora of tech that creates new wealth. But, Microsoft still retains massive profits and revenue. Why? Their network dominance established with their operating system, almost 30 years ago.

(Don’t buy Ikea Thompson. I am also a frequent mover, well within middle age, but, I buy used goods—they last longer, they’re better quality, they reinvest in the community and you can resell them…)

(Thompson is quoting himself in this article? Is there some sort of law against that? Ah, bloggers, so meta…)

Thompson makes a cogent argument for Apple’s status as an incumbent: they will continue to develop products incompatible with other hardware companies. This, I agree with Thompson, will continue to maintain Apple’s status as market leader as long as they continue to develop new products that compete favorably. The innovation, though, that Apple continues to show in extending revenue flow not through developing new customers, but broadening market reach is integral to their continued success.

I for one, have no interest in Apple’s music service. But, by offering the HomePod (which I yet to hear of), Apple is able to align their native software into new hardware that streams their recent dip into service. Genius. For now, Apple customers will stick with them. The trick is keep them on board. At some point, though, like anything, the market will threaten to outpace their progress. We will see if Apple can keep up. For my money, however, Google’s Alexa seems like a much better deal.