Andrew Sullivan

Is Native Advertising destroying journalism?

Andrew Sullivan seems to think that native advertising most certainly is destroying journalism.

He comments on Ezra Klein’s Vox project raising $110 million over recent years and their stated business plans.

If the new media brands that have emerged over the last couple of years were described (accurately) as new advertising agencies, the stories might not have had as much traction (or contained as much hope for the future of journalism). But that, it is quite clear, is what most of these new entities are. Vox has now dropped any pretensions that it is not becoming an ad agency, creating “articles” that perpetuate and distribute the marketing strategies of major corporations.

The logic of this, from a business standpoint, is so powerful almost no one can resist it. Display or banner advertising is sinking into an after-thought, leaving journalism with a huge revenue crisis – especially when you have no subscription income from readers. And when you’re drowning in venture capital, the pressure to to find a way to pay it back eventually must, even now, be crushing. There’s no other explanation for the fullscale surrender of journalism to what would, only five years ago, have been universally understood as blatant corruption.

What always amazes me about the interviews with the various media professionals involved is their use of the English language. It’s close to impenetrable to anyone outside the industry – e.g. “publishers have to get better with understanding the product side of native” – which, of course, helps to disguise the wholesale surrender of journalism to public relations. What also amazes me is how silent the actual editors of these sites are on the core, and once-deemed-unethical, foundation of their entire business. So we’re unlikely to hear Ezra explain to his liberal readers how he’s now engaged in the corporate propaganda business. But if you scan the interview with Vox‘s new fake article guru, Lindsay Nelson, some truths slip out. To wit:

You’re going to need to be great storytellers and create things that help advertisers with the goals that they have for that quarter … We’re trying to become a consulting partner, where we help brands and guide them to develop a content marketing strategy that is 12-months long … If there’s something in the news that a brand wants to be close to you can get them up and running with the same type of polish that they would expect from advertising that takes much longer.

So even breaking news may well be advertising in the near future. And good luck telling the difference.

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A word on native advertising

Sorry to quote Andrew Sullivan twice in one day but he makes another very good point, this time on the media jumping boots and all into that they call native advertising.

Native advertising for those who don’t know is advertising dressed up as news….masquerading as an article.

I’ve been warning for a while that when established journalistic outlets whore themselves out to corporate propaganda through “sponsored content”, they are playing a mug’s game. The only reason these companies are paying these media outlets to disguise their ads as editorial copy is because they can still trade on those outlets’ residual reputation. But as native advertising cumulatively undermines that reputation, magazines and newspapers will lose their luster. Instead, corporations will simply fund and create their own pseudo-journalism directly, and cut out the middleman altogether.

This isn’t some future specter; it’s already here.

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Andrew Sullivan on Islam, jihadists and western apologists

Andrew Sullivan comes up with a brilliant explanation of Islam, jihadists and western apologists like Ben Affleck.

he made these comments in response to the video of the Bill Maher/Ben Affleck debate.

I think it’s pretty indisputable that any religion that can manifest itself in the form of something like ISIS in any period in history is in a very bad way. I know they’re outliers – even with respect to al Qaeda. But, leaving these mass murderers and sadists to one side, any religion that still cannot allow its own texts to be subject to scholarly and historical inquiry, any religion that denies in so many parts of the world any true opportunities for women, and any religion whose followers believe apostasy should be punished with death is in a terrible, terrible way. There is so much more to Islam than this – but this tendency is so widespread, and its fundamentalism so hard to budge, and the destruction wrought by its violent extremists so appalling that I find Affleck’s and Aslan’s defenses to be missing the forest for the trees.  Read more »

Even the happy hand clappers are coming around on cannabis reform

They are calling it God’s plant, but there is growing evidence that the happy hand clappers are coming around to cannabis reform.

Jesse Stanley sees marijuana as “God’s plant.” He is one of five brothers—all alums of an evangelical high school—who grow medical marijuana from their two dispensaries in Colorado Springs, Colo. As he put it to the website FaithStreet: “God is moving in the hearts of men and women and children around the world about this plant in ways that I never would’ve imagined.”

The Stanleys got into the marijuana business in 2009 because of a cousin who was in pain and wasn’t helped by conventional treatment. Several years in, they made an unexpected breakthrough. The mother of a 5-year-old girl named Charlotte came into their dispensary seeking help for her daughter’s severe epilepsy. Wary about giving marijuana to a young girl, the Stanleys took a strain called “Hippie’s disappointment” that was low in THC (the chemical that gives the buzz), and created a new blend, high in cannabidiol (the chemical with the medical potential). Charlotte could take it in small doses.

Remarkably—the Stanleys might say miraculously—Charlotte’s seizures decreased dramatically. They dubbed their blend “Charlotte’s Web,” and started a charity called Realm of Caring, which has helped reduce the seizures of hundreds of children like Charlotte. Gaining national attention, the Stanleys even melted the heart of CNN’s Sanjay Gupta, who had been a major critic of medical marijuana.  Read more »

Charles Krauthammer on the the totalitarian instincts of the Left

Charles Krauthammer comments on the Mozilla case where they sacked their chief executive for having donated $1000 to a lobby group against same-sex marriage more than six years ago:

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: One of the sound bites you had earlier, someone saying this is a kind of intolerance entering into the culture. I think it’s narrower than that. This is the culture of the left not being satisfied with making an argument or even prevailing in an argument, but in destroying personally and marginalizing people who oppose it, in the same way that proponents of climate change declare the issue closed. It’s over. There’s no debate. It is settled science.  Read more »

The headline game

I write between 10-20 headlines a day, and sometimes you can get a real sense of accomplishment from getting a clever pun in.  Sometimes there is a hidden message that few people would understand.  And other times it’s not at all beneath me to throw in an alliteration or two.

A reader sent Andrew Sullivan a headline from his local paper.  It’s an oldie but a goodie, and still as clever as it was when The Sun created it on the  19th of  Feb 2010.

lama

H/T: Scottish Daily Record via The Dish, although here is the original:   Read more »

Bye, Bye. Morgan told by CNN to Piers off

Piers Morgan has been given the arse card by CNN…something Travis predicted a few days ago.

Sure they’ve dressed it up as an amicable parting of the ways but the bottom line is Piers Morgan got the arse card from CNN.

CNN President Jeff Zucker has decided to bring an end to Piers Morgan’s low-rated primetime show, network sources told POLITICO on Sunday. “Piers Morgan Live” could end as early as next month, though Morgan may stay with the network in another role.

Morgan, a former British tabloid editor, replaced Larry King in the 9 p.m. hour three years ago, prior to Zucker’s tenure as president. His show earned consistently low ratings, registering as few as 50,000 viewers in the 25-to-54 year-old demographic earlier this week.

“CNN confirms that Piers Morgan Live is ending,” Allison Gollust, head of CNN communications, told POLITICO on Sunday after an earlier version of this post was published. “The date of the final program is still to be determined.”

Morgan told The New York Times on Sunday that the show had “run its course” and that he and Zucker “have been talking for some time about different ways of using me.” Sources who spoke to POLITICO said the decision to end the show was Zucker’s.

Zucker took the helm at CNN at the beginning of 2013 and has since brought incremental change to the network, including revitalized news programs and a new emphasis on films and documentary shows. Primetime remains the one area where Zucker has yet to impliment substantive change, a new 10 p.m. roundtable program with Anderson Cooper notwithstanding.   Read more »

Blog. I. Am.

Andrew Sullivan collates a few comments from bloggers about why they are what they are…entitled I blog therefore I am it provides some insights into my own thoughts.

When I started, back in 2005, I created a personality, a pseudonym, a character. I did that for a number of reasons. I knew as soon as I started people would want to know who I was, and as soon as they knew that they would hurl about accusations that even as an adult I did my fathers bidding. Intellectual pygmies still hurl that about, even though Dad is essentially retired from national politics, has almost nothing to do with the National party and is 70 years old. I’m 45, but apparently my thoughts are not my own. That of course flowed onto my National party links and somehow it is dishonourable to have friends and acquaintances in the National party but perfectly acceptable if they are Green or Labour politicians, such is the hypocrisy of my opponents.

In any case I created a character, and built a wall for the inevitable public attacks. Each time an attack got through I built my walls higher. I still do this. It takes an effort to get behind my walls, to know the real Cam rather than the online character and personality that is Whaleoil. And Whaleoil the online character is not Cam the person…people confuse that, only very few know Cam the person and they are true friends. My walls remain high because letting people behind the walls lets people hurt me…and they have.

I have been morphing that though over time, as you read, and learn and develop so must you change…astute observers will have noticed that I comment and write now as Cam Slater not as Whaleoil. Not because I don’t like the brand, just that it is in constant transition. Still the haters and wreckers out there trawl through every utterance of the last 8 years and try to slam things in my face that I have said before. As I have stated repeatedly I can’t hide from my past and I leave it there as a reminder of it. Ever since I have been blogging I have tried to be an open book, not shying from my opinions, hey, at least I have opinions and am not some beige, middle of the road, fence sitting nancy.

I blog and write because I enjoy it. the day I stop enjoying it is the day that I will think about stopping. Right now I have much bigger plans  to extend what I have learned and to not stop at being number one…there are no challengers out there anymore so I must be my own challenger…rather be the best that there ever was and ever will be in what I do.

Have a read though of some other blogger’s thought…they encapsulate my own. Here is Will Wilkinson:

Every time I’ve been hacked and had to take the blog offline, it felt a little like an amputation. A blog is a sort of history of one’s mind, like a diary or a journal, but it’s public and that makes a huge difference. I think the public existence of my blog stabilizes my sense of self. The idea that the self is an “illusion” tends to be grounded on the false assumption that if the self is anything at all, it must be a stable inward personal quiddity available to introspection. But of course there is no such thing. The Zen masters are right. There is nothing in there, and the deeper you look the less you find. The self is more like a URL. It’s an address in a web of obligation and social expectation. According to my my idiosyncratic adaptionist just-so story, a self is an app of the organism “designed” to play iterated cooperative games, and we desire a sense of stable identity because a stable identity keeps us in therepeated games that pay. (Also those that don’t. The self can be a trap.) Expectation, reputation, obligation–these are what make the self coalesce, and the more locked in those expectation and obligations become, the more solid the self feels. There’s nothing wrong with blogging for money, but the terms of social exchange are queered a little by the cash nexus. A personal blog, a blog that is really your own, and not a channel of the The Daily Beast or Forbes or The Washington Post or what have you, is an iterated game with the purity of non-commercial social intercourse. The difference between hanging out and getting paid to hang out. Anyway, in old-school blogging, you put things out there, broadcast bits of your mind. You just give it away and in return maybe you get some attention, which is nice, and some gratitude, which is even nicer. The real return, though, is in the conclusions people draw about you based on what you have said, about what what you have said says about you, about what it means relative to what you used to say. People form expectations about you. They start to imagine a character of you, start to write a little story about you. Some of this is validating, some is irritating, and some is downright hateful. In any case it all contributes to self-definition, helps the blogger locate and comprehend himself as a node in the social world. We all lost something when the first-gen blogs and bloggers got bought up. Or, at any rate, those bloggers lost something. I’m proud of us all, but there’s also something ruinous about our success, such as it is.  Read more »

Andrew Sullivan supports Phil Robertson

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Andrew Sullivan is one of the world’s best bloggers, he is certainly an inspiration for some of my work. He is also gay.

He as written a piece at The Dish supporting Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty.

I have to say I’m befuddled by the firing of Phil Robertson, he of the amazing paterfamilias beard on Duck Dynasty (which I mainly see via The Soup). A&E has a reality show that depends on the hoariest stereotypes – and yet features hilariously captivating human beings – located in the deep South. It’s a show riddled with humor and charm and redneck silliness. The point of it, so far as I can tell, is a kind of celebration of a culture where duck hunting is the primary religion, but where fundamentalist Christianity is also completely pervasive. (Too pervasive for the producers, apparently, because they edited out the saying of grace to make it non-denominational and actually edited in fake beeps to make it seem like the bearded clan swore a lot, even though they don’t.)

Now I seriously don’t know what A&E were expecting when the patriarch Phil Robertson was interviewed by GQ. But surely the same set of expectations that one might have of an ostensibly liberal host of a political show would not be extended to someone whose political incorrectness was the whole point of his stardom. He’s a reality show character, for Pete’s sake. Not an A&E spokesman. So here’s what he said – which has now led to his indefinite suspension (but he’ll be in the fourth season, apparently, which has already wrapped):

“Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong … Sin becomes fine. Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men … “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right … “   Read more »

Hunting by Ski

via Andrew Sullivan

This is simply awesome. I love hunting, but thankfully I don’t have to do it this way.

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