America, why you make such awesome shit?
Ever wonder how Black Friday got its name? Amy Merrick explores its origins, and debunks the myths behind shopping’s biggest day of the year: http://nyr.kr/1a8aS0h
“It turns out that a lot of what we’re told about Black Friday is invented by retailers and the marketing experts they hire. Retailers like Black Friday because the earlier customers start their holiday shopping, the more they are likely to spend over all.”
Photograph by Stan Honda/AFP/Getty.
On Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for this type of story.
You’d think I’d adore JFK, given my background. My mom emigrated from Belfast to the U.S. as a young adult, and my parents were strict Roman Catholics. When I recently asked the genetic-testing service 23andMe to analyze my DNA for kicks, the name “Kennedy” came back as one of the most popular among my distant relatives.
But I was never really a JFK fan. As a Gen-X child, I lived in constant fear of nuclear annihilation from the Soviets. I now blame Cold War hysteria and anti-Communism in the U.S., and JFK was the worst. Add to that he was a notorious womanizer while married, and it adds up to few warm feelings.
Yet I sat transfixed by the cable TV retrospectives last week, time-machined back to an era before I was born but now with the very adult perspectives of a 21st-century woman. I learned a lot, some of it pretty profound, some shallow but tantalizing. Here are a few observations in no particular order:
News reporting then is virtually unrecognizable today: The biggest aha for me was just how different (and in its infancy) breaking TV reporting was. No cable news, no 24/7 broadcasting. Hell, CBS didn’t even have a working camera in its studio when Cronkite tried to bust in to a soap opera with news of the shooting.
They did have some time-tested values, though, like this one: Don’t tell people shit you haven’t triple-verified for accuracy.
"Girl, you so big!"
— Obama reacting to Mount Rainier (h/t Bettina Hansen of The Seattle Times)
A couple months back I helped brainstorm with NPR’s On The Media for their Breaking News Consumer’s Handbook, a basic guide on how to maintain a healthy skepticism when news orgs are covering a breaking news event. There’s been no shortage of major mistakes made by the media in recent years - Gabby Giffords, the Boston Bombing, Newtown, just to name a few - and there’s a lot we can do as news consumers to scrutinize what’s been reported.
This got me thinking about the tropes commonly used by journalists during breaking news and what they really mean. Last month I started documenting the terminology often used during a breaking news broadcast, and now I’ve made a matrix out of it. Each phrase is placed on the matrix based on how credible a report is, and how likely it is that a reporter feels secure if they actually say it on air. For example, if you say “Other networks are reporting,” it suggests you don’t necessarily know any facts yet, and that you’re deflecting blame from yourself to those other networks if it turns out to be wrong. Meanwhile, if you say “Multiple independent sources have confirmed…” it expresses more certitude, both in terms of the facts and your professional security if you go public with it - especially when you name those sources and explain how they came upon that information.
Anyway, this is my second draft of the matrix, and I’d love to get your thoughts on it. Thanks! - @acarvin
Fantastique. The matrix confirms what I think most news consumers already sense: When a journalist doesn’t know squat and is covering his/her ass, you get really crappy journalism.
In fact, digital is a huge conceptual change, a sociological change, a cluster bomb blowing apart who we are and how our world is ordered, how we see ourselves, how we live. It’s a change we’re in the middle of, so close up that sometimes it’s hard to see. But it is deeply profound and it is happening at an almost unbelievable speed.
Wise and forward-thinking. This speech from the deputy editor of The Guardian is a valentine to journalism-as-a-conversation.
How many times have I watched college leaders roll their eyes because they cannot understand why parents and students would insist that a degree lead to a job rather than simply being enthralled by the privilege of learning from us? How much time do we waste haggling over whether courses should be taught traditionally or online, as though students will tolerate any instruction in the future that does not take advantage of some online component?