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Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press

Alarms and diversions for the thinking person

Saturday, August 12, 2017 12:01 am

The reading list

“One of the emblems of the new era in journalism haunted my life at the New Republic. Every time I sat down to work, I surreptitiously peeked at it — as I did when I woke up in the morning, and a few minutes later when I brushed my teeth, and again later in the day as I stood at the urinal ...

“My master was Chartbeat, a site that provides writers, editors and their bosses with a real-time accounting of web traffic, showing the flickering readership of each and every article. Chartbeat and its competitors have taken hold at virtually every magazine, newspaper and blog. With these meters, no piece has sufficient traffic — it can always be improved with a better headline, a better approach to social media, a better subject, a better argument. Like a manager standing over the assembly line with a stopwatch, Chartbeat and its ilk now hover over the newsroom.

“This is a dangerous turn. Journalism may never have been as public-spirited an enterprise as editors and writers liked to think it was. Yet the myth mattered. It pushed journalism to challenge power; it made journalists loath to bend to the whims of their audience; it provided a crucial sense of detachment. The new generation of media giants has no patience for the old ethos of detachment. ... the pursuit of audience is their central mission. They have allowed the endless feedback loop of the web to shape their editorial sensibility, to determine their editorial investments.”

— From “When Silicon Valley Took Over Journalism” at theatlantic.com

A quiz

Today, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo products are sold in every country in the world except one. What's the exception?

Wisdom of the ages

“In prosperity our friends know us; in adversity we know our friends.”— John Churton Collins

Current wisdom

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” — President Trump

Quiz answer

North Korea, naturally.

Today in history

On this date in 1972, the last American combat ground troops left Vietnam; still waiting for the apology.

Snob words

fructify (FRUHK-tuh-fahy) — to bear fruit, become fruitful; to make fruitful or productive, as in: “The editorial writer slyly planted the seed of common sense in the politician's mind, hoping against hope that it would fructify.”

Now you know

From northwest to southwest, Costa Rica measures only 285 miles, and at its narrowest, it is only 74 miles wide. It is smaller than Lake Michigan.


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