Off the Media

No Gray Area: It’s Definitely Not OK to Publish Emails From the Sony Hack

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At first, I thought the media response to the celebrity hacking scandal was sanctimonious. Now I realize it was rank hypocrisy. Just shameless, awful hypocrisy from a group hardly better than the criminals they enable.

Because after every outlet, from Perez Hilton to Jezebel, called the hack, leak and publishing of nude photos of celebrities, including Kate Upton and Jennifer Lawrence, a crime, none of them seem to have any problem publishing the spoils of the Sony hack, particularly the many private conversations of its co-chairman Amy Pascal. Read More

Off the Media

Who Can You Trust? A Guide To Your Online Media Diet

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You’re probably pretty aware that you’re being manipulated at this point.

Clickbait. Outrage porn. Shoddy sourcing. Stories being traded up the chain. Fake traffic. Sanctimony. The playbook of online publishers has started to resemble something a 20th century con man might use. It’s suite of ruses, misdirection and outright deception designed to steal clicks here and traffic there. It’s a way of relieving unsuspecting readers of their attention and pawning it off to trusting advertisers.

So if you’re not one of those people, that is if you are finally suspecting and suspicious, what are you to do? Who should you read? Who can you trust?

It’s a question I’ve been asked a lot since I wrote my book. It’s also a question I’ve asked a lot myself — because I’d like to know the answer. Read More

Off the Media

Spare Us The Sanctimony: The Gross Hypocrisy of Online Media in the Nude Photo Leak

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It seems to me that we are entering a new phase in our media culture online. It’s post-gossip, post-snark and post-smarm. It is the sanctimony phase.

Maybe it’s an outgrowth of Upworthy and its simple yet holier-than-thou politics. Maybe it’s the natural extension of outrage porn. But you are seeing it quite clearly with the media reaction to the recent trove of leaked celebrity nudes. Read More

Off the Media

It’s War: Scale and Intimacy Duke it Out in the Comments Section

One of the ironies of American “high societies” is that some of its most prestigious institutions were founded by members of what was, at the time, one of the lowliest professions: journalism.

Take the Bohemian Club, the private refuge of many future and ex-presidents, billionaires and captains of industry. It was started by a bunch of dirty staff writers at the San Francisco Chronicle in the 1870s. Read More

Off the Media

Exposing the Racket: A Simple Stunt Reveals How Blogs Will Print Anything for Pageviews

It doesn’t take Noam Chomsky to see that the state of media is bad.

But in 2011, I had the sense that most people didn’t fully grasp the absurd lows the system was spiraling toward. So I set out to illustrate it.

And in the process surprised even myself.

When I sold my first book of media criticism to Portfolio/Penguin, I decided to use the launch itself as an experiment. I even wrote some of the experiment into my book proposal and subsequent deal.

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Internet Drama

Violentacrez Admits He Did It All for ‘Meaningless Internet Points’ on Anderson Cooper 360

(Photo: CNN)

Michael Brutsch, the 49-year-old Texas resident whom Gawker outed last week as the man behind the racist and misogynistic Reddit troll account Violentacrez, is slated to appear tonight on Anderson Cooper 360.

In sound bites published to CNN’s Press Room blog, Mr. Brutsch speaks with CNN’s Drew Griffin about his experiences moderating the controversial subreddit Jailbait, where users posted sexualized photos of minors before it was shut down by Reddit last year. Read More