Journalists Want Their Money Back

Some career journalists must feel like disenfranchised aristocracy. The high overhead of printing and distribution used to make quality content as rare, and therefore as valuable, as gold. But today, journalism is far less exclusive. In principle, my audience is the same as the New York Times’.


Staring today’s democratic journalism in the eyes, the Nieman Foundation’s fall issue, serving journalism at Harvard University, asks if and how journalism as an industry can again differentiate itself, and how we can get back to making some do-re-mi.

Media guru (consultant) Robert Picard thinks journalists must begin earning their keep all over again. Plenty of industries have been replaced by new technologies, so what makes journalism so special? Reporters don’t even possess knowledge of a specialized skill—plumbers and electricians are laughing all the way to the bank—but rather have benefited from technology of a more limited scope than today’s Internet. Today journalists seem replaceable with educated, articulate people.

However, educated and articulate people are not necessarily one in the same with the public (need I say healthcare?).

A core value of journalism is to serve the public interest, but the public seems unconcerned about their most immediate interest—their local communities. Conversely, local reporting is just the kind of niche product not subject to gross re-reporting on every Internet media platform.

News culture is being homogenized. Google News lists lots of sources for the same (inter)national news event which all report basically the same facts, while at the same time local papers are going under. The true crisis of journalism is the replacement of local communities by national and international virtual ones.

Would the public pay for local/specialized news content online?

Antimicrobial resistance is a growing threat to good health and well-being

Antimicrobial resistance is growing worldwide, rendering many "work horse" medicines ineffective. Without intervention, drug-resistant pathogens could lead to millions of deaths by 2050. Thankfully, companies like Pfizer are taking action.

Image courtesy of Pfizer.
  • Antimicrobial-resistant pathogens are one of the largest threats to global health today.
  • As we get older, our immune systems age, increasing our risk of life threatening infections. Without reliable antibiotics, life expectancy could decline for the first time in modern history.
  • If antibiotics become ineffective, common infections could result in hospitalization or even death. Life-saving interventions like cancer treatments and organ transplantation would become more difficult, more often resulting in death. Routine procedures would become hard to perform.
  • Without intervention, resistant pathogens could result in 10 million annual deaths by 2050.
  • By taking a multi-faceted approach—inclusive of adherence to good stewardship, surveillance and responsible manufacturing practices, as well as an emphasis on prevention and treatment—companies like Pfizer are fighting to help curb the spread.
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An ancient structure visible from space isn’t man-made

Long hidden under trees, it's utterly massive

(Roy Funch)
Surprising Science
  • This 4,000-year-old structure can be seen from space and wasn't built by humans
  • It's made up of 200 million mounds of earth
  • It's still under construction today
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How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
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How Christians co-opted the winter solstice

Christmas has many pagan and secular traditions that early Christians incorporated into this new holiday.

Saturnalia by Antoine Callet
Culture & Religion
  • Christmas was heavily influenced by the Roman festival of Saturnalia.
  • The historical Jesus was not born on December 25th as many contemporary Christians believe.
  • Many staple Christmas traditions predated the festival and were tied into ancient pagan worship of the sun and related directly to the winter solstice.
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