Takeaways: November 2021

18 Nov, 2021



November 2021

SCARY: The New York Times reports with horror the “avalanche” of money flowing into political campaigns this year, with $450 million being spent on House and Senate races in the third quarter. The Newspaper of Record also calls this “dizzying amount” a “glut,” which — technically speaking — means the supply exceeds the demand, which doesn’t make much sense unless those two variables could also be determined. In any case, keeping the matter in some perspective, it’s 4.5% of what Americans this year spent on Halloween candy, decorations and other necessities.

WORTH READING: In All the News That’s Fit to Click: How Metrics Are Transforming the Work of Journalists, Caitlin Petre shows how the work of reporters at The New York Times, Gawker and other news organizations is increasingly driven by clicks, likes, comments and shares. The Rutgers professor examines this new form of “managerial surveillance and discipline,” but also shows how some journalists seem to thrive on how their “scores” boost the visibility of their reporting.

AN OPEN BOOK? The new big thing with some small tech firms is “radical transparency,” but it has its limits. A health startup called Levels, for example, “posts weekly team meetings, strategy documents and investor updates online, where you can see everything from revenue numbers and fundraising targets to hiring plans and web traffic,” Protocol reports, “albeit with a 12-month delay.” Buffer, a social media management company, even releases information on salaries. The CEOs of those companies admit that such disclosure will become more difficult as their businesses grow, and that some information — about pending agreements, for example — can’t be released. Mike Ananny, a University of Southern California journalism professor, sees merit in the movement but nonetheless warns against “transparency as theater or as performance.”

ROYALTY CALLING: If you want to influence members of the U.S. Senate, try cold-calling ’em. It might help, of course, if you’re royalty, which Meghan Markle is, kind of. Well, what would you do if you got a call — as West Virginia’s Shelley Moore Capito has — where the voice on the other end says, “This is Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex”? She has been lobbying for paid family leave and prefers the direct approach. “I was happy to talk with her,” says Susan Collins, who also got a call. “But I’m more interested in what the people of Maine are telling me about it.” Capito wondered “how [Meghan] got my number.” Turns out New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand was the source. In an open letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the duchess reminded them of her humble origins. She grew up “on the $4.99 salad bar at Sizzler … and I felt lucky.” You can say that again, your grace.

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