When journalists step over the line: the Julia Ioffe incident

The Trump era is a rough time for journalists. No matter how much they’re provoked, if they show too much bias and disrespect, they could lose their jobs, even for a single tweet. That’s what happened to Julia Ioffe at Politico, and it’s a revealing case study. I’ll get to what Ioffe did in a moment. … Continued

How a tweetstorm can punch up your writing style

Yesterday, we saw two incredible tweetstorms: NYU Professor Jay Rosen shared his thoughts on the unique challenges for journalists covering Donald Trump, while strategic analyst Eric Garland explained the rationale behind Russian hacking. Their tweetstorms reveal a new, disciplined way of writing, with no room for bullshit. Here’s what you can learn from writing a … Continued

The boycott war has descended into madness

The divisions in the country have spilled over into commerce, with calls to boycott businesses from Nordstrom’s to Kellogg’s. Feel free to boycott businesses that backed a candidate you despise. But draw the line at extending those boycotts up the supply chain, because that way lies madness. After the most vitriolic election in memory, the country … Continued

YouGov survey: People think 56% of what they read is bullshit

With the help of YouGov, I got to ask more than 1,000 people how much bullshit they saw in the things they read. It varies, with an average of 56%. And it’s about the same across a variety of demographic categories. YouGov has a massive panel of people who answer online surveys: 1.5 million people. They gave … Continued

To Jeffrey D. Sachs: sprinkling tech on politics makes it worse, not better

In an op-ed in today’s Boston Globe, the influential economist Jeffrey D. Sachs laments the lack of trust in modern American politics. He then proposes that we solve it with (among other things) “e-parties” and “e-governance.” But proposals like this ignore the way that trolls and partisans now wreck every online social space. Sachs’ op-ed, … Continued

CIA director-designate Mike Pompeo uses passive voice to justify a power grab

Passive voice in opinion pieces is pernicious: it hides who actually is supposed to do stuff. Donald Trump’s choice for CIA director, Mike Pompeo, repeatedly used this technique in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. When you’re advocating surveillance and data collection, we want to know who’s doing it — but Pompeo uses passive misdirection to focus on terrorists … Continued

Flummoxed by Trump, The New York Times says “We’re fine, really.”

Trump’s shifting positions, outlandish policies, and tweets criticizing the media that covers him have challenged organizations like The New York Times. After predicting Hillary Clinton would win the election, the Times is having an identity crisis. Now they’ve emailed their subscribers to say “Hey, we’re doing fine.” The letters communicate the exact opposite. The Times asks subscribers … Continued

Amazing! Facebook solves fake news problem! (Not really.)

The problem of fake news on Facebook is now a news story. The last few days have seen tons of articles about it, most misleading or wrong. Ironically, these are exactly the kind of articles that spread virally, with misleading headlines. The headlines I show here are real, only the articles don’t match the headlines (yup, clickbait). None … Continued