NBC stupidly shutting down Breaking News app, service
The decision, as it often does in the media business, came down to revenue. “Unfortunately, despite its consumer appeal, Breaking News has not been able to generate enough revenue to sustain itself,” Ascheim said in the letter supplied by NBC News. “We have therefore made the hard decision to close its operations so that we can re-invest that funding into NBC News’ core digital products to help us achieve our ambitious goals for those businesses.”
This is short-sighted. Web-based news isn’t generating revenue? No shit. Breaking News has been a standard-bearer of confirm-before-publishing and still manages to be ahead of every other news outlet’s attempt at a breaking news product.
I’d spend $2.99/month on this thing to keep it alive. Let’s say 1/4 of its Twitter followers would do the same. That’s $84.6 million in revenue right there.
Would that be sustainable?
NSA tracking cellphone locations worldwide
Barton Gellman and Ashkan Soltani, reporting at The Washington Post:
The NSA does not target Americans’ location data by design, but the agency acquires a substantial amount of information on the whereabouts of domestic cellphones “incidentally,” a legal term that connotes a foreseeable but not deliberate result.
Judge calls Google book-scanning fair use
Great news for fair use doctrine, and a big win for word geeks.
Judge Denny Chin said much in his ruling granting Google’s motion for summary judgment, but this part stuck out to me:
Google Books permits humanities scholars to analyze massive amounts of data — the literary record created by a collection of tens of millions of books. Researchers can examine word frequencies, syntactic patterns, and thematic markers to consider how literary style has changed over time.
The decision is up on Scribd. I shall geek out further about it after I have a chance to read it through.
A new kind of freelance journalism
This is essentially journalism à la carte: Peter Jukes offered to continue live-tweeting the News of the World phone-hacking trial if the crowd would fund it. Interest was strong enough to do just that, and his Indiegogo funders ordered up some trial coverage, funded through Christmas.
He’s probably not the first and certainly not the last, but I predict this is just the beginning of a trend and this sort of thing will be far more common in the years to come.
Correction: This blog correctly uses the same title I gave this post to describe this long-form article. So, it’s not so new, after all.
FBI asks DOJ to investigate source of Calderon leak to Al Jazeera
It could be that I’m new to the journalism industry and only recently interested in its developments. But it seems to me as if journalism and law are converging like never before, and on an international stage.
While Al Jazeera America is unlikely to face direct legal action, the American arm of the Qatari news network only launched in August 2013. It’s new, and if its current sources face investigation and potential federal charges, prospective sources may decide not to become sources at all.
States cite lack of federal progress in pursuit of privacy reform
Special interest groups oppose federal privacy reform to prevent onerous new regulations.
But this effort must, at some point, become counterproductive.
A multitude of state-specific privacy frameworks that, by (federal) law, can’t operate between states, must, at some point, become at least as onerous as new federal regulations.
Liberals, Tea Partiers unite to protest NSA in DC
The march attracted protesters from both ends of the political spectrum as liberal privacy advocates walked alongside members of the conservative Tea Party movement in opposition to what they say is unlawful government spying on Americans.
What a weird image.
Subscribe to The Brief if you like concise daily updates on the tech news that matters
The ads weren’t working, so The Brief is now accepting $3/month or $30/year memberships. The incredibly useful site by Richard Dunlop-Walters will remain free to all, but it’s continued existence is now predicated upon a sufficient number of its 3,000-plus current and future subscribers paying for a membership.
It’s well worth it, especially if you’re overwhelmed by RSS feeds, newsletters, and social networks as sources of technology news.