“A Safe Space for Entrepreneurs to Share Their Stories of Ascent”

(p. 1) Guy Raz is wrapping up an episode of How I Built This, his podcast about the origin stories of late capitalism, when his guest, the Israeli investor Haim Saban, gets to the good part. The throw-your-arms-aloft, finish-line moment of his personal business journey. In the story Mr. Saban is telling, he is about to make a lot of money, and then quadruple it into even more money.

Mr. Raz cuts in, astonished. “But half a billion dollars — that’s a lot of money,” he says. “I mean, wow.”

“Two billion is more,” Mr. Saban says.

“Was money — becoming really rich — did that motivate you?” Mr. Raz asks a moment later.

“You know, it wasn’t only money, but it was also money,” Mr. Saban says. “Money is a marker to success.”

There’s a moment like this in every episode of How I Built This. The guest has let his or her guard down and revealed something intimate, or financial, or financially intimate, and Mr. Raz keeps the disclosures rolling by reacting with total marvelment.

. . .

By creating a safe space for entrepreneurs to share their stories of ascent, Mr. Raz has become one of the most popular podcasters in history.

For the full story, see:

Nellie Bowles. “How Guy Raz Built ‘How I Built This’.” The New York Times, SundayBusiness Section (Sunday, November 25, 2018): 1 & 7.

(Note: ellipsis added. In the original, the word “more” is italicized.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Nov. 23, 2018, and has the same title as the print version.)

New York Times’s “Inexcusable” Reporting Ignored Sophia Farrar, Whose Actions Belied the Kitty Genovese Narrative

(p. A24) The story of Kitty Genovese, coupled with the number 38, became a parable for urban indifference after Ms. Genovese was stalked, raped and stabbed to death in her tranquil Queens neighborhood.

Two weeks after the murder, The New York Times reported in a front-page article that 37 apathetic neighbors who witnessed the murder failed to call the police, and another called only after she was dead.

It would take decades for a more complicated truth to unravel, including the fact that one neighbor actually raced from her apartment to rescue Ms. Genovese, knowing she was in distress but unaware whether her assailant was still on the scene.

That woman, Sophia Farrar, the unsung heroine who cradled the body of Ms. Genovese and whispered “Help is on the way” as she lay bleeding, died on Friday [Aug. 28, 2020] at her home in Manchester, N.J.

. . .

The murder was reported in a modest four-paragraph article in The Times. Two weeks later, its interest piqued by a tip from the city’s police commissioner, The Times produced a front-page account of the killing that transformed the murder into a global allegory for callous egocentrism in the urban jungle and undermined the innocent-bystander alibi.

. . .

That account — epitomized by one neighbor’s stated excuse that “I didn’t want to get involved” — galvanized outrage, became the accepted narrative for decades and even spawned a subject of study in psychology: how bystanders react to tragedy. Except that with the benefit of hindsight, the number of eyewitnesses turned out to have been exaggerated; none actually saw the attack completely; some who heard it thought it was a drunken brawl or a lovers’ quarrel; and several people said they did call the police.

. . .

In several retrospectives decades after the murder, The Times reassessed the original account, concluding that more neighbors might have heard Ms. Genovese’s screams than actually witnessed the attack. But only one Times article, during Mr. Moseley’s trial, even mentioned Mrs. Farrar’s name, reporting that she and Ms. Zielonko found the victim in the vestibule.

Since Mrs. Farrar was interviewed on camera in “The Witness,” though, among those who criticized The Times’s failure to report her presence in earlier accounts of the crime was Joseph Lelyveld, who was the executive editor of The Times in the 1990s. He has called the omission “inexcusable.”

For the full obituary, see:

Sam Roberts. “Sophia Farrar Dies at 92; Belied Indifference to Kitty Genovese Attack.” The New York Times (Friday, September 4, 2020): A24.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the obituary has the date Sept. 2, 2020, and has the same title as the print version.)

“Pessimism of the Intellect and Optimism of the Will”

(p. C4) Advertisers may have been peddling baubles or junk food, but their cash funded serious journalism — the kind that could afford to send a reporter to, say, every municipal board meeting. “People knew that,” the former editor of the once mighty Youngstown Vindicator told Sullivan, “and they behaved.” This watchdog function had tangible benefits for subscribers and nonsubscribers alike. “When local reporting waned,” Sullivan writes, “municipal borrowing costs went up.” Local news outlets provide the due diligence that bondholders often count on. Without the specter of a public shaming, corruption is freer to flourish.

. . .

“Ghosting the News” concludes with a soaring quote from the Italian theorist Antonio Gramsci about “pessimism of the intellect and optimism of the will,” but the local reporter in Sullivan follows it up with a more immediate analogy: Even if no one seems to be coming to the rescue while your house is on fire, you still have to “get out your garden hose and bucket, and keep acting as if the fire trucks are on the way.”

For the full review, see:

Jennifer Szalai. “Books of the Times; Another Endangered Species.” The New York Times (Thursday, July 30, 2020): C1 & C4.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date July 26, 2020, and has the title “Books of the Times; Yes, Fake News Is a Problem. But There’s a Real News Problem, Too.”)

The book under review is:

Sullivan, Margaret. Ghosting the News: Local Journalism and the Crisis of American Democracy. New York: Columbia Global Reports, 2020.

Founder of Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Newspaper: “We Will Persevere”

(p. A12) HONG KONG — After more than 200 police officers raided the newsroom of Hong Kong’s biggest pro-democracy newspaper, Apple Daily, a staff reporter messaged the editor in chief with a question: Should I still go to work?

“You decide,” the top editor, Ryan Law, replied. “This is the biggest news story in the world.”

The reporter hurried to the office. The Monday [Aug. 10, 2020] raid led reporters and editors to produce livestreams and more than two dozen articles that day about the police sweep. They detailed the arrest of the newspaper’s founder, Jimmy Lai, analyzed the legal implications of the crackdown, and covered the international outrage that it triggered.

“Apple will definitely keep fighting,” screamed a bold red banner headline in Tuesday’s edition.

. . .

On Wednesday [Aug. 12, 2020], Apple Daily staff took a brief moment to celebrate the return of Mr. Lai, their embattled owner, after he was released on bail.

Mr. Lai, who had been marched through his newspaper in handcuffs while police officers carried out the search on Monday [Aug. 10, 2020], was given a hero’s welcome. He bowed and waved as employees applauded and handed him a bouquet of flowers. Cheung Kim-hung, the Next Digital chief executive who had also been arrested, gave him a hug.

“We will persevere and just keep going,” Mr. Lai told the team.

For the full story, see:

Tiffany May and Austin Ramzy. “‘We Will Persevere’: A Newspaper Faces the Weight of a Crackdown.” The New York Times (Thursday, August 13, 2020): A12.

(Note: ellipsis, and bracketed dates, added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Aug. 12, 2020, and has the same title as the print version.)

“He Wrote Simple Declarative Sentences That People Could Read”

(p. B16) Steve Dunleavy, a hell-raising Australian who transfused his adrenaline into tabloid newspapers and television as a party crasher to American journalism, died on Monday [June 24, 2019] at his home in Island Park, N.Y.

. . .

He was said to have been the model for Wayne Gale, the manic Australian reporter played by Robert Downey Jr. in Oliver Stone’s 1994 film “Natural Born Killers.” But he gravitated closer to the Runyonesque characters in Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur’s play “The Front Page” from 1928.

. . .

After the actress Ava Gardner rejected his invitation to be interviewed at a nightclub and threw a glass of champagne in his face, he wrote an article that began: “Last night, I shared a glass of champagne with Ava Gardner. She threw it; I wore it.” Continue reading ““He Wrote Simple Declarative Sentences That People Could Read””

News Reports by A.I. Complement News Reports by Humans; Expanding Coverage of Routine Minor Recurring Events

(p. B1) As the use of artificial intelli-(p. B3)gence has become a part of the industry’s toolbox, journalism executives say it is not a threat to human employees. Rather, the idea is to allow journalists to spend more time on substantive work.

“The work of journalism is creative, it’s about curiosity, it’s about storytelling, it’s about digging and holding governments accountable, it’s critical thinking, it’s judgment — and that is where we want our journalists spending their energy,” said Lisa Gibbs, the director of news partnerships for The A.P.

. . .

In addition to leaning on the software to generate minor league and college game stories, The A.P., like Bloomberg, has used it to beef up its coverage of company earnings reports. Since joining forces with Automated Insights, The A.P. has gone from producing 300 articles on earnings reports per quarter to 3,700.

. . .

The A.P., The Post and Bloomberg have also set up internal alerts to signal anomalous bits of data. Reporters who see the alert can then determine if there is a bigger story to be written by a human being. During the Olympics, for instance, The Post set up alerts on Slack, the workplace messaging system, to inform editors if a result was 10 percent above or below an Olympic world record.

For the full story, see:

Jaclyn Peiser. “As A.I. Reporters Arrive, The Other Kind Hangs In.” The New York Times (Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019): B1 & B3.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Feb. 4, 2019, and has the title “The Rise of the Robot Reporter.”)

Rupert Murdoch’s Journalism Praised in New York Times

HolmesElizabethTheranosCEO2018-07-17.jpgElizabeth Holmes, former CEO of Theranos. (Apparently it takes more than a black turtleneck to be Steve Jobs.) Source of photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

(p. 13) In 2015, Vice President Joe Biden visited the Newark, Calif., laboratory of a hot new start-up making medical devices: Theranos. Biden saw rows of impressive-looking equipment — the company’s supposedly game-changing device for testing blood — and offered glowing praise for “the laboratory of the future.”

The lab was a fake. The devices Biden saw weren’t close to being workable; they had been staged for the visit.
Biden was not the only one conned. In Theranos’s brief, Icarus-like existence as a Silicon Valley darling, marquee investors including Robert Kraft, Betsy DeVos and Carlos Slim shelled out $900 million. The company was the subject of adoring media profiles; it attracted a who’s who of retired politicos to its board, among them George Shultz and Henry Kissinger. It wowed an associate dean at Stanford; it persuaded Safeway and Walgreens to spend millions of dollars to set up clinics to showcase Theranos’s vaunted revolutionary technology.
. . .
Even for a private company like Theranos, disclosure is the bedrock of American capitalism — the “disinfectant” that allows investors to gauge a company’s prospects. Based on Carreyrou’s dogged reporting, not even Enron lied so freely.
. . .
Holmes . . . pleaded with Rupert Murdoch — the power behind The Wall Street Journal and, as it happened, her biggest investor — to kill the story. It’s a good moment in American journalism when Murdoch says he’ll leave it to the editors.
. . .
Some of the directors displayed a fawning devotion to Holmes — in effect becoming cheerleaders rather than overseers. Shultz helped his grandson land a job; when the kid reported back that the place was rotten, Grandpa didn’t believe him. There is a larger moral here: The people in the trenches know best. The V.I.P. directors were nectar for investor bees, but they had no relevant expertise.

For the full review, see:
Roger Lowenstein. “This Will Only Hurt a Little.” The New York Times Book Review (Sunday, June 17, 2018): 13.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the review has the date May [sic] 21, 2018, and has the title “How One Company Scammed Silicon Valley. And How It Got Caught.”)

The book under review, is:
Carreyrou, John. Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2018.

Art Diamond Predicts a 40% Chance that Elon Musk Will Make It to Mars

(p. A1) What are the chances that readers will make it to the end of this article? About 40%.
If you do make it, that prediction will look smart. If you don’t, well, we said the odds were against it.
Such is the nature of the 40% rule, a favorite forecasting tactic of Wall Street analysts and other prognosticators trying to make a bold call without being too bold.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said last month there’s a 40% chance that Brexit will be reversed; Citigroup Inc. analyst Jim Suva wrote that there’s a 40% chance Apple Inc. buys Netflix Inc.; and Nomura Holdings Inc. economist Lewis Alexander said there’s a 40% chance Nafta gets ripped up.
The nice thing about 40% is that you never have to say you were wrong, says Peter Tchir, a market strategist at Academy Securities. Say you predict the Dow Jones Industrial Average has a 40% chance of hitting 30000 before year-end.
“Get it right and you can say ‘See, I was telling everyone it could happen,’ ” he says. “Get it wrong and you can weasel your way out: ‘I didn’t say it was likely, I just said it was a strong possibility.’ “

For the full story, see:
Winkler, Rolfe and Justin Lahart, “How Pundits Never Get It Wrong: Call a 40% Chance.” The Wall Street Journal (Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018): A1 & A10.
(Note: the online version of the article has the date Feb. 26, 2018, and has the title “How Do Pundits Never Get It Wrong? Call a 40% Chance.”)

Reporters Celebrate Union Before Losing Jobs

(p. A23) A week ago, reporters and editors in the combined newsroom of DNAinfo and Gothamist, two of New York City’s leading digital purveyors of local news, celebrated victory in their vote to join a union.
On Thursday [November 2, 2018], they lost their jobs, as Joe Ricketts, the billionaire founder of TD Ameritrade who owned the sites, shut them down.

For the full story, see:
ANDY NEWMAN and JOHN LELAND. “DNAinfo and Gothamist Shut Down After Workers Join a Union.” The New York Times (Tuesday, November 3, 2017): A23.
(Note: bracketed date added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date NOV. 2, 2017, and has the title “DNAinfo and Gothamist Are Shut Down After Vote to Unionize.” The online version says that the page number of the New York edition was A21. The page number of my edition, probably midwest, was A23.)

The Politically Correct Fight Against the Leprechaun of Notre Dame

180px-Notre_Dame_Leprechaun_logo.svg.png

Source of image: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Notre_Dame_Leprechaun

(p. A17) So it’s come to this: Leprechauns are hateful.

Not just any leprechauns, mind you. This particular one–hat cocked, chin out, dukes up–happens to be the mascot for the Fighting Irish of the University of Notre Dame. The little, green-suited man is now in the same politically correct crosshairs that recently locked onto the Cleveland Indians’ Chief Wahoo. And ESPN’s Max Kellerman has called on Notre Dame to follow the Indians’ lead and send this leprechaun back to the end of the rainbow where he belongs.
“Many Irish-Americans are not offended, but many are,” Mr. Kellerman said.
. . .
. . . , Mr. Kellerman understands the zeitgeist well. His argument that the 34 million Irish-Americans who are mostly untroubled by the Fighting Irish leprechaun must be forced to yield to the demands of one outraged Irish-American friend is as current as they come.
But in the case of Notre Dame, the more interesting question may be the one the ESPN analyst never asks. Each week on national TV, especially during football season, the Fighting Irish offer their own lesson in diversity. Instead of condemning a cartoon leprechaun, perhaps America ought to be applauding the healthy cultural appropriation that happens every time African-American, Asian-American and Latino athletes compete together wearing jerseys or helmets proudly proclaiming themselves “Irish.”

For the full commentary, see:
William McGurn. “Are Leprechauns Racist?; Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish offer some healthy cultural appropriation.” The Wall Street Journal (Tuesday, February 6, 2018): A17.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Feb. 5, 2018.)