Dear Marc and Lynne: Time Needs You.


The Benioffs join Bezos, Jobs, and others who’ve turned to publishing to cement their legacies. But a hands off approach isn’t what journalism needs right now.

Time cover trump king

The Los Angeles Times was the first newspaper I ever read – I even attended a grammar school named for its founding family (the Chandlers). Later in life I worked at the Times for a summer – and found even back then, the great brand had begun to lose its way.

I began reading The Atlantic as a high schooler in the early 1980s, and in college I dreamt of writing long form narratives for its editors. In graduate school, I even started a publication modeled on The Atlantic‘s brand – I called it The Pacific. My big idea: The west coast was a huge story in desperate need of high-quality narrative journalism. (Yes, this was before Wired.)

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Memo To Tech Leaders: It’s Time to Stand Up To The Bully In Chief.


Trump Fake news?Next week Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, and Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, will testify in front of Congress. They must take this opportunity to directly and vigorously defend the role that real journalism plays not only on their platforms, but also in our society at large. They must declare that truth exists, that facts matter, and that while reasonable people can and certainly should disagree about how to respond to those facts, civil society depends on rational discourse driven by an informed electorate.

Why am I on about this? I do my very best to ignore our current president’s daily doses of Twitriol, but I couldn’t whistle past today’s rant about how tech platforms are pushing an anti-Trump agenda.

Twitter’s Nuclear Option


If Twitter’s countermeasures fail in the run up to the mid-term election, they should prepare a nuclear option.

Russian intelligence distorted the democratic process of the 2016 Presidential Election by manipulating social media, and perhaps more. A tech backlash is in full swing, where the power of unintended and intended (ads) consequences wielded by platforms will be curbed. The management of these platforms has failed to self-regulate to date.

Twitter’s countermeasures have reduced the number of bot fakesters, and it does feel like there is less toxicity in the personalized feed. But in this information war there will always be new attack vectors on the attention and divisive outrage of the electorate. The same hacks are already happening to ready disinformation dumps.

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To Change the World, First Change the Way We Manage Our Employees


NewCo Shift Forum 2018/Ignite Series

The impact of digital and social technologies on business, media, culture and society.

Jen McClure is founder of Consultants Collective and a speaker, board member, and program manager at the Conference Board. In this Ignite session at Shift Forum, McClure urges employers to rethink how they manage their most precious asset — their employees. (The full overview of Shift Forum’s Ignite series is here).

Jen McClure: Hi, I’m Jen McClure. I’m going to be talking about the complex relationship between digital and social technologies and humans at work. This is actually a topic I’ve been thinking about for 14 years when I helped to organize the first Congress on the Future of Work back in 2004.

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The Biggest Voice In Advertising Finds Its Purpose


NewCo Shift Forum 2018

The Chief Brand Officer of P&G on Facebook, Google, and bringing true diversity to marketing.

Marc Pritchard and John Battelle during NewCo Shift Forum 2018

It isn’t easy being the CMO of any massive business — tenure is short, the demand for growth from Wall Street is relentless, and your budget is often the first to be cut. But that budget is also expected to drive that growth — an often contradictory challenge. Marc Pritchard, the Chief Brand Office of P&G, has been a CMO for more than ten years — so he must be doing something right. At the Shift Forum earlier this year, Pritchard explained his strategy for managing through significant disruption. When he started in his current role, Facebook was a tiny player, Twitter was a toy, and YouTube had no ad model.

What a difference a decade can make. In the transcript and video below, hear Pritchard on the Facebook/Google duopoly, the role of marketing as a change agent in society, and how he navigated a bruising proxy fight with a renown Wall Street raider.

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What to Do With Hulu?


Source | Flickr

The trend of disruption in traditional media and entertainment models seems to be growing stronger every day. It’s now commonplace to read about mega mergers between enormous companies, record contracts doled out to content producers, and newly minted businesses overseen by brilliant minds that promise to finally capitalize on the opportunity presented by new formats like mobile video.

In an environment where there are a virtually endless amount of interesting cases, though, one in particular stands out to me, Hulu. Sitting at an intersection of a few different pieces of the media environment, Hulu offers a unique case. It’s a streaming service, and it recently added a package with live TV. It boasts The Handmaid’s Tale, a show that won Outstanding Drama series before any show from Netflix or Amazon did, but it is not typically considered to be on the same tier as either of those players. It’s owned by Disney, 21st Century Fox, Comcast, and Turner, meaning that it has a major interest in how both the AT&T/Time Warner (Turner’s parent company) and Disney/21st Century Fox mergers play out. It has an impressive 17 million subscribers, and yet it lost a reported $920 million last year.

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The Automatic Weapons of Social Media


It’s time for the platforms to admit their response is flawed, and work together to protect our civil discourse.

image | Flicr

This is not an easy essay to write, because I have believed that technology companies are a force for good for more than 30 years. And for the past ten years, I’ve been an unabashed optimist when it comes to the impact of social platforms like YouTube, Twitter, and even Facebook. I want to believe they create more good than bad in our world. But recently I’ve lost that faith.

What’s changed my mind is the recalcitrant posture of these companies in the face of overwhelming evidence that their platforms are being intentionally manipulated to undermine our democracy. This is an existential crisis, both for civil society and for the health of the businesses being manipulated. But to date the response from the platforms is the equivalent of politicians’ “hopes and prayers” after a school shooting: Soothing murmurs, evasion of truly hard conversations, and a refusal to acknowledge the core problem: Their automated business models.

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The Day I Quit Journalism


I was frustrated by newspapers’ glacial transition to the web. Now I wish we could turn back the clock.

It was the summer of 2005, and I was a new college grad filled with anticipation and glee as I packed for the long trip from my childhood hometown to my brilliant, prosperous, tech-savvy future.

I’d been recruited for an internship at one of the nation’s Top 20 papers, thanks in large part to a line on my resume that touted my web development skills, which had started as a hobby and grown into a series of freelance gigs in high school and college. The newspaper industry was in an uproar because of the emergence of aggressive, low-overhead, web-based competitors, and the old guard of journalism was eager for anyone who could help. My web skill set allowed me to leapfrog my peers to bigger, better job opportunities, and I was eager to join the Internet revolution.

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Facebook Can’t Be Fixed.


Dept. of Acid Trips

Facebook’s fundamental problem is not foreign interference, spam bots, trolls, or fame mongers. It’s the company’s core business model, and abandoning it is not an option.


Mark Zuckerberg has announced his annual “personal challenge,” which in the past has ranged from eating meat he personally kills to learning Mandarin.

This year, his personal challenge isn’t personal at all. It’s all business: He plans to fix Facebook.

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Can Facebook Wait This One Out?


Unless Facebook and its peers take a bath on Wall Street, nothing will really change. Your move, advertisers.

On the very same day that Facebook’s general counsel faced an alarmingly combative set of Congressional hearings, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was presiding over a world-beating earnings call. The hearings ended with a push — Facebook and its colleagues Twitter and Google were given a firm dressing down, but it was mostly practiced theatrics. But Facebook’s earnings were a home run: The company reported its first ever quarter with more than $10 billion (yes, with a ‘b’) in earnings. The Facebook monopoly on our attention was on raw display, and its stock jumped 12 percent on the news.

During the call, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged the issues driving the Congressional inquiries. “Our community continues to grow and our business is doing well,” he declared at the very top of Facebook’s earnings release. “But none of that matters if our services are used in ways that don’t bring people closer together. We’re serious about preventing abuse on our platforms. We’re investing so much in security that it will impact our profitability. Protecting our community is more important than maximizing our profits.”

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