On the Red Couch with Outside Lands Curator Jeben Berg

This weekend, San Franciscans will bundle up for their city’s biggest “summer” (it’s typically freezing) music festival, Outside Lands, in Golden Gate Park. The event brings together a killer lineup of bands and DJs, plus fancy food and drink—Winelands! Chocolands!—befitting a Portlandia episode.

But while the music wafts from stage to stage, and the chimichurri fries are going down, one thing remains tangible: the art. Art’s always been a part of the Outside Lands experience, in the form of live paintings, musical theater, art-performances and installations, and it’s only getting more sophisticated. The man responsible for figuring out what all that looks like is Jeben Berg.

See, it’s not enough to find talented artists, which Berg can do because he’s a plugged-in street artist himself and is working in collaboration with his buddies at Juxtapoz Magazine. (His day job is Creative Director at YouTube.) Artists have to build indestructible works that can withstand heavy, wet fog and the hoodied masses. Bonus points if they are inspired by the herd of bison that lives in the park (checkmark for the 2014 crew).

Go inside Outside Lands’ Outsider Art exhibit in this red couch interview with Montana-born Berg, and get a taste of a few of his new Flipboard magazines:

I feel like Outside Lands was one of the first “fancy festivals”: fancy food, fancy wine, this great art…Now other festivals are adopting elements of that. How’d that happen?
What Outside Lands has tried to do is cater to the expectations of the locals. San Francisco is pretty sophisticated. It has high culinary and entertainment expectations, and Northern California has some of the finest wines in the world.

Outside Lands will always primarily be about the big stage and the big performers that come through—this year we got Kanye West and Tom Petty—but it has to be different from other festivals, too, because by the time Outside Lands comes around [in August], people have already been to Coachella, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo…

With regards to the art scene at festivals, is it getting competitive? I saw that Shepard Fairey curated for Lollapalooza this year.
It becomes competitive for the artists’ time, to commit to doing something for each festival. The budgets are never huge, so the artists have to really want to be a part of it. We do our best. It’s one of the reasons why the partnership with Juxtapoz is so important. Juxtapoz brings a lot of credibility and noteworthiness for an artist. If they get into the magazine, it’s a big deal to them.

Art is always competitive by nature—that’s what drives it forward. The most coveted art place inside of Outside Lands is—and this has been going on for four months for me already—the scrims on the sides of the stages. It doesn’t pay a lot but seeing your artwork blown up to 50-feet tall, on the side of a stage that Kanye West or whoever is on…it’s amazing.

It all goes through a huge committee. For every piece of art, [we ask ourselves], Is it good for everybody? Is it uniquely San Francisco? Has the work ever been used commercially before? Does it represent our values?

Well, what are those values?
San Francisco has a history of street art, but not necessarily graffiti, so we try not to be heavy with graffiti, though we use elements of it. A lot of the artists have made careers doing graffiti art, but they have also evolved and matured.

Now, not everybody can live paint. It takes a special talent. They’ve got about seven hours, from noon to 7pm, to complete a 28-foot-long by 8-foot tall painting, which is not a simple task. Some people work in teams. N8 Van Dyke and Sam Flores always do something together. That’s like the collaboration of the year. Other people, like Apex, want the entire wall to themselves; he doesn’t want anybody else touching it, and he is going to handle it from beginning to end.

San Francisco has a history of psychedelic art, so psychedelic stuff is cool. It definitely can’t promote violence, can’t denigrate anyone, and is certainly not critical of anything in particular. You’re not going to see an anti-war slogan but you might see a slogan about the benefits of unity and humanity. It’s the same metaphor, just the other side of it.

Bright colors. For the live painters, this is what I always tell them: “Imagine when you are driving on the freeway and you look out and you see a train going past you, and you see some graffiti that is on the train. If it is small and really complex, it doesn’t mean anything to you, so imagine that you are seeing something from 1,000 feet away and it makes sense.”

There are two big tunnels that come into [Outside Lands'] polo field, and you don’t realize it but they are about 100 feet long, each one. We had Mike Giant do it the first year, and a local gallerist, Andres Guererro, and his crew who have painted the tunnels for the past three years are handling it again. They are responsible for several high profile murals around SF. They do these giant, beautiful, letters and characters; it’s a very identifiable style and very welcoming.

So, [the values are] fun, high-spirited, nothing dower, with the exception of, like, a few medieval death wizards.

What else do you have to consider in putting the collection together?
Outside Lands is cold. I have tried to build things that become wind protection. [There were these] crystalline things: I’d go by there, and there were like eight people inside shivering in sweatsuits and hoodies. You have to think about these things.

Every year, the pieces evolve. We started with a concept about benches (because there’s nowhere to sit at Outside Lands) that went from giant furniture with smoke balls and succulents, to these high-backed conceptual pieces of furniture that you’ve never seen before: a series of psychedelic SF-styled Adirondack chairs well suited for comfortably watching artists tackle a big wall while sipping your beer.

Who are you looking forward to hearing musically? Do you get to enjoy the music?
Sure, I get to enjoy the music—the energy at Twin Peaks [stage] is usually the top. I am dying to see Kanye West because every time I’ve had the opportunity to see him, I have kind of ignored him [but I know] he’s a massive showman. I missed Macklemore the first time he was at Outside Lands, and so I want to see him this year. I’m a hip-hop guy.

Of course I’m also looking forward to seeing Tom Petty because it is nostalgia and I will know every song that he is going to play.

What I found when it comes to EDM is that those artists tend to build the piece of art that is on their stage. Look at what Deadmau5 or Daft Punk does—to me that is performance art at the highest level, and I love it.

~MiaQ is reading “rANDom curATion
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Spotlight On: The Many Facets of Brazil

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Whenever I say I am from Brazil, I usually get a big smile and comments about soccer and the country’s beautiful beaches. The friendly attitude of many Brazilians and the amazing landscapes of South America’s largest and only Portuguese-speaking country are well known.

But Brazil has many facets that go beyond carnival, samba and futbol.

You can’t define a place with a single broad stroke, and this is especially true for Brazil. With its paradisiac beaches, delicious food, creative music, infamous favelas and deep social problems, Brazil is a country of striking contrasts. It has a vast supply of natural resources, yet suffers with poverty and social inequality. It has a sophisticated business sector and a large consumer market, but it lags behind in global education and infrastructure. It’s an enormous country with searing heat in the north to snow in the south, and amazes visitors with the modernity of its megacities and the wilderness of its Amazon rainforest.

After over a decade living in the U.S., there are things I miss about Brazil: the solidarity, sensuality, joy and openness that are hallmarks of its people. But I’m glad that my job as a Flipboard curator allows me to keep in touch with Brazil’s culture and readers. Here are some magazines that remind me of home:

Brazil-Brasil-Brasile-Brésil-Brasilien by Bia Valle: Facts, figures and fun about Brazil.

Oh Brazil! by Bibi Voyles: News and insights on Brazil.

Travel Diary Brazil by Flipboard Photo Desk Presented By Microsoft: Photo essays created during the World Cup, documenting the many faces and places in the country.

Graffiti, Street Art & Mural Brazil by RedeFric: Brazilian creativity stamped in the streets.

Awesome Capoeira by Gloria Lin: The beauty and flow of Brazilian dance-fighting.

Travel Brazil by Tony Galvez: News, info and travel tips.

To learn more about Flipboard’s Brazilian community, check out our Inside Flipboard Brasil blog, follow @Flipboard_BR on Twitter and our Flipboard Brasil page on Facebook. (That’s right: for ultimate authenticity, Brasil is written with an “s” in Portuguese.)

~CarolF is curating “Brasil
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Life in Letters: The Paris Review Pairs With Flipboard

Originally conceived in the City of Lights, The Paris Review has become an institution for the world of arts and letters. Founded in 1953 by writer and journalist George Plimpton, the New York-based quarterly celebrates fiction, poetry, narrative non-fiction and the visual arts without prejudice—inside the Review’s hallowed pages, there is no distinction between everyday life and the life of the artist.

Nowhere is that more evident than in their excellent interview series. Giving writers a wide berth to talk about their own lives, the Review’s archive of conversations chart the course of over 50 years of introspection and self-analysis from some of literature’s leading minds: from the paradoxical Jorge Borges (“I don’t think ideas are important,”) to the polarizing Jonathan Franzen (“I like attention,”) the interviews stand as the “single most persistent acts of cultural conservation in the history of the world.”

As part of its mission to make literature accessible to all, The Paris Review brings its treasure trove of reads to Flipboard. Discover the art of fiction with just a tap:

~ShonaS is reading “Five O’ Clock Mag – The Method
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WW1 Centenary Is Remembered on Flipboard

One hundred years ago today, Britain made a life-changing decision, declaring war on Germany in defense of its friend and neighbor, Belgium. Serbia and Austria-Hungary were already in conflict over the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Bosnian student Gavrilo Princip. Russia supported Serbia so a threatened Germany declared war on Russia.

Over the following four years, country after country signed up to partake in combat across the fields of Europe. With so many nations participating, the fighting of the Great War lasted longer than anticipated, and with a much greater loss of life. The Battle of the Somme in 1916 saw 200,000 die in one day alone.

Four years of fighting, 16 million lives lost, 135 countries involved. These magazines remember those times:

Telegraph First World War Centenary by The Telegraph: A look back at the outbreak of WW1 via original publications and modern interpretations.

Australia in the Great War by Chris Dunn: Australia joined the war as Britain’s ally, losing 60,000 troops in the conflict. This magazine reflects on the country’s time at war.

World War One Collection by Adrian Van Klaveren: Reviews WW1 history and commemorations.

The Great War (WW1) by Andrew Cowan: Insightful images from the frontlines and beyond.

WWI & WWII by Theresa Coble: Six curators work together to collect articles pertaining to two of the last century’s major conflicts.

World War I. 1914 – 1918 by Haralampos A. Zarotiades: A unique insight into the Great War through maps and other images.

~JessE is reading is reading “Summer Food and Fun
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The Week in Review: Marijuana Goes Mainstream

In recent years, American social policy became a very sticky subject. Issues ranging from gay marriage to gun ownership are hotly politicized, and candidates seeking office cannot hope to win without offering their stance on matters of personal freedom.

Pot is a complicated story. Long considered politically taboo, marijuana’s gone mainstream thanks to pop culture. Casually peppered throughout music and movies, the mere act of lighting up raises few eyebrows. Consider this: 45 years ago only 12% of Americans favored legalization; today that number has quadrupled.

While Colorado’s move to legalize recreational cannabis use this year was contentious and problematic, the eight-month-old program has been hailed a success—and a financially beneficial one at that. But that doesn’t mean the political perils have diminished.

It makes us wonder: which other once-verboten issues will lose their stigma? How will the political debate evolve? To find out, we took a look at some pressing social issues being debated on Flipboard:

High Time by The New York Times: The New York Times editorial board came out in strong support of marijuana legalization. For the past week they’ve been gathering up their reasons and rationales, all in one magazine.

Marijuana Today by timothyhites: How does the rest of the world feel about marijuana? And do they practice what they preach? You’d be surprised.

The War on Drugs: Consumption, Conflict, & Control: The war on drugs was a program enacted during the presidency of Ronald Reagan. But that was more than 20 years ago. Did it succeed? Read on.

Social Issues by ltpone: Some consider “personal freedom” a matter of public debate. And others think what they do in their own homes is their business. Where’s the line? See if you can spot it in this magazine.

Social Security and Social Policy by Keith Fitzgerald: Before other issues took the stage, social justice revolved around inequality. What’s changed? Take a look.

Gun Policy & Violence by urbanvole: If there’s a more contentious social issue than marijuana, it’s gun control. See what states are doing around the country to deal with this ongoing debate.

~ShonaS is curating “Engineered Garments
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What I’m Reading: The Splendid Table

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It’s hardly an exaggeration to say that Americans are obsessed with food. But it’s a recent phenomenon. Where older generations didn’t deviate far from traditional American staples, our appetite today reflects the layered diversity of a modern nation—think salad bowl, not melting pot.

Today when we talk about food, we’re also talking about culture. Our consideration for the farm-to-table movement or the ethical treatment of animals is evidence that our hunger has developed alongside our intellect. We now want food writers and enthusiasts to share more than recipes: we want them to tell us about who we are as a people.

One of the most engaging and accessible programs to meet this broad charge is American Public Media’s The Splendid Table, hosted by Lynne Rossetto Kasper. In their celebration of food, the weekly radio program wants to “explore the culture, the science, the history, the back stories and the deeper meaning that come together every time people sit down to enjoy a meal.” We recently asked their web editor, Andy Kruse, to explain how The Splendid Table sifts through the world of food on Flipboard:

Flipboard started for us as an outlet for the links we used to share privately with each other. The Splendid Table only releases podcast episodes once a week and those spots are booked sometimes months in advance, but we wanted to provide a more lively stream of the topics we were reading about and considering for future segments. So now I round up all of the articles that our producers pass around in email, Slack channels and Gchats to make this curated magazine.

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At first, I leaned heavily on the bookmarklet to flip from my desktop browser. Because that’s what I do all day: sit at a desk. We were export-only, finding good writing and good recipes via traditional means and passing them along.

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Gradually, though, I started to use Flipboard not just to admire my work but also as a tool for discovery. I could kick back with an iPad and appreciate my Flipboard home screen as a way to filter Twitter — to cut out the jokes and subtweets and get right to the beautiful photography behind shared links.

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So now, the first thing I tap on is the Twitter list of The Splendid Table’s staff and contributors. It’s a good check of what Melissa Clark is working on for The New York Times or what Noelle Carter is writing for The Los Angeles Times. But mostly, the list is populated by two prolific tweeters: Splendid Table producer Jennifer Russell, and David Leite of Leite’s Culinaria.

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We always find good things from The Kitchn and Bon Appetit, from Modern Farmer and Garden & Gun. Andrew Schloss has some interesting takes on slow-cooking. The work J. Kenji Lopez-Alt does in his Food Lab is amazing. You have to flip a few more pages, but there are often food crossover reads from Wired, Fast Company, and our buddies at Marketplace.

The next magazines we’re planning to curate for Flipboard are in specialized niches, akin to Bon Appetit’s Sriracha Central. We have a DIY recipe category on our website that includes all the store-bought items that would be better made at home. It both dips into our archive and sees regular additions, so I think it would make a nice magazine. Also: Christmas cookies.

For more of The Splendid Table’s curated culinary finds, flip through their magazine on Flipboard:

~ShonaS is curating “Compulsive & Conscious
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The Week in Review: Why Millennials Matter

Ranging in age from 14 to 34, the millennial generation is a study in contrasts. In spite of their technological savvy, liberal politics and college diplomas, the group is often accused of being self-absorbed, easily distracted and even deluded. But the evidence might be premature.

While a rough economy’s to blame for their chronic unemployment, millennials are “making their mark on higher education” to halt the problem. Concerned about the government’s ability to “combat injustices,” the group has become more civically engaged than their elders. And if you’re wondering whether or not they’re narcissists, at least they’re plenty self-aware.

As the world’s largest generation, millennials will continue to leave an impression. To see who they are—and what they’ve already achieved—explore these standout magazines on Flipboard.

Millennial Generation by Francisco Kemeny: Even though the highly individualistic millennial shirks most trends, there are certain similarities within the group. See if you can spot some here.

Higher Education by Arthur R. Smith: An exceedingly well-educated bunch, Generation Y is making strides to change the future of education. In this mag, see what the future holds for higher learning.

Tech Savvy by Noneofyour Businesssir: Practically raised online, millennials were born early adopters. Today they’re responsible for some of technology’s greatest innovations. Like what? Read on.

Economy Watch by Jerry Bucknoff: After the recession began in 2008, millennials were thrust into an uncertain job market. While things have gotten marginally better, joblessness continues to plague young Americans. Is there hope? For a brighter perspective, look here.

Social Media Updates by Juan Hernandez: For twenty and thirty-somethings, social media profiles can be more indicative of reality than, well, reality. But establishing a code of conduct has been a tricky, troublesome feat. In this magazine, watch as social media matures.

Youth Tech And Science by Brian Bailey: Marijuana legalization, the world’s most expensive potato salad and Instagram filters—these are just some of the concerns floating inside the average millennial’s mind. And when you take a closer look, they’re far from trivial, as this magazine demonstrates.

~ShonaS is reading “The Different Drummer
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Breaking a 700-Year-Old Tradition: The American Islamic Gospel Drummer

When the Islamic holy month of Ramadan wraps up at the end of July, a small group of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims will celebrate with the the sounds of Qawwali, an ancient, trance-like form of devotional music.

The 700-year-old gospel is a lesser-known offshoot of the world’s second-largest religion, and comes from Sufism, the mystical sect of Islam. Indeed, music itself is frowned upon by fundamentalist Muslims so the very fact of Qawwali is at odds with Islamic culture. And yet, for centuries, Qawwali has been heavily played in the rural pockets of India and Pakistan, where it continues to thrive. During the past few decades, this music has made its way to the West—and it’s recruiting the most unlikely people to continue the tradition.

They’re folks like Jessica Ripper, a blond-haired, blue-eyed American from Oregon, who is rapidly establishing herself as a first-class tabla player with Fanna-Fi-Allah, a western Qawwali group based in Nevada City, Calif. “People would say I was out of my mind for doing this—which I could agree with,” she said.

Tap on the Flipboard Story below to read, watch and hear about Ripper—the world’s first female American Qawwal—and the obstacles she faced while in Pakistan, as well as the performance that would make history.

~NajibA is curating “Neat Stuff”
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Editor’s Note: Connect your device to a WiFi network for an optimized experience. Begin by tapping into each article and reading the excerpt where presented. At the conclusion of each article, flip to the SoundCloud file and tap play. Wait for the audio to begin, and then flip through the section until you reach the next article excerpt. Tap to Read, then tap to listen and flip. Then repeat.

This format only works in-app, on phones and tablets, and is not available on the Web.


The photos were shot by the author in Nevada City, Calif. Additional and archival materials were provided courtesy of Ripper, Fanna-Fi-Allah and additional content was used from YouTube users fakharbloch, parrdessi and SayyanSQ.

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“Deep Dive” on Immigration

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Faced with a life in poverty, of violence and far from their families, over 57,000 unaccompanied minors have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border since October 2013. The uptick in illegal immigration has thrust the issue into the national conversation as politicians debate, Americans protest and thousands of children face an uncertain future.

Just this month, President Barack Obama urged Congress to authorize $3.7 billion in emergency funds for border security, deportations and humanitarian needs; Texas Gov. and potential Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry called up National Guard troops to man his state’s border; and protesters took to the streets across the country, including in Michigan, California, Texas and Maryland.

This issue is only growing—as both a humanitarian crisis and a game of political football. That’s why it is the subject of our second “Deep Dive” (an in-depth look at a person or issue dominating the news). In this magazine you’ll find the latest immigration news, stances and profiles of the major players in the debate, opinion and analysis from influencers, first-hand accounts from those directly impacted by the ongoing situation, and other Flipboard magazines about the issue.

Let us know what topics you’re curious about by writing to featured@flipboard.com, and we’ll do our best to include them in a future deep dive.

~GabyS is reading “The Daily Briefing”
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On the Red Couch with Nieman Journalism Lab’s Joshua Benton

For over twenty years, Nieman Journalism Lab director Joshua Benton has kept a close watch on the intersection of journalism and technology. Originally from Louisiana, Benton built websites in college for beer money while serving as editor of his school paper. After graduation, he was a full-time reporter for the Dallas Morning News and Toledo Blade, where he tried his hand at several beats: investigative reporting, foreign correspondence and even rock criticism.

Unlike some of his peers, Benton’s long believed that the web can deliver better journalism. In an effort to study that claim, he founded the Nieman Lab at Harvard to “help journalism figure out its future.” We spoke with him about how things are shaping up:

As the editorial director for a site that essentially reports on reporting, how do you determine what’s interesting to a cross-section of people?
Nieman Lab is part of Harvard, and we have an academic mandate in addition to an audience mandate. There are no ads on Nieman Lab, so we don’t have to gin up page-views.

We consider our beat to be innovation in journalism—that could be innovation in reporting, distributing, how news gets discovered, shared, or paid for. An ideal story identifies someone interesting who has an interesting idea, and is trying to execute it. The story then tries to understand the “thing” behind it in ways that others might be able to learn from it.

From an economics perspective, I think innovation is said to be most useful when it delivers more value for less money. Do you see that happening in journalism?
I remember a time before the internet! (Laughs) Growing up in a small town in south Louisiana, my sources of news were extraordinarily limited.

It’s worth stepping back and seeing how much better it is now. It’s uncomfortable in some cases, but it’s leaps and bounds ahead of whatever we would have thought was possible 20 or 30 years ago.

Online distribution is a big part of how you reach an audience. It’s no longer geographic: it’s tied to interests, social networks, discovery platforms that are quite different from what was there before. That’s meant that it requires a different set of skills.

That’s one reason why someone like Flipboard can be a disruptive force because you allow stories to reach audiences on a different platform, using a different visual paradigm that a lot of people like.

A brand like The New York Times has a respected legacy. How can new media communicate that kind of trust to readers in a short amount of time?
One thing the web made very clear was that the artificial feeling we used to have about “getting it all” or “reading it all” was a lie. When a newspaper comes in one package and you can get to the end of it, you have this sense that, “I’ve seen the news today! I’m done.”

The web made it clear that you were never done, that there were lots of things that you didn’t have access to. Part of it is figuring out ways to surface the content you’re producing that best connects with the audience member that you’re trying to reach.

What about your own media habits? What entices you to want to read something? Is there an underlying logic?
A lot of people who would have been reading a print product 20 years ago are probably now reading Facebook newsfeeds or reading things that are not news by the traditional definition. You don’t read news to understand everything in the universe because that’s impossible.

Jay Hamilton’s All the News That’s Fit to Sell says there are four basic types of information: producer information, consumer information, entertainment information, and civic or voter information.

He points out that all those types get a direct return on their investment of time. If you learn more stuff, you’ll make more money, or make a better buying decision, or be entertained. The return is a lot more nuanced. He suggests that you need to find ways to include information in that fourth category into those first three categories for certain kinds of people.

Do you find yourself watching TV with a laptop or a tablet next to you? Are you easily distracted?
(Laughs) Who is alive in 2014 with a broadband connection who isn’t easily distracted? I’ll wait for the commercials to see what everyone on my specially-created “Watching Football” Twitter list is saying.

I don’t think I’m punishing myself. I want to see what other people think about that terrible pass, or whether there was something I didn’t understand. It’s why watching a game in a sports bar can be an enjoyable experience because you’re getting the direct experience, but you’re also getting the feeling of being part of a community of people who are engaged in the same act that you are.

Sometimes social media presents news without context. Where does curation fit into all of this?
A newspaper was both a creator of content and the curator. [Editors] decided what were the important stories.

Increasingly, those two jobs are separated. In part that’s because the content producers have missed the opportunity to also be the content filters. If you’re a media producer, you view it as a financial incentive to get as much consumption of your content as possible. That’s left bloggers and folks like Gawker and Buzzfeed and social media to take on the curatorial role, which is really, really valuable. A lot of journalists get hung up on the idea that they’re leeches, attaching themselves to other content, and on a certain level—that’s true. But you can beat the game.

That’s how news organizations viewed their role: if you were an editor, you very much considered it your job to say, “Here are a thousand things. I’m going to pick six things that should be on the front of tomorrow’s paper.” That’s part of the job.

Do you think that writing or creating original content is sustainable? What kind of advice do you give to young, writerly types?
If you buy into the model of how businesses get disrupted, it’s that folks come in at the bottom end, do stuff that looks really cheap or low-quality, but over time they use technical advantages to move up market and do better stuff, to increase quality, and supplant the incumbents.

I’m of the belief that you’ll see sites that start off producing lists of cat pictures and then evolve into having a newsroom with two hundred people in it, to writing big, long-form investigations, and you see that in lots of places already.

People also have to have some reason to go to your site on a regular basis, or open your app, or click on a link. You need that angle—get out of the voice of God, and talk to people like they’re human.

To see journalism “thrive and survice in the Internet age,” look no further than the Nieman Journalism Lab:

~ShonaS is curating “Kitchen Confidential
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