Monthly archive

June 2005 - page 2

Just like in the old days of Pegasus

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Great WSJ column on the (d)evolution of news. My favorite part is the punchline:

And at the risk of sounding old
ourselves, we’re not so worried about the under-30 set and its supposed
allergy to substantive news. If a time machine could whisk us back to
ancient Sumeria, we bet you we’d find the stampers of the Daily
Cuneiform pulling their beards and muttering that kids these days are
interested almost exclusively in frivolous things: the hot new
Gilgamesh adventure, putting away too many bowls of fermented barley
beverage, and the doings of other youth, as opposed to worrying about
crumbling canals and what the Hittites are up to.

Then as now, time passes and one finds oneself part of
a family and communities of all stripes, from the personal to the
political, with news part of the lifeblood of all those communities.
It’ll be waiting for today’s youth when they need it, just as it always
has been. Only this time those new devourers of news will have better
tools than any generation before them.

We  hope think that we’re building some of those tools.

"Counting copies is a dopey way to gauge impact"(Reason #6,782)

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Remember when I got my free subscription to Men’s Journal along with my plane ticket and hotel room for the Citizen’s Media confab in San Francisco?

Now I know that back-serving issues on a new subscription is a trick as old as time. But today I got the July, June and May issues rubber-banded together.

A subscription I didn’t even really want, and now three full issues at one time. And I’m counted as paid circ.

The thudding sound is three issues of MJ hitting my wastebasket.

Hedline quote: Ed Wasserman

Back in town bullets

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Back from our sojurn to meet with the developers. Lots going on in the world while we were gone:

C is for cookies(And they're good enough for me)

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Cookies are a very important tool in creating "The Daily Me." But
abusers of the technology have brought cookies under fire, and many anti-spyware programs delete even the "good cookies." That’s an annoyance in the cases where the cookies make your life easier. (Do you really want to have to enter username and password every day on every site you visit on your personal computer?)

Safecount is dedicated to making the web safe for marketers who realize that "cookies are a sometimes treat" and consumers who want to enjoy their benefits. They’ve got a petition up, and are taking a stand against a proposed "Good Samaritan" provision that would let anti-spyware companies keep releasing software that deletes even the cookies you want to keep. I just signed it, despite its vague language.

And before you hit post on that comment telling me what to do with my cookies, read this article from Reason, which was the spark that lit the fire of our efforts to create a hyperlocal news service that could provide highly targeted advertising and residual business intelligence.

Roadtrip!

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Team Pegasus is going on a roadtrip to meet with our development team, so no new posts here until at least Saturday.

In the meantime, here’s something to discuss in the comments:

In a totally science fiction world, without constraints of current technology —

What one piece of information about your neighborhood (that you can’t get now) would you most love to be able to find with a single mouseclick?

Back to business bullets

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Remember when we used to write about local media issues, technology and our impending launch– back before this briefly turned into an animal issues blog? Well, we’re back to that.

20/20 v. SPCA TOC

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Before leaving this topic and getting back to building the New New New Media, I thought I’d compile a list of links and sources into one post for ease of use. (I will update the "factcheck" post as new information comes to light, and will note it here.)

Also, for those who don’t have the time and/or energy to delve through all of this, here’s the synopsis: Last Friday, 20/20 ran a piece that was very critical of several local SPCA’s, most prominently featuring the SPCA of Texas.

I am not involved with the Texas SPCA in any way whatsoever: I’ve never given them a nickel; I don’t know their leaders; and I’ve never adopted an animal from them. However, I was amazed that no local media organization was really diving into this issue, so I decided to investigate.

I found that the 20/20 piece was filled with inaccuracies, half-truths and misleading statements that unfairly portrayed the Texas SPCA as a group profiteering on seizing animals from owners. ABC is not responding to me, or to other groups trying to get their response on this. I found no evidence to support various conspiracy theories on the Internet as to the motivations of the producer or the undercover vet on the piece, so I am left to surmise that this was just a case of shoddy journalism motivated either by laziness, lack of resources or hunger for ratings.

The one thing that the 20/20 piece did bring to light that concerns me is that Texas law does not allow appeals in animal seizure cases where the animal is turned over to a rescue group or killed. I think that’s an arbitrary distinction and violation of due process and I intend to write to my legislators to encourage a revision allowing appeals to the County Court in all cases.

Trouble with the law doesn’t mean trouble with the SPCA. But I take the line of reasoning in an LBJ quote I picked up on a message board on the topic: "You do not examine legislation in light of the
benefits it will convey if properly administered, but in light of the wrongs
it would do and the harms it would cause if improperly administered."

Now for the links:

20/20 vs. SPCA factcheck — ABC screwed the pooch

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UPDATE 6/5/08

I met the producer of this piece at a conference, and after a conversation with her — in which we still disagree over many of the fundamental issues raised below — I did realize that there were a couple characterizations below that were not 100% fair. I’ve removed those and noted where the missing copy is with brackets and/or ellipses.

UPDATED 6/22/05

As time has gone by and more information has come out, I’ve formed my opinion of the validity of the 20/20 report. Unfortunately, no one from ABC has responded to my calls and emails, nor do they look to be likely to do so, given the experience of others folowing this story. So for now their report will have to stand on its own merits.

I have been in contact with Claire Schwarz, an attorney for the SPCA of Texas and hoped to speak to James Bias, the President of the organization. I didn’t have my questions together before the weekend though, and he’s out of town.

I still have enough from other sources to fill in most of the gaps. I’m going to leave outstanding questions I have in italics, and will edit to add the answers when and if I get responses.

In the continuation, you’ll find a list of every fact about the Texas SPCA presented by 20/20 on its website and my assessment of its validity. (NJ folks will have to let their local upstart prelaunch news organization fend for them.) I’ll also hit some of the general points of the investigation.

Lines in bold come from the ABC report as posted on their website. Again, italicized sections are questions that are still outstanding. I know that a lot of people have been crossposting my stuff to message boards, etc. In this case, I’d like to ask that you post only the link, as this won’t really make sense without the formatting.

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