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I’ve been wondering why they do this too June 21, 2010

Posted by dataduchess in Just for Fun.
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Subtext: “News networks giving a greater voice to viewers because the social web is so popular are like a chef on the Titanic who, seeing the looming iceberg and fleeing customers, figures ice is the future and starts making snow cones.”
xkcd: Public Opinion.

How the Death of Michael Jackson Proved the Need for Quality Journalism December 22, 2009

Posted by dataduchess in Uncategorized.
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The Guardian’s Digital Content Blog picked up the awesome graphic linked to below. It shows the visits made to the New York Times’ website over the course of the entire 24 hour day June 25, 2009. This day is notable because of the death of Michael Jackson, and if you watch the time closely, you can see the spikes in visits in the minutes following the breaking of the news by TMZ.com, where people went to the New York Times site for confirmation, or more credible reporting. The Guardian uses this as proof that even with the seemingly unlimited access to news from all kinds of sites, there is still a need for reliable journalistic reporting. Whether you agree or not, you must admit, this is a neat visualization of the data. Do you remember how you heard about Michael Jackson’s death? Where did you go to find news coverage?

The New York Times site traffic, World View, June 25, 2009 from Nick Bilton on Vimeo.

Do My Eyes Deceive Me? November 21, 2009

Posted by pupfiction in Uncategorized.
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You know that old rule that things happen in threes? Fact or fiction (or hindsight bias)? It seems to me that once the press notices interest in a certain topic or a certain occurrence they learn to focus on that particular issue, making us, the unsuspecting public, draw some weird inferences. David McCandless, the creator of InformationisBeautiful.net and author of Visual Miscellaneum, proves just that by this interesting chart comparing 2008’s drug poisoning deaths in the United Kingdom to popular press coverage. Take some time with this one.

What’s most interesting to me is the three drugs that gained over 100% of popular press coverage: ecstasy, cannabis, and aspirin. The reporting of aspirin deaths can probably be explained by the media’s well-known love of sensationalism, aspirin being as common and trusted as sliced bread in most households. But if ecstasy and cannabis, why not heroin and morphine? Why did the press inflate cannabis deaths by 484% when only 9% of  heroin and morphine deaths were reported (and only 2% of alcohol deaths??) ? This issue is compounded by the fact there were only 19 (“highly questionable”) deaths from cannabis and an astounding 897 deaths from heroin and morphine. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

Make sure to read the article on the graph here.

Can’t wait to see that movie, or, er…I meant, read that book! October 28, 2009

Posted by pupfiction in Uncategorized.
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In the past few months I have come across a phenomenon seemingly new to the world (although YouTube searches date some from years ago): trailers for books. Speaking obviously to savvy web denizens (as these are never aired on TV), this media-hybrid provokes some interesting questions. First to my mind is how publicists reconcile the trailer version of the book with the trailer version of the movie as so many books are now made into screenplays (or whether this concern even enters their mind).

In my experience, book trailers tend to avoid direct screen shots of characters, perhaps to let the imagination do its job, or perhaps this as a product of cinematic foresight. Such is the case with the trailer for Pynchon’s Inherent Vice (below) which, like the book, rambles on in a stoner’s foggy voice, and numerous others I have seen, such as Meyer’s The Host (which is slated to be turned into a movie), Picoult’s Nineteen Minutes (also below), and the award-winning The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak which has been turned into a movie already.

My second question is: why? Thomas Pynchon has a cult following and his books are highly anticipated by his followers. (And the same could be said for Meyer.) Why then does he, or his publishers, feel the need to create a trailer? Wouldn’t his devoted readers feel more comfortable with the traditional back-of-the-book summary, or New York Times book review?

What do you think?

(nota bene: The web is flooded with “fan-made” trailers as well and this is not to which I refer.)