A new congressional bill is calling for greater transparency in how District of Columbia judges report their financial ties, a response to a 2013 Center for Public Integrity investigation that gave the city a failing grade.
“It’s out of sync with other states’ courts,” said the longstanding Democratic representative. “I don’t see why Congress should stand in the way.”
The legislation must go through Congress, rather than the D.C. Council, because of the peculiar relationship the city has as the nation’s capital.
And that quirk highlights the oddity of the existing situation: District of Columbia Court judges’ paychecks come from the federal government, but the judges currently aren’t held to the same standard as federal judges when it comes to publicly disclosing where they invest that money.
Annual disclosure reports typically show judges’ income, investments, debts and gifts. But in the case of the disclosures from the city’s Court of Appeals and Superior Court judges, only two of the disclosure form’s 10 sections — “Business and Charitable Affiliations” and “Honorarium” — are open for public inspection.
That makes it difficult for those coming before the courts to have confidence that judges’ personal financial interests are not affecting their cases.
The only states that scored worse — Montana, Idaho and Utah — did not require judges to publicly file annual reports at all. (In light of the Center’s report, however, Montana’s Supreme Court has since ordered judges to file the same financial disclosures as other statewide officials.)
Norton’s bill calls for making the D.C. judges’ reports available for public inspection, with provisions for information to be redacted if specific personal details could endanger a judge or a family member.
She told the Center for Public Integrity that she wants the District to go even further than the federal government in making the information accessible. She said she plans to ask the D.C. Commission on Judicial Disabilities and Tenure, which collects the reports, to make them available online.
News of the legislation was welcomed by the D.C. Open Government Coalition, which had been working behind the scenes since 2014 to reform the disclosure rules.
“This was an anomaly and the bill will help correct a longstanding problem,” said Fritz Mulhauser, a coalition member who championed a change. “We look forward to the passage of the bill.”
Norton is optimistic the reform will pass even though she is a Democratic non-voting delegate in a Republican-run Congress plagued by legislative logjams.
“This is the kind of bill I have been able to get through,” Norton said. “I certainly am going to give it an old school try.”
Once upon a time, way back when Chris Rock “was Kevin Hart,” he played Detective Lee Butters in 1998’s Lethal Weapon 4. Today, ahead of his 2016 Oscars hosting gig, he’s sporting a fictitious badge once more, this time as one of the guest stars of Colin Quinn’s L/Studio Web series Cop Show.
All eight episodes of the second season dropped this week. Other guest stars include Seth Meyers, Jerry Seinfeld and Steve Guttenberg. As today’s announcement proves, Quinn has learned a thing or two about the level of hyperbole needed to get noticed:
“Cop Show has gone to a new level this time. A level not thought about since Dante’s literary masterpiece,” said Quinn. “Cop Show is to the cops what The Godfather is to the mafia. Most shows get so caught up in trying to entertain, they forget what they’re really supposed to be doing.”
It was also announced today by L/Studio underwriters Lexus that there will be another full Season 3 of Cop Show. To watch Rock and the rest of Quinn’s funny visiting pals, click here.
Previously on FishbowlNY:
Colin Quinn’s Real Estate Game
Two and a half decades after Brad Pitt trained for weeks atop a Los Angeles building for the role of Paul Maclean, there was Jimmy Kimmel, fly-fishing on the same Montana river. For his Robb Report bucket list adventure, the talk show host brought along a pair of tremendous reinforcements – chefs Adam Perry Lang and Chris Bianco.
From the February 2016 issue Q&A with Kimmel:
“When you do get an idea that you might want to go out in a river and put on this unusual costume and try out this rod and reel that is not the one that your grandpa taught you to use, you watch a movie called A River Runs Through It; and when you see it, you’re entranced. It’s a beautiful film.”
“To fish in the river where that movie was shot is a very special thing. Now, I don’t cast like Brad Pitt did in that movie; I don’t know that anybody casts like that. I still wonder if he was casting, and if he was, he’s more superman than man.
Elsewhere in the themed bucket list issue, nine Robb Report editors each share one worldly adventure they have already had the privilege of enjoying and another they hope to one day complete. Check out that fun slide show here.
Previously on FishbowlNY:
Nice Day for an Adam Perry Lang Table Setting
President Obama’s final year in office isn’t likely to be marked by major new U.S. foreign policy initiatives, if a list of policy priorities offered recently by White House chief of staff Denis McDonough winds up holding sway.
When McDonough was asked on Jan. 29 at a meeting at The Washington Post of past Pulitzer Prize winners what the eighth year of Obama’s term is going to look like, he gave a short list of priorities: criminal justice reform, passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, and climate-related environmental regulations.
Notably, McDonough didn’t hint at anything new on nuclear arms control (an issue at the center of Obama’s 2009 Nobel Prize), any new diplomatic bridges (or pressures, for that matter) involving Russia or China, any new initiatives related to peace or regional stability in the Middle East, or any structural shifts in federal defense spending.
McDonough reiterated that Obama has told his staff he’s inclined this year to say “why not?” more than “why?” He also said “we’re open for business with Congress” and promised that if the Republican majorities offer nothing, Obama will pull any levers he can to accomplish his goals. But he addressed the humanitarian and political mess in Syria only after Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson asked him about it, and suggested only that the administration plans to stay the course there. By that, he meant it will continue to press for a political settlement and destruction of the self-styled Islamic State.
McDonough didn’t bite when Robinson asked if the president was disappointed he hasn’t been able to build a better bridge to the Muslim world. He said Obama has “set out challenges” to Muslim nations by offering to befriend those who want to partner with America, while at the same time defending U.S. interests. The conversation didn’t get deeper on this point.
Moments earlier at the event, hosted in the auditorium of the Post’s gleaming new Washington headquarters, journalist Bob Woodward – appearing on a panel assessing Obama’s potential legacy – praised the president for achieving a diplomatic deal with Iran that at least postpones for fifteen years that country’s stockpiling of a significant quantity of nuclear explosive materials.
Those privy to nuclear war plans, Woodward said, know how frightening they are. He said “anything to reduce the likelihood of that nightmare is to be applauded.” But he also complained that Obama had shown too much restraint on foreign policy dangers, which he said “doesn’t work in a world where you have Russia and ISIS.”
At the beginning of January, AP Afghanistan bureau chief Lynne O’Donnell (pictured) wrote about Voice of the Caliphate, a mobile ISIS radio station launched in late 2015. She noted that ISIS had taken out a pair of competitors in Jalalabad in October and also attacked the offices of Voice of America and the Pajhwok news agency in July:
IS radio can be heard across Nangarhar on an FM frequency for 90 minutes a day in both the Pashto and Dari languages. Programs include news, interviews, vitriol against the Afghan government and the Taliban, recruitment propaganda, and devotional music in multiple languages.
The message is clear: the Afghan government is a doomed “puppet regime” of the Americans. The Taliban are a spent force hijacked by Pakistan. The caliphate is coming.
A month later, O’Donnell is relaying some different news. A pair of U.S. airstrikes late Monday in the Achin district, in the eastern Nangarhar province, have taken out IS Radio:
Afghan officials had said they believed the broadcasts were coming from mobile facilities that could be moved easily back and forth across the mountainous border.
A U.S.-NATO mission spokesman for the Nangarhar governor, Attaullah Khogyani, said the strikes had also killed 21 IS supporters, including five who were working for the radio station.
O’Donnell was appointed Afghanistan AP bureau chief in the fall of 2014. She worked previously for AFP, Reuters and as The Australian’s China correspondent.
2.02.2016 - Four journalists held provisionally for past two months
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the continuing provisional detention of four journalists who were the victims of a wave of arrests exactly two months ago, on 2 November 2015 .
Mahmoud Alizadeh-Tabatabaie, a lawyer representing two of the four, said: “There are differences between the investigation judge and the prosecutor as regards the charges against my clients.” He is defending Ehssan Mazndarani, the editor of the daily Farhikhteghan, and Issa Saharkhiz, a well-known independent journalist.
As well as being accused of “propaganda activities against the government,” they are also charged with “acting against national security by means of meetings” and “conspiring against and insulting government officials.”
The case has been sent to the Tehran revolutionary court, whose president, Aboughasem Salevati, has been persecuting journalists and online information providers for years. He staged the “Stalin-style” mass trials in August 2009 and alone is responsible for convicting more than 100 journalists.
The other two journalists arrested on 2 November are Afarine Chitsaz of the daily Iran and Saman Safarzai of the monthly Andisher Poya. All four continue to be denied all their rights.
14.01.2016 – Woman journalist detained for fourth time since 2009
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns journalist Rihaneh Tabtabai's detention for the fourth time since 2009. Tabtabai, who has worked for Shargh, Etemad, Bahar and other reformist newspapers, was jailed on 12 January to serve a one-year sentence on charges of endangering national security and anti-government publicity. Originally imposed by a revolutionary court in November 2014, the sentence was upheld by a Tehran appeal court two months ago. She is also sentenced to a two-year ban on political and journalistic activity in the media and online after she completes the jail term.
After being arrested on 12 December 2010, she was released on bail of 10 million toman (7,500 euros) on 16 January 2011. On 2 April 2012, she received a two-year jail sentence from a Tehran revolutionary court that was reduced to six months on appeal. She served the sentence from 21 June to 11 November 2014. She was also detained from 31 January to 26 February 2013, when she was freed on bail.
12.01.2016 – Journalist sent back to prison
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns Meisam Mohammadi's reimprisonment on 8 January. A onetime political editor of Kalameh Sabaz (a daily closed by the authorities in June 2009) and contributor to the Beheshti Foundation website, Mohammadi was arrested at his home by intelligence ministry officials on 10 February 2010 and was freed on bail two months later, pending trial. He was sentenced in May 2012 to four years in prison and a five-year ban on journalistic and political activities on charges of anti-government publicity and “meeting to conspire against national security.”
Kalameh Sabaz's owner, former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi, the writer Zahra Rahnavard (who is Mousavi wife) and Mehdi Karoubi, a former parliamentary speaker and owner of the closed newspaper Etemad Melli, are still illegally held under house arrest and have been detained since 24 February 2011. Mousavi and Karoubi, who were both presidential candidates in 2009, have also been stripped of all of their rights. Their state of health is very worrying.
Over vulgaire of aanstootgevende commentaren hoeven uitgevers zich niet druk te maken. Haatteksten (nog steeds) wél.
The winners of the 2016 National Magazine Awards (aka The Ellies) were announced last night during a ceremony at the Grand Hyatt.
Some highlights included The Atlantic winning Magazine of The Year, The Hollywood Reporter again winning for General Excellence in Special Interests and eight first-time winners.
Below is the full list of winners. Congrats to all.
News, Sports and Entertainment
Honors publications covering politics, business and technology as well as pop culture and leisure interests
Winner: New York
Service and Lifestyle
Honors publications covering health and fitness as well as fashion, design, food and travel
Winner: Lucky Peach
Honors publications serving highly defined reader communities, including city and regional magazines
Winner: The Hollywood Reporter
Literature, Science and Politics
Honors smaller-circulation general-interest magazines as well as publications covering the arts
Winner: Oxford American
Honors overall excellence in print magazine design
Honors overall excellence in print magazine photography
Winner: The California Sunday Magazine
Honors print magazines that have devoted a single issue to the comprehensive examination of one subject
Winner: Bloomberg Businessweek for “Code: An Essay,” June 15-28
Honors magazine websites and online-only magazines
Winner: New York
Honors digital storytelling and the integration of magazine media
Winner: New York for “This Is the Story of One Block in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn,” at nymag.com and November 16-22 print issue
Honors the outstanding use of video by magazine media
Winner: Vice News for “Selfie Soldiers: Russia’s Army Checks In to Ukraine,” June 16 at vicenews.com
Honors magazine journalism that illuminates issues of national importance
Honors magazine journalism that serves readers’ needs and aspirations
Winner: FamilyFun for “The Happy Family Playbook,” by Jennifer King Lindley, May
Honors magazine journalism that provides practical information about recreational activities and special interests
Winner: Eater for “The Eater Guide to Surviving Disney World,” August 26 at eater.com
Honors the editorial direction of print or digital departments or sections
Winner: New York for “The Culture Pages”
Honors reporting excellence as exemplified by one article or a series of articles
Winner: Matter for “My Nurses Are Dead, and I Don’t Know If I’m Already Infected,” by Joshua Hammer, January 12 at medium.com/matter
Honors original, stylish storytelling
Winner: The New Yorker for “The Really Big One,” by Kathryn Schulz, July 20
Honors the use of original photography in a feature story, photo-essay or photo portfolio
Winner: Politico for “Front Row at the Political Theater,” photographs by Mark Peterson, November/December
Essays and Criticism
Honors interpretative and critical journalism
Winner: Esquire for “The Friend,” by Matthew Teague, May
Columns and Commentary
Honors political and social commentary; news analysis; and reviews and criticism
Winner: The Intercept for three “The Barrett Brown Review of Arts and Letters and Prison” columns by Barrett Brown: “A Visit to the Sweat Lodge,” July 16, “Santa Muerte, Full of Grace,” August 24, and “Stop Sending Me Jonathan Franzen Novels,” October 6
Honors fiction originally published in magazines
Winner: Zoetrope: All-Story for “The Grozny Tourist Bureau,” by Anthony Marra, Fall
Magazine of the Year
Honors magazines for print and digital editorial excellence and for the success of branded content and services, including conferences and events
Winner: The Atlantic
Technology site The Information is inviting some of its subscribers to join it on a trip to China next month.
This isn’t a junket. Attendees are responsible for paying for their own travel, lodging, and other costs. (One assumes subscribers to The Information can handle the tab.) What’s in it for them: “several events with well-known entrepreneurs, executives, and investors from China’s largest and most promising technology companies like Xiaomi, Tencent as well as a host of startups.”
“We are working hard to put you in the same room with the people only the most well-known execs typically meet,” Jessica Lessin, founder and CEO of The Information, explained in a post. (Almost all content on the site is behind a paywall, but this post isn’t.)
As you know, we’re very excited about China at The Information. And so, we’re thrilled to invite a small number of our subscribers to join me for a special opportunity for exclusive, on-the-ground access to technology leaders in Beijing the week of March 14, 2016.
We’re looking for a small number of U.S. entrepreneurs, executives and investors to join us to share their experiences on the ground in Silicon Valley or wherever their home base is…As you know, one of the most important things about business travel is meeting the right people…Space is limited to keep the events intimate.
Lessin wouldn’t comment beyond saying that the company is “heads down” preparing for the trip.
The idea of the China trip makes sense for a site that is all about premium access. The Information only publishes two stories most days, “deeply-reported articles about the technology industry that you won’t find elsewhere.” For this, readers pay $399 a year or $39 a month (the China trip is only open to annual subscribers). Members also get access to a private Slack channel, commenting privileges, and special events like a subscriber summit.
Lessin, a former technology reporter for The Wall Street Journal, launched the site in 2013; it now has thousands of subscribers (“multiples” higher than 2,000, Lessin told Business Insider recently).
The site’s business model “totally scales — and it gives us control over how it scales,” Lessin told Digiday in January.
As a freshman at Northwestern University, Carina Chocano was told by a female friend that after the latter’s sister had joked before heading to the same university that she hoped she didn’t end up with a “Vogue model as a roomate,” she wound up being paired with Cindy Crawford. From the top of Chocano’s profile for the February issue of United Airlines in-flight magazine Rhapsody:
By the time I heard the story, two years later, Crawford had dropped out of Northwestern, moved to New York, and become so famous that the story took on the quality of a cosmic practical joke… It was so perfect, in fact, that as I was getting ready to meet Crawford, I wondered if maybe it was apocryphal. So I messaged my friend, and she confirmed with an exclamation point.
Crawford – who is slighter and seems more circumspect in person than in the power photos that made her famous – is delighted when I relay the story to her (she remembers the roommate, but had never before heard the anecdote) over coffee on the patio at Café Habana, her husband Rande Gerber’s Malibu restaurant.
The Rhpasody cover story by Chocano, a former L.A. Times TV and film critic, made waves Monday when other article quotes were misinterpreted as confirming Crawford’s retirement from modeling. But the famous Northwestern roommate has since clarified that she has not made any such decision.
Previously on FishbowlNY:
The Cindy Crawford Reveal That Wasn’t
Hot Pod: Podcasts about podcasts, a new player in sports audio, and a crowded election-podcast space
Welcome to Hot Pod, a newsletter about podcasts. This is Issue Fifty-Eight, published February 2, 2016.
First day of fun-employment! Self-employment, I mean. Gotta find a way to make money.
FiveThirtyEight enters the elections podcast race. Let’s start with an item thematically related to what went down in Iowa last night.
FiveThirtyEight, the data journalism site led by stats dude Nate Silver, officially launched its Elections podcast last Monday. And let me be the first to say: Finally! Predictive modeling for presidential elections is basically the only reason I keep FiveThirtyEight in my bookmarks, though I must say their culture stuff gets a click or two out of me. Anyway, this launch expands the site’s podcast offering to a healthy number of three, with the elections pods joining a sports punditry show called Hot Takedown and a more general show about data and society called What’s The Point. Its launch comes after four weeks of piloting through the What’s The Point feed, where test episodes were delivered to listeners in the form of bonus content. Which is certainly an interesting method of both workshopping a show and cultivating interest in an existing user base.
So here’s the most interesting thing about FiveThirtyEight’s Elections podcast: It’s made up of different kinds of shows. The podcast’s anchor will be a Slate Political Gabfest-style panel show that will be released on Mondays, with additional episodes — which may or may not adopt the panel discussion format — dropping on other days depending on the news cycle and depending on whether the podcast team has something else they want to cover. Some of these non-Monday episodes could be a documentary; some could feature interviews.
This diversification of content was top of mind for Jody Avirgan, the former WNYC producer that the site tapped last year to head up its podcast operations. (Avirgan is also the host of What’s The Point.) “From the beginning, I wanted our election audio coverage to be a bunch of different things. I wanted it to be a home for reported stories, documentaries, etc.,” he told me over the phone. “I think a lot of people are hung up on the idea of ‘a show,’ and that you would have to do the same thing week after week after week just because you have ‘a show.'”
In this view, the podcast feed is structurally utilized in a manner reminiscent to linear TV news or radio broadcast channels, but without the need to plug gaps with filler content or reruns. For Avirgan, it’s a mark of confidence in the pull of the larger media operation, and not a specific show. “Let’s just have a home for the audio content we make, and people will follow us to wherever we create,” Avirgan continued. “I think Grantland has been a good model all along — the way they created one feed, and put all their shows all in one feed. People who like Grantland really like Grantland, and they don’t care where they get it. They just want to get it.”
FiveThirtyEight is not the first to play around with release conventions through a podcast feed. NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, for example, is particularly good with experimentation, consistently using its feed to drop alternate programming like its sporadically-released sports show (The Giant Foam Finger!!) as well as special interviews (J.K. Rowling!!). Another interesting practitioner is the Bill Simmons Podcast Network’s “Channel 33” feed, which essentially serves as an omnibus home for Simmons’ frequent collaborators and former Grantland soldiers to play around with their own shows (The Watch and Sources Say are fabulous, by the way). But I’m a little surprised more podcast creators don’t experiment more with the RSS feed. We’ve seen some interesting, playful uses over among fiction podcasts; for example, the recent fictional podcast hit Limetown occasionally dropped mini-sode checkins to conjure the illusion of “real-time” programming. Maybe I’m just talking out of an armchair, but it doesn’t seem like it would take too much of an effort for an actual campaign trail reporter to experiment by using a feed to sporadically drop 5 minute verbal sketches of scene and space. (See: Audio Twitter.)
Anyway, back to talking about the actual podcast: the Elections podcast’s launch comes up against what appears to be an increasingly crowded field. As I’ve noted recently, it seems like there’s been another election-related pod being launched every other day, with new offerings being rolled by both podcast stalwarts and newcomers (sample list: NPR’s Politics Podcast, The Washington Post’s Presidential, Politico’s Off Message, The Huffington Post’s Candidate Confessional, Futuro Media Group’s In the Thick, The Pollsters, and many others.) I asked Avirgan what he thought about this flood of audio election programming. His response was a dry one: “There’s this perfect storm of people who think that podcasting is an easy money thing, and there’s big news cycle event coming, and so they just put the two things together,” Avirgan said. “I’m sure if this was Brazil and the World Cup was coming up, you’d see a lot of World Cup podcasts.”
But will the abundance of these podcasts prove a hurdle for FiveThirtyEight, whose mass-market raison d’être, for all intents and purposes, is elections-focused data journalism? Avirgan doesn’t think so, citing operational nimbleness, close fidelity to its audience, and a keen awareness of the space as differentiating factors. “There’s a reason our show is on Monday versus other days,” Avirgan notes. “We’re separated [from other podcasts] on the calendar…We’re not going to pull off what the [Slate Political] Gabfest does. We have our own people. We’re going to do what we’re good at.”
You can find FiveThirtyEight’s Election Podcast here.
Podcasts, but for podcasts. Or broadcasts, but for podcasts. Or broadcasts, but for podcasts that are also later distributed as podcasts.
A common refrain among those who are involved in or follow podcasts is that discovery is broken, and its broken-ness is one of the many primary structural impediments that prevents podcasts from growing, maturing, and becoming mainstream, which is arguably what everybody wants. So far, all we really have is iTunes, and even that audience development pipeline is being further corroded by the recent podcast rush that has undoubtedly led to increased competition for real estate on iTunes. It is perhaps inevitable, then, that this unfortunate state of affairs would lead to a situation where we see a bunch of launches involving podcasts dedicated to the curation of high-quality podcasts for the pleasure of mass earballs.
In recent weeks, we saw the birth of Gimlet’s Sampler and Washington public radio station WAMU’s The Big Listen, two shows from different sides of the public/private podcasting divide. They join the Canadian Broadcasting Company’s Podcast Playlist, which was the first high-profile attempt to execute on this particular idea. (Disclaimer: I’ve been a guest on the podcast before.) Playlist was first launched in the summer of 2015 with WNYC’s Sean Rameswaram (who is actually Canadian, by the way) performing sole host and curation duties. Its current iteration features in-house hosts Lindsay Michael and Matt Galloway, presumably because Rameswaram had to go back to his home station to develop whatever secret project he is no doubt developing at this very second.
Let’s take a second to think about the bigger idea at play here. These shows ostensibly exist to perform a specific structural function for their respective audiences, which is to provide guidance through the hyper-abundant, anarchic, and desperately overwhelming offerings of the wider podcast ecosystem whose low barriers to entry and democratic promise, while much lauded, are ultimately counterintuitive to actual consumption.
In my mind, the emergence of these podcasts about podcasts could well be thought of as an echo to what happened with the rise of aggregation among the blogosphere back in the mid-2000s. Wiser folks than I have already written about the structural and developmental similarities between blogs and podcasting, but I’d like to go further here and draw a straight line between these podcasts about podcasts and blog aggregators. The latter plays the very same role as the former: to streamline the reader’s experience of the rest of the Internet’s “Wild West” within the same medium. And though the value-add for the aggregated is the potential of a clickthrough, a retention, and a conversion, there’s an opportunity for the aggregator to leverage any attention gained for its curatorial prowess to further establish power and authority in the space.
But before any of these podcasts about podcasts can become authorities, they must first figure out how to differentiate themselves from each other. The three shows actually do a pretty good job of being compositionally different from one another — Playlist opts to play a bunch of segments straight with bits of set-up here and there, Sampler is much swifter with its clips, and The Big Listen, at least with the one episode that’s out so far, seems to really favor interviews with creators — but all three shows sound strikingly similar. This might be a function, perhaps, of CBC’s and WAMU’s public radio stature, and of Gimlet’s overall public radio roots, even though Sampler host Brittany Luse herself is not of the public radio world. (Luce comes to Gimlet from the very good For Colored Nerds podcast, which sounds nothing like her work on Sampler — which may itself be an expression of the issue at hand.) And all three shows also seem to use the same type of narrative tools (creator interviews, play and response, etc.) within the episode-level to perform the same duties and that, in turn, leads to a relative homogeneity in sound.
Which raises the question: What tools do these podcasts have to differentiate themselves? Seems obvious to say, but aside from basic standards of audio quality (and sometimes, not even that), the differentiation ultimately comes down to a mix between the strength of the curator’s personality — podcasts and radio shows are principally personality-driven, after all — and, well, the curator’s taste, which itself is a function of her or his personality. Which is all to say this: These podcasts should really lean harder into the specificities of its hosts.
Will big money squeeze out independent podcasting? Here’s a quote that’s pertinent to the independent podcasters out in the audience:
I worry about big money pouring into podcasting. Not so much for ourselves — I think we’ve carved out our little space and we’ll be okay. But I worry about people being able to do what we did. “I have a weird idea and I have a $60 USB microphone, and I’m going to just make this thing and maybe someone will listen to it.” I think that is what appealed to me about podcasting from the very start, and I really, really hope that all the money pouring into podcasting won’t bury tiny, weird independent podcasts like that.
That nugget comes from Welcome to Night Vale’s Joseph Fink, who was being interviewed along with cocreator Jeffrey Cranor, on-stage in D.C. last November. The interview recording was published last week as part of the Pop Culture Happy Hour (that’s two mentions in one newsletter, oy!) Blizzard Special, and you should definitely check out the whole conversation.
For context, Fink was expressing concern of how money flowing into the podcasting space may well suppress opportunities for the new, the small, the different, and the weird. First acknowledging that the podcasting space is generally a lot more exciting now than it was five years ago, Fink then highlighted the entry of bigger players with bigger wallets into the podcasting space, like Bill Simmons setting up his own podcast network, GE funding a big weird fiction project in The Message, and WNYC rolling $15 million into a podcast studio.
Again, I highly recommend you check out the whole interview — which touches upon Night Vale’s business model, the team’s favorite podcasts, and more — but for reference, this segment begins at the 31:56 mark.
NPR signs with Triton Digital’s Tap Podcast platform For advertising. More CMS news!
NPR, everybody’s favorite public radio mothership, announced yesterday that it has signed a deal with Triton Digital’s audio advertising platform for podcast monetization and distribution purposes, according to MediaPost. That’s a big get for Triton, who initially announced the launch of platform early last month, so you could probably imagine that this deal has been on the stove for a while.
Okay, real talk for a sec: The past few weeks have seen an uptick of podcast-CMS-related developments from several key players — Acast, Panoply (my former day job employer), Art19, now Triton Digital — many of which are relatively new. What we’re seeing now is some sort of land grab, with each of these players hitting the market in a rush to sign as many podcasts that are still being hosted on LibSyn or SoundCloud — which those podcasts probably chose because, well, those two were probably perceived to be the only options. (And SoundCloud is basically free, so that’s a big plus for them.) At some point, I’ll make a living comparative spreadsheet of who powers who, because most (though not all) of that information is made publicly available by these companies and because that’ll probably make a useful consumer guide for somebody.
Anyway, if you’re one of these podcasts that’s still figuring out your CMS situation, I gotta say: it’s a great and speculative time! Remember to ask questions, shop around, and consult your loved ones.
Nerdist Sports. Jonah Keri, the former ESPN/Grantland sports writer and podcaster, has found a new home for his podcast in Chris Hardwick’s Nerdist Industries, which also happens to be the home of some really amazing podcasts like James Bonding and The Thrilling Adventure Hour. It might not sound like the most obvious of hits, but that’s because Keri’s podcast will serve the flagship show of what will eventually become the network’s new sports vertical — a subject matter that the network has previously never ventured into. According to Keri’s preamble on the first episode of the relaunched show (which features an interview with the notoriously giggly Hardwick himself), he’s going to be fairly involved with whatever comes out of this new vertical — on Twitter, he described his plans as “copious” — even though he’s unsure of the exact details at this point in time.
In related news, Variety reports that Nerdist Industries is greatly expanding its network, and now boasts a total of nearly 50 podcasts. And that’s not even taking its video offerings into consideration. Yikes!
Relevant bits this week:
- Looks like Spotify finally rolled out its podcast and video content feature. In this piece on The Verge, Chris Welch implores: “Spotify, please don’t turn into iTunes.” (The Verge)
- And speaking of Spotify, rumor has it that they’re looking to raise funds again. (The New York Times)
- All the news that’s fit to pod! (Nieman Lab)
- NPR One is now available on CarPlay (Current)
- “Why public radio stations need to claim the podcast space” (Current)
- A little bit on Amazon’s audio push (Bloomberg)
Phew. That was exhausting!
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