(Roughly) Daily

The Future of Journalism, Part (Deep) Six: Caveat Lector…

More and more frequently, across a broader and broader swath of the press, we’re seeing the wages of increased competition with decreased resources…  Sometimes it’s print or television news services simply transcribing (or in the case of video, lightly editing) P.R. material; sometimes, the “restraint” that keeps reporters from pursuing unpleasant topics with interviewees– celebrities, politicians, or athletes– in order to guarantee continued access.   Sometimes it’s the insinuation of a reporter’s personal opinions into pieces via a “some experts claim” quote; sometimes, the simple laziness that grafts unchecked Wikipedia text directly into the body of a story.  Journalism just ain’t what it used to be– or at least, it’s not what one remembers thinking that it should have been.

Happily, British coder, designer, tech maven, and all-round nifty guy Tom Scott has ridden to the rescue with Journalism Warning Labels.

Readers in the U.K. can grab an A4 13-by-5 sheet of stickers (they’re labelled as ’65 per sheet’ or Avery L7651), and print out this PDF template.  American readers can use the version that fits on Avery’s Letter-size 5160 labels (or equivalent).  And readers worldwide who consume their updates online, can head over to Eric Donovan’s Newscrud for “stickers” that can be applied to websites.

As we wonder what Ben Hecht would make of all of this, we might recall that it was on this date in 1896 that Charles Henry Dow established the Dow Jones Industrial Average, publishing it for the first time in Customer’s Afternoon Letter, the daily two-pager that was the precursor to The Wall Street Journal.  Of the original 12 stocks that made up the DJIA, only General Electric is still part of the Index.  (Others included such giants of yester-year as American Cotton Oil and National Lead.)  The Index opened at 40.26 (the dollar average of the dozen stocks it covered).  Within months it had dropped to its all-time low, 28.48, in the depth of the Panic of 1896.

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