December 14, 2016 Last Updated 9:32 am

Ta-Nehisi Coates cover feature; the NYT’s too little, too late deep dive on Russian hacking

Morning Brief: Apps are yesterday’s news says one source, they are the future of magazines says another – likely they are both and neither at the same time

The Atlantic has to be the hottest magazine going right now, publishing one interesting piece after another, and continuing to build its roster of journalism talent. In just the past few weeks the magazine has announced that Coppin McKay from BuzzFeed, Julia Ioffe, formerly of The New Republic, and Jane Yong Kim from the Village Voice have joined the staff. All these hires coming after the magazine named Jeffrey Goldberg as the new editor-in-chief.

As a publisher, of course, I would be going over my P&L to make sure this hiring spree doesn’t bankrupt the magazine, but I’m sure (aren’t I?) that Sr. VP and Publisher Hayley Romer has that part under control.

This piece from national correspondent, and recipient of a ‘Genius Grant’ from the MacArthur Foundation, Ta-Nehisi Coates, is the cover story from the January/February issue. (Is it a true sign of the declining role of print that a magazine that is so hot remains a ten time per year print magazine?)

The long form piece has so much to offer that a sliver of content doesn’t do it justice, but I found this section particularly interesting.

The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates:

My President Was Black

Last spring, I went to the White House to meet the president for lunch. I arrived slightly early and sat in the waiting area. I was introduced to a deaf woman who worked as the president’s receptionist, a black woman who worked in the press office, a Muslim woman in a head scarf who worked on the National Security Council, and an Iranian American woman who worked as a personal aide to the president. This receiving party represented a healthy cross section of the people Donald Trump had been mocking, and would continue to spend his campaign mocking. At the time, the president seemed untroubled by Trump. When I told Obama that I thought Trump’s candidacy was an explicit reaction to the fact of a black president, he said he could see that, but then enumerated other explanations. When assessing Trump’s chances, he was direct: He couldn’t win…

…Over the next 12 years, I came to regard Obama as a skilled politician, a deeply moral human being, and one of the greatest presidents in American history. He was phenomenal—the most agile interpreter and navigator of the color line I had ever seen. He had an ability to emote a deep and sincere connection to the hearts of black people, while never doubting the hearts of white people. This was the core of his 2004 keynote, and it marked his historic race speech during the 2008 campaign at Philadelphia’s National Constitution Center—and blinded him to the appeal of Trump. (“As a general proposition, it’s hard to run for president by telling people how terrible things are,” Obama once said to me.)

But if the president’s inability to cement his legacy in the form of Hillary Clinton proved the limits of his optimism, it also revealed the exceptional nature of his presidential victories.

The NYT played this story up as a major piece of journalist, but I don’t see it. Much, if not all of what the article contains has been well known for a while. In fact, the article really brings up the important question of why the major news organizations downplayed Russian hacking, harassment of journalists, and the role of so-called ‘fake news’ during the campaign, while overplaying the email server story and at the same time giving Donald Trump virtually unlimited airtime?

While this site was very open about the DDoS attacks it was suffering, and a handful of journalists were willing to talk about the abuse they were experiencing, the NYT continued to only mention these things in passing, all the while believing that fact-checking DJT would influence voters.

What this article really does is recap what has been known by the government, and likely the paper, for many years (though one of the authors claimed last night that only now did his contacts agree to talk). That it chose only now to give its recap is worrisome, and journalistic negligence.

The New York Times, Eric Lipton, David E. Sanger and Scott Shane:

The Perfect Weapon: How Russian Cyberpower Invaded the U.S.

Many of Mrs. Clinton’s closest aides believe that the Russian assault had a profound impact on the election, while conceding that other factors — Mrs. Clinton’s weaknesses as a candidate; her private email server; the public statements of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, about her handling of classified information — were also important.

While there’s no way to be certain of the ultimate impact of the hack, this much is clear: A low-cost, high-impact weapon that Russia had test-fired in elections from Ukraine to Europe was trained on the United States, with devastating effectiveness. For Russia, with an enfeebled economy and a nuclear arsenal it cannot use short of all-out war, cyberpower proved the perfect weapon: cheap, hard to see coming, hard to trace.

Funny to see these two stories appear on back-to-back days. I don’t know if these stories appear because the authors want to appear smart or because they are too young to understand that coming too quickly to a conclusion is often a major mistake.

My own view is that apps are here to stay, but like everything else will evolve and their use fine-tuned.

One thing left out of the Digiday article is the fact that since the launch of its new app, user reviews have been overwhelmingly negative – 48 1-star reviews versus five 5-star reviews. Generally speaking, those that cover the tech industry fail to bring into the conversation the views of those who use the technology.

Techvibes, Hossein Rahnama:

It’s the End of the App as We Know It

Given the timeline, the current landscape of mobile apps is still in its infancy. That’s great, but hard numbers indicate the app scene might actually be approaching its twilight. Consider the raw data:

  • More than 75 percent of downloaded apps are used once and never tapped again.
  • Only 33 percent of smartphone users download an app in any given month.
  • The average person devotes 80 percent of his mobile time to only three apps.

Mobile devices are clearly here to stay, though the same cannot be said of apps. They are already being replaced by new technologies and practical capabilities that are advancing the relationship between mobile devices and contemporary life. Get ready for the post-app landscape.

Digiday, Sahil Patel:

‘Apps are the new magazines’: Why Bloomberg’s doubling down on apps

Starting with its redesigned flagship mobile app, Bloomberg plans to launch several new apps in the coming year with a focus on delivering personalized content to users in a more seamless and controllable fashion than what’s currently available on the mobile web and inside social platforms.

“Apps are the new magazines and newspapers,” said Scott Havens, global head of digital for Bloomberg Media. “I know if I have brand affinity [for a publisher], it’s because I get what I need and I find it a useful part of my daily media diet — that’s the underlying philosophy for the app.”

This is a late morning add to the Morning Brief, just because… well, because. You’ll see why when you click on the link and read it.

Nieman Lab, Matt Waite:

The People Running The Media Are The Problem

This month, I spent a week surrounded by bright, well-meaning journalism and tech thinkers. Session after session, day after day, conversations kept coming back to these questions: How do we restore trust in media? How do we reach Middle America? What do we do about fake news?

Here’s my prediction for 2017. It’s the safest prediction I could make beyond the sun coming up in the morning. It’s aimed right at the people who run news organizations.

You won’t fix this. Any of this. Not in 2017. Not soon…

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