Hey everyone, happy Friday. Short post again to share some more public work I’ve published over the past couple of weeks. I’ve been a busy bee on the public scholarship side but I wanted to share here too. Some of you are following me here exclusively now that #Twexit seems to be going very well. Did you hear about the Thursday Journalism Massacre on Twitter? Whew.
I published this piece in Slate last week about a local journalism funding bill Congress has been kicking around for a while, the Journalism Competition & Preservation Act (JCPA). I haven’t written about the JCPA for this newsletter, but if you’ve ever read my work or listened to me you know I talk about local news and the screwy incentives of digital advertising. Anyhow, JCPA was a pretty terrible bill! It’s dead for now, but as I noted in Slate, it is a type of Frankenbill that threatens to return because it’s bipartisan for wildly different reasons across the aisle.
One thing that didn’t make the cut: there are pretty good alternatives to solve this problem, such as the Local Journalism Sustainability Act (LJSA). Why it didn’t make the cut: I’m really skeptical LJSA has legs because its mechanism doesn’t take funding from Big Tech platforms, and with that goes a lot of incentive for Republicans to support it. So for now it’s Just A Bill On Capitol Hill.
By the way, if you’re interested in the collapse of U.S. newspapers, I wrote this explainer for Slate a few years back. It still holds up, and in some cases has some depressingly accurate predictions. Nobody hates being right about this stuff more than I do.
Second, if you’ve got 30 minutes and Do Podcasts, I did an interview on Brian Moritz’s excellent “The Other 51” podcast about writing. Moritz is a really good interviewer, which I know because he asks the kinds of questions that make me sound way smarter than I am.
That episode is probably the most detailed you’ll hear me get about the state of play on Twitter, between the slow-motion collapse going on and the slow migration to other sites. I talk about something I never (ok, “obsessively”) talk about: networks. In this case, I think ties to one another and network effects tell us a lot about what’s happening, why people are staying or not, and why those social networks are important for democracy. But there’s a longer plea in there: be kind to people leaving, and to people staying. These decisions are very hard, they are often rooted in relationships rather than vanity. It’s ok to disagree, and that starts with seeing the networked and human story behind those choices.
Also, really loved that he asked me about innovation and creativity. I’ve never really given an expansive answer to the question “Jeremy, why are you always playing around online? Don’t you have a job to do?” OK, he didn’t ask it quite like that, but he was thinking it. But it gave me a chance to talk about why I think playing and curiosity are so critical to learning, adapting, and growing. It’s what I want for myself, for my kids, for my students, and for anyone who reads my work. It’s how I can write whole posts about how ChatGPT isn’t ruining the world.
That’s all for now!
Jeremy Littau is an associate professor of journalism and communication at Lehigh University. Find him on Twitter, Mastodon, or Post.
Good stuff Professor and proud to be part of your community.....seems to me another few wrong moves by Elon and Twitter will not become an alternative anymore...might have already gone so far....hard to believe any advertisers except that mattress guy would be on it with what he is doing. Should start sending comments to get off on their social media posts?