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Apr 24 / King Kaufman

Roundup: Getting paid in journalism, Facebook’s algorithm, doing the right math

So now that this blog isn’t daily, I’ve fallen into this bad habit of seeing something interesting, thinking, “That would make a nice quick blog post,” saving it—and then, without the daily deadline, forgetting it.

So I’ve got a backlog of interesting tidbits. I’ll present them as a roundup today, and pledge that I will be more conscientious about heading straight to the blog when I see something interesting.

Felix Salmon’s report on the death of journalism as a career is greatly exaggerated by David Cohn, Digidave.

Remember a couple of months ago when Salmon, the former Reuters business reporter who’s now at Fusion, posted a letter to all the young journalists who ask him for advice? His message was tough, telling young journos it’s “almost impossible to make a decent living at this game.”

That spawned a day of other journalists responding on social media under the hashtag #AdviceForYoungJournalists, which remains intermittently interesting, if you can get past some relentless anti-Dalai Lama spamming.

Cohn, who has worked at Circa and AJPlus since founding the pioneering crowd-sourcing news funding site SpotUs, doesn’t buy Salmon’s premise. I’ll let you read his post to see why, but Cohn argues that building skills and knowledge is valuable even in a world of constant disruption.

“It’s not that we control NewsFeed, you control NewsFeed…” Facebook: please stop with this. by Jay Rosen, PressThink

This is a little wonky, perhaps, but important. Rosen, an NYU journalism professor and prominent media critic, argues that Facebook is being disingenuous with its answers to questions about how it designs its News Feed algorithm. Facebook is a powerful player in the news ecosystem, and seems to want to argue that it’s not. Rosen’s argument is consistent with his view on bias in journalistic writing, which is that there’s no such thing as “We don’t have a point of view.”

If you’re part of the news ecosystem, you have to at least try to understand how the big players work, and there aren’t many players bigger than Facebook. Mathew Ingram of Forbes helps on that score with this story about Facebook changing News Feed.

Millennials Aren’t Buying More Cars, There Are Just More Millennials by Joe Cortright, Jalopnik

Finally, a classic case of “be careful when you do math.” Cortright takes the Atlantic and Bloomberg to task for getting basic stats wrong when writing about how Millennials are just as interested in buying cars as earlier generations. The evidence: Millennials buy more cars. But, as Cortright points out, there are more Millennials. If you do a little simple division, you find out that, per person, Millennials buy fewer cars than previous generations.

Sportswriters work with numbers all the time. Literally. This post is a great reminder of an important lesson: Do the math, yes, and make sure you’re math is correct, but also make sure you’re doing the right math. And if at all possible, have someone who’s pretty good at math check your math, and confirm you’re doing the right math.