Tribune Publishing announces … something →

The Tribune Publishing Company, owner of the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, and more is rebranding:

Tribune Publishing Co. today announced that the Company will change its name to tronc, Inc., a content curation and monetization company focused on creating and distributing premium, verified content across all channels. tronc, or tribune online content, captures the essence of the Company’s mission. tronc pools the Company’s leading media brands and leverages innovative technology to deliver personalized and interactive experiences to its 60 million monthly users.

[…]

Chairman Michael Ferro said, “Our industry requires an innovative approach and a fundamentally different way of operating. Our transformation strategy – which has attracted over $114 million in growth capital – is focused on leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve the user experience and better monetize our world-class content in order to deliver personalized content to our 60 million monthly users and drive value for all of our stakeholders. Our rebranding to tronc represents the manner in which we will pool our technology and content resources to execute on our strategy.”

I sorta passed out there in the middle of that blockquote, but I’m sure this will save newspapers.

Regarding Donald Trump’s comments on libel law →

Hadas Gold at Politico, quoting Donald Trump:

“One of the things I’m going to do if I win, and I hope we do and we’re certainly leading. I’m going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money. We’re going to open up those libel laws. So when The New York Times writes a hit piece which is a total disgrace or when The Washington Post, which is there for other reasons, writes a hit piece, we can sue them and win money instead of having no chance of winning because they’re totally protected.”

While shield laws are designed to give reporters the right to refuse to give up their sources, journalists aren’t immune to being charged with libel.

Trump says that big newspapers are allowed to do what they want because they are “completely protected,” but that’s just not true. Proving libel, however, is difficult. According to the Associated Press Stylebook, a plaintiff must be able to prove these five things:

  • A defamatory statement was made.
  • The defamatory statement is a matter of fact, not opinion.
  • The defamatory statement is false.
  • The defamatory statement is about (“of and concerning”) the plaintiff.
  • The defamatory statement was published with the requisite degree of “fault.”

The “actual malice” clause is often cited in libel cases, but the term is a little tricky. The thought is that if a reporter or organization published something with the knowledge that it was indeed false, it was done so with “actual malice.”

Trump claims that these newspapers are publishing “false articles,” but if the articles are factual, and merely contain content that he finds displeasing, it’s not libel.

Reporters are allowed to comment with opinion. Again, from the AP Stylebook:

The right of fair comment has been summarized as follows: “Everyone has a right to comment on matters of public interest and concern, provided they do so fairly and with an honest purpose. Such comments or criticism are not libelous, however severe in their terms, unless they are written maliciously. Thus it has been held that books, prints, pictures and statuary publicly exhibited, and the architecture of public buildings, and actors and exhibitors are all the legitimate subjects of newspapers’ criticism, and such criticism fairly and honestly made is not libelous, however strong the terms of censure may be.” (Hoeppner v. Dunkirk Pr. Co., 1930.)

Accurate reporting, no matter how distasteful it may feel to certain people, is a critical part of our democracy. The fact that a leading Presidential candidate wants to upset the balance is worrisome.

However, as with a lot of his comment, Trump is speaking to something that a President can’t actually control. Not only is Congress the branch of government in charge of laws, there are no federal libel laws. Libel is defined differently, state-to-state.

Loosening these laws is a troubling thought. Donald Trump can surely outgun just about any media organization on the planet when it comes to funding legal fights. The implication that he’d try to bend legislation for personal gain shouldn’t be surprising at this point, but it is terrifying.

Tribune publisher: the kids will come around to newspapers →

Lynne Marek, writing about an interview with Chicago Tribune Publishing CEO Jack Griffin:

Holding the paper up, he said: “I could be wrong, but I don’t think that this entirely goes away. I think there’s enough about it—the experience that’s sufficiently different with both the advertising and the editorial. I mean, how do you do that online?” He answers his own question later: “That’s really hard to do online or on a phone.”

[…]

He said he expects young people, like his 20-something sons, will continue to gravitate to newspapers, even print editions. As they move into adulthood and begin to care more about settling into a community, they’ll turn to a newspaper, as generations of Americans before them have, he predicts.

As Re/code points out, The Chicago Tribune’s stock has lost half of its value in the last six months, and is about to enter a round of layoffs.

But yeah, print media is totally fine. Nothing to worry about here.

On ad blocking →

The results of The Verge’s reader poll on ad blockers is rather amusing.

Also, I tried reading this but then my head exploded.

I’ve been thinking a lot about ad blockers, and while my feelings are conflicted, I will say this: I’m glad that my sidebar ad is such a small percentage of my income — compared to the native advertising on this site and in my podcasts — that if you block it, it won’t make a big difference in my checkbook each month. I wouldn’t want to be a tech publication built on display ads with a poll running like The Verge’s.

Viticci’s iOS 9 review →

Federico Viticci:

In many cultures, the number “10” evokes a sense of growth and accomplishment, a complete circle that starts anew, both similar and different from what came before. In Apple’s case, the company has a sweet spot for the 10 numerology: Mac OS was reborn under the X banner, and it gained a second life once another 10 was in sight.

What happens before a dramatic change is particularly interesting to observe. With the major milestone of iOS 10 on track for next year, what does iOS 9 say about Apple’s relationship with its mobile OS today?

After two years of visual and functional changes, is iOS 9 a calm moment of introspection or a hazardous leap toward new technologies?

Can it be both?

I’m going to pay Ticci the highest nerd-journalism compliment I can: this iOS review is Siracusian not only in length, but in detail, care and humor. Go read this.

Club MacStories →

My good friend Federico Viticci has just announced something pretty great:

Since 2009, MacStories has delivered quality articles for the Apple community with a focus on depth, accuracy, and personal stories. We’ve written thousands of detailed app reviews. We’ve covered news with facts and opinions. We’ve shared stories on how technology is changing our lives.

Now, we’re ready for the next step. Today, I’m thrilled to introduce Club MacStories.

Club MacStories isn’t a paywall; it is a way to support Ticci and his team and gain access to extra content. I know they’ve been working on this for a long time, and I think they’ve nailed what a membership model should look like. I signed up instantly.

A year of Six Colors →

Jason Snell:

It’s a big week this week. In many ways, the biggest week on the Apple calendar, with the annual fall iPhone event scheduled for Wednesday.

For me it’s a milestone in a few other ways, too. This week marks a year since I left IDG, and it’s also week 52 of the existence of this site. Next week will be the first anniversary of Six Colors.

Jason is working on ways for “readers the ability to support the site,” which is great. I can’t wait to pitch in to help support one of my favorite sites.

Vox Media acquiring Re/code →

Sydney Ember at The New York Times, with some big news in the tech journalism world:

ReCode, the news website led by the veteran journalists Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, is being acquired by Vox Media, a deal that reflects the turmoil among digital organizations focused on covering the tech industry.

The all-stock deal, financial terms of which were not disclosed, would give ReCode access to a wider audience, something it has struggled to build since Mr. Mossberg and Ms. Swisher split off from The Wall Street Journal about a year and a half ago. Both plan to stay with ReCode after the merger.

Here’s a bit from the announcement post on Re/code:

We plan as well to collaborate where appropriate with Vox Media’s current and very successful tech news site, The Verge. While the two sites occasionally overlap, we have focused on the business of tech, while The Verge has focused on covering tech from a lifestyle perspective.

Makes sense to me.