Bumble vs that creepy Facebook dating app -- After months of being put under a microscope for its business’ lax approach to personal data from its users, Facebook decided it was an absolutely WONDERFUL idea to announce plans to launch a dating service. (Because after swaying an election and allowing local news to die out without taking any responsibility, sure why not trust Facebook with your nude selfies and such?). This is significant why? Because Facebook is a media company that is trying to semi-pivot into the business of relationships and dating, while Austin-based Bumble is a dating business trying to semi-pivot into becoming a media company. That’s kind of all, but it seemed worth pulling out for a blurb. [Via Wired]
‘Dealt’ director wants to help you sell your indie documentary -- Austin-based documentary filmmaker Luke Korem should be on your radar for his film Dealt, a documentary about blind card magician Richard Turner’s life story, which won at SXSW and blew up on iTunes. (It also helped lead to a feature-length film about Turner as well, produced by Austin-based Ralph Smyth Entertainment.) We missed it, but Korem was kind enough to offer some tips for selling your own indie doc, which you should check out. [via Filmmaker Magazine]
R/GA Austin adds a boatload of new talent -- The Austin branch of creative agency R/GA is announcing eight new hires across various proficiencies. Congrats on the growth! [More info via R/GA]
AFF Crowdfunding Project / Event -- “Austin Film Festival recently launched a crowdfunding campaign to support our growing ON STORY Project. We are aiming to raise at least $75,000 over the course of this campaign to help fund the various programs we currently offer (TV, radio, a book series, podcasts, and a public archive housed at the Wittliff Collections). We have just over a week left in the campaign and are hoping to keep the momentum going by engaging with those who might not be familiar with AFF and On Story. We are hosting a private happy hour at the Violet Crown on Monday, May 7th from 6:30-8pm where we will be screening an unreleased episode from our 8th season of the On Story TV series starting at 7pm. Staff will be on hand to talk about the Festival and On Story and mix and mingle.” [More info via Seed&Spark, email email@example.com if you’d like to attend the event]
Austin Asian American Film Festival Scholarship -- “The Austin Asian American Film Festival is partnering with Frost Bank and the Asian American Cultural Center to offer two scholarships for the Austin Film Society’s documentary summer camp workshop.” [More info via AAAFilmFest]
The Tribune’s “Wave of Activism” event branding is a misstep -- Usually, news publications do everything in their power to avoid the perception that anything they’re doing can be classified as activism -- lest the hard work of real reporting gets painted as “activism” whenever the news disagrees with someone’s (or some group’s) opinion. It’s a fine line to walk. That’s why I can’t for the life of me understand why the Texas Tribune would choose to brand an upcoming event as “Summer Salon Series: A Wave of Activism” -- featuring local heads of many activist organizations. The event itself is great, actually. But the way it’s framed is dangerous. (What’s worse is they dial up the elitist lexicon with phrases like “a salon of sips and snacks!”) In this climate of “fake news” accusations being spewed from the most important house in our Republic, we need to be extra vigilant toward these sorts of perceived biases. The Tribune, as well as many other seasoned news brands, have spent decades earning credibility of telling the truth. Let’s make sure we protect that now more than ever. Tl;dr: The event is great, the person who did the branding should rethink the strategy.
New Media ATX Map category -- Josh and I decided we’re going to add a new category to the map that will include venues or locations that are of interest in our newly bustling community. We got inspired to do so after overhearing a great many people saying they had no idea that the AFS Cinema existed before attending the Rooster Teeth party weeks back. Work in progress for now.
New book release: The Fourth Age -- Byron Reese, publisher of Austin-based GigaOm and author, has just released his latest book: “The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers, and the Future of Humanity.” I’m barely into the first chapter and already hooked. Here’s an excerpt from the preface: “Robots. Jobs. Automation. Artificial intelligence. Conscious computers. Superintelligence. Abundance. A jobless future. ‘Useless’ humans. The end of scarcity. Creative computers. Robot overlords. Unlimited wealth. The end of work. A permanent underclass. Some of these phrases and concepts probably show up in your news feed every day. Sometimes the narratives are positive, full of hope for the future. Other times they are fearful and dystopian. And this dichotomy is puzzling. The experts on these various topics, all intelligent and informed people, make predictions about the future that are not just a little different, but that are dramatically different and diametrically opposed to each other. So, why do Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, and Bill Gates fear artificial intelligence (AI) and express concern that it may be a threat to humanity’s survival in the near future? And yet, why do an equally illustrious group, including Mark Zuckerberg, Andrew Ng, and Pedro Domingos, find this viewpoint so farfetched as to be hardly even worth a rebuttal? Zuckerberg goes so far as to call people who peddle doomsday scenarios ‘pretty irresponsible,’ while Andrew Ng, one of the greatest minds in AI alive today, says that such concerns are like worrying about ‘overpopulation on Mars.’” [Generous preview via Amazon]
How Europe’s GDPR regulations could impact all publishers -- If you’ve not been paying attention, the European Union recently enacted a new set of regulations aimed at forcing online publishers, advertisers, and other online services, to gain consent whenever an individual’s data is being collected or transmitted. Google and Facebook are already shifting gears to comply with the changes, and both seem likely to follow suit in the U.S. as well. In this article by Thomas Baekdal, it probes into just how unprepared news publishers are for such a shift. Many publications use trackers on their mobile and desktop sites, which are part of ad networks, social media plugins, and other such services. Even if you aren’t in the news business, this is worth reading to understand the multitude of changes coming to the overall ecosystem of media and advertising online. [via baekdal.com]
Sage words from Ev Williams -- Well maybe not so much sage, but it is a good overview of obvious truths about the news publishing business from Ev Williams, founder of Medium (yay!) and cofounder of Twitter (ಠ_ಠ): “There is — and probably always will be — a surplus of free content. But that’s like saying there’s a surplus of free food in the dumpster behind the alley. Some of it may be perfectly good, but most of us would rather pay for something more reliable and convenient if we’re able. And many people will pay a lot for something superior.” Worth your time to read if you only choose one thing to consume this week. (Also, this piece leads into the next newsletter item fairly well…) [Via Medium]
Layoffs at Mutual Mobile - Looks like there's some very talented creatives back on the market this week after the Austin based digital agency laid off more then 10 people.
We Are Sloppy: Austin’s Sinclair CBS affiliate -- has been the subject of much ridicule on various local social media channels, which is related to the super icky “PSA” the parent company required each of its local stations to read as if it was original. There’s plenty of commentary about how this is hardly the first instance of such messaging agendas, so I’ll refrain. But I will take a minute to point out how sloppy and irresponsible its lifestyle show “We Are Austin” is when putting together nationally unattributed news items at the beginning of the show. Apparently no one fact checks these news bits before they get regurgitated into script, because they’ve misreported two fairly big stinkers in the last few months (probably more than that, honestly). The first I noticed was a several minute discussion about how Whataburger is closing all its locations (clearly not true). The second came just last week, as they discussed Apple ceasing digital downloads on iTunes (insane and also not true). I don’t really see them rushing to correct these sorts of mistakes or talk about how they came to be aired -- which would almost cause a normal person to conclude news coverage isn’t really that important to them, but rather just a thing they fill a segment with. If Sinclair affiliates are going to convince the general public they’re still legit, these sorts of things can’t happen.
Felicity reunion at ATX Television Festival -- was just announced as a headlining panel at this annual event. The entire cast of Felicity will be there, as well as tons of stars from sitcom favorites from the 80s and 90s for a discussion led by Hulu. Plus, there are panels featuring new shows from HBO, SYFY, and plenty of others. The event is a bit away (June 7-10), but it’s likely to gain lots of national media attention so we’re making some noise about it now. [More via THR]
GateHouse completes sale of the Statesman -- With the city’s major daily paper changing ownership, nearly everyone knew pink slips would be on the horizon. And a recent report by the Austin Business Journal’s Will Anderson confirms it, noting that the publishing company said: “...some layoffs were ‘inevitable’ but that GateHouse could also add jobs at the Statesman as it consolidates some of its operations at other papers across the country.” Also useful facts to know from Anderson’s report: The paper currently employs 105 people, with 16,786 digital subscriptions. [More via ABJ]
FlyteVu Agency sets up shop in ATX -- Entertainment marketing agency FlyteVu has opened up an Austin office this week. The firm, which is based out of Nashville originally, has some notable clients including Austin-based Bumble, Victoria Secret, and Cracker Barrel. Welcome to town FlyteVu crew. Austin is like Nashville’s cool older sister, so you’ll fit right in. [via MusicRow]
New media thing: AustinCoworking -- is a soon-to-launch site that is attempting to build a directory of all the various wonderful startups working out of coworking spaces in and around the city, as well as produce thoughtful content from smart ATX people who have interesting or relevant things to say. It’s being spearheaded by the Capital Factory, an organization that’s done a lot for this community (including our little ATX Media slice of it). That said, they’re currently looking to hire someone to write summaries of startups for a directory, manage the social media presence, solicit guest posts from members and mentors, and other such tasks. Compensation is about $1,000/month, with some additional hours/work initially to get everything up and running (and, you get a complimentary membership to Capital Factory). It’s a good position for anyone with stellar writing and editing chops who is interested in the startup scene but perhaps hasn’t had the opportunity to really explore and learn about it. Plus, Capital Factory folks are just good people, always bustling and busy working on exciting stuff. Those interested can shoot over an email to firstname.lastname@example.org more details.
Sinclair’s Reality Is Cracking -- Or at least the version of reality that maintains you honestly believe each of their local TV news stations are actually local. A video making the rounds this weekend managed to splice together multiple stations around the country all speaking from the same tired script about good journalism and reporting. Those things are good, and I don’t doubt there a real commitment at most of these stations, but the optics of a stunt like this really makes you think, what other talking points and segments are being directed? [Via YouTube]
More Spectrum News In Austin -- Speaking of local TV news, Spectrum News is hoping to make their mark as one of the only non-broadcast affiliate station to offer local news. The Statesman has a good write up on the strategy, which you can read here. They're also going to be expanding this model into the LA market if any Austin based documentarians/producers are looking for a new gig.
Texas Food Writers Grapple with How to Cover Paul Qui -"The media is getting tougher on the celebrity chef, who announced a new Dallas restaurant even as his Austin trail is set to begin soon." [viaTexas Monthly]
Amazon Jumping into TV News? -- And just to round out this light news week with even more news about TV news, Amazon seems to be dipping its toes into the water. Recode reports that “Amazon recently hired research firm Qualtrics to ask Amazon users how they ‘experience the news.’” It’s important to point out, this doesn’t mean Amazon will be jumping into the news production game. This could easily be tied to a great many things, like advertising or a new local news affiliate partnership for Amazon Prime… Who knows, but it’s worth a look. [via Recode]