Articles about "Slate"

‘Brilliant,’ ‘respected’ and ‘uniquely powerful’: Some different words about Jill Abramson

The New York Times | Slate | New Republic | Salon | All Digitocracy

After her firing from The New York Times on Wednesday, the media reported and repeated anonymous descriptions about Jill Abramson that made many of us cringe. She was pushy. Mercurial. Stubborn and condescending.

But on Thursday, several stories used different words to describe Abramson.

From Margaret Sullivan, the Times’ public editor:

But let’s take a moment to celebrate the short but meaningful reign of Ms. Abramson. A brilliant journalist, she “kept the paper straight,” which was one of her stated aims; there was no scandal on her watch. She moved the journalism forward into the digital realm – let’s allow the word “Snowfall,” like “Rosebud” to say it all. She defended press rights and stood up for her reporters, most notably with China coverage, staying the course when the going got tough. And her staff won eight Pulitzers during her short tenure (it should have been nine, in my view). And she wore her feminism on her sleeve in just the right way – not with overplaying stories about women’s issues, but with the determined promotion of qualified women into top roles. Her masthead was 50 percent women in recent months, a major change.

From Amanda Hess at Slate:

“Among the women here, there was a deep appreciation that another woman was high up at the Times. It symbolically had an impact,” one young female staffer told me. “We felt possessive and proud of Jill, and [appreciated] her stories about [New Yorker reporter] Jane Mayer and her other female friends in journalism,” said another. “We loved that she had all those tattoos,” she continued, referring to the Times’ T on Abramson’s back. “We were curious about her and how she got to where she was in a way that [we weren’t] about senior male editors. This might have been just my imagination, but I felt like I related to and empathized with her in a way I hadn’t with male editors.” A third put it this way: “Jill leaned in before everyone else, ever. Before Lean In. She’s pre-Sheryl Sheryl, but with more style and more class.”

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As Slate makes pagination go away for a price, what usability sin would you pay to eliminate?

Finally, Slate’s providing readers with an alternative experience to “one of the worst design and usability sins on the Web” — but it’ll cost you. For $5 per month, Slate Plus members won’t have to deal with paginated articles or ads during podcasts.

It’s a “freemium” pay model, or a “reverse paywall,” that adds features for subscribers rather than substracting them for nonsubscribers. But it still creates classes of haves and have-nots: those who have to click the “single page” button to see a story on a single page and those who don’t.

So that got us wondering: What awful usability features of browsing the Web would you pay to make go away? Interstitial ads like those that play before Washington Post content (even photo slideshows!)? The prompt to download or open an app on whenever you visit a mobile site like CNN? Pop-ups like those on Poynter asking you to donate money or pop-ups like those on Mashable asking you to like a Facebook page? Read more


No paginated articles for members of Slate’s new membership program

Slate | Nieman

Slate’s new membership program Slate Plus launched Monday, and Editor David Plotz reels off some of the premiums in the $5 per month/$50 per year program he says will lead to a “a richer, smoother Slate experience” in his announcement: “special access to favorite Slate writers and editors.” Early access to some features. A really nice-looking mug.

All of which pales compared to the most important benefit: No more paginated articles.

Slate will be sleeker for Slate Plus members. We know how much some of you dislike pagination: Slate Plus members will automatically get single-page articles throughout the site. Members will also be able to read and post comments directly on article pages, rather in a pop-up window, and we’ll highlight member comments.

The membership is not a paywall — all Slate’s content is still free for cheapskates. (Though the idea of eliminating annoyances in exchange for cash may be interesting to publishers no matter how or whether they charge for content — I would consider paying to never see “Read more” followed by a URL when I paste a quote into a blog post.)

Nieman’s Josh Benton writes that Slate Plus’ value “isn’t single-page stories or a pre-show spritzer with Emily Bazelon — it’s just the fact that it’s an opportunity for people willing to pay to do so.”

There are Slate superfans whose relationship with the site stretches more than a decade. Slate’s done a good job of pushing the personalities of its writers, which strengthens those reader–website connections. I suspect for many who sign up for Slate Plus, the decision will be less of a cost–benefit analysis and more of a “sure, they’ve given me a lot of good stuff over the years — I’ll throw them some coin.” Think of people who give to their local NPR station: It’s not really for the totebag.

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On Thursday, Amanda Hess wrote about the media talking down to women. In a piece called “Enough With the Ageist, Sexist Mom Jokes,” Hess wrote about a story in The New York Times on Tuesday and how the act of having a child does not actually lower IQ or the ability to understand complex topics.

I heard about “How to Explain Bitcoin to Your Mom” from my mother, of course, who spotted the item on the Times’ twitter feed. She is a New York Times subscriber (since the audience of the is 52 percent female with a median age of 47, I assume moms are a key demographic for the newspaper), so she is well-aware of the paper’s near-constant coverage of the cryptocurrency, even though these articles are written using grown-up words and not pretty pictures. (The same cannot be said for my father: When I called and asked him “What is Bitcoin?,” he replied, “I’ve been asking everybody the same thing for months.”)

Amanda Hess, Slate


Slate to introduce Amazon Prime-like membership plan

The New York Times

“Slate Plus” will launch Tuesday, Leslie Kaufman reports. While all Slate’s content will remain available for free, readers who pay $5 per month (or $50 per year) will get “special access to the site’s editors and writers, as well as members-only discussions with Emily Yoffe, Slate’s Dear Prudence advice columnist.” They’ll also get input into profiles, ad-free podcasts and discounts on events.

“Our model is Amazon Prime, which keeps adding benefits,” Slate Editor David Plotz told Kaufman.

In late 2012, Jeff Bercovici reported Slate might be considering a paywall. (The company tried one long ago but didn’t think it worked.) Paywalls “don’t make sense for a site like ours,” Weisberg told me at the time. He did say Slate was looking at a membership model. Read more


Let’s thank women’s magazines for quizzes

Slate | Time | Mashable

Have you Travolta-fied your name yet? (I’d be really surprised if you haven’t; the name-generator from Slate has been “the most popular post Slate had ever done–yes, even more than thinkpieces on Jonathan Livingston Seagull!” James Poniewozik wrote for Time on Wednesday.)

In “Why Name Generators and Quizzes Are the New Crosswords,” Poniewozik wrote about those quizzes and why they don’t mean an end to good journalism. Read more


Slate’s good strategy for correcting errors on Twitter, elsewhere

On Saturday night, Slate made a very funny, embarrassing error on Twitter:

Javier Bardem and Vladimir Putin aren’t exactly lookalikes. It’s a funny mistake, and thanks to Twitter’s recent changes the mistaken image loomed large in people’s timelines. Then came the correction:

Slate social media editor Jeremy Stahl employed a simple but effective strategy: he issued the correction as a reply to the original tweet. That’s why the correction begins “@Slate,” and it’s why it refers to the photo without having to show it again. The result is anyone viewing the original tweet can see the resulting correction in the stream of replies:

People viewing the correction tweet on its own can also see it’s part of a conversation linked to the original, offending tweet. (If you reply to yourself, then anyone who follows you will see the reply. So it’s just as good as sending it as a normal tweet, in terms of who can see it.)

Stahl figured a simple way to link the corrective tweet to the original. If you also look at the retweet accounts shown in the above image, it seems that the reply strategy doesn’t hurt distribution at all.

‘Almost never’ delete a tweet

Stahl says he’s been doing it this way for about a year, and it’s working well.

“In the past year, I’d say, I’ve started correcting mistakes within tweets as replies,” he told me by email. “Prior to that, I was running separate correction tweets after making errors, but then I realized that the original incorrect tweets were still out there and if people didn’t see both tweets they’d miss the correction. This seems to be an effective way of not only issuing a correction, but indicating the error on the mistaken copy.”

Exactly: it uses Twitter’s improved integration of conversations in the timeline to place the correction in context.

If Twitter isn’t going to offer a specific correction feature, it’s up to the people who need it to find better ways to use all the things you can do with the platform. Hats off to Stahl for doing that.

As for how he ended up confusing Javier Bardem and Vladimir Putin, Stahl told me:

We had run a story on Javier Bardem that I used a photo for the previous day, and I believe my photo of Bardem was next to my photo of Putin in my files list. I just accidentally uploaded the wrong one and sent it out without realizing it.

Due to a miscommunication with Slate’s deputy social media editor, Stahl said the mistaken tweet actually ended up being sent again a day later. Though he “almost never” deletes a tweet, Stahl did in that case.

“My logic was that if the same thing happened in an article, say if somebody accidentally copied and pasted the same error into a story twice, I would think it would only be necessary to correct the mistaken sentence once and leave one version of the corrected sentence up,” he said.

Corrections on Facebook, the Web

Slate follows a similar process for corrections on Facebook: It adds the correction as a reply. But Stahl also noted that he views the ability to “Hide” a post on Facebook as being different than deleting a tweet.

“If you delete a tweet, you are putting it down the memory hole, removing it from the visible web,” he said. “But if you hide a Facebook post from your wall after correcting, that Facebook post still exists, just not on your wall. To me it would be be like removing a mistake from the top of our homepage, but leaving the article and the correction up on the web.”

The “memory hole” concept is core to how Slate approaches corrections, according to editor David Plotz.

“Generally speaking, we don’t want to memory hole our mistakes,” he told me by email. “When we make an error, our readers should know that we made it, and know what it was, and they should know that the instant we make the correction, and 10 years later, too.”

Along with the social media corrections discussed by Stahl, there are two other notable aspects to how Slate handles corrections. The first is it publishes a post every Friday that lists the corrections for the week.

It’s a great way to highlight the publication’s errors/corrections, as the post shows up as a story just like any other, as opposed to being ghettoized somewhere else on the site. Reading the weekly roundups also gives a sense of the kind of errors Slate makes on a regular basis. (No. 1 cause, as far as I can tell: misspelled names.)

The other interesting approach comes on the offending articles. Slate places an asterisk at the end of the sentence where the original error occurred. (See this example in the story that featured the now-famous pic of Javier Bardem.)

Click on the asterisk and you’re brought to the correction at the end of the article. It’s a great to way to show the context of a mistake.

“We’ve found that readers really appreciate it and we want to be as upfront as possible about our mistakes,” said Miriam Krule, the Slate copy editor who oversees corrections. Read more


Correction: Atlanta may only lose a quarter of its trees today

But that’s still a lot of trees.

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Slate’s top error-spotter delivers another great correction

Back in 2007, Slate did a rare thing: it profiled a reader who was a prolific spotter of errors in Slate articles.

Jack Shafer, at the time Slate’s media critic, wrote a column that described regular reader RM “Auros” Harman as “A walking, talking, error-correction algorithm ….”

“Auros is easily one of the most prolific ‘gotcha’ artists currently submitting corrections to the magazine,” Shafer wrote.

Almost seven years later, Harman is still practising his art, and Slate is still giving him his due.

This gem was appended today to a story by  (headline: “Are Hobbits Human?”):

Correction, Jan. 2, 2014: The caption for this story originally stated that Arwen and Aragorn are half-elf and half-human. Aragorn is three-fourths human and one-fourth elf. Arwen is 3/16 human, 25/32 elf, and 1/32 Maia. Thanks to reader Auros Harman for the genealogical analysis.

It’s great when a publication credits a person for spotting an error, and lord knows Harman is deserving of recognition. He consistently helps improve Slate’s content, for no fee and with good humor.

Slate science and health editor Laura Helmuth also shared the correction on Twitter, and offered yet another tip of the hat to Harman. This inspired a reply from Harman:

Cheers to smart-asses everywhere! Read more

Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen speaks during a Court TV panel discussion debating the use of confidential sources in journalism on Aug. 16, 2005, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Richard Cohen will keep writing ‘until Gawker sends over a hit man’

The Washington Post | The Wrap | The Huffington Post | The Atlantic | Slate | Mother Jones | Salon

I don’t have a problem with interracial marriage or same-sex marriage,” Richard Cohen told Washington Post reporter Paul Farhi. Cohen was talking about the rage, outrage and disgust that greeted his column about Chris Christie and the tea party, which included this riff about interracial marriage:

People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York — a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children. (Should I mention that Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, used to be a lesbian?) This family represents the cultural changes that have enveloped parts — but not all — of America. To cultural conservatives, this doesn’t look like their country at all.

Farhi offers a look back at other times Cohen’s words have outraged people, writing, “Cohen said he still enjoys writing his weekly column and intends to keep at it as long as the paper will have him. Or ‘until Gawker sends over a hit man,’ he said.”

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