December 5th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

A Note to Our Readers

It’s rarely good news when a publication titles a piece: A note to our readers. And today’s offering from Rolling Stone is no exception. The magazine has issued a public apology for its recent UVA campus gang rape story after realizing that their trust in the story’s main source and alleged victim was “misplaced.” This is a big deal for sexual assault victims who need their accounts to be believed. It’s a big deal for journalists who want their stories to be taken seriously. And, in this age of journalistic shake-ups and media landscape shifts, when news travels faster than ever, it’s a big deal for the rest of us who need to be confident our trust in news outlets is not itself misplaced. WaPo does the fact-checking RS should have: Key elements of Rolling Stone’s U-Va. gang rape allegations in doubt.

+ In other news news, many of those on the masthead of The New Republic have resigned after the resignation/firing of the magazine’s editor and “differences of vision with the magazine’s owner, Chris Hughes, a 31-year-old Facebook co-founder who bought the magazine in 2012 and now aspires to reposition it as a ‘digital media company.'”

+ Lloyd Grove in The Daily Beast: Facebook Prince Purges The New Republic: Inside the Destruction of a 100-Year-Old Magazine. (The only really rich Internet entrepreneurs you should trust to run a news publication are those who got really rich running a news publication.)

+ Jason O. Gilbert summarizes the state of news business with some personal news: “Today I resign from The New Republic. But I am excited to join Fusion! Which I am also resigning from, effective immediately. To start a new adventure at BuzzFeed! An adventure, I might add, which ends today.”

+ And finally, here’s what happened when a news site only reported good news for a day. (The Daily Show and Colbert Report have taught us that there is no good news; that’s why we decided to make bad news funny.)


Launch Rad

“The most perfect flight you could ever imagine.” That was how Mission Control commentator Rob Navias described the launch, flight, and splashdown of NASA’s Orion. This could be the first step towards giving humans a (roundtrip) ticket to Mars.

+ The Verge: How did Orion withstand temperatures twice the melting point of steel?


Weekend Reads

Raed Fares is determined to spread news about both the Syrian government and the Islamic State. As you might imagine, that’s a pretty risky occupation. From the NYT Magazine: Radio-Free Syria.

+ “Mormon fundamentalists have long lived according to their own rules. But in recent years, the outside world has started to encroach. When a former sect member and his family moved to the town where he’d grown up, they expected a homecoming of sorts. What they got was a war.” Ashley Powers in California Sunday Magazine: Their Town.

+ Narratively’s Ali Hussain on the secret life of a volunteer superhero: “The escorts in my descent to danger are Dark Guardian and Spectre, two New Yorkers who are part of a growing community of young, masked mystery men and women around the nation who don self-made costumes and spend their free time trying to stop drug deals, breakup robberies and prevent assaults.” (And I thought I was weird when I dressed up for the Dickens’ Fair…)

+ “Astonishing, if you think about it: that a person could live half his life without coming face-to-face with the one thing that unites us all. And I don’t think I’m alone in this.” Eric Puchner pays a visit to a sixth-generation funeral director who wants to reacquaint us all with the uncomfortable, eye-opening realities of death.


Picturing 2014

Nothing tells a story like a photo. And Reuters has a slideshow of its best news photos of 2014, along with the stories behind them.


Stop Or I’ll Text

It’s been a bad few weeks when it comes to news about police behavior. And this headline from the Daily News will not help much: Rookie NYPD officer who shot Akai Gurley in Brooklyn stairwell was texting union rep as victim lay dying.

+ Frank Serpico: “In the old days, they used to put a gun or a knife on somebody after a shooting. Now they don’t even bother.”

+ BBC collects some of the chatter from sites where police take to the Internet.

+ And for some contrast, let’s head to Iceland where last year they were protesting someone being killed by an armed police officer. For the first time in the country’s history.


A Rash Decision?

Amazon has launched its own line of private label diapers, confirming the concerns of partners who worried that the ecommerce giant would directly compete with them. They should start selling adult diapers soon, because a whole bunch of product manufacturers just shat themselves.


Ice Breaker

“Out of nowhere, as I screamed for help, a figure appeared. He lowered his body into the freezing water as far he could without losing his balance. He reached for me.” A jogger saved Mike Wise’s life. Six years later, the columnist got to repay him.


Shore Excursions

He “was signing autographs after a stand-up gig when the buxom, drunk brunette approached him. ‘Remember?’ she whispered into his ear.” He may not have, but we all remember Pauly Shore.

+ Should Mark Wahlberg be pardoned?


A Full Ride?

“A for-profit Florida college used exotic dancers to recruit students and faked high school diplomas and attendance records to qualify its pupils for millions in federal financial aid.” Well, let’s at least hope it was a business school


The Bottom of the News

A anonymous bidder just scored the Nobel Prize medal awarded to molecular biologist James Watson for $4.76 million. I’m pretty sure I can use this to motivate my kids to finish their science homework.

+ Left handed people earn 10 percent less than righties.

+ According to Google, 56% of digital ads served are never seen. (Only 44% to go!)

+ A California car chase is hardly news. Unless it ends with a skateboard.

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