Truth, Bullies, and Rebranding (badly): this week’s Fresh Powder Report

The Embarrassing Truth

Last week the kids at Palmer Springs High School in Monument, CO, were at the center of controversy after the school newspaper’s editorial board ran a story announcing their endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president. Parents and community members didn’t hesitate to jump onto the school’s online newspaper, The Bear Truth, to start heaving abuse. What’s awesome about this? The school board, school officials, and even the Denver Post stood behind the newspaper staff, who were exercising their unequivocal right to free expression. What’s also awesome about this? It’s a valuable lesson to those angry, hate-slangin grown-ups: once you post your vitriol on a website that you don’t control, it can live forever in embarrassing infamy.

The Google Facebook Publishing Funnel

Looks like we may have a couple new bullies on the online publishing playground, and they’re pretty burly.  Last summer, Google released Accelerated Mobile Pagesand Facebook released Instant Articles. The tools are designed to provide a platform for publishing content faster than through traditional online platforms. The problem? Well, there are a few. First, in spite of WordPress plugin and other stop-gap measures, the proprietary software can be inaccessible to non-code savvy users. But more importantly, Google search results prioritize articles published with AMP, and Facebook does the same with IA. Effectively, Google and Facebook are creating a vacuum that pushes online publishers to use their platforms, or be destroyed by the suck of traffic away from their sites. You can learn more about it, but it might not stop these heavies from twisting your arm behind your back at recess.

tronc: Legacy

tronc, Inc. It doesn’t even type peace-ably into word processing software. Nevertheless, it’s the new name of Tribune Publishing and it’s meant to rebrand the company in an effort to cast a broader appeal to its online audience. As publications are increasingly going digital, the urge to rebrand is becoming more common. Or, we think that. In reality, the mad dash to keep readers has been in effect since print publishing came into existence, and we can expect that it will continue as we move increasingly into the digital realm. The take-away? However often you decide to rebrand, and for whatever reasons, don’t leave your readers wondering how a roomful of people actually agreed on an absurd new name like tronc, Inc. Incidentally, this Last Week Tonight clip lampooning the company also offers an apt analysis of the state of journalism that’s smart and funny and totally worth watching.

Buzzfeed Got Some Money…

…is essentially the net of the Wall Street Journal article on NBCUniveral’s $200 million investment in listicle startup Buzzfeed. If you’re interested in hard hitting journalism, you should definitely read the article, wherein sources like, “people familiar with the matter,” and, “a Buzzfeed spokeswoman,” are quoted. Buzzfeed, we’re happy for you. No one caters to our straight-to-the-bullet-point population quite like you do. Wall Street Journal, we’re not mad, we’re just disappointed in your lazy journalism.

These things also happened last week:

Leonardo DiCaprio almost died while diving in the Galapagos Islands but Ed Norton saved him, and everyone is talking about it. That it happened in 2010, more than half a decade ago, doesn’t seem to be a factor in the sensation surrounding this story. Take it as a symptom of campaign fatigue. Or, if you’re not tired of the political circus (or snarky stories about it), here’s some McSweeney’s for you, cause, McSweeney’s.