Is that a cross? A ship with a figurehead? It's only human to wonder what the future will hold, especially on the threshold of a new year. In one German tradition, fortune-seekers drop molten lead into cold water — then it's anyone's guess what the strange shapes portend.
This final note from reality television: The cable channel A&E announced this afternoon Phil Robertson and the whole "Duck Dynasty" gang are coming back.
Robertson was put on indefinite hiatus earlier this month for comments that were controversial, relating to how the Bible informs his view of gays.
A&E now says:
Duck Dynasty is not a show about one man's views. It resonates with a large audience because it is a show about family, a family that America has come to love.
A&E also says it's going to launch a public service ad campaign promoting: "unity, tolerance and acceptance among all people."
Long-form journalism is trendy, but isn't new. (Think magazine writing.) Today, we've given it an earnest name. And, saddled it with a collective hope, that'll it'll save our brains from the viral videos and snarky commentary that dominate the internet.
When we talk "long-form journalism,” we're talking, often, about narrative story telling. Craft-journalism. Stories like this, from freelance journalist Brooke Jarvis.
Many of the graves had no headstones at all. Just white wooden crosses with names stenciled in black paint. These were clearly among the most recent memorials. The earth beneath them was still heaped up, still decorated with bedraggled stuffed animals, and faded plastic flowers, unopened beers with rusty caps.
Brooke's story is titled "When We Are Called to Part." It's about her experiences in a settlement for leprosy patients, on a remote part of Hawaii.
“Definitely what I like doing best is when you have the time and space to dive deeply into a topic,” says Jarvis. And, it's a relatively good time to be that kind of writer. The number of online sites publishing long-form stories is growing. Jarvis is able to make a go as a freelancer.
Working with non-traditional online outlets like The Atavist, which published her story.
“We launched three years ago,” says The Atavist’s co-founder, Evan Ratliff, “at that time we felt like we had to make this argument that it's not true that people only read short things on line, it's not true that people's attention span has deteriorated.”
The Atavist publishes stories between 5,000 and 30,000 words. For a little perspective, that could be more than a thousand tweets. Or, six pages of news print. “Something you can read in anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half,” says Ratliff.
The Atavist charges per story; it splits profit with the author. It also makes money selling software that helps other websites publish long stories. “You can throw a rock on the web and hit a publication that's trying to do long-form writing,” says Ratliff. A trend that he thinks is fantastic.
Online, you’ll find sites dedicated to long-form journalism, like the Atavist. And sites ike Buzzfeed and Politico, mixing longer journalism with quick hits and snappy headlines. “Their ambition from the beginning has been to drive and to own the Washington conversation,” says Susan Glasser, the editor of Politico’s new magazine. Making the move into longer-form journalism is a natural. The first cover story of the print magazine was a 7500 word piece about the Obama White House. Glasser says it got a million page views. "I do think that there's a sense that it'll be good business to pull out of that news cycle and to dominate that Washington conversation in a whole different way,” says Glasser.
These stories help build a brand. “Longer, in-depth stories have a lure of gravitas and smarts to them that allow media outlets to stick a claim in the intellectual space,” says Patti Wolter, a professor at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. They give the publication, and the journalist, an aura of importance. Significance.
Long-form stories, at their best, reveal bigger truths. They also win awards. “To be a media outlet to do that and compete at that level is the pinnacle of the craft,” says Wolter.
So, good-bye conventional wisdom: that the internet has killed journalism, that all we want is slideshows of baby hamsters.
And, hello depth and length. Hello storytelling. Now, you're going to have to earn and keep our time and attention.
This final note comes courtesy of entertainment site TMZ. According to the site, Paris Hilton is paid between $100,000 and $350,000 an hour to DJ at nightclubs in Europe:
Paris Hilton claims she's one of the TOP 5 highest paid DJ's in the world.
The heiress dropped the bombshell at LAX, after returning from a trip to Moscow ... when we asked if her foray into the world of electronic music has been paying off financially.
Her response -- "I'm one of the top 5 in the world, so..."
Here's the thing, it's definitely possible ... as we previously reported, Hilton inked a HUGE contract with one of the biggest clubs in Ibiza back in the summer after packing the house for several months in a row.
The 113th Congress has come to be defined more by what it failed to do than what it did. But the two warring parties controlling either end of Capitol Hill managed to accomplish a few things in 2013.
Marketplace's Lizzie O'Leary and John Carney from CNBC look back, not just on the past week of business news, but on all of 2013 and the economic legacy of the year.
"The economy is doing very, very well. All that can happen now is things can get screwed up," John Carney, who blogs at NetNet on CNBC, says. "Most economists are saying things will go very well. So as long we don't end up in some sort of epic political fight where we're going to tank the economy again, things will go well in 2014."
Marketplace's O'Leary adds a bit of a skeptical note:
"Tomorrow, millions of Americans lose their unemployment benefits. We'll see what happens when that happens," says Marketplace host O'Leary. "There's a split, a schism if you will, between where data show the economy is going and where people's hearts and wage power for the middle class feels where the economy is, in their gut."
Bloomberg reduced smoking in New York City but failed to match that much copied success with other campaigns, such as one to lower obesity rates by regulating the size of sodas sold in city fast-food restaurants.
Last year, conservatives rallied around Chick-fil-A's president. Now, some are doing the same for Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson, who was briefly suspended from his show for things he said about homosexuals. And they're planning a similar show of support.
At least three people are dead and more than 250 arrested just days after the Muslim Brotherhood was declared a terrorist organization.
Over the past year, a roaring debate has erupted among physicists about what exactly would happen if you fell into a black hole. Would it be "spaghettification," or a quantum firestorm and oblivion where space ceases to exist? The answer has big implications for fundamental physics.
Head injuries have long been considered a risk factor for Alzheimer's, but the evidence on that is mixed. A study finds that people who have memory problems decades after a concussion are more likely to have the brain plaques associated with Alzheimer's.
Though 40 million credit and debt accounts may have been affected, Target says the hackers should not be able to decrypt sensitive information they obtained.
Rejecting a challenge by the ACLU to the program, U.S. District Judge William Pauley said Friday that the collection of data represented "a government counter-punch" against al-Qaida. The ruling comes less than two weeks after another judge said the program violated the Constitution.