Friday, October 3, 2014

Bad linguistics

Gawker is holding a tournament right now to determine the "ugliest" accent in America.

Josef Fruehwald, a linguist and lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, has some issues with the tournament.  Basically, he feels it's helping to spread linguistic discrimination, since the so-called "ugly" accents tend to be associated with people from the working class.  Read his thoughts here:

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Deadspin getting sued

According to Law360:
A baseball broadcaster slapped MLB Network Inc. and Gawker Media Group Inc. with a $2.3 million lawsuit in New Jersey state court Wednesday, saying he was wrongly terminated after Gawker-owned erroneously reported he unleashed a profanity-laced tired while coaching his son’s Little League team. 
The suit by former Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Mitch Williams says he neither referred to a child with derogatory language nor ordered one of the 10-year-olds on his son's team to hit the opposing pitcher with a beanball at a May tournament, as Deadspin reported.
More details here: 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Chris Kluwe tweets mean stuff

I was browsing Chris Kluwe's twitter stream yesterday.  He was complaining about Tony Dungy, cracking jokes, calling him a homophobe, etc... and then, while replying to another Twitter user, Kluwe wrote:

And that's such a stark thing to tweet, I just felt the need to mention it.

I remember hearing that Tony Dungy's son had died back in 2005, but didn't know the son was homosexual or that he'd been disowned by his father.  So I did a Google search, and there weren't any official news sources which mentioned Dungy's son was gay.  All the speculation about it came from blog posts or message boards, and in fact one guy from TheStraightDope summed up my own findings:
Every single rumor I can find that James was gay was written by a third party who never met the kid and who had a prior hatred for Tony over his religious activism.  Since the person who found the body was his girlfriend, (and 18 seems a bit young for a beard, although not impossible), I'm going to hold off joining in condemnation over a rumor that seems to have no basis beyond the hatred of one group for another.
According to a USA Today article, James Dungy's body was discovered by Antoinette Anderson. When she called 911, she referred to him as her boyfriend:
"I think my boyfriend's dead," an anguished Anderson told an emergency dispatcher. "I think he tried to hang himself or something."
It may be possible that James was bisexual.  Or maybe the girl who called 911 misrepresented their relationship.

Or perhaps Chris Kluwe is a little bit unhinged and he's willing to spread these sorts of rumors to spite his enemies.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Murder and puppies

Sandy Hingston, writing for Philadelphia Magazine, thinks the commenters on Jezebel are "batshit." She has a point:

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Fun with Viddler, part 2

This is what happens when multiple Gawker blogs all cover the same topic.

Back in March, Nancy Grace was a guest on Good Morning America to discuss the Oscar Pistorius trial.  For some reason, she began braying about pornography, and everyone in the room kind of ignored her.

Timothy Burke at Deadspin took some of the broadcast footage and uploaded it using the Viddler platform.  The clip then made its way onto YouTube, and from there it was shared by various websites.  Gawker and Jezebel bloggers both gave their takes, but instead of using the Viddler clip, they simply embedded the YouTube version.  This became a problem when Gawker filed a copyright notice and had the clip taken off YouTube, resulting in a bizarre error message:

Yes, Gawker Media managed to block their own video from being seen on Gawker!

Here's the part that confuses me, though:  I don't understand why Gawker would be the ones to claim copyright over this video, rather than ABC.  There's a slight jump cut in Burke's clip, but it's not as though he manipulated the audio or added music or anything.  How do you claim copyright over something which you took from somebody else?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Fun with Viddler

Yesterday, Keith Olbermann devoted a segment on his show to the NFL's handling of the Ray Rice situation.  His belief is that any official involved in the "cover-up" should resign immediately.

Naturally, this clip wound up on Deadspin.  What caught my attention, though, was that Deadspin edited the post during the evening.  I think they originally uploaded the Olbermann clip using Viddler, then swapped it out.

Viddler is a video hosting platform, and Deadspin often uses it to embed footage which has recently aired on television.  It's a way to upload a video quickly without waiting for the copyright holder to provide an "official" version of the same clip.  This practice of swiping TV footage has resulted in at least one lawsuit for Deadspin:  They were sued last year by Dr. Phil's production company for uploading footage from his show before it could air in a majority of TV markets.

With regards to the Olbermann clip, I'm fairly certain Deadspin uploaded the clip using their Viddler platform, then replaced it with a YouTube clip once that became available.  I'm not saying this action violated copyright law.  I'm not even saying Keith Olbermann or the people working on his show would give a crap.  It just seems somewhat sketchy, especially in light of the aforementioned lawsuit.

Here are notes I made to show the chain of events.

The Olbermann YouTube channel uploaded the segment at approximately 6:13 P.M., eastern time. Deadspin managed to embed the segment with the Viddler platform at 5:27 P.M.  The show itself originally aired on ESPN 2 at 5:00 P.M..

I checked the Deadspin RSS feed a bit before 7 P.M., and it showed the Olbermann clip as formatted with the Viddler platform.  (See below.)  The length of that video was 6 minutes, 36 seconds.  The Deadspin RSS feed tends to run on a bit of a delay, and I expected it would later show the clip formatted with the YouTube player.  Sure enough, when I checked the RSS feed a couple minutes later, the Viddler version was gone, and in its place was the YouTube version.  (See below.)  The length of that version is 5 minutes, 24 seconds.

Here's a comparison of how the story looked on the RSS feed before and after 7 P.M.

Version 1 (Viddler):

Version 2 (YouTube):

If you can upload a segment from a TV show an hour before your competitors, it gives you an advantage in terms of going viral.  Your article will have a better chance of getting shared on Twitter, Facebook, Fark, etc...  It reminds me of how a stock trader might take advantage of a faster technology to get a leg-up on his competitors.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Deadspin way, part 4

1.)  Get a tip from a guy named "Michael" who claims he saw 7'3 NBA player Hasheem Thabeet flying uncomfortably in coach class.
2.)  Post the supposed photos of Hasheem without bothering to confirm the details of Michael's story.
3.)  Collect 128,000 pageviews.
4.)  Reveal two days later in an update that it wasn't actually Hasheem in the photos.
5.)  Try to do better the next time.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Deadspin way, part 3

1.)  Get a tip from a football fan named "Tom" who claims his friend received a trash-talking letter from Mark Richt.
2.)  Share the image of a letter and write your article as though the whole situation is legitimate.
3.)  Collect 78,000 pageviews.
4.)  Update your story when Mark Richt calls the letter fake.
5.)  Try to do better the next time.