October 20, 2017

Senators Demand Online Ad Disclosures as Tech Lobby Mobilizes

“They have to realize the world has changed,” Ms. Klobuchar said.

Since 2006, most online political activity has been exempt from the rigorous regulations to which paid television, radio and print political advertising have been subject for years. The Federal Election Commission justified the so-called internet exemption rule by declaring the internet “a unique and evolving mode of mass communication and political speech that is distinct from other media in a manner that warrants a restrained regulatory approach.”

That attitude has many fewer adherents after the revelations that, in the run-up to the 2016 election, Facebook sold more than $100,000 worth of ads to a Russian company linked to the Kremlin, while Google sold at least $4,700 worth of ads to accounts believed to be connected to the Russian government.

Federal election law bars foreigners from spending money to try to influence United States elections.

“It’s ridiculous,” said Ann Ravel, a Democrat who served on the election commission from 2013 until this year. “We need to rethink all the exemptions for the internet because even if Facebook might not have known about the Russian advertising, they knew — and we all knew — that this was possible.”

The new bill would require internet companies to provide information to the election commission about who is paying for online ads.

The content and purchasers of the Russia-linked ads that ran on Facebook and Google in 2016 “are a mystery to the public because of outdated laws that have failed to keep up with evolving technology,” Ms. Klobuchar and Mr. Warner said.

The regulatory pressure comes at a particularly trying time for Google, Facebook and other tech giants. The companies, once celebrated as benevolent drivers of innovation and economic growth, are facing mounting criticism on both sides of the Atlantic for complex tax avoidance efforts, the hosting of pages used in sex trafficking, lax privacy protections and increasing monopoly power.

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In response, they have ramped up lobbying and public relations campaigns, with Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, last week whirring through Washington on an apology tour and charm offensive.

Yet government officials working on the investigations into the Russian-funded ads and the efforts to enact stricter disclosure requirements say Facebook and Google have been less than enthusiastic partners.

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Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, back left, with Representative Tony Cárdenas, Democrat of California, last week in Washington. Credit Drew Angerer/Getty Images

After initially resisting requests to turn over Russian-linked ads, Facebook has provided them to a congressional committee investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election. But Google has yet to do so, and neither company has made the ads public.

And in the weeks leading up to the introduction of the Klobuchar-Warner-McCain bill, Facebook told congressional aides that it is too difficult to figure out if an ad is political or commercial because candidates are often changing messages and topics. The company added that with the sheer number of ads on the site, the engineering involved in identifying political ads would be extremely challenging.

When the Federal Election Commission moved to strengthen its online disclaimer requirements in 2011 and again last year, the companies either ignored requests for input or suggested that new rules could “stand in the way of innovation,” as Facebook asserted in a 2011 comment to the commission.

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Around that time, both companies paid Perkins Coie to seek exemptions from the election commission to one of the few election rules that do apply to online political activity — that political ads placed on third-party websites contain disclaimers revealing who paid for them. The exemption requests, written by Mr. Elias, the head of Perkins Coie’s political law practice, argued that it was impractical to require disclaimers on ads the size of those then being offered on Google and Facebook.

While the election commission approved Google’s request, which was submitted in 2010, by a 4-to-2 vote, it deadlocked 3 to 3 on Facebook’s request, which was submitted the next year. Facebook nonetheless proceeded as if it was exempt from the disclaimer requirement, declining to mandate that political advertisements on its platform list their sponsors.

Such disclaimers and other disclosure requirements might have helped deter the Russian-funded ads and other online efforts to meddle in the election, say advocates for stricter campaign finance rules. Mr. Elias went on to help lead research into Russian efforts to help Donald J. Trump and damage Mrs. Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign.

It was “kind of like the chickens coming home to roost,” said Ms. Ravel, the former commissioner.

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She argued that since Facebook was not granted an exemption to the disclaimer requirements, it should have required advertisements to include disclaimers for the past half-dozen years. But referring to Mr. Elias, she said that “the savvy political insiders understand that there is not going to be any enforcement from the F.E.C.” because the commission has frequently deadlocked along partisan lines over enforcement matters in recent years.

Mr. Elias rejected suggestions that he helped Russia hurt Mrs. Clinton.

“Russia found a number of ways to aid Donald Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton, and the F.E.C. disclaimers would not have stopped them,” he said. The ads in question would not have required the disclaimers, he said, because — according to Facebook — they did not explicitly mention Mr. Trump, Mrs. Clinton or the election. In a blog post, Facebook wrote that the ads focused on amplifying “divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum, touching on topics from L.G.B.T. matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights.”

Citing United States intelligence findings that Russia was behind the hacking and dissemination of damaging emails from the Democratic National Committee in 2016, Mr. Elias said, “The Russians were willing to break the law to help Donald Trump. I doubt the F.E.C. disclaimers were going to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Critics are not accepting that. Google and Facebook had ample opportunity to work with the Federal Election Commission to devise and put in place effective and practical disclaimer rules, “but they were silent,” said Lawrence M. Noble, a former general counsel for the election commission who now serves in that position with the Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit that pushes for stricter rules governing money in politics.

“And they are still trying to avoid regulation,” Mr. Noble said.

A Facebook official said that the company would submit comments to the election commission as it considers tightening its disclaimer rules.

And the company’s vice president for United States public policy, Erin Egan, said, “We look forward to continuing the conversation with lawmakers as we work toward a legislative solution” to “achieve transparency in political advertising.”

She pointed out that the company had enacted new policies to self-police its ads, which Facebook asserted in a company blog post “would have caught these malicious actors faster and prevented more improper ads from running” in 2016.

Riva Sciuto, a Google spokeswoman, said that strict ads policies, including limits on political-ad targeting and prohibitions on targeting based on race and religion, already exist at Google. But the company is “taking a deeper look to investigate attempts to abuse our systems, working with researchers and other companies, and will provide assistance to ongoing inquiries.”

Nicholas Fandos contributed reporting.

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/19/us/politics/facebook-google-russia-meddling-disclosure.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Party Coverage: Scene City: Departing Elle Editor Robbie Myers Gets Party, Tells of Fire

She was first hired by Jann Wenner at Rolling Stone in the early 1980s, then went to Interview (where she worked with Andy Warhol), to Seventeen, to InStyle, and then ran the defunct Mirabella, at the time a sister publication to Elle.

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Ms. Myers, center. The party was hosted by the writer Daphne Merkin in her Upper East Side apartment. Credit Amy Lombard for The New York Times

“I mean, I’ve been working at a steady clip pretty much since I came to New York,” Ms. Myers said. “I never really had any downtime to speak of.”

Over the course of the evening at least a hundred guests, including Hal Rubenstein (the former fashion director of InStyle), Cindi Leive (the former editor in chief of Glamour) and many Elle staffers past and present, crowded the apartment, which was warmly lit and lined with walls of books.

The intellectual setting seemed appropriate; Ms. Myers encouraged introspective and journalistic work from her writers, including essays about abortion, political and cultural profiles, and an extensively reported piece about a murder abetted by social media.

In 2014, she wrote a scathing response to a New Republic story that questioned whether women’s magazines could do serious journalism.

Along with the departures of Ms. Leive, Graydon Carter and Nancy Gibbs, Ms. Myers’s seemed to signify the end of an era in glossy magazines. But this evening felt more specifically like an elegy — Elle-gy? — for a thoughtful time in women’s monthlies, before the incursions of Instagram and other digital media.

“I always thought Elle was different in that it let you write dense, crunchy, textured stories in an age where everything is quick,” said Ms. Merkin, who most recently wrote for Elle about considering a same-sex romantic relationship. “And I always admired Robbie for standing firm for that kind of piece.”

Nina Garcia, the “Project Runway” personality who had been creative director at Marie Claire, and who worked under Ms. Myers as Elle’s fashion director from 2000 to 2008, took over the editor role at Elle a week after Ms. Myers’s departure. Some contributors worried that Ms. Myers’s interest in the inner lives of women may be replaced by a heightened focus on their appearances.

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“I hope that what separated Elle out from the other magazines will be preserved,” Ms. Merkin said. “But I don’t know if that’s the very thing that’s going to be preserved.”

Also present was Anne Slowey, Elle’s longtime fashion director (she left in February, after 18 years), who has known Ms. Myers since the early 1980s and was once on a competitive swim team with her.

“The thing that saddens me about this year in particular is about the Women in Hollywood event,” Ms. Slowey said, referring to Elle’s 24th annual event celebrating women in the entertainment industry, which was held on Oct. 16 in Beverly Hills. After the accusations against Harvey Weinstein, actresses including Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Lawrence and Laura Dern delivered an outpouring of personal stories about sexual assault and harassment.

“I was particularly saddened that Robbie wasn’t there to receive credit at this moment when it could represent something more important,” Ms. Slowey, now a self-described “soccer mom” of two, said, before leaving to join her family dogs, Edie and Maude, waiting for her in a 1991 Volvo stuffed with groceries.

So what’s next for Ms. Myers?

“I got very good advice from David Granger,” she said, speaking of the former Esquire editor in chief, who is now a literary agent. “He said to me, ‘A lot of people are going to call you. So don’t do anything for 40 days.’

“He said, ‘Just give yourself a little time.’”

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/19/style/elle-editor-robbie-myers-party.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Kelly Clarkson Is Nobody’s Puppet

Showcasing that voice in its full glory was one of Ms. Clarkson’s primary objectives for “Meaning of Life.” “I wanted to make a record that I could really sing the [expletive] out of,” she said. Writing songs wasn’t as big of a priority; she wanted to spend time with her children, and “I don’t write well when I’m happy.”

Her starting point was her favorite artist: Aretha Franklin. She and Mr. Kallman, who was an executive producer of “Meaning of Life” with Ms. Clarkson, asked, “What if Aretha was born now and made a record today?”

They didn’t want the album to sound old. “So it’s just not nostalgic, it’s not a retro experience,” Mr. Kallman said in a phone interview, “but it’s really a modern experience infused with the best of those records we call standards.”

Ms. Clarkson teamed with familiar faces including Greg Kurstin (Adele) and Maureen “Mozella” McDonald (Miley Cyrus), as well as newcomers Jessica Ashley Karpov (Britney Spears) and the duo Nova Wav (Kehlani), in search of songs that capture her current state of mind: dealing with the rewards and complications that come with connecting with someone “emotionally, mentally, physically” in a marriage; and as a mature woman feeling completely comfortable in her own skin after years of withering, sexist criticism about her appearance. The results are sassy up-tempo numbers like “Heat” and “Didn’t I,” and slinky slow-jams like “Move You.”

“Obviously when you’re writing in your 20s — I’m not demeaning it, in any way — but it’s a different, juvenile kind of approach,” Ms. Clarkson said. Referring to an intimate ballad about foreplay, she added, “If I had sung ‘Slow Dance’ at 20, what the hell do I know about that?”

Jesse Shatkin, a producer and songwriter who worked with Sia on “Chandelier,” collaborated on half of the songs on “Meaning of Life,” including “Love So Soft.” He said Ms. Clarkson delighted in having her backup singers in the studio, filling the room with a gleeful feminine energy. “There was this really fun women-singing-all-over-the-studio, laughing-so-much, joking-all-the-time vibe,” he said.

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But so far, “Love So Soft” has yet to rise past No. 62 on the Billboard Hot 100 after five weeks. Ms. Greenwald said that the first-week streaming numbers for the single indicated the listenership was over 50 percent male. “I would have bet you a million dollars it was going to be 85 percent women,” she said. “I was blown away.”

Sharon Dastur, a senior vice president at the radio company iHeartMedia, said Ms. Clarkson’s music has always been playable on multiple formats. “Is it still pop music? Absolutely,” she said in a phone interview, noting that the song is performing on both pop and Hot AC (adult contemporary) stations. Ms. Dastur, who attended Ms. Clarkson’s premiere event, said she’s been following her career from its start.

“I’ve never seen her so fully happy with herself, personally, professionally, her music,” she said. “I think people have always not only just loved her voice, her music, but her. I think that goes a long way with fans, that she’s been the same genuine, super-talented person she’s been from the beginning.”

MS. CLARKSON IS so disarming that when she returned from a bathroom break proclaiming, “Wow, I really had to pee! That was a lot!,” I nearly high-fived her. She calls herself “a tool” and “a nerd.” She loves “Game of Thrones,” but has never watched a reality show (and yes, she gets the irony). When she wants to be sure you catch her disdain, she quickly says “sarcasm, sarcasm.” On Twitter, she alternates between posting goofy GIFs, relentlessly positive shout-outs to artists she loves and rebukes to people who scold her for speaking out about issues like the violence in Charlottesville, Va., and N.F.L. players protesting. (She announced her support for Hillary Clinton in January 2016, and tweeted “Yaaaasssss!” upon learning that Mrs. Clinton cited her — and Nietzsche — in her book “What Happened.”)

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Ms. Clarkson has bristled at being told to “shut up and sing.” “It’s weird, but I actually came with a brain, not just vocal cords, and it would be silly to not have an opinion,” she said. Credit Samir Hussein/WireImage, via Getty Images

She understands why fans feel an extra sense of ownership over her. We witnessed her “Idol” journey in real time. We heard the personal stories she shared in songs like “Because of You” and “Piece by Piece,” which describe feeling abandoned by her father following her parents’ divorce. We’ve seen her transparency and graciousness in an ecosystem that encourages the opposite.

“I actually don’t mind that,” she said, “because I feel a certain level of pride that people even feel like my journey is that important in their life. That’s cool, for someone from Nowhereville. I just mind when people all of a sudden feel like I’m one thing.”

Over the summer, Ms. Clarkson shined a light on the routine harassment women endure online by responding to a “You’re fat” tweet with “…and still [expletive] awesome.” (She added a winking-tongue-out emoji, perhaps because, as a therapist told her during one of the two sessions she’s ever had, “You don’t want to wreck someone’s day.”) And she has no patience for being instructed to “shut up and sing.”

“It’s weird, but I actually came with a brain, not just vocal cords, and it would be silly to not have an opinion,” she said, growing heated. “It would be a disgrace if I didn’t have an opinion. It would be a cruel irony to all these people who live in different countries who don’t have an opinion, and don’t count, for me not to take full advantage of all the opportunities that are laid before us here in this nation.”

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The centerpiece of “Meaning of Life” is a feisty throwdown called “Whole Lotta Woman,” which alludes to the size of her waistline, her attitude, her self-worth and her mouth using references to Southern cooking. Ms. Clarkson said its inspiration came from the challenges of being a financially secure woman looking for a man after internalizing the paradoxes of growing up in the South, where women are told, “We want to educate you and we want you to be intelligent, but not too intelligent to where you’re intimidating; we want you to be beautiful, but not too sexy to where you’re a slut; we want you to be successful but not so successful that you make someone feel uncomfortable.”

Debuting the track for the radio promoters at her home, Ms. Clarkson couldn’t hold back. She sung along and bounced to its outro’s bass-heavy groove.

“I don’t want to hide the fact that I am a successful, strong-minded, opinionated —” she said the next day, cutting herself off to make another point. “Sometimes I get it wrong, but I learn — but I have a voice.”

Correction: October 19, 2017

An earlier version of this story misstated the relationship of Julie Greenwald and Craig Kallman of Atlantic Records. They are not married to each other.

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/19/arts/music/kelly-clarkson-meaning-of-life-interview.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Hearst Agrees to Buy Rodale, Publisher of Men’s Health


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Rodale is a family-owned company that publishes magazines like Prevention and Runner’s World.

Hearst, the publisher of magazines like Cosmopolitan and Esquire, announced on Wednesday that it had agreed to acquire Rodale, which owns Runner’s World and Men’s Health, another sign of consolidation in an industry struggling to offset declines in print.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. The deal is expected to close next year.

Rodale, a family-owned company that also publishes the magazines Bicycling, Prevention and Women’s Health, said in June that it was exploring “opportunities for potential buyers.” Hearst and Meredith Corporation, which publishes Family Circle and Better Homes Gardens, were both circling Rodale, and industry executives expected that one would prevail.

In a statement, David Carey, the president of Hearst Magazines, said Maria Rodale, Rodale’s chief executive, had “grown her family’s business into a peerless authority that reaches an enormous audience.” He added that Hearst was “pleased to add them and all of Rodale’s brands to our vibrant and varied global portfolio.”

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Along with Rodale’s magazine business, Hearst is acquiring the company’s book publishing division.

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/18/business/media/hearst-rodale-magazines.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Michele Marsh, Longtime New York TV Anchor, Dies at 63

In 1996 she was one of seven anchors and reporters dismissed in a housecleaning by the station, but she was shortly recruited by WNBC, where she anchored with Chuck Scarborough for a time. She left the station after she lost her anchor slot in 2003.

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Michele Marsh in 1997. Credit WNBC

Michele Marie Marsh was born on March 9, 1954, in suburban Detroit to Howard Marsh, an insurance salesman, and the former Gloria Gadd.

Her first marriage, to Nathaniel Price Paschall, ended in divorce. In addition to their son, John, she is survived by her second husband, P. H. Nargeolet.

Ms. Marsh graduated from Northwestern University, where she majored in radio and television production.

She began her career at WABI-TV in Bangor, Me., where she ran the teleprompter with her toes while on the air. She told The Bangor Daily News in 1976 that she had gotten fan mail “from little boys who say, ‘Let’s run off together, my father owns an ice cream truck.’ ”

After moving to KSAT-TV in San Antonio, she came to the attention of adults, too, becoming so popular that guards were assigned to fend off her admirers.

After only five months in New York, when she was still 25, she said her brown hair had already started turning gray. Before she left in 2003, she would win five local Emmy Awards in the nation’s most competitive market.

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/18/obituaries/michele-marsh-dead-longtime-new-york-tv-news-anchor-dies.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

French Magazine Draws Outrage for Putting Convicted Killer on Its Cover

The letter went on to say that the magazine had covered Mr. Cantat’s music since the 1980s, when Mr. Cantat was the lead singer of the popular rock band Noir Désir, and it noted that the October issue questioned whether a musician convicted of killing should be pursuing a public life.

“The question that our article about Bertrand Cantat raised was: Why and how to make music when a woman was killed?” it said.

When the singer first announced he was restarting his music career, many critics questioned the decision, and whether fans should boycott him.

The Elle editorial applauded the bravery of women who speak out against violence against women, citing those who accused the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct, among others.

The Inrockuptibles controversy came close on the heels of the Weinstein allegations, which resulted in President Emmanuel Macron announcing that Mr. Weinstein would be stripped of the Légion d’Honneur.

That conversation has also extended online. Inspired by the social media movement of sharing experiences of sexual harassment or assault with the hashtag #MeToo, tens of thousands of Twitter posts over the past few days used the French hashtag #balancetonporc, or “expose your pig.”

Marlène Schiappa, the French junior minister for gender equality, said on Monday that the government was considering fining those who catcall women.

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Mr. Cantat is set to release his new album, “Amor Fati,” on Dec. 1. A single, “Angleterre” (“England”), was released this month.

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/18/arts/les-inrockuptibles-bertrand-cantat.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Tech We’re Using: Pioneering Virtual Reality and New Video Technologies in Journalism

How do you pilot test new technologies for video? How do you determine if something makes the cut for broader use in the newsroom?

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Ms. Hopkins said that V.R. helps create a sense of place, such as an interactive music installation inspired by myths of forest spirits. Credit Danny Ghitis for The New York Times

Sometimes we practice with new cameras around the office or at home before using them on a story. Other times we send them out on a reporting trip for a trial by fire.

The first time we used the V.R. camera Z Cam S1, we took it to the hottest place on Earth: Danakil, Ethiopia, where temperatures can reach 125 degrees Fahrenheit. In the early days of our V.R. production, we’d had a lot of problems with cameras overheating and turning off. So we weren’t sure how the Z Cam would perform in such a difficult environment. To our delight, it never overheated as it captured stunning images for the resulting film, The Land of Salt and Fire.

What has been the strengths of using virtual reality for journalism? What unexpected stumbling blocks have you come across with it?

V.R. is great for creating a sense of place. We often use it for stories in which the place is important to the story and being there can create a visceral experience that is rare in other mediums. V.R. can transport our audience to places they otherwise couldn’t or wouldn’t go, as in The Antarctica Series, which takes people below and above the ice of Antarctica.

Unexpected stumbling blocks arise frequently because we’re working on the edges of what we know how to do. There’s often a gap between how we want to tell a story and the tools that we have to do it. That’s when we hack available hardware or software to suit our needs.

Under a Cracked Sky | 360 VR Video | The New York Times Video by The New York Times

Among the virtual reality headsets from Facebook’s Oculus, HTC, Google, Sony and Samsung, which do you think is most likely to become mainstream first, and why?

I don’t know who will make it, but the first immersive media wearable to be widely adopted will look and function more like a pair of reading glasses than like the V.R. headsets we have today. The first generation of modern V.R. and augmented reality headsets are too clunky to go mainstream. They’re heavy and awkward, sometimes connected to a computer by a cable. They’re good prototypes for getting us started in immersive platforms, but I hope someone builds something that’s more convenient for everyday use.

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Ms. Hopkins, right, tried a V.R. demonstration that transports viewers back to John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s bed-in protests of 1969. Credit Danny Ghitis for The New York Times

I’m ready for a pair of glasses that uses light field technology to integrate interactive digital information in the real world around me. I want Google Maps to draw directions on the street in front of me. I want Netflix to project a movie on my living room wall. I want AccuWeather to show me today’s highs and lows on my coat closet door. I want NYT Cooking to put recipe demos on my countertop.

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When that’s possible, I think glasses will eventually replace smartphones.

How are you thinking about augmented reality and its application toward journalism?

A.R. has huge potential for journalism. There are already a few applications that we’ve seen that could be useful in our reporting.

One is creating three-dimensional objects and putting them in the user’s environment. For example, if we build a 3D model of how gravitational waves are generated from colliding black holes, you could walk around it to observe the mechanics of an invisible astronomical event.

Location-based A.R. has widespread applications for news, travel, culture and real estate. When visiting the vineyards of Sonoma County, you could access tips and highlights from our Travel section.

I’m also very interested in A.R. portals. Imagine a digital “door” in your living room that leads to a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh.

Of course, I’m most excited about the A.R. applications we haven’t thought of yet.

Outside of work, what tech product are you currently obsessed with using in your daily life and why?

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I often joke that Spotify knows me better than anyone in my life. My favorite feature is Spotify’s Discover Weekly, which serves me a personalized playlist of music I’ve never heard. I save the songs I like, and occasionally make my own playlists out of the ones I love. As with any machine learning algorithm, the more you use it, the smarter it gets. At this point, Spotify is really good (probably better than me) at something I don’t have time for anymore — finding new music I like.

How much do you take video personally for friends and family and for social media? Or do you leave all of that at work?

I’ve gone through phases with documenting my personal life. Right now I’m in a social media lull and don’t take many photos or videos outside of work. It’s a real treat for me to abandon my phone when I’m spending time with friends and family.

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/18/technology/personaltech/virtual-reality-video.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

How Many People Watch Netflix? Nielsen Tries to Solve a Mystery

Nielsen announced the initiative on Wednesday morning, but it has been collecting Netflix viewership data over the last two months in a kind of test run.

The company said it was able to determine how many viewers were streaming Netflix content through audio recognition software in the 44,000 Nielsen-rated homes across the United States.

Nielsen has been releasing its Netflix data privately to media companies that have subscribed to the service, including the Walt Disney Company, Warner Bros., Lionsgate, NBCUniversal and AE Networks.

Nielsen executives said that those companies would now have the ability to access viewership figures for shows they licensed to Netflix, like “Friends” from Warner Bros., as well as originals like “Orange is the New Black” and “Stranger Things.”

Nielsen executives said the company had not yet begun collecting data from other streaming services like Hulu or Amazon.

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The move is a necessary step for Nielsen — and one that many in the industry have said is long overdue. Some entertainment executives have criticized the company as being a relic of the channel-surfing era while more viewers take to streaming content.

Netflix has long played by its own rules, and it is not likely to hand over its streaming data to an outside party. The new ratings figures, which Nielsen did not release to the news media, are likely to result in some pushback from the digital giant, which announced that it will spend $7 billion to $8 billion on content in 2018.

And there are likely to be questions concerning Nielsen’s accuracy. Though the ratings are drawn from its much-ballyhooed television panel, the numbers include only viewers who are using a television set. If someone watches a Netflix show on a laptop, tablet or smartphone, it is not included in the count.

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Additionally, Nielsen’s data comes only from customers in the United States, and Netflix has made an aggressive play in international markets. Of its roughly 104 million paying subscribers, a little more than half live outside the United States, according to Netflix’s third-quarter earnings.

Earlier efforts to sleuth out streaming ratings have faced criticism. Last year, NBC executives released some Netflix ratings data from a company called Symphony Advanced Media, which similarly used audio fingerprinting technology from a panel of 15,000 people who downloaded a special app.

Netflix’s chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, said the numbers gathered that way were inaccurate. Moreover, he said, because the company relied on subscriptions and not advertising, they were irrelevant. (The 2016 measure focused on the 18-to 49-year-old demographic coveted by advertisers.) Symphony stopped measuring Netflix ratings earlier this year.

Nielsen said its numbers would be more reliable.

“It’s far, far superior,” Ms. Clarken said. “Symphony was a small panel. It wasn’t recruited in any kind of capacity to the gold standard that we recruit, so there’s no representation in there. And it was very small.”

“It provided interesting analytics,” she continued. “Our goal is to go well beyond interesting analytics. This is about providing a ratings equivalent to a high quality ratings service.”

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/18/business/media/nielsen-netflix-viewers.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

‘The Walking Dead’ at 100: Still a Hit, but for How Much Longer?

But it is also looking to rebound from a stretch that alienated many fans with storytelling shenanigans — most notably a cliffhanger that made viewers wait for months to learn the identities of Negan’s victims in the Season 6 finale — and a string of grim, disjointed episodes in Season 7. Last year’s ratings were the lowest since Season 3.

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In Season 8, fan favorites like Carol (Melissa McBride) and Daryl (Norman Reedus) are reunited. Credit Gene Page/AMC

And that was before an off-season in which Mr. Kirkman and several other executive producers sued AMC, charging it with shortchanging them on profits from the show. The complaint follows a similar suit by the other co-creator, Frank Darabont, who was fired during production on Season 2.

So the question going into Season 8 is, are the hiccups simply understandable ebbs within a long-running serial, or the beginning of an aging show’s decline?

The producers and AMC insist that however things look from the outside, everyone involved remains committed to the health of their golden goose. The creators predictably say the next phase of the story is the most exciting yet, and they expect “The Walking Dead” to last another 100 episodes or more.

“We want to keep doing it at least as long as Robert keeps doing it,” Scott M. Gimple, the showrunner, said. “We’re prepared for the long haul.”

Since debuting on Halloween 2010 as a horror curiosity, “The Walking Dead” has become a pop culture institution — earlier this month the series donated a collection of props and costumes to the Smithsonian.

But there’s still plenty of story left to tell. (The events of Season 8 begin in Issue 115 of the comic book; Issue 173 comes out in November.) Charlie Collier, the president of AMC networks, points to recent raucous cast appearances at Comic-Cons and traffic to the Season 8 trailer, which has more than seven million views, as evidence that, for all their kvetching last season, fans remain as engaged as ever.

A trailer for Season 8 of “The Walking Dead.” AMC

Another thing in the show’s favor is that it is returning to its roots, creatively, with this season’s “All Out War” arc. A coalition led by the show’s hero Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) will face off against Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and his gang, the Saviors. After testing viewers’ patience by separating fan favorites like Rick, Carol (Melissa McBride) and Daryl (Norman Reedus), the new phase reunites the core group against a colorful villain, a dynamic that animated popular stretches like the Governor and Terminus story lines. And unlike the overhyped arrival of Negan in Season 6, the “All Out War” story line will be resolved within a single season.

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“Hopefully the people who said they’d never watch the show again” will come back, Mr. Morgan said. “There are going to be some big payoffs.”

Cast members say viewer criticism of last season was not unexpected. Mr. Gimple warned the show’s stars that the brutal murders of the popular characters Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and especially Glenn (Steven Yeun) at the hands of Negan would be controversial, said Danai Gurira, who plays the katana-wielding warrior Michonne.

While the fan outrage and dipping ratings received plenty of coverage, that didn’t translate into more pressure during shooting for the new season. “It was not felt on the set at all,” Ms. Gurira said. (The production did, however, endure a tragedy: John Bernecker, a stuntman on the show, died after an accident on the set in July. The premiere episode honors him in the credits.)

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A scene from the Season 8 premiere. Credit Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

Viewing numbers for “The Walking Dead” peaked in Season 5, with an average of 13.3 million viewers in the key 18-49 demographic advertisers covet tuning in each week (20.1 million total), according to Nielsen. By Season 7, that had fallen to 10.3 million in the demo, a decline of roughly 23 percent in the key cohort. (Over all the show drew an average of 16.4 million total viewers, or roughly 18 percent fewer than in Season 5.)

Though “The Walking Dead” still nearly doubled its closest competitors last season among viewers aged 18-49, media analysts, some of whom downgraded AMC Networks stock in response to last season’s “The Walking Dead” numbers, will be watching Season 8 closely for signs of further slippage, said Michael Nathanson of the research firm MoffettNathanson.

“They really have to come out of the gate strong,” said Mr. Nathanson, whose company downgraded AMC in December. (For the record, the stock is up about 7 percent since then.) “Ratings still matter — it’s a driver of ad revenues.”

Mr. Collier, the AMC president, said the falloff in traditional viewing had been offset by increases online. But digital revenue streams are generally not as lucrative as conventional TV ads.

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He’s similarly sanguine, at least publicly, about the hiatus’s other big story: The litigation begun by Mr. Kirkman, Gale Ann Hurd and other series producers, which claims that AMC has denied them what could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars by manipulating the show’s reported profits. In a statement, AMC called the suit “baseless and predictably opportunistic,” but both sides have pledged to continue working together to keep “The Walking Dead” and its ancillary properties as successful as possible.

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Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan in “The Walking Dead.” Credit Gene Page/AMC

“This is a drama that has continued to reinvent itself and remain relevant, and I think that can happen for a long, long time,” Mr. Collier said.

How long exactly? The smart bet is some version of “as long as it wants to,” and possibly longer.

AMC now thinks of “The Walking Dead” as “not just a show, but really as an incredible piece of content that we engage fans with not just for the 16-week season, but for the remainder of the year,” Mr. Collier said.

Besides “Fear the Walking Dead” — which will have a crossover subplot with the original show, Mr. Kirkman announced at New York Comic-Con — there are the highly rated postshow “Talking Dead,” video games and conventions. AMC just created a fan rewards program that will award points for interacting with the “Walking Dead” universe — watching episodes, posting on social media, creating fan fiction — and will soon debut a quarterly merchandise box subscription, a sort of Trunk Club for “Dead” heads.

As for the show itself, it has officially been renewed only for Season 8. But there are signs that the writers are looking far beyond the current time frame. A moment in the trailer seemed to depict Rick as a much older man, though no one involved will elaborate on whether the scene was a time-shift, a dream sequence or some other storytelling device.

All things considered, the only things that might eventually slow the march of the “The Walking Dead” are the human physiques of the grueling show’s increasingly middle-aged stars.

“I still have a little bendiness left in my body, but it does get harder,” Mr. Lincoln, 44, said with a laugh. “There comes a point, when you’re rolling around in the dirt covered in zombie blood with a fellow middle-aged man, that you think, is there any dignity left in this?”

“I’m excited about this season — we get to get the band back together,” he added, more seriously. “I’m hoping the audience is going to feel the same way.”

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/18/arts/television/the-walking-dead-season-season-8.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Roy Price Quits Amazon Studios After Sexual Harassment Claim

Mr. Price, who could not be reached for comment, made no secret of his departure from Amazon. Shortly before 5 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, he updated his Facebook page to say he had left his job.

The move followed the firing and Hollywood-wide denunciation of the mogul Harvey Weinstein, which resulted from the many accusations of sexual harassment and assault against him. (Mr. Weinstein, through his spokeswoman, has denied engaging in nonconsensual sex.)

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Mr. Price became a bit player in the Weinstein story when Rose McGowan, an actress who had reached a settlement with Mr. Weinstein in 1997 after an episode at a film festival, posted a series of tweets directed at Jeff Bezos, the chief executive of Amazon. In them, Ms. McGowan said she had told the head of Amazon Studios that Mr. Weinstein had raped her. (Ms. McGowan did not mention Mr. Price by name and did not respond to a message on Twitter asking for clarification.)

Before that series of tweets, Ms. McGowan had directed a Twitter message at Mr. Price concerning Mr. Weinstein, asking, “Remember when I told you not to do a deal with him and why?”

Mr. Price, a Harvard alumnus who once worked at the consulting firm McKinsey Company, had been an executive at Amazon for the last 13 years. He oversaw several TV shows, including “Transparent” and “The Man in the High Castle.”

Amazon’s original programming has not gotten the same buzz as Netflix shows like “Stranger Things” or Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which won an Emmy last month in the best drama category. Amazon was already in the process of trying out a new game plan for its original programming by time Mr. Price was suspended.

On his watch, Amazon distributed the Oscar-winning film “Manchester by the Sea,” and made itself into a force on the film festival circuit. The recent New York Film Festival opened with an Amazon-financed film, Richard Linklater’s “Last Flag Flying”; featured an Amazon coproduction, Todd Haynes’s “Wonderstruck,” as its “centerpiece” attraction; and closed with the Amazon-distributed “Wonder Wheel,” the latest from Woody Allen. The red-carpet portion of the “Wonder Wheel” premiere was canceled on Saturday, two days after Amazon announced Mr. Price’s suspension.

Albert Cheng, the chief operations officer for Amazon Studios and the former head of digital operations at ABC, was assigned to be Mr. Price’s interim replacement.

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/17/business/media/roy-price-amazon-studios.html?partner=rss&emc=rss