An Ice Bucket Challenge Backlash? Really!?

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Predictably, this summer’s ice bucket challenge, which has raised millions for ALS research and clued a new generation (including my own children) into issues surrounding ALS, has created a backlash. Articles in Time and Philadelphia magazine, among many others, have criticized the challenge as either shallow, wasteful or even (despite all the money raised) counterproductive.

There have always been scolds and fogies, but the rise of the Internet and social media has turned reflexive naysaying into something of a sub-genre of media commentary. I’ve decided to call this dull contrarianism, because these arguments are rarely more interesting or clever than the parent at the Slip’N Slide party who starts talking about kids losing eyes.

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3 Feel-Good Stories the Internet Has Ruined This Week

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Have you noticed how angry everyone online is lately? Taking a confluence of factors into consideration, this might have been the most furious Internet week of 2014, and it’s not even over yet. But I’m not talking the myriad of real issues we as a people are facing. Below, let’s quickly look at three topics that seem to be pissing everyone off, when there seem to be much more important things toward which to focus our animosity.

What We’re Mad About: The Little League World Series

Why We’re Mad: Philly’s the type of city that could always use something or someone to root for, but it’s rare that we actually land legitimate options. Now, our very own Taney Dragons, led by breakout star/wunderkind/Sports Illustrated covergirl Mo’ne Davis, is one W away from playing for a national championship. Go Taney! Everyone loves to see awesome local kids have fun and succeed, right? NO OF COURSE NOT STOP BEING HAPPY.

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10 Ferguson Twitter Accounts You Need to Follow

People protest Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014, for Michael Brown, who was killed by a police officer last Saturday in Ferguson, Mo. As night fell Sunday in Ferguson, another peaceful protest quickly deteriorated after marchers pushed toward one end of a street. Police attempted to push them back by firing tear gas and shouting over a bullhorn that the protest was no longer peaceful.

People protest Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014, for Michael Brown, who was killed by a police officer last Saturday in Ferguson, Mo. As night fell Sunday in Ferguson, another peaceful protest quickly deteriorated after marchers pushed toward one end of a street. Police attempted to push them back by firing tear gas and shouting over a bullhorn that the protest was no longer peaceful.

Since the death of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown last Saturday, residents of Ferguson, Missouri, have taken to the streets to protest. Long before major media were on the ground, Twitter provided to-the-minute updates of events, and continues to be the most reliable reporting resource. Below is a list of 10 individuals you should follow on Twitter if you want to know what’s really happening on the streets of Ferguson, because the likes of CNN can’t be trusted to even report what’s happening outside of its own doors:

1. Antonio French (@AntonioFrench), St. Louis Alderman of the 21st Ward.

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Ice Bucket Challenge: Stupidest Idea Ever

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I wish I could have been in the room when someone came up with the utterly stupid idea for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, wherein you dump a bucket of ice water on yourself (recording it for YouTube, of course) and challenge six others to do the same, or you donate $100 to the ALS Association, which combats Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Read more »

The Long Fall of Philly Newspapers

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Shutterstock.com

Oh, what an ugly difference a dozen years can make.

At the beginning of the 21st century, the newspaper business was a happy one, fed by fat profit margins and a lack of competition in most cities. Philadelphia was no different: Yes, it had two major daily papers, but they shared an owner, reached different audiences — and maximized revenue.

What’s happened since then has been brutal. Everybody knows about the bankruptcy, revolving door ownership, and multiple rounds of layoffs that the Inquirer and Daily News — along with their digital cousin, Philly.com — have experienced in recent years. But a new document obtained by Philadelphia magazine shows just how deep the pain went.

The document is called “Interstate General Media: EBITDA Trend – 2000-2012.” (EBITDA stands for “earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization” and is one way to measure a company’s profitability.) And it reveals how the finances of Philadelphia’s leading newspapers imploded during that time — a period covering four owners: Knight Ridder, McClatchy, Brian Tierney, and finally the hedge fund owners who brought the newspapers out of bankruptcy. The last two years — that include two different sets of local ownership, one headed by George Norcross, the more recent one by Gerry Lenfest — are not included.

The document reveals:

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3 Rules for Surviving (and Thriving) on Yelp

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My sister is a really good doctor. She runs two busy offices in South Philly. Her patients include CEOs of large companies and union workers from the neighborhood. She sees everything from colds to cancer and knows the best specialists in town. I wouldn’t let her cut my fingernails, of course. But that’s because she’s my sister and I still remember her as a bossy 15-year-old. But her patients I know love her.

Except for this one guy. He skewered her on Yelp. He complained about her office. He gave her a low rating. And what was worse, that she didn’t even know about it until somebody (that was a gloating me) told her about it. She barely knew about Yelp. But apparently, her office was listed there and a handful of people made comments — all great except for the one guy. And it really, really upset her. I get it — people don’t like to hear bad stuff.

Is your business on Yelp? You better check.

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The Paywall Gets a Little Lower at the Inky Website

The hard and high paywall is dead. Long live the somewhat lowered paywall.

More than a year after the Inquirer and Daily News unveiled their new websites — hidden behind “hard” paywalls that required a paid subscription (or, more often, an access code) to read — the paywalls are softening a bit. Starting today, readers who go to Inquirer.com via links on Facebook or Twitter will get to read the story for free.

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News Startup Drops “Brother.ly” Name

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The new, less bro-ish logo.

Even before they’ve launched, the creators of a new digital news service for Philadelphia are showing they can discard a bad idea in a hurry. Which is why that forthcoming service — previously named Brother.ly — is now BillyPenn.com.

Critics had sniffed at the former name, nicknaming it “Bro.therly” and suggesting the moniker was exclusionary. Read more »

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