84 episodes

Daniel Levitt delves inside the minds of journalists around the world

insidethenewsroom.substack.com

Inside The Newsroom Daniel

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Daniel Levitt delves inside the minds of journalists around the world

insidethenewsroom.substack.com

    #79 — Janelle Shane (AIWeirdness.com)

    #79 — Janelle Shane (AIWeirdness.com)

    Hello! Welcome to another edition of Inside The Newsroom! Today’s podcast is the first in a while, so it felt great to get back on the horse and devour some knowledge. Today’s guest is Janelle Shane, research scientist in artificial intelligence, and author of the recently-published You Look Like a Thing and I Love You, a book about the weirdest artificial intelligence out there. We got into all sorts of AI questions and even had a discussion on trucks with giant testicles dangling down from the back of them, so whatever you’re into there’s something for everyone. In all seriousness, AI is crucial yet so misunderstood, so I’m hoping the podcast above and newsletter below go some way in breaking down barriers for understanding its place in this world. Enjoy 🤓

    Job Corner

    Several deadlines coming up in the next few days, including at CBC, ITV, The Independent and The Texas Tribune. Check out almost 400 active journalism jobs, internships and freelance contracts. Please spread the word.

    Who is Janelle Shane?

    Janelle is a research scientist specializing in artificial intelligence, TED2019 speaker, and author of You Look Like a Thing and I Love You, a book on how AI works and why it’s making the world weirder. The book is an expansion of Janelle’s popular blog, aiweirdness.com, which makes fun at some of the stranger AI trends and innovations, like cockroaches being able to masquerade as giraffes to fool security. Janelle’s also written for The New York Times, Popular Science and Slate.

    Buy the book 👇

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    You Look Like a Thing and I Love You

    Janelle published her first book late last year titled You Look Like a Thing and I Love You, a book on how AI works and why it’s making the world a weirder place. Maybe it’s me and the line of work I’m in, but AI is more often than not associated with negatives, such as machines taking our jobs, racist algorithms, or fatal self-driving cars crashes. While there’s certainly cause for concern over the outcomes of machines overstepping the mark in terms of invading our privacy and threatening our security, it’s of course us humans programming AI that’s the problem. In the same vein, Janelle looks at some of the weirder AIs that humans have created, such as truck nuts…

    Truck nuts you ask? Yeah I did a double take too. One of the things I love about America is some people’s inability to control their testosterone, and the latest way this group of people are displaying their manliness is by dangling a pair of giant testicles from the back of their trucks. But in fine fashion, the AI from a Tesla recently recognized the oversized nuts as a traffic cone, a beautiful reminder of AI’s naivety and that we can all reduce some individuals with overflowing arousal to a traffic cone.

    What is Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning?

    Pinching this next bit from my podcast with Francesco Marconi, former R&D Chief at The Wall Street Journal and now co-founder of Applied XLabs. The never ending rise of power and influence of technology companies in our lives means we hear and read about terms such as artificial intelligence and machine learning seemingly every day. AI as we know it arguably started in the first half of the 20th century, just as computers were gaining steam. While AI and ML are closely linked and overlap in many ways, they are different.

    Artificial intelligence is:

    The overarching umbrella term for the simulation of human intelligence in machines programmed to think like humans and mimic our actions.

    Whereas machine learning is:

    The concept that a computer pro

    • 52 min
    #78 — Mark Gamba (U.S. House Candidate)

    #78 — Mark Gamba (U.S. House Candidate)

    Happy Friday folks, and welcome to another edition of Inside The Newsroom, where today we’ll have the latest in our series of candidates running for public office. This time it’s the turn of Mark Gamba, who’s vying to represent Oregon’s 5th district in the U.S. House of Representatives. Mark’s biggest test won’t be November’s general election, instead it’ll be Tuesday’s Democratic primary where he must topple 12-year incumbent Kurt Schrader, who’s one of the most senior Democrats in the country. We got into how the race has changed since going 100 percent digital amid the coronavirus lockdown, as well as how Mark’s 30-year career as a photojournalist exposed him to some of the worst effects of climate change, and how the emergency is fuelling the world’s wars and mass migration. Up top is the podcast, down below is the post-game, but first my picks of the week and today’s Job Corner. Enjoy! 🤓

    Picks of the Week

    How To Get Away With Murder — Goodbye to one of the most complex black women on TV 🥂

    Buzzfeed, Quartz — Buzzfeed announced it’s shutting its UK and Australian newsrooms, and Quartz is laying off 80 people

    MoMA — Explore 139,000 artworks displayed in the Museum of Modern Art with this spectacular interactive visualization

    Job Corner

    Lots of deadlines this weekend for more than 350 active journalism jobs, internships and freelance gigs. Companies include the Associated Press, Bloomberg, the Financial Times, Politico Europe and Telemundo. Spread the word far and wide!

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    Who is Mark Gamba?

    Mark is a former photojournalist of 30 years who decided that journalism wasn’t enough, and turned to public service to make a bigger impact. He became mayor of Milwaukie, Oregon, a city of around 20,000 people in 2015, and won reelection in 2018. Having worked with the likes of National Geographic and Sports Illustrated, Mark’s work took him to all parts of the U.S. and rest of the world, exposing him to different cultures, languages and the harsh reality of climate change. It’s why he believes he’s the right person to represent Oregon’s 5th district in the U.S. House of Representatives in November. Mark’s biggest test will be to defeat incumbent Democrat Kurt Schrader, who was first elected in 2008, in Tuesday’s primary. Schrader won 87 percent of the Democratic vote in 2018, but Mark’s challenge is the most serious Schrader’s received in years, and his centrist position could land him in trouble amid the age of growing left-wing populism in the U.S.

    History of Oregon Politics

    Oregon is a blue stalwart on paper, having voted for a Democratic president in every election since 1988. But as we’ve discussed tirelessly in this newsletter, there are endless nuances under the hood/bonnet in each state, whether it be the weirdness of West Virginia’s state legislature, or the fact that Maine has voted for a Democratic president in every election since 1992, but hasn’t had a blue U.S. Senator since 1995. In Oregon, the intrigue stems from the fact that in 2016, voters turned out for the two main parties in their lowest percentage in 20 years, when third-party candidate Ross Perot won nine percent for his Reform Party, after he won 24 percent in 1992. This could mean that Oregonians are tired of the same old two-party system and are ready for new leadership, meaning the five sitting U.S. Representatives, who have a combined 97 years of service, could be in trouble come November.

    Balancing Budgets

    In Milwaukie, Mark and his team have done their best to offset the immediate and future financial losses his city’s workers and businesses will suffer due to the coronavi

    • 50 min
    #77 — Francesco Marconi (Applied XL)

    #77 — Francesco Marconi (Applied XL)

    Hello! Welcome to another edition of Inside The Newsroom, where today’s guest is… one of the smartest people to grace this podcast’s airways, Francesco Marconi! Francesco recently left the Wall Street Journal where he was R&D Chief to form his own company, Applied XL, in partnership with Brooklyn-based frontier technology center Newlab, which builds tools for journalists around the world using artificial intelligence. His new book, Newsmakers: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Journalism, was published this year and Francesco’s giving away a handful of free copies to readers of Inside The Newsroom. So if you want a free book, email me at daniellevitt32@gmail.com and I’ll pass on the names of the first few! Up top is the podcast, down below is the post-game, including an updated job board. Enjoy! 🤓

    Job Corner

    The job board was updated last night with more than 350 active journalism jobs, internships and freelance gigs. New companies added include Netflix, Open Democracy, Politico Europe, and Rogers. Spread the word far and wide!

    Who is Francesco Marconi?

    Francesco was a student journalist just a few years ago and is now one of the most talented and knowledgable minds on the future of journalism. After completing a bachelor’s and master’s degree in economics in Portugal and Italy, respectively, Francesco moved to the U.S. to complete his master’s degree in journalism and business at the University of Missouri (MIZ!), and completed his post-graduate work at Columbia University and Harvard. He then scored a job with the Associated Press on its strategy team, before being hired by the Wall Street Journal as its Research and Development Chief. In addition to his many other positions and accolades, Francesco was recognized in 2018 among MediaShift’s top digital media innovators. Now Francesco runs his own company, Applied XL, part of New Lab, of which he is also SVP for Data and AI.

    Like Me, Please

    Before you read on, please like this edition of Inside The Newsroom by clicking the ❤️ up top. That way I’ll appear in clever algorithms and more people will be able to read. Cheers.

    What is Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning?

    The never ending rise of power and influence of technology companies in our lives means we hear and read about terms such as artificial intelligence and machine learning seemingly every day. AI as we know it arguably started in the first half of the 20th century, just as computers were gaining steam. While AI and ML are closely linked and overlap in many ways, they are different.

    Artificial intelligence is:

    The overarching umbrella term for the simulation of human intelligence in machines programmed to think like humans and mimic our actions.

    Whereas machine learning is:

    The concept that a computer program can learn and adapt to new data without human interference. Machine learning is a field of artificial intelligence that keeps a computer’s algorithms current regardless of external changes. For example, autocorrect or self-driving cars.

    Essentially, you need AI researchers to build the smart machines, and you need machine learning experts to make them super intelligent. You can’t have one without the other.

    Newsmakers: What is the Future of Journalism?

    Francesco answers the billion dollar question in his new book, Newsmakers: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Journalism Paperback, which addresses journalism’s burning need to integrate AI and ML ten fold. Having been on both sides of the coin — R&D chief at The Wall Street Journal, manager of strategy and AI at the Associated Press, and now founder and chief data officer of Applied XL — Francesco believes journalism needs to continue to reflect and integrate the views of the audience into storytelling, whether that’s mining social media or using internal data to identify what

    • 50 min
    #76 — Betsy Sweet (U.S. Senate Candidate ME)

    #76 — Betsy Sweet (U.S. Senate Candidate ME)

    Hello! Welcome to another episode of Inside The Newsroom where today we welcome Betsy Sweet to the podcast! Betsy’s a veteran of Maine politics and is running for U.S. Senate, where she must defeat Sara Gideon and Bre Kidman in July’s Democratic primary, before taking on Republican incumbent Susan Collins. Our conversation centered around the ridiculous nature of U.S. elections that sees voters bombarded with political ads and door knocking for two years, before it all starts again for the next cycle. And we went deep into campaign finance laws and the history behind Citizens United, which allows corporations to fund candidates in the name of free speech. Up top is the podcast, down below is the post-game, but first my top stories of the week. Enjoy! ✊

    Picks of the Week

    Elon Musk — He’s back! The billionaire tech mogul appeared on Joe Rogan’s podcast for the second time, a year after smoking a blunt live on air

    Fossil Fuel Bailout — Oil prices have tanked to their lowest in 15 years, but instead of keeping to their capitalist principles, oil firms are seeking a bailout

    Bibi Netanyahu — Israel’s Prime Minister is on the verge of forming a unity government delaying the country’s fourth general election in a year

    ❤️❤️❤️How You Like Me Now? ❤️❤️❤️

    Before you read on, please like this edition of Inside The Newsroom by clicking the ❤️ up top. That way I’ll appear in clever algorithms and more people will be able to read.

    Job Corner

    More than 350 active journalism jobs, internships and freelance gigs are currently listed, with no position posted before March 1. Companies include CNN, the BBC, the NBA and Telemundo. Spread the word far and wide!

    Who is Betsy Sweet?

    There’s a saying that in order to know what a person is about, look at what they’ve done. Betsy’s been helping others for almost 40 years, whether it was writing and helping to pass the first Family Medical Leave Act in the country, getting rid of environmental toxins from building materials and children’s toys, or expanding the Human Rights Act in Maine, Betsy’s record speaks for itself. If and when Betsy wins June’s Democratic primary, she must topple Republican incumbent Susan Collins, who’s been a U.S. Senator from Maine since 1997. One of the most vulnerable Republicans in the country, Collins is against Medicare For All and the Green New Deal, and has voted with Donald Trump 67 percent of the time since he assumed office. Betsy 👇

    A Brief History of Maine Politics

    As is often the case with many states, there’s a disconnect between Maine’s presidential and U.S. Senate voting history. Apart from Maine’s 2nd congressional district giving Donald Trump a single collegiate vote in 2016, the Pine Tree State has voted blue solidly since George H. W. Bush swept the country in 1988. Meanwhile, Betsy’s vying to become the first Democratic senator to represent the state since George J. Mitchell did so in 1995 — current senator Angus King has a mixed history but was elected as an independent in 2012.

    Credit: 270toWin

    This is a massive part of U.S. politics that’s all too often glossed over, with most outlets labelling Maine a blue state, or West Virginia, for example, a red state, when in reality neither is any color other than purple. That’s why Betsy is running on a platform of issues that shouldn’t be seen as left or right, but rather up and down, supporting the average voter against big-money interests of corporations and billionaires.

    Where Do Campaign Contributions Go Once a Campaign Ends?

    It’s a question I’ve always wondered, especially on the presidential level where campaigns can be left with millions of dollars after they’re suspended. The 2020 Democratic primary field raised an estimated $2 billion million between the two dozen or so candidates, including the $1 b

    • 49 min
    #75 — Alex Schiffer (The Athletic)

    #75 — Alex Schiffer (The Athletic)

    Hello! Welcome to another edition of Inside The Newsroom where today’s guest is… friend and former colleague Alex Schiffer from The Athletic! Alex and I met in 2015 at journalism school at the University of Missouri, and he’s gone onto become one of the most tireless sports reporters in the country. Our conversation detailed his journey from Columbia, Missouri to Brooklyn, New York and all of the lessons learned in between. We also discussed what may or may not happen in the NBA in terms of resuming the season, as well as what other leagues around the world are doing. Up top is the podcast, down below is a round up of what every major sport and league is doing to resume play amid the coronavirus. Hope you enjoy. 🤓

    Picks of the Week

    $12 Billion — the amount that could be lost from the suspension of America’s major sports leagues

    Nick Rubando — Friend of the podcast won the Democratic primary in Ohio’s 5th district and will now take on Republican incumbent Bob Latta in November

    Joe Biden — Some Democrats have lost their principles after giving Biden the benefit of the doubt over his alleged sexual assault of former staffer Tara Reade

    Job Corner

    More than 350 active journalism jobs, internships and freelance gigs are currently listed, with no position posted before March 1. Companies include CNN, Cal Matters, NPR, The Athletic and Telemundo. Spread the word far and wide!

    Who is Alex Schiffer?

    Alex has covered the Brooklyn Nets for The Athletic since October, and couldn’t have joined at a better time with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, two of the NBA’s biggest stars, joining the Nets in the offseason. Alex is no stranger to big names, having covered Michael Porter Jr and Drew Lock, two of college basketball and college football’s biggest stars respectively, for The Kansas City Star. Alex was instrumental in breaking the news that Porter Jr, the No. 1 high-school basketball recruit at the time, had uncommitted from the University of Washington and committed to his hometown Missouri Tigers, making national news at the time. Alex has also interned on the business desks at The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times.

    Like Me, Please

    Before you read on, please like this edition of Inside The Newsroom by clicking the ❤️ up top. That way I’ll appear in clever algorithms and more people will be able to read. Cheers.

    NBA

    After years of unstoppable growth, the past eight months have been torrid for the NBA and its community. First came its feud with China in October, triggered by a tweet by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey in which he expressed support for the people of Hong Kong protesting for freedom from mainland China. Morey deleted his tweet within hours, but the damage was done, with China’s largest TV networks, sponsors and streaming platforms cutting ties with the Rockets and the NBA, taking hundreds of millions in annual revenue with them. Then came the death of former commissioner David Stern on New Year’s Day. The man widely cited for turning the NBA into the global game it is today over the 30 years he was in charge, passed away from a brain hemorrhage. And then came the sickening news that basketball legend and icon Kobe Bryant had died in a helicopter crash, alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gigi, and a combination of seven other players and parents from Gigi’s basketball team: Alyssa Altobelli and her parents Keri and John; Payton Chester and her month Sarah; assistant basketball coach Christina Mauser and pilot Ara Zobayan.

    On March 11, the NBA suspended its season indefinitely in one of the most surreal moments in sports history, involving a team doctor running onto the court just seconds before the Oklahoma City Thunder and Utah Jazz were about to begin a game. As it stands today, the proposal that’s received the most buzz is completing the regular season and

    • 45 min
    #74 — Major Garrett (CBS News)

    #74 — Major Garrett (CBS News)

    Hello! Welcome to another edition of Inside The Newsroom where today’s guest is… Major Garrett, Chief White House Correspondent for CBS News and one of the hardest working journalists in the world today. Major and I discussed everything from how nerve-wracking it is to ask questions in front of the world in the WH press briefing room, to his spats with Barack Obama to being in the Oval Office with Donald Trump. It truly was a fascinating conversation and below is a post-game of everything we talked about. But first, my picks of the week followed by some personal news… Enjoy! 🤓

    Picks of the Week

    Joe Biden — Pressure is building on the Democratic nominee, who so far has remained silent pertaining to an alleged sexual assault from 1993

    Louis Theroux — The greatest documentarian to have ever lived has a podcast! His first guest is Jon Ronson

    Tiger King — I finally caught up to the hoopla and my god this show is f****d up. But also my god everyone must watch it

    Personal News

    Today is my last day working on the visuals desk at The Guardian. It’s been an incredible two years at the UK’s foremost news source and a dream come true working for my “hometown” paper I grew up reading. So it was incredibly tough to leave but I’m thrilled and blessed to be joining The Wall Street Journal on Monday. Here’s to the next chapter!

    Like Me, Please

    Before you read on, please like this edition of Inside The Newsroom by clicking the ❤️ up top. That way I’ll appear in clever algorithms and more people will be able to read. Cheers.

    Major 👇

    Who is Major Garrett?

    Major graduated from Mizzou in 1984 with degrees in journalism and political science. He’s been CBS News’ Chief White House Correspondent since 2012, and before that made stops with multiple outlets including the Amarillo Globe-News, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Houston Post, The Washington Times, U.S. News and World Report, CNN, the National Journal and Fox News, making him truly one of the most non-partisan reporters in America. And putting him over the top giving him rockstar status, Major also appeared on the Late Show with the legendary Stephen Colbert…

    As you’ll discover from the podcast, there may not be a harder working political reporter today. Major is also the author of four books — Common Cents, The Enduring Revolution, The Fifteen Biggest Lies in Politics, and Mr. Trump’s Wild Ride — and host of two podcasts for CBS — The Takeout and Debriefing the Briefing. Many of you may know Major from his courage to ask presidents the toughest questions, and there’s no better place to start than with Barack Obama…

    Major vs Obama

    Major’s highest profile moment came in July 2015, when he asked then President Obama a tough question that rattled even the usually unshakable Obama. After signing off on a nuclear deal with Iran that reduced the amount of uranium — used to fuel nuclear weapons — stockpiled by Iran, Obama faced an hour of questions by reporters on the specifics of the deal and the decisions he made to get the deal over the line. One of those questions came from Major, who challenged the President on why he didn’t include the release of four American hostages held by the Iranians as a condition for the deal. Below is the encounter and Major’s take on the confrontation.

    But that wasn’t Major’s first run-in with Obama. In June 2009, Iran was once again the topic of contention, this time as it pertained to Obama placing his administration on the side of the grassroots protestors against the Iranian regime. Then working for Fox News, Major explained in the podcast that reporters from the wire services — the AP, Bloomberg, Reuters etc — are routinely the first to be called upon by the President, but on this day, Obama picked Major to ask the first question. Major had to begin the press conference

    • 50 min

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