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Rhode Island Tip Sheet: Media serf nation

February 16, 2011

STATE OF THE MEDIA: Writing about the super-valuation of Facebook, Twitter, HuffPo, and other new-media outlets, NYT media columnist David Carr notes how much of the content from these darlings comes free, courtesy of users: “For the media, this is a Tom Sawyer moment. ‘Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?’ he says to his friends, and sure enough, they are soon lined up for the privilege of doing his chores. That’s a bit like how social networks get built. (Just imagine if Tom had also schooled them in the networking opportunities of the user-generated endeavor: ‘You’re not just painting a fence. You’re building an audience around your personal brand.’) ‘The technology of a lot of these sites is very seductive, and it lulls you into contributing,’ said Anthony De Rosa, a product manager at Reuters. ‘We are being played for suckers to feed the beast, to create content that ends up creating value for others.’ ” . . . . For a more benign view of the future of media, consider this essay by Steven Berlin Johnson, “Old Growth Media and the Future of News,” which touts the proliferation of Internet-based localism as a rainforest of enhanced resources. That might work well in a metropolis like New York, but does it cut the mustard in places with less of a critical mass like, say, small RI towns once covered by a since-shuttered ProJo bureau? 

TALKING SANTORUM: Former ProJo scribe Steve Peoples, now with Roll Call, checks in on the Pennsylvania senator’s Google issue: “Santorum’s Google problem began in 2003, when gay sex-advice columnist Dan Savage sought to mock Santorum’s comments on homosexuality. Then the third-most-powerful Republican in the Senate, Santorum told the Associated Press that April that gay sex could ‘undermine the fabric of our society.’ The interview touched on a Supreme Court case related to sexual privacy, and Santorum compared homosexual acts to allowing for ‘man on child, man on dog’ relationships . . . .  Savage soon created the website, tied to a contest in which he asked readers to submit definitions for the term ‘santorum.’

LIBYA: The latest site of anti-government protests.

MISERY LOVES COMPANY: RI isn’t alone in facing massive post-employment benefit costs. The tab for for the 50 largest Massachusetts cities and towns over the next 30 years is $20 billion.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY: State Senator Elizabeth Crowley wants to limit the sales tax exemption on clothing to items that cost less than $500 . . . . Senator Juan Pichardo calls in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants a moral imperative; Monique Chartier (third item) disagrees . . . . House Labor today considers card check legislation; Libby Kimzey is pro, while Andrew Morse is skeptical.

LABOR: Members of UNITE HERE, Local 217, overwhelmingly approve a new contact agreement at the Westin. Says Providence Mayor Angel Taveras: “This new contract recognizes those who work tirelessly to make hotel experiences exceptional, individuals who are critical to creating a thriving hospitality industry throughout all of Rhode Island. I thank both workers and management for finding their way to this important agreement.”

TECH: The Atlantic on the mechanics of Egypt’s Internet kill switch.

SNOW: Matthew Coolidge has just the thing — Roboplow (with a snappy soundtrack) — for clearing sidewalks on Federal Hill and elsewhere during the next storm.

CONNECTICUT: Ted Kennedy Jr. isn’t going for Joe Lieberman’s Senate seat.

EDUCATION: A Kos contributor on whether you can support teachers while bashing teachers’ unions.

BIG FISH: The 160th anniversary of Moby-Dick will be marked Friday at the Providence Athenaeum.

BIRTHDAY: Dan Meuse.

If you don’t want to get Tip Sheet — or would like to be added to our e-mail list — drop me a line at idonnis (at) wrni (dot) org

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