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States of Disunion

January 27, 2010

Today is a huge day for media ironies/coincidences.

First and foremost, Apple and Obama are both holding their respective State of the Union Addresses.  I wonder if either is trying to hide behind the other; I guess it depends which you think is more relevant to more people (see last post).  Apple-loving engineers may do things efficiently, but lawyers do it when speeches are on TV.  On that note, here’s the Huffington Post’s State of the Union drinking game rules. Just don’t expect them to come in very handy (unless you like alcohol poisoning) given that some of the rules include:

Obama says “jobs” Do one shot, two if you’re unemployed
Obama says “health care” Do not drink, you will not be given a replacement liver

Speaking of lost jobs and law-related media, Conan apparently has sold a pilot to NBC of all networks!  The show, called “Justice,” is about a retired Supreme Court justice who starts a private practice.  I’m sure it’ll be very realistic and hard-hitting, just like Conan’s last show at NBC.

Maybe it’s because humans watching the State of the Union can get too drunk to do their jobs right, or maybe it’s just because Thomson Reuters just has little respect for human knowledge–either way, Thomson Reuters is introducing new “machine readable” news systems for financial markets that are essentially smart, Google News-like algorithms that evaluate existing articles for indicators of what markets are doing.  Something tells me that humans aren’t going the way of the dodo when it comes to finance just yet, even if they have developed tools to “evaluate tone.”  Markets are all about beating expectations, and as soon as any set of expectations becomes efficient or institutionalized, you simply move the playing field, not change the game.

Of course, I have some sympathy for Thomson Reuters; monetizing news and facts isn’t easy these days (if you’re not a giant pharmaceutical company, at the very least).  Newsday (not a giant pharmaceutical company) should have known this, but instead they tried out the paid-subscription-only online model after a $4 million site redesign, and netted 35 paid subscribers.  Total.  That’s about $9,000.  Gated content is simply not a smart way to raise revenues; the fact that the news media can’t get this would be laughable if it wasn’t simultaneously so important and so pathetic.

Finally, from the more laughable side of media news, “Weird Al” Yankovic is writing/directing a live-action movie for the Cartoon Network!  From his self-interview:

Is is going to be a sequel to UHF?

Sorry, no.

Is it going to be a documentary about Winston Churchill?

Again, no.

Is it going to be funny?

Well, that’s the intention.

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