Peter Kafka
Peter Kafka
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BuzzFeed’s Jonah Peretti on why he bought HuffPost and why the New York Times can’t be "the paper of record"

BuzzFeed’s Jonah Peretti on why he bought HuffPost and why the New York Times can’t be "the paper of record"

The Times’s subscription business is booming. But the BuzzFeed CEO has a critique.Uncovering and explaining how our digital world is changing — and changing us.Jonah Peretti co-founded the Huffington Post, then left to start BuzzFeed. Now he’s running both companies: BuzzFeed is picking up HuffPost from Verizon, the phone company that thought it wanted to be in the media business and then .I talked to Peretti about the rationale for the deal (scale, scale, scale), whether he can guarantee that all HuffPost employees will keep their jobs (no), (he won’t say), and whether he wants to buy more...

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Peter Kafka
Nov 20
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Our information ecosystem is broken and dangerous. "It’s going to get worse," says Obama

Our information ecosystem is broken and dangerous. "It’s going to get worse," says Obama

President Obama loved the internet. Now he has second thoughts.Uncovering and explaining how our digital world is changing — and changing us.Back in 2008, Barack Obama famously harnessed the internet and social media to help win the White House. He kept up the embrace once he got there.Now he worries that the internet and social media have helped create “the single biggest threat to our democracy.”Obama has been saying a version of this for four years — since he left the White House — but his words are getting steadily more pointed. He’s clearly sounding an alarm, but it’s not exactly clear...

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Peter Kafka
Nov 16
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Bill Barr and Elizabeth Warren find a common enemy: Google

Bill Barr and Elizabeth Warren find a common enemy: Google

The Massachusetts senator wants the attorney general to resign. She also wants him to sue Google.Uncovering and explaining how our digital world is changing — and changing us.You have to do something extraordinary to unite Elizabeth Warren and Bill Barr.But that’s what Google has done. President Trump’s attorney general and personal fixer has filed an antitrust suit against the trillion-dollar internet titan. And the Massachusetts senator, who despises everything about the Trump administration and , is cheering him on. Sort of.“Two things can be true at the same time: Bill Barr is a corrupt...

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Peter Kafka
Oct 20
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Who will tell us the truth about Trump’s health?

Who will tell us the truth about Trump’s health?

We know it won’t be Trump.Uncovering and explaining how our digital world is changing — and changing us.Donald Trump is a liar.Before he became president, Trump lied about everything from his personal wealth to his TV ratings to the number of floors in his condo towers. Once in the White House, he started out lying about the size of his inauguration crowd, and super-sized his lies from there.So now that Trump has tested positive for the , who are we going to trust for information about the state of his health?For the very near-term, we are triangulating: There are the official...

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Peter Kafka
Oct 2
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Big Tech thought the pandemic wouldn’t be political. Think again.

Big Tech thought the pandemic wouldn’t be political. Think again.

What happens when the medical misinformation comes from the president?Uncovering and explaining how our digital world is changing — and changing us.The big tech platforms found themselves in an unusual position during the first part of the pandemic: .It was nice while it lasted.As the coronavirus spread around the world in March, , , and quickly announced that they would ban and take down misleading and dangerous material about Covid-19 on their sites — or at least prevent it from getting much traction.It was a notable change from their much-criticized performance in the last presidential...

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Peter Kafka
May 27
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Wall Street investors want Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey out. They might get their way.

Wall Street investors want Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey out. They might get their way.

“Activist investor” Elliott Management has targeted Dorsey, who runs Twitter and Square at the same time.Uncovering and explaining how our digital world is changing — and changing us.Jack Dorsey is the CEO of Twitter. He is also the CEO of Square.That shouldn’t continue any longer, says an investment group, which — or, at the very least, stop running both companies at the same time. And unlike other people who complain about Twitter, these guys might actually be able to do something about it.Here’s the deal: Elliott Management, an “activist investor” firm, has bought a lot of Twitter shares...

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Peter Kafka
Mar 1
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Trump’s denial of his coronavirus failings will be "one of the biggest propaganda battles in American history"

Trump’s denial of his coronavirus failings will be "one of the biggest propaganda battles in American history"

Americans are scared and confused about how to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. That’s only going to get worse, journalism critic Jay Rosen explains.Uncovering and explaining how our digital world is changing — and changing us.Americans . That trend has been evident for years, but the Trump era has accelerated it.Now we can see the worst-case scenario that trend could create, playing out in front of our eyes: Confronted with a paralyzing coronavirus pandemic, there’s deep confusion about the steps the country should be taking to respond.Don’t expect it to get better, says journalism...

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Peter Kafka
Apr 16
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What went wrong with the media’s coronavirus coverage?

What went wrong with the media’s coronavirus coverage?

Uncovering and explaining how our digital world is changing — and changing us.The pandemic has crippled America. So far, the virus has killed more than 20,000 people in the United States and has sickened more than 500,000 people.It’s clear now that the US government was woefully unprepared for the pandemic, and that’s been reflected in its messaging to the public since the start.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for instance, didn’t tell the country to stop gathering in groups until March 15 — weeks after a top CDC official announced that the virus would begin spreading...

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Peter Kafka
Apr 13
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No one expected The Athletic could get people to pay for sports news. Now it has 600,000 subscribers.

No one expected The Athletic could get people to pay for sports news. Now it has 600,000 subscribers.

And the business might do the same thing for other topics.Uncovering and explaining how our digital world is changing — and changing us.Pay for sports? Sure. Pay for sports news? No way.That has been the conventional wisdom in the media industry for years. Alex Mather says it’s wrong.And for now, Mather looks like he’s correct: The CEO of says his sports news service has signed up more than 600,000 paying subscribers in less than four years and is on its way to a million.Mather’s company attracts quite a bit of attention from people in the sports media industry and the media industry in...

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Peter Kafka
Oct 18
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Facebook’s political ad problem, explained by an expert

Facebook’s political ad problem, explained by an expert

Uncovering and explaining how our digital world is changing — and changing us.Facebook started out as Mark Zuckerberg’s dorm room project. Now it’s a company that boasts more than 2 billion users and tens of billions of dollars in advertising revenue.Those two data points are tightly linked, and together they create Facebook’s world-shaping power: Facebook users provide the company — knowingly or not — with an enormous amount of data about themselves. And Facebook uses that data to let advertisers reach those users with astonishing precision and effectiveness.For years, political...

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Peter Kafka
Feb 17
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Spotify is buying Bill Simmons’s The Ringer to boost its podcast business

Spotify is buying Bill Simmons’s The Ringer to boost its podcast business

It’s the fourth podcast deal Spotify has done in a year.Uncovering and explaining how our digital world is changing — and changing us.Spotify is making yet another big-budget purchase aimed at getting a lead in the growing podcast industry: The streaming music company has agreed to a deal to purchase The Ringer, the podcast-centric media company run and owned by Bill Simmons.Spotify intends to hire Simmons and all of his approximately 90 employees. Most of those employees work on The Ringer’s website, which covers sports and culture, and Spotify intends to keep the site up and running.But...

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Peter Kafka
Feb 11
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Netflix shows off the numbers behind its global growth story for the first time

Netflix shows off the numbers behind its global growth story for the first time

Disney is coming for Netflix. Netflix is coming for the world. Disney is chasing Netflix. So is Apple. AT&T and Comcast are about to start. Have fun, says Netflix: We’re busy chasing the entire world — and we’re doing pretty well. That’s a two-sentence takeaway of an investor document Netflix filed yesterday, which details the company’s pursuit of streaming video customers around the globe, and its very rapid growth. The fact that Netflix has been expanding around the world isn’t a secret. The company takes great pains to underscore its global ambitions every time it talks to investors...

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Rani Molla
Dec 30
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Facebook has finally decided that the best way to deliver news is to act like a newspaper

Facebook has finally decided that the best way to deliver news is to act like a newspaper

Facebook’s News section, which launches Friday, is a big deal for newspapers because Facebook is finally going to start paying them for their work. It is also an interesting, tacit admission from Facebook: The best way for Facebook to act like a newspaper, it turns out, is for Facebook to actually behave like a newspaper. Facebook isn’t changing its main “News Feed” — an almost-anything-goes jumble of dog pictures, rants from your uncle, and whatever news stories you and your friends want to share with each other. That one is run almost entirely by Facebook software, powered by free...

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Peter Kafka
Oct 28
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Amazon wants to pay the New York Times and BuzzFeed to expand to reach shoppers outside the US

Amazon wants to pay the New York Times and BuzzFeed to expand to reach shoppers outside the US

Big US publishers already make money from Amazon’s “affiliate” business. Amazon wants them to make more, and may pay them upfront.ByShareUncovering and explaining how our digital world is changing — and changing us.Amazon has a pitch for some US-based publishers: Expand overseas. We’ll make it worth your while.The world’s dominant e-commerce player is in talks with big American publishers, including the New York Times and BuzzFeed, about deals that would reward them for expanding their international presence, specifically in consumer-oriented shopping sites.Amazon already pays internet...

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Peter Kafka
May 22
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News Corp, the New York Times and Axel Springer are backing Scroll, a subscription service from the former CEO of Chartbeat

News Corp, the New York Times and Axel Springer are backing Scroll, a subscription service from the former CEO of Chartbeat

ByShareHow much would you pay to read lots of stories, from lots of digital publishers, without having to look at many ads?Tony Haile wants to find out.Haile is the former CEO of Chartbeat, the real-time analytics software used by most of the digital publishing world. Now he’s at work on a new company: Scroll, a startup that wants to roll up a selection of stories from a wide variety of publishers and sell monthly subscriptions.The big selling point for readers: Haile says they’ll have a better experience than the one they have now, when they read web pages clogged with crummy ads.The big...

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Peter Kafka
Feb 21
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