Donald Trump's spokesman says he checks the president-elect's Twitter account first thing in the morning because "it drives the news." (Oh, you don't say?!) Bernie Sanders drove the news -- or at least scored one of the first great photo ops of the year -- by lugging a giant, printed-out Trump tweet to Congress. Twitter co-founder Ev Williams has declared the ad-driven publishing model -- the model that, you know, Twitter relies on -- to be "broken." And elsewhere in social media -- specifically Facebook -- live-streaming takes a horrific turn.
Wednesday night during an appearance at the University of Chicago, incoming White House spokesman Sean Spicer says he doesn't get advance word regarding Donald Trump's Twitter targets. Or, as the Chicago Tribune put it in a headline, "Trump's spokesman has no idea what Trump will tweet next." Spicer told his interviewer David Axelrod that the president-elect "drives the train on this."
In a Wednesday post, Ev Williams, co-founder of Twitter and Medium, called the ad-driven publishing system of the internet "broken" because "It simply doesn't serve people. In fact, it's not designed to. The vast majority of articles, videos, and other 'content' we all consume on a daily basis is paid for -- directly or indirectly -- by corporations who are funding it in order to advance their goals. And it is measured, amplified, and rewarded based on its ability to do that. Period. As a result, we get … well, what we get. And it's getting worse." The post was Williams' way of telling the world that Medium would be laying off a third of its staff as it shifts away from that ad-driven model to a different, unspecified model. Late last night, Politico published a story headlined "Medium's pivot catches publishing partners by surprise."
In a story on the front page of this morning's business section, The New York Times reports that "Apple Removes New York Times Apps From Its Store in China." Apparently Apple did so on Dec. 23, "complying with what it said was a request from Chinese authorities," the Times reports, adding that "The move limits access to one of the few remaining channels for readers in mainland China to read The Times without resorting to special software. The government began blocking The Times's websites in 2012, after a series of articles on the wealth amassed by the family of Wen Jiabao, who was then prime minister, but it had struggled in recent months to prevent readers from using the Chinese-language app."
More details about the imminent shutdown of Vine, via an update to its "Discontinuing the Vine app: FAQs" page: "On January 17 the Vine app will become the Vine Camera. We will notify you through the app before this happens. The Vine Camera will allow you to make 6.5 second looping videos and post them to Twitter, or save them to your camera roll in a logged out state. You will not be able to do any of the other things you can currently do with the Vine app. Once the Vine Camera is live, you will no longer be able to download your Vines from the app."
What's departing Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly going to do at NBC News? Broadcasting & Cable reports that she'll get a "new daytime show" that "is expected to replace Today's 9 a.m. hour." B&C cites "sources" but adds that "NBC News declined to comment." Meanwhile, the New York Post is out with a story -- drama! -- headlined "Matt Lauer kept in dark about NBC's Megyn Kelly hire." (Spoiler: "Sources said Lauer 'blew a gasket,' which NBC insiders deny," per the Post.)
Me when I notice someone has subtweeted me pic.twitter.com/BEiPDzKRWr— Gabriella Paiella (@GMPaiella) January 4, 2017
Time's take on the above scene: "Bernie Sanders Brings Giant Printout of a Donald Trump Tweet to Senate Floor."
Finally, one of the most disturbing developing news stories of the moment is also a public relations nightmare for Facebook. NBC News is just one of hundreds of news organizations covering the horror out of Chicago: "Four Teens Held in Connection With Kidnapping After 'Facebook Live' Torture Video Airs."
The Guardian quotes a Facebook statement that reads, "We do not allow people to celebrate or glorify crimes on Facebook and have removed the original video for this reason. In many instances, though, when people share this type of content, they are doing so to condemn violence or raise awareness about it. In that case, the video would be allowed."
Simon Dumenco, aka Media Guy, is an Ad Age editor-at-large. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.