Welcome to the 63rd episode of the Mediatwits podcast, with Mark Glaser and Dorian Benkoil as co-hosts. Rafat Ali is off this week. Who’s watching you online and what do they know about you? A lot of people are tracking you and they know a lot. Even the former head of the CIA now knows that emails don’t exist in the ether. We talk about the ramifications of the Gen. Petraeus scandal, as well as living our lives online. Josh Stearns of the Free Press joins us to talk about his recent article for MediaShift calling on companies that collect our data to help fund a digital literacy campaign so we can educate people about online tracking.

Then we turn to the Ford Foundation, which made headlines this year with large grants to the Los Angeles Times and Washington Post to help them hire more reporters to boost coverage of important issues. It’s the first time Ford’s journalism division has funded for-profit media operations. Ford Foundation’s Jonathan Barzilay and NYU’s Jay Rosen join us to talk about the grants, and what Ford aims to get from them. Will more news orgs look to grants in the future?


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Guest Bios

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Jonathan Barzilay

Josh Stearns is Journalism and Public Media Campaign Director for Free Press, a national, non-partisan, non-profit organization working to reform the media through education, organizing and advocacy.

Jonathan Barzilay is Director of the Ford Foundation’s Freedom of Expression unit, managing support for public-service journalism, media rights and access, arts and culture, and religion in the public sphere. Previously, he held senior management positions at ABC, CBS, and Qualcomm’s FLO TV.

Jay Rosen has been on the faculty of NYU since 1986, and from 1999 to 2005 he served as chair of the Department. He is the author of PressThink, a weblog about journalism and its ordeals, which he introduced in September 2003. In June 2005, PressThink won the Reporters Without Borders 2005 Freedom Blog award for outstanding defense of free expression.

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Intro and outro music by 3 Feet Up; mid-podcast music by Autumn Eyes via Mevio’s Music Alley.

Highlights from the Show


1:00: Hubris of military leaders thinking no one would read their emails

3:00: Dorian’s report from the Digital Hollywood New York show

4:10: Rundown for the podcast

Digital literacy for online tracking

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Josh Stearns

5:20: Special guest Josh Stearns

6:45: Stearns: Data collection seems mundane, but there are troubling possibilities

9:30: Dorian: Should danger of data be compared with danger of smoking cigarettes?

12:00: Stearns: Could be a partnership between industry and consumer groups

15:00: Stearns: “Do Not Track” is a tech fix and policy fix

Ford Foundation funds newsrooms

17:40: Special guests Jonathan Barzilay and Jay Rosen

20:00: Barzilay: Ford wants to support serious journalism in traditional newsrooms

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Jay Rosen

22:00: Barzilay: L.A. Times editor says he will continue the beats beyond expiration of grant

23:45: Rosen: Ford should ask news orgs how these grants can be sustainable

27:00: Barzilay: Ford does support digital, non-profit, public and traditional media

30:30: Barzilay: We’re looking to support coverage of complex social issues

31:45: Rosen: I still don’t understand how L.A. Times will be able to afford to pay reporters after the grant ends

34:20: Dorian: Washington Post is profitable — is that taken into account when you gave the grant?

More Reading

We Need a ‘Truth’ Campaign for Digital Literacy and Data Tracking by Josh Stearns

Big Data is Our Generation’s Civil Rights Issue, and We Don’t Know It at SolveForInteresting.com

When the Most Personal Secrets Get Outed on Facebook at WSJ

Google Chrome’s Sham ‘Do Not Track’ Feature at PC Mag

Hear Us Now campaign from Consumers Union

Consume Reports Says Do Not Track, But Tracks Anyway at AdAge

Washington Post Receives Ford Foundation Grant at WSJ

Washington Post to Use Ford Foundation Grant to Pay for Four New Reporters at Media Decoder

L.A. Times will use $1-million grant to expand key beats at LA Times


Be sure to vote in our weekly poll, this time about what you think about online tracking:

Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian and fiancee Renee. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit. and Circle him on Google+