“Few from the FCC’s rules are staler than our broadcast possession rules,” Pai stated. Through the elimination of them, he stated, “this agency finally drags its broadcast possession rules towards the digital age.”
One lengthy-standing rule repealed Thursday avoided one company inside a given media market from owning both a regular newspaper along with a TV station. Another rule blocked TV stations within the same market from merging with one another when the combination could leave less than eight independently owned stations. The company also took are designed for rules restricting the amount of Radio and tv stations that any media company could concurrently own in one market.
A significant beneficiary from the deregulatory moves, analysts say, is Sinclair, a conservative broadcasting company that’s trying to buy up Tribune Media for $3.9 billion.
“This has a big impact,Inches stated Andrew Schwartzman, a specialist on media law at Georgetown College. He added the decisions will “reduce or eliminate” the requirement for Sinclair to market off many stations to get regulatory approval for that deal.
The FCC election may be the latest to help ease rules for that broadcast industry. It came within 24 hours the agency approved the deployment of Next Gen TV, a brand new broadcast standard that’s ultimately likely to lead to improved video and audio quality on over-the-air television, in addition to targeted advertising. Also it came 30 days following the FCC dicated to no more require broadcasters to function an actual studio within the markets where they’re licensed.
The Nation’s Association of Broadcasters welcomed Thursday’s election.
“These rules are not only seen irrational in the current media atmosphere, but they also have weakened the newspaper industry, cost journalism jobs and compelled local broadcast stations onto unequal footing with this national pay-Radio and tv competitors,” the trade group stated inside a statement.
Critics from the FCC repeal effort state that the choice can result in the power of power at the disposal of a dwindling quantity of media titans.
“Instead of participating in thoughtful reform,” stated Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, “this agency sets its most fundamental values burning.
“As a direct result this decision, wherever you reside, the FCC is giving the eco-friendly light for any single company to possess the newspaper and multiple television and r / c in your neighborhood. I’m challenged to determine any dedication to diversity, localism, or competition for the reason that result.”
Senate Democrats now known as around the FCC’s inspector general to produce a probe from the agency, over concerns that it is impartiality regarding Sinclair have been “tainted.”
“This merger would not happen to be possible without a number of actions to overturn decades-lengthy, settled legal precedent by Chairman Pai,” Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and 14 other lawmakers wrote in instructions. The letter added that Pai has “signaled his obvious receptiveness to approving the Sinclair-Tribune transaction and actually led the way because of its consummation.”
The FCC did not immediately react to a request comment. Sinclair declined to comment.
In the remarks Thursday, Pai stated it had been “utter nonsense” that his agency’s decisions on media possession would result in a company dominating local media markets by purchasing up newspapers and r / c.
“It will open the doorway to pro-competitive combinations which will strengthen local voices,” he stated, and “better serve local neighborhoods.Inches
As the entire commission agreed the process resulting in new rules must start, there is disagreement over when tech companies and experts ought to be asked to provide detailed input. Vice chair Caroline Hunter, a Republican, exhibited frustration when requested by Democratic Commissioner Ellen Weintraub to describe why the commission should not hold a hearing around the matter at some point. “I have no idea the way i could be anymore obvious,” Hunter stated. She was adamant the commission should make time to digest the greater than 100,000 comments it caused by the general public on the internet ad rules, in addition to material gleaned from three recent congressional proceedings, where officials from Facebook, Google and Twitter testified.
Weintraub and independent Chair Steven Walther were in support of talking with Plastic Valley along with other experts when the following month. “I think it would be very useful to individuals who, much like me, don’t genuinely have any natural understanding regarding these IT issues” to get input from experts, Walther stated. Ultimately, the commission made the decision to draft its very own proposal on ad disclosures after which invite the tech companies to reply to it.
Weintraub, who had been congratulated by her Republican colleagues for championing the problem of ad disclosures, stated she was surprised at the bipartisan support and described the election like a “win.”
“I’m personally pretty jazzed about this,Inches she stated, in just a minute that highlighted how rarely the commission concurs, and just how notable the possibility new rules may be. The final time the commission initiated a significant rulemaking process is at 2015. Even though the three Republicans possess a majority within the Democratic commissioner and also the independent chair, four people must election for just about any significant measure to pass through.
The FEC is evolving its process as people of Congress are pushing their very own legislation to boost the transparency of internet political ads. Even though early efforts in the Commission as well as on Capitol Hill are colored with bipartisanship, it’s unclear whether or not they will gain further support. Officials will also be racing from the calendar. The following national election is 355 days away, an internet-based ads will arrive much sooner.
The neo-Nazis were hungry. They’d spent your day inside a Charlottesville, Veterans administration., courthouse testifying in the preliminary hearing for any white-colored nationalist jailed for pepper-spraying counterprotesters during August’s deadly Unite the best rally. Now, following the lengthy clarify to Alexandria, Veterans administration., they craved pizza.
“We would order in the local place where we obtain pizza constantly, but we stated no, Papa John’s may be the official pizza from the alt-at this time,Inches stated Eli Mosley, the 26-year-old leader from the white-colored separatist group Identity Evropa. “We’re just supporting the brands that support us.”
That demonstrate of support — unsolicited and undesirable by Papa John’s — exhibits a growing danger to major American brands negotiating the racial politics which have cleaved the nation.
It’s no longer enough for businesses to help keep a minimal profile with regards to polarizing issues involving race, brand experts say. Rather, some information mill preemptively stating their positions, wishing to avert being hijacked by white-colored supremacists wanting to spread their ideas in to the mainstream by tying themselves to household brands that sell products for example pizzas, burgers, athletic shoes and cars. Now, Papa John’s tweeted an explicit rejection of neo-Nazi ideas.
“Companies have to take an open get up on problems that are affecting consumers prior to being co-opted,” stated Heide Gardner, chief diversity and inclusion officer at IPG, certainly one of the world’s largest advertising and marketing conglomerates. “Brands have to develop a certain degree of sophistication around racial issues. They should be really conscious of methods billed the atmosphere is and take time to check out situations via a diversity lens.”
Papa John’s learned this lesson hard way following the chain, a significant sponsor from the Nfl, found itself within the unwelcome embrace of neo-Nazi groups following its chief executive’s November. 1 call with investors, by which he blamed disappointing pizza sales on football players’ protests against racism and police brutality.
Following the call, a neo-Nazi website hailed Papa John’s as “Sieg Heil Pizza” having a photo of the cake whose pepperonis were arranged right into a swastika.
It didn’t matter that the organization immediately condemned racism and all sorts of hate groups. “We don’t want these people or groups to purchase our pizza,” an announcement from Papa John’s stated.
“They can signal all they need, but we all know,Inches stated Mosley, praising Papa John’s leader John Schnatter’s statements.
Exactly the same undesirable attention originates to Asics, Wendy’s along with other companies. The neo-Nazis’ campaign to co-opt brands has forced firms right into a familiar pattern: corporate statements disavowing white-colored supremacy, typically adopted by silence, hoping the debate will blow over without lengthy-lasting harm to their image and purchasers.
That approach didn’t work with Papa John’s, whose stock fell by 13 percent between your earnings call and also the close of economic Tuesday.
That night, inside a restored make an effort to disown the neo-Nazis who’ve attached themselves towards the brand, Papa John’s tweeted an emoji of the elevated middle finger to “those guys.” The organization also apologized for Schnatter’s “divisive” comments around the earnings call and affirmed its support for that National football league players protesting inequality.
“We works using the players and league to locate a positive solution,Inches the organization tweeted. “Open to ideas all. Except neo-Nazis.”
A spokesman stated the organization thought about being “crystal clear” about where it stands regarding white-colored supremacist groups.
Others must take heed of Papa John’s experience, experts say. Because the marketplace becomes the most recent battleground within the culture wars, brand strategists are counseling companies familiar with remaining from the political fray to proactively weigh along with bold statements about race — as Nike and Ben & Jerry’s did — to thwart attempts by hate groups to consider brands his or her own.
More brands will also be accumulating their crisis management teams when preparing for the following racial flare-up, stated Tiffany R. Warren, senior v . p . and chief diversity officer at Omnicom Group, a worldwide marketing and company communications holding company.
“That’s the brand new reality,” Warren stated. “It’s not only nice to possess. It’s the clear way of conducting business now.”
Some companies were bystanders once they were taken in the racially billed atmosphere.
Tiki Brand, of Wisconsin-based Lamplight Farms, was minding its business like a purveyor of Polynesian kitsch when its bamboo torches were utilised by white-colored nationalist protesters in Charlottesville.
Pictures of angry youthful white-colored men parading with the College of Virginia campus holding the flaming torches switched the merchandise once evocative of backyard barbecues and luaus into symbolic of white-colored supremacy.
The organization declined to discuss whether or not this has felt any financial effects.
Others caught the admiration of neo-Nazis after their executives voiced support for President Trump or his policies.
Yuengling, located in Pottsville, Pa., and touted as “America’s earliest brewery,” grew to become the favored beer of white-colored nationalists following the company’s owner backed Trump within the final times of the campaign.
Andrew Anglin, founding father of the Daily Stormer website, declared Asics the “official footwear of white-colored people” after a professional from the Boston shoe company recognized Trump’s stance on trade right after he was elected. Liberals tweeted images of themselves trashing or burning their Asics athletic shoes.
Other firms attracted the interest of white-colored nationalists through branding mistakes that belongs to them. Anglin announced Wendy’s the “official hamburger from the neo-Nazi alt-right movement” following the fast-food restaurant mistakenly tweeted an image of Pepe the Frog, a white-colored nationalist symbol, within the same red pigtails because the Wendy’s girl mascot.
And white-colored supremacists celebrated whenever a casting require a Cadillac commercial searched for “any and all sorts of real alt-right thinkers/believers.” Cadillac stated at that time it didn’t authorize the casting notice, but Anglin had already pounced, writing inside a publish entitled “Yes, We’re Mainstream Now” that “it was natural for any major American corporation to wish someone from your movement.”
There’s no telling the outcome these endorsements have experienced on companies’ sales or around the movement’s recruitment efforts. But experts expect the co-opting of brands to carry on.
“It makes all the alt-right appear a lot more like normal Americans as opposed to a fringe,” stated Nour Kteily, a professor in the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern College whose studies have centered on neo-Nazi groups.
Matthew Heimbach, the 26-year-old chairman from the Traditionalist Workers Party, a white-colored nationalist group, stated he’ll keep getting Papa John’s sent to his local chapter conferences in Paoli, Ind.
“Condemn us all that’s necessary, but we continuously purchase your pizza to aid your struggle from the politically correct agenda,” Heimbach told The Washington Publish. “We need to prove that we’re a dependable economic, social and political bloc within American politics.”
Endorsing brands for example Papa John’s, he stated, “provides a platform for all of us to spread our message so folks knows what we should are a symbol of, visit our websites and perhaps come along.Inches
In Alexandria a week ago, Mosley and the white-colored nationalist buddies drove to Papa John’s to get two pizzas — pepperoni and meat enthusiasts. For security reasons, they didn’t want pizza sent to the house of Richard Spencer, who, as president from the National Policy Institute, a white-colored nationalist think tank, has gotten dying threats.
They collected in Spencer’s family room and — some the very first time — dug into slices of Papa John’s.
“It makes no difference what it really tastes like,” Mosley stated. “It’s the state pizza from the alt-right.”
They washed it lower with Yuengling beer.
Commercial broadcasters have restored their attacks online and Facebook with a brand new study highlighting the strength of television advertising in contrast to the tech giants.
Research commissioned by Thinkbox, a business group supported by ITV, Funnel 4, Sky yet others, discovered that television advertising generates £4.20 in profit for each £1 spent.
That compares with £2.35 for movie and and 84p for online banner advertising. Print was the 2nd most effective advertising medium, adding £2.43 to the conclusion for each £1 spent.
The research was transported out and audited individually by marketing analysts at Ebiquity and Gain Theory, according to 2,000 promotional initiatives.
Thinkbox stated the findings demonstrated that television advertising was under-appreciated by brands. Although it taken into account 71pc of profit generated through the campaigns, it received only 54pc of the budgets.
Commercial broadcasters are trying to slow the flow of cash online. YouTube and Facebook especially happen to be targeting television advertisers with a few success, although recent controversies over brands appearing alongside inappropriate videos motivated big companies including HSBC and Tesco to prevent paying for YouTube.
Matt Hill of Thinkbox stated: “Businesses they are under immense economic pressure and marketers need to justify everything they spend.
“It is vital that people constantly refresh increase our knowledge of what variations of advertising lead to ensure that marketers are spending wisely.”
The United kingdom television advertising marketplace is likely to contract by 2.7pc this season before coming back to development in 2018, based on the Advertising Association.
Moments after listening to the L.O.L. Surprise Amaze on the Chicago radio station, Very Lessner was around the search for that popular — and more and more offered out — toy.
However, she’d to determine what it really was.
She logged onto YouTube, in which a 24-minute “unboxing” video clued her in.
The $69.99 toy, she learned, is very simple: A glittery, dome-formed plastic situation full of 50 surprises— four dolls, together with accessories, clothing, charms along with other knick-knacks — that must definitely be individually unwrapped. But a lot of the benefit of the large Surprise is within its slow reveal. It will take hrs, purchasers say, to peel away the toy’s layers and determine exactly what’s hidden inside. Some dolls cry, spit or “tinkle.” Others change color in cold water.
Watching that process unfold has turned into a pasttime by itself, and there are millions of L.O.L. Surprise unboxing videos online to demonstrate it. One, a 13-minute video of the lady opening the large Surprise continues to be viewed 6.a million occasions because it was published on Sept. 30.
L.O.L. Surprise! dolls — which are a symbol of Little Crazy Little Surprise — have grown to be an unlikely blockbuster hit within an era of high-tech, movie-inspired toys. The Large Surprise, that was released six days ago, is offered out online at Target, Walmart and Toys R Us, and it is commanding 10 occasions its selling price on Ebay. (Amazon . com.com, meanwhile, is selling the toy for $116.99, while Walmart’s Jet.com is charging $142.24)
The toy, industry insiders say, is among the first to become both inspired by and produced to have an era of YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat. Executives at MGA Entertainment, the independently-held California company behind hits like Bratz, Lalaloopsy and Little Tikes — developed the idea for L.O.L. dolls having seen a proliferation of “unboxing” videos online. (For that uninitiated, the videos are precisely what they seem like: Footage of individuals, or sometimes just their hands, unpacking any host of recently-purchased products, including figurines, chocolate eggs, coffeemakers as well as iPhones.)
“Frankly, i was seeing these videos everywhere and thought, why don’t you just bring an unboxing toy to those kids?,” stated Issac Larian, 63, founder and leader of MGA.
L.O.L. Surprise! dolls took over Annette Nelson’s Minneapolis home.
They’re thrown across her family room, stashed in her own freezer and arranged round the bathtub. Two times, her kids, ages 5 and seven, required the toys to some waterpark, in which the small plastic dolls bobbed with the lazy river, plus the women.
“We are addicted,” stated Nelson, who posts toy videos on her behalf YouTube funnel, Adulting with Children. “A big some of it may be the component of surprise: Which dolls will you get? What exactly are they likely to put on?”
MGA is making use of the craze by looking into making it simpler for kids to create their very own unboxing videos. The organization is establishing vibrant pink recording booths in 13 U.S. metropolitan areas, Toronto and London. The L.O.L.-branded booths, which include a built-in claw machine and recording equipment, are part-vending machine, part-video studio. Shoppers can purchase the L.O.L. Surprise!, then sit lower and movie themselves opening it. Its message: You, too, could “become the following viral sensation.”
Not to mention, there’s an incentive for MGA, too. Each video published online, or selfied shared on Instagram, almost always becomes a fundamental part of the toy’s advertising campaign.
“There was a period when you’d place your toy inside a TV commercial watching sales surge two days later,” Larian stated. “That era has ended. Kids rarely watch television any longer — they’re all online.Inches
The initial L.O.L. Surprise — a $9.99 toy encased in seven layers of wrapping paper — silently showed up in Target stores this past year, just a few days before Christmas. There have been no large-scale marketing efforts or television commercials (an initial in MGA’s 38-year history). Rather, executives thought they’d discreetly test the waters before a bigger release in The month of january.
It switched to be an immediate hit, with all of 500,000 dolls selling in two several weeks. By The month of january, L.O.L. Surprise! took over as country’s top-selling toy, based on researching the market firm NPD Group. (By September, it continued to be for the reason that position.)
The organization released a type of L.O.L. cats, dogs, rabbits and hamsters a week ago, and it has inked greater than 30 licensing deals for products like clothing, stationery and residential decor which are scheduled to create their distance to stores next spring.
“At MGA we’ve had many, many big hits, however this is definitely the greatest I’ve seen,Inches Larian stated, adding that revenue is incorporated in the millions. “A large amount of occasions, we’ve items that operate in the U.S., but do not work in Germany or Russia or Korea. The factor concerning the L.O.L. Surprise is it is within demand everywhere.”
The toy’s success, analysts say, develops the recognition of earlier hits like Hatchimals and Shopkins. Like its predecessors, the L.O.L. Amaze includes a built-in component of surprise — children have no idea precisely what they’re getting until they’ve opened up all 50 layers — and is stuffed with colletibles they are able to share and trade.
“So a lot of the enjoyment gets towards the final layer to see what you’ve were left with, after which working out how to handle all individuals pieces,” stated Jim Silver, leader of toy website TTPM. “It’s similar to you’ve to take a scavenger search before getting towards the toys.”
Locating the item at stores can seem to be like a scavenger search, too. Very Lessner states she spent the greater a part of each day tracking lower the L.O.L. Amaze on her 9-year-old daughter. had been offered out, as were the 4 Target stores nearest to her Chicago-area home. Amazon . com, meanwhile, was charging a $50 premium around the toy. (Jeffrey P. Bezos, the main executive of Amazon . com, owns The Washington Publish.)
Lessner wound up driving 20 miles to some Target in another town, where she bought the final one in stock. She am thrilled, Lessner states, that they clicked a selfie using the toy and published it on Facebook.
“First gift of 2017,” the 36-year-old authored. “The hottest Christmas gift of the season!Inches
A billionaire’s decision a week ago to shutter this news sites Gothamist and DNAInfo, only a week after employees dicated to unionise, appeared to mark another low for unions in online media age.
Owner Joe Ricketts appeared to become making good on threats to close the lid on on his publications if workers became a member of a union. However in an open statement, Ricketts – a Jesse Trump backer and founding father of the discount stock brokerage TD Ameritrade – stated the choice was purely financial.
The organization, he stated, “is, in the finish during the day, a company, and companies have to be economically effective if they’re to endure”.
He added that although “important progress” have been made, “that progress hasn’t been sufficient to aid the tremendous effort and expense required to produce the kind of journalism which the organization began.Inches
The choice to close New You are able to-based Gothamist, DNAinfo, and brother or sister sites in Washington, Electricity, Chicago, La, Bay Area, and Shanghai left 116 journalists, salespeople and developers unemployed. The Authors Guild of the usa East, that the staff had dicated to join only days before, stated inside a statement published on Twitter it had become “deeply concerned” about the choice to close the publications: “It isn’t any secret that threats were created to those workers throughout the organizing drive.”
It’s thought that Ricketts lost money throughout his participation with local news sites, a once-lucrative sector hard hit by falling advertising rates. Established brands, such as the New You are able to Occasions and also the Wall Street Journal, have reduced their metro commitments or closed local-focused sections as revenues have dwindled. Some publications, such as the Village Voice, have closed print editions others, such as the New You are able to Sun, have stopped to write entirely.
contended that unions “promote a corrosive us-against-them dynamic that destroys the esprit de corps companies have to succeed” that “makes no sense … where a business owner is staking his capital on the business that’s supplying jobs and promoting innovation”.
But Tim Schick, administrative director of NewsGuild-CWA, states unionization hasn’t got to have a huge cost towards the employer. “They fight it tooth and nail since it means they need to sit lower with workers to speak about wages and benefits.”
Schick, whose organization represents US workers in the Protector, believes that such negotiations bargaining, trade offs and solutions frequently originate from employees.
“Because worker voice through unionization reduces absolute control, the company proprietors have a tendency to fight them back instead of embrace it,” he stated. “It’s their fear and philosophical opposition to employees unionizing, so that they fight it instead of sitting lower, exercising exactly what the issues are, and finding solutions.”
Union representation hasn’t always protected online news workers – in June, Huffpost let go 39 staffers symbolized through the Authors Guild of the usa East.
Nevertheless, the popularity toward representation is obvious. Since mid-2015, staff at Vice, Fusion, The Main, Salon, Daily Animal, MTV News, ThinkProgress, Jacobin, The Intercept, Thrillist, Slate, and also the now-shuttered Gawker have selected WGAE or NewsGuild representation.
initially decided to unionize in April. But Ricketts declined to acknowledge the union, telling workers within an email: “As lengthy as it’s my money that’s having to pay for everything, I intend is the one making the choices concerning the direction from the business.”
COO Dan Swarz chimed in, advised employees that since launching in ’09, DNAInfo “has been based on just one investor, Joe Ricketts” who “has never taken a cent from the business”. Schwarz added: “Would a union function as the final straw that caused the company to shut? I do not know.”
Undeterred, the guild held a proper election recently. “No one’s attempting to bankrupt anybody,” DNAInfo reporter Kate Honan told the brand new You are able to Occasions. “We would like to come with an capability to negotiate things, and never always money. If this sounds like the way forward for journalism, it ought to be a job for individuals, not really a publish-college hobby.”
Lowell Peterson, executive director from the Authors Guild of the usa East, states the union’s lawyers are actually searching in a legal challenge. Peterson believes the “typical blather” about unionization could add up to an “unlawful threat.”
“Ricketts and the minions make ugly statements that suggest unionization brought towards the shut-lower,” Peterson stated. “At the same time frame they’re meaning they couldn’t learn how to earn profits on local news.”
Which may be true, Peterson views, however that would also make DNAinfo the only real website the union represents that’s not able to create a profit – that leads him to surmise that Ricketts’ decision is definitely founded in philosophy instead of frugality.
“The only factor that brought to DNAinfo journalists losing their jobs is Joe Ricketts. Not his employees’ decision to unionize. Therefore the question that should be posed is, that is it? Have you close the organization to thwart your employees’ federally-protected to unionize, or that you simply were taking a loss, by which situation be truthful about this.Inches
In Peterson’s estimation, Ricketts’ decision is much more prone to happen to be located in “ideological malarkey” than financial aspects. “We hadn’t even sitting lower to speak about anything or even the contract terms, so its simply not logical responsible to price of unionization.”
For journalists at the organization, management’s decision to shut the websites came as shock. Aaron Cynic, a author with Chicagoist, stated he was fully supportive from the New You are able to employees’ decision to unionize. He held out little hope that Ricketts’ decision was by means of creating a bargaining position.
“I don’t think he’s any aim of reopening things. He’s like, ‘OK, If I am not getting my way, everyone are done’. It’s terrible although not surprising. Ricketts is really a millionaire conservative, so when millionaire conservatives don’t obtain way, they place their ball and go back home.Inches
BALTIMORE COUNTY, Md. — They call it the “Church Lane Hug.”
That is how educators at Church Lane Elementary Technology, a public school here, describe the protective two-armed way they teach students to carry their school-issued laptops.
Administrators at Baltimore County Public Schools, the 25th-largest public school system in the United States, have embraced the laptops as well, as part of one of the nation’s most ambitious classroom technology makeovers. In 2014, the district committed more than $200 million for HP laptops, and it is spending millions of dollars on math, science and language software. Its vendors visit classrooms. Some schoolchildren have been featured in tech-company promotional videos.
And Silicon Valley has embraced the school district right back.
HP has promoted the district as a model to follow in places as diverse as New York City and Rwanda. Daly Computers, which supplied the HP laptops, donated $30,000 this year to the district’s education foundation. Baltimore County schools’ top officials have traveled widely to industry-funded education events, with travel sometimes paid for by industry-sponsored groups.
Silicon Valley is going all out to own America’s school computer-and-software market, projected to reach $21 billion in sales by 2020. An industry has grown up around courting public-school decision makers, and tech companies are using a sophisticated playbook to reach them, The New York Times has found in a review of thousands of pages of Baltimore County school documents and in interviews with dozens of school officials, researchers, teachers, tech executives and parents.
School leaders have become so central to sales that a few private firms will now, for fees that can climb into the tens of thousands of dollars, arrange meetings for vendors with school officials, on some occasions paying superintendents as consultants. Tech-backed organizations have also flown superintendents to conferences at resorts. And school leaders have evangelized company products to other districts.
These marketing approaches are legal. But there is little rigorous evidence so far to indicate that using computers in class improves educational results. Even so, schools nationwide are convinced enough to have adopted them in hopes of preparing students for the new economy.
In some significant ways, the industry’s efforts to push laptops and apps in schools resemble influence techniques pioneered by drug makers. The pharmaceutical industry has long cultivated physicians as experts and financed organizations, like patient advocacy groups, to promote its products.
Studies have found that strategies like these work, and even a free $20 meal from a drug maker can influence a doctor’s prescribing practices. That is one reason the government today maintains a database of drug maker payments, including meals, to many physicians.
Tech companies have not gone as far as drug companies, which have regularly paid doctors to give speeches. But industry practices, like flying school officials to speak at events and taking school leaders to steak and sushi restaurants, merit examination, some experts say.
“If benefits are flowing in both directions, with payments from schools to vendors,” said Rob Reich, a political-science professor at Stanford University, “and dinner and travel going to the school leaders, it’s a pay-for-play arrangement.”
Close ties between school districts and their tech vendors can be seen nationwide. But the scale of Baltimore County schools’ digital conversion makes the district a case study in industry relationships. Last fall, the district hosted the League of Innovative Schools, a network of tech-friendly superintendents. Dozens of visiting superintendents toured schools together with vendors like Apple, HP and Lego Education, a division of the toy company.
The superintendents’ league is run by Digital Promise, a nonprofit that promotes technology in schools. It charges $25,000 annually for corporate sponsorships that enable the companies to attend the superintendent meetings. Lego, a sponsor of the Baltimore County meeting, gave a 30-minute pitch, handing out little yellow blocks so the superintendents could build palm-size Lego ducks.
Karen Cator, the chief executive of Digital Promise, said it was important for schools and industry to work together. “We want a healthy, void-of-conflict-of-interest relationship between people who create products for education and their customers,” she said. “The reason is so that companies can create the best possible products to meet the needs of schools.”
Several parents said they were troubled by school officials’ getting close to the companies seeking their business. Dr. Cynthia M. Boyd, a practicing geriatrician and professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine with children in district schools, said it reminded her of drug makers’ promoting their medicines in hospitals.
“You don’t have to be paid by Big Pharma, or Big Ed Tech, to be influenced,” Dr. Boyd said. She has raised concerns about the tech initiative at school board meetings.
A Makeover Is Born
Baltimore County’s 173 schools span a 600-square-mile horseshoe around the city of Baltimore, which has a separate school system. Like many districts, the school system struggles to keep facilities up-to-date. Some of its 113,000 students attend spacious new schools. Some older schools, though, are overcrowded, requiring trailers as overflow classrooms. In some, tap water runs brown. And, in budget documents, the district said it lacked the “dedicated resources” for students with disabilities.
In a district riven by disparities, Dallas Dance, the superintendent from 2012 through this past summer, made an appealing argument for a tech makeover. To help students develop new-economy skills, he said, every school must provide an equitable digital learning environment — including giving every student the same device.
“Why does a first grader need to have it?” Mr. Dance said in an interview last year. “In order to break the silos of equity, you’ve got to say that everyone gets it.”
The district wanted a device that would work both for youngsters who couldn’t yet type and for high schoolers. In early 2014, it chose a particularly complex machine, an HP laptop that converts to a tablet. That device ranked third out of four devices the district considered, according to the district’s hardware evaluation forms, which The Times obtained. Over all, the HP device scored 27 on a 46-point scale. A Dell device ranked first at 34.
The district ultimately awarded a $205 million, multiyear contract to Daly Computers, a Maryland reseller, to furnish the device, called the Elitebook Revolve.
Mychael Dickerson, a school district spokesman, said, “The device chosen was the one that was closely aligned to what was recommended by stakeholders.” Daly did not respond to inquiries.
With the laptop deal sealed, Silicon Valley kicked into gear.
In September 2014, shortly after the first schools received laptops, HP invited the superintendent to give a keynote speech at a major education conference in New York City. Soon after, Gus Schmedlen, HP’s vice president for worldwide education, described the event at a school board meeting.
“We had to pick one group, one group to present what was the best education technology plan in the world for the last academic year,” Mr. Schmedlen said. “And guess whose it was? Baltimore County Public Schools!”
An HP spokesman said the company did not pay for the trip. He said the company does not provide “compensation, meals, travel or other perks to school administrators or any other public sector officials.”
The superintendent later appeared in an HP video. “We are going to continue needing a thought partner like HP to say what’s working and what’s not working,” he said.
Microsoft, whose Windows software runs the laptops, named the district a Microsoft Showcase school system. Intel, whose chips power the laptops, gave Ryan Imbriale, the executive director of the district’s department of innovative learning, an Intel Education Visionary award.
Recently, parents and teachers have reported problems with the HP devices, including batteries falling out and keyboard tiles becoming detached. HP has discontinued the Elitebook Revolve.
Mr. Dickerson, the district spokesman, said there was not “a widespread issue with damaged devices.”
An HP spokesman said: “While the Revolve is no longer on the market, it would be factually inaccurate to suggest that’s related to product quality.”
Asked what device would eventually replace the Revolve in the schools, the district said it was asking vendors for proposals.
Mr. Dance’s technology makeover is now in the hands of an interim superintendent, Verletta White. In April Mr. Dance announced his resignation, without citing a reason. Ms. White has indicated that she will continue the tech initiative while increasing a focus on literacy.
A Baltimore County school board member, David Uhlfelder, said a representative from the Office of the Maryland State Prosecutor had interviewed him in September about Mr. Dance’s relationship with a former school vendor (a company not in the tech industry).
The prosecutor’s office declined to confirm or deny its interest in Mr. Dance.
Mr. Dance, who discussed the district’s tech initiatives with a Times reporter last year, did not respond to repeated emails and phone calls this week seeking comment.
Courting the Superintendents
In Baltimore County and beyond, the digital makeover of America’s schools has spawned a circuit of conferences, funded by Microsoft, Google, Dell and other tech vendors, that lavish attention on tech-friendly educators.
Mr. Dance’s travel schedule sheds light on that world.
Between March 2014, when the laptop contract was announced, and April 2017, when he announced his resignation, Mr. Dance took at least 65 out-of-state trips related to the district’s tech initiatives or involving industry-funded groups, according to a Times analysis of travel documents obtained under public records laws — nearly two trips per month on average. Those trips cost more than $33,000. The Times counted only trips with local receipts, indicating Mr. Dance set foot in the cities.
At least $13,000 of Mr. Dance’s airline tickets, hotel bills, meals and other fees were paid for by organizations sponsored by tech companies, some of which were school vendors, The Times found. The $13,000 is an incomplete number, because some groups cover superintendents’ costs directly, which means school records may not include them.
Another way tech companies reach superintendents is to pay private businesses that set up conferences or small-group meetings with them. Superintendents nationwide have attended these events.
One prominent provider is the Education Research and Development Institute, or ERDI, which regularly gathers superintendents and other school leaders for conferences where they can network with companies that sell to schools.
ERDI offered several service levels this year, according to a membership rate card obtained by The Times. A $13,000 fee for Bronze membership entitles a company to one confidential meeting, where executives can meet with five school leaders to discuss products and school needs. Diamond members could pay $66,000 for six such meetings.
ERDI has offered superintendents $2,000 per conference as participating consultants, according to a Louisiana Board of Ethics filing. And there are other perks.
“Because we are asking for their time and expertise, we commonly offer to pay the cost of their food, transportation and lodging during their participation,” ERDI’s president, David M. Sundstrom, said in an email.
Mr. Dance’s calendar indicated that he had attended at least five ERDI events.
Mr. Dance received payment last year as an adviser for ERDI, according to his most recent district financial disclosure. It lists Dulle Enterprises, a company that owned ERDI in the past, as an employer from which he earned income.
Last February, at an ERDI conference in New Orleans, Mr. Dance met with Curriculum Associates, which makes reading software, as well as DreamBox Learning, a math platform.
At the time, both companies had contracts with the district. A few months after the event, the school board approved additional money for both companies. Each contract is now worth about $3.2 million.
A DreamBox spokeswoman said there was no connection between the meeting and its contract. “Even the appearance of impropriety is something we take very seriously and take steps to avoid,” she said.
A Curriculum Associates spokeswoman said: “These panels are not sales presentations, but rather focus-group opportunities to solicit feedback on products under development.”
Ms. White, the interim superintendent, has been involved with ERDI since 2013, according to Mr. Dickerson. He said Ms. White used vacation time to attend events, where she “provided guidance to education-related companies on goods, services and products that are in development to benefit student performance.”
Asked whether Ms. White had received ERDI payments, Mr. Dickerson said, “Participation in ERDI is done independently of the school system.” In an email, Ms. White said she found ERDI to be a “beneficial professional learning experience.” She didn’t respond to a question about ERDI compensation.
She added, “I do not believe there are any conflicts of interests” related to the district’s tech initiative.
Mr. Sundstrom, ERDI’s president, said education companies pay a fee to attend events “not to meet school leaders or make a sale,” but to get meaningful feedback on their education products from knowledgeable school leaders. He added that school officials do not make purchases at ERDI sessions and that it is their school boards that approve district purchases.
Baltimore County’s travel rules say, “No travel expenses will be paid by those seeking to do business with the Baltimore County Public Schools prior to obtaining a contract.” Mr. Dickerson explained that applied to companies currently bidding for contracts.
A Foundation’s Big Fund-Raiser
Beneath crystal chandeliers last April, politicians, school leaders, vendors and community members gathered in a banquet hall. The occasion was State of the Schools, an annual fund-raising luncheon arranged by the Education Foundation of Baltimore County Public Schools.
The foundation was created in the early 1990s and raises money for schools. Tech companies have made significant donations, and have directors sitting on the foundation’s board. The directors include employees from Discovery Education, Pearson and Microsoft, all vendors with multimillion-dollar district contracts.
Daly, the laptop provider, was the biggest donor, giving $30,000. McGraw-Hill, Discovery Education, Pearson and Microsoft each donated $1,500 to $15,000. Of the $211,500 in publicly listed donations for the event, tech companies gave about 43 percent.
“You have these huge contracts, and then you donate all this money, and the foundation puts up a banner advertising your company’s name,” said Michael J. Collins, a former Maryland state senator and former school board member. “I just didn’t think that passed the smell test.”
Discovery Education said it trained employees to avoid potential conflicts of interest. Microsoft said its policies followed government gift and ethics rules. Pearson said its donation had been nominal and vetted to prevent conflict of interest. McGraw-Hill said it was committed to integrity and transparency.
Deborah S. Phelps, the foundation’s executive director, said it awarded scholarships and gave schools grants for projects in culture, science, technology and other subjects.
When asked if the foundation had policies governing donations from vendors or potential vendors, Ms. Phelps said no. “‘There’s not necessarily a policy,” she said. There is also no policy prohibiting foundation board members who are vendors from reviewing grants involving their or competitors’ products, she said.
Mr. Dickerson said the focus of Baltimore County Public Schools was on “supporting students, teachers and their learning environments.” He added: “We are unapologetic for engaging with our Education Foundation, business partners and community stakeholders in an effort to close known achievement gaps.”
Mr. Reich of Stanford suggested school districts establish clearer rules governing their relationships with vendors, particularly with tech companies racing to win over the gatekeepers to America’s classrooms. Otherwise, parents could lose trust in the system.
“School leaders should be just as concerned about the perception of corruption as actual corruption,” he said.
Bay Area — After many years of attempting unsuccessfully to construct a social networking to rival Facebook, Google finally got something in the of their failures: cover.
People of Congress grilled the executives of Google, Twitter and facebook now inside a trio of proceedings centered on the function that social networking performed in evolving a Russian disinformation campaign prior to the 2016 election. Google’s representative at two proceedings, Kent Master, their general counsel, made an item of distinguishing looking giant from the internet brethren. Frequently and positively, he clarified questions in the proceedings by saying, “We’re not really a social networking.Inches
Tech companies took a pounding in the courtroom of public opinion in recent several weeks. Within the eyes of the critics, they’ve become too large, too effective and too unmindful of the influence. Which week’s congressional proceedings cast added and unflattering light around the industry’s growing embarrassment within the Russian election meddling.
“Without sufficient oversight, these businesses never imagined hostile intelligence services would misuse their platforms in this manner,Inches stated Renee DiResta, a completely independent security investigator at Data for Democracy. “The people running it seem to not fully appreciate what they’ve designed.”
Unsurprisingly, possibly, a couple of from the industry’s greatest companies happen to be pleased to say, essentially, don’t blame us.
Tim Prepare, Apple’s leader as well as an blunt critic from the data-collection practices of his company’s technological rivals, stated Wednesday he was concerned that social systems might be weaponized against those who rely on them.
“The bigger concern is that a few of these tools are utilized to divide people, to control people, to obtain fake news to individuals in broad figures, and thus to help their thinking,” stated Mr. Prepare within an interview with NBC News.
Frank Shaw, mind of communications at Apple’s longtime rival, Microsoft, recognized Mr. Cook’s comments inside a Twitter publish, stating that Mr. Prepare had presented the problem “perfectly.” This past year, Microsoft did purchase LinkedIn, a job-oriented social networking, for $26.2 billion, however that site seems to possess performed little role in Russia’s influence efforts.
Using the emergence of Facebook, Twitter as well as their ilk during the last decade, “social” grew to become a vital Plastic Valley buzzword as companies crammed social networking-like features into new items. Even Apple, regardless of the many vast amounts of dollars it’s earned making computers, has attempted its hands in a social networking centered on music.
But because social networking is becoming more and more linked to uncomfortable bickering, race-baiting and Russian propaganda, the must-have “social” label is becoming an albatross, stated Frederick Bayer, a helper professor at Ohio Condition College who concentrates on social systems.
“The mere proven fact that a tech clients are attempting to minimize its overall influence is really a telling signal from the moment we’re in,” stated Mr. Bayer.
Google, which operates underneath the parent company Alphabet, can provide a among its business and just how social systems operate — largely because its tries to develop a social networking haven’t been very effective.
The organization spent huge amount of money creating Google+, a social site built particularly to defend myself against Facebook. The organization tied Google+ into nearly all of its qualities, describing it as being the “social spine” of Google in public places statements at that time.
There also were short-resided efforts like Google Buzz and Google Wave, or geographically specific sites like Orkut — famous South america but overlooked elsewhere.
Google+ is constantly on the exist but it’s considered a disappointment. Google stated it’d found no political posts from condition-linked actors on the internet+.
Google has frequently attempted to fashion YouTube, its sprawling video service, into some thing just like a social networking hoping keeping visitors interested. This past year, YouTube added what it really known as its “Community” product, basically features meant to inspire users to have interaction more with each other.
Google stated accounts thought to have ties towards the Kremlin had submitted greater than 1,100 videos to YouTube on racial, religious and political topics. Individuals videos were viewed 309,000 occasions. A lot of individuals videos had only a small amount of views, though these were “frequently published with other social networking platforms,” Richard Salgado, Google’s senior counsel in police force and knowledge security, told a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday.
Facebook, to provide a comparison, believed that 150 million users of Facebook and it is subsidiary, Instagram, have been uncovered to 80,000 posts that originated from the Russian influence campaign.
Twitter stated it’d discovered greater than 2,700 accounts which were associated with Russia’s Research Agency, a business associated with the Kremlin, between September 2016 and November 2016. Individuals accounts published roughly 131,000 tweets over the period. Twitter identified yet another 36,000 automated accounts which had published 1.4 million election-related tweets associated with Russia over that very same period. The tweets received about 288 million views.
“Now you’re seeing all of the attention from Congress visit Twitter and facebook, because they’re the linchpin” from the Russian information operations, stated Ms. DiResta, the safety investigator.
In the testimony on Capitol Hill, Mr. Master, Google’s general counsel, searched for to attract a vibrant line separating his company’s services from social networking platforms like Twitter and facebook, that has been an periodic subject of Google acquisition rumors.
Also, he performed lower what Google is aware of its users, an unexpected conceit for an organization which makes more income than anybody from selling advertising in line with the online interests of users.
“We’re somewhat differently positioned because we’re not mainly a social networking,Inches Mr. Master stated as a result of an issue regarding whether Google should inform users who’re uncovered to propaganda or divisive content from the foreign government. “Many users aren’t logged in once they access content, so it’s hard to know who sees what.”
Still, social networking remains an engaging proposition for internet companies, even Google, since it keeps people returning and helps to create a spot for these to spend time, stated Jan Dawson, an analyst in the technology data firm Jackdaw Research.
Consider for example Facebook. Despite getting been assailed for days concerning the role it performed within the 2016 election, Facebook reported another blockbuster financial quarter on Wednesday, shattering analysts’ expectations using more than $4.7 billion in profit within the third quarter. Which was a 79 percent increase in the same period twelve months ago.
“If you gave Google the option of getting a social networking, despite everything that’s happened,” stated Mr. Dawson. “I think it might still enjoy having one.”
SAN FRANCISCO — After years of trying unsuccessfully to build a social network to rival Facebook, Google finally got something out of all of its failures: cover.
Members of Congress grilled the executives of Google, Facebook and Twitter this week in a trio of hearings focused on the role that social media played in advancing a Russian disinformation campaign before the 2016 election. Google’s representative at two of the hearings, Kent Walker, the company’s general counsel, made a point of distinguishing the search giant from its internet brethren. Repeatedly and unequivocally, he answered questions at the hearings by saying, “We’re not a social network.”
Tech companies have taken a pounding in the court of public opinion in recent months. In the eyes of their critics, they have become too big, too powerful and too unmindful of their influence. And this week’s congressional hearings cast added and unflattering light on the industry’s growing embarrassment over the Russian election meddling.
“Without sufficient oversight, these companies never imagined hostile intelligence services would misuse their platforms in this way,” said Renee DiResta, an independent security researcher at Data for Democracy. “The people running it appear to not fully appreciate what they’ve designed.”
Not surprisingly, perhaps, a few of the industry’s biggest companies have been happy to say, in essence, don’t blame us.
Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive and an outspoken critic of the data-collection practices of his company’s technological rivals, said Wednesday that he was concerned that social networks could be weaponized against the people who use them.
“The bigger issue is that some of these tools are used to divide people, to manipulate people, to get fake news to people in broad numbers, and so to influence their thinking,” said Mr. Cook in an interview with NBC News.
Frank Shaw, head of communications at Apple’s longtime rival, Microsoft, praised Mr. Cook’s comments in a Twitter post, saying that Mr. Cook had framed the issue “perfectly.” Last year, Microsoft did purchase LinkedIn, a career-oriented social network, for $26.2 billion, but that site appears to have played little role in Russia’s influence efforts.
With the emergence of Facebook, Twitter and their ilk over the last decade, “social” became a key Silicon Valley buzzword as companies crammed social network-like features into new products. Even Apple, despite the tens of billions of dollars it has earned making computing devices, has tried its hand at a social network focused on music.
But as social media has become increasingly connected to unpleasant bickering, race-baiting and Russian propaganda, the must-have “social” label has become an albatross, said Joseph Bayer, an assistant professor at Ohio State University who focuses on social networks.
“The mere fact that a tech company is trying to minimize its overall influence is a telling signal of the moment we’re in,” said Mr. Bayer.
Google, which operates under the parent company Alphabet, can offer a distinction between its business and how social networks operate — largely because its attempts to build a social network have not been very successful.
The company spent millions of dollars creating Google+, a social site built specifically to take on Facebook. The company tied Google+ into nearly every one of its properties, describing it as the “social spine” of Google in public statements at the time.
There also were short-lived efforts like Google Buzz and Google Wave, or geographically specific sites like Orkut — popular in Brazil but ignored elsewhere.
Google+ continues to exist but it is considered a disappointment. Google said it had found no political posts from state-linked actors on Google+.
Google has often tried to fashion YouTube, its sprawling video service, into something more like a social network in hopes of keeping visitors interested. Last year, YouTube added what it called its “Community” product, essentially features intended to inspire users to interact more with one another.
Google said accounts believed to have ties to the Kremlin had uploaded more than 1,100 videos to YouTube on racial, religious and political topics. Those videos were viewed 309,000 times. Many of those videos had only a small number of views, though they were “frequently posted to other social media platforms,” Richard Salgado, Google’s senior counsel in law enforcement and information security, told a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday.
Facebook, to offer a comparison, estimated that 150 million users of Facebook and its subsidiary, Instagram, had been exposed to 80,000 posts that came from the Russian influence campaign.
Twitter said it had discovered more than 2,700 accounts that were linked to Russia’s Internet Research Agency, a company tied to the Kremlin, between September 2016 and November 2016. Those accounts posted roughly 131,000 tweets over that period. Twitter identified an additional 36,000 automated accounts that had posted 1.4 million election-related tweets linked to Russia over that same period. The tweets received about 288 million views.
“Now you’re seeing all the attention from Congress go to Facebook and Twitter, because they’re the linchpin” of the Russian information operations, said Ms. DiResta, the security researcher.
In his testimony on Capitol Hill, Mr. Walker, Google’s general counsel, sought to draw a bright line separating his company’s services from social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, which has been an occasional subject of Google acquisition rumors.
He also played down what Google knows about its users, a surprising conceit for a company that makes more money than anybody from selling advertising based on the online interests of users.
“We’re somewhat differently positioned because we’re not primarily a social network,” Mr. Walker said in response to a question regarding whether Google should notify users who are exposed to propaganda or divisive content from a foreign government. “Many users are not logged in when they access content, so it’s difficult to know who sees what.”
Still, social media remains a compelling proposition for internet companies, even Google, because it keeps people coming back and creates a place for them to spend their time, said Jan Dawson, an analyst at the technology data firm Jackdaw Research.
Take the example of Facebook. Despite having been assailed for weeks about the role it played in the 2016 election, Facebook reported another blockbuster financial quarter on Wednesday, shattering analysts’ expectations with more than $4.7 billion in profit in the third quarter. That was a 79 percent increase from the same period one year ago.
“If you gave Google the choice of having a social network, even with everything that’s happened,” said Mr. Dawson. “I think it would still like to have one.”
Facebook published a much better-than-expected quarterly revenue of $10.33bn, up 47% from the year before, on the day that the social networking faced a grilling from US lawmakers over Russian interference within the 2016 US elections.
However, Facebook’s Chief executive officer, Mark Zuckerberg, cautioned that his company’s efforts to clamp lower on foreign interference in elections could damage future profits.
“We’re investing a lot in security that it’ll impact our profitability. Protecting our community is much more important than maximizing our profits,” he stated.
Facebook, Twitter and Google happen to be under growing pressure to recognize and disclose the methods condition-backed Russian operatives exploited their platforms through advertising and divisive political messaging and all sorts of three were called to testify before Congress now.
“What they did is wrong so we will not are a symbol of it,” Zuckerberg stated in mention of Russian ads because he opened up the income call by having an abnormally impassioned statement.
“Our community keeps growing … so we saw great results in the industry … but none of them of this matters if our services are utilized in a manner that don’t bring people closer together – or maybe the building blocks in our society is undermined by foreign interference.
“We’re getting exactly the same intensity to those security problems that we introduced to the foe or challenge that we’ve faced,” he stated.
To accomplish this goal, Facebook plans to purchase doubling the amount of people (mostly contractors) focusing on security and safety from about 10,000 to twenty,000 within the next year.
Facebook’s chief financial officer, David Wehner, stated that expenses would increase 45% to 60% in 2018 to cover improved security, an expanded video offering and also to fund big bets for example artificial intelligence and virtual reality. Their quarterly costs and expenses were $4.9bn.
The political debate within the wake from the 2016 election didn’t cause advertisers to get rid of belief in Facebook within the last quarter, with profits jumping by 79%.
90-eight percent of Facebook’s quarterly revenue ($10.14bn) originated from advertising, while yet another $186m originated from “payments along with other fees”. The organization disclosed more internet marketers were buying Facebook’s ads to focus on messages at mobile online users.
Facebook’s capability to precisely target digital ads at users according to their interests along with other online behavior is really effective that some lawmakers wish to regulate being able to sell political advertising from fear that could play a role in undermining the democratic process.
126 million Americans might have seen divisive Facebook posts produced by Russian operatives. The organization also announced measures to enhance transparency around political advertising, including developing a searchable database of images and messages utilized in ads and here is how each one of these was targeted.
Neither Zuckerberg nor the CEOs of Google and Twitter, Sundar Pichai and Jack Dorsey, attended the congressional proceedings. Rather, these were symbolized by their general counsels.