Categories
Journalism

Another Facebook Files Accolade: Deadline Club’s Public Service Award

Deadline Club Facebook Files

Following our Polk and SABEW wins, I’m proud to say my colleague Jeff Horwitz and our Wall Street Journal Facebook Files team has picked up another accolade: the public service award from The Deadline Club. (That’s the name of the New York City chapter of the the Society of Professional Journalists.)

The Club wrote:

“The ‘Facebook Files’ is a dazzling 10-reporter, 17-story package built on extensive original interviewing and research, and an archeological-grade probe of internal Facebook documents, including internal studies, online employee discussions and drafts of presentations to senior management. The Wall Street Journal’s coverage did not just force Facebook to change its core business practices. It also goaded governments and individuals worldwide to reexamine society’s relationship with technology itself and the power and pervasiveness of social media.”

Categories
Journalism

We Won a SABEW Award for our Facebook Files Series

SABEW award

I’m proud to say that my colleagues Jeff Horwitz, Georgia Wells, Justin Scheck, Deepa Seetharaman and I won the 2021 investigative award (for large news organizations) from the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, or SABEW, for our “Facebook Files” series.

“In an example of truly exemplary reporting that arguably had scope beyond compare, the judges unanimously chose Facebook Files as the winner in our category,” SABEW said. “The series featured remarkable reporting and writing that exposed the ways Facebook knew it was injuring its 3-billion-plus users and the repeated failures to make efforts to protect the users.”

(We also won a George Polk award in March for the series. And last year Jeff and I won a SABEW for our stories on Facebook and hate speech in India.)

Categories
Book Notes

Book Notes: ‘Lean on Pete: a Novel,’ by Willy Vlautin

Lean on Pete by Willy Vlautin

Lean on Pete: A Novel
By Willy Vlautin
Published: 2010
Publisher: Harper Perennial
ISBN-10: 0061456535
Amazon link

First off: This novel is heartbreaking. Heartbreaking! And memorable.

The narrator, Charlie, is a 15-year-old boy living with his neglectful, penniless, peripatetic father in Portland, Oregon. Charlie, struggling to feed himself while his father disappears for days at a time, takes a job with a race horse owner, himself a washed up, abusive figure. Charlie becomes enamored with one of his boss’s horses, the ailing Lean on Pete.

After Charlie suffers a tragedy, he takes Lean on Pete on a classic hero’s journey across Oregon and farther east. Bad things happen along the way.

Did I mention this book is heartbreaking?

It contains searing descriptions of people who live on the margins of society — the homeless, alcoholics, juvenile offenders, drug addicts.

I like Vlautin’s writing style. It’s spare and direct. The book is compelling read, despite its abounding sadness.

(It’s also, apparently, a 2017 movie with an all-star cast. I haven’t seen it, but it’ll give it a watch.)

For previous Book Notes posts, click here.

Categories
Hong Kong

Spotted Here in Hong Kong

Categories
Journalism

We Won a George Polk Award for our Facebook Files Series

I’m proud to say that my colleague Jeff Horwitz and our wider Wall Street Journal team last week won a George Polk award for our Facebook Files series.

It was “an explosive series documenting how Facebook (now Meta) ignored internal findings that company practices promoted anger, divisiveness and extremism; protected drug cartels, human traffickers and dictators; and endangered teenage girls susceptible to body-image concerns, anxiety and depression,” the award announcement said.

“Files Horwitz obtained from a whistleblower demonstrated that top executives rejected fixes they feared might reduce profitability or create political friction.”

Categories
Misc.

NN288: See You in the Spring

WSJ page one Facebook

Sent as a newsletter January 27, 2022. Want to join my email list? Sign up here.

👋 Hi friends,

Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter containing my recent Wall Street Journal stories, must-read links on tech and life, and funny dog videos.

🚨 Administrative note:

Newley’s Notes will be taking a break until the spring. After 288 (mostly) weekly dispatches since 2015, I’m going to take a few months to recharge and regroup. But I’ll be back before you know it, friends.

I may send a one-off email here or there with any special announcements, and in the meantime, I may post to Newley.com or Twitter (@Newley).

My WSJ latest:

🗞 Image of the week, above: my latest story, with my colleagues Justin Scheck and Tom McGinty, on Tuesday’s WSJ front page. The headline:

Facebook Promised Poor Countries Free Internet. People Got Charged Anyway.

And the lede:

Facebook says it’s helping millions of the world’s poorest people get online through apps and services that allow them to use internet data free. Internal company documents show that many of these people end up being charged in amounts that collectively add up to an estimated millions of dollars a month.

Click through to read the rest.

While I’m gone….

Here are 10 great newsletters you should check out:

For online oddities and digital tools:

1) ⭐ In Rusty’s Electric Dreams, Rusty Blazenhoff catalogues wonderful and weird stuff she finds online.

2) 🔨 Jeremy Caplan’s Wonder Tools is full of helpful websites, note taking suggestions, email recommendations and more.

For news and views on technology:

3) 💻 Benedict’s Newsletter, by Benedict Evans. What’s new and important in tech, by a seasoned tech investor.

4) 🌏 Rest of World’s newsletter contains the news org’s most recent stories on international tech issues.

5) 📱 Exponential View, by Azeem Azhar. Cutting edge tech: all things AI, climate, crypto, EVs, etc.

For health, books and general interest reads:

6) 💪 Peter Attia’s newsletter focuses on longevity, fitness, and nutrition.

7) 📖 Five Books is one of my all-time favorite websites. Their newsletter is a good way to ensure you don’t miss any posts.

8) 📈 Another of my all time favorite websites is Marginal Revolution, by economists Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok. You can get their posts via email (the sign up box is on the left).

9) ✍️ Artist and author Austin Kleon’s newsletter always inspires me to create.

10) 🌧️ In Ready for Rain, author and digital guru Lee LeFever documents life in a house he and his wife recently built in Orcas Island, Washington.

•••

🦴 Dog-related video of the week:

“anatolian shepherd dog puppy in training.”

•••

💡 Quote of the week:

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill

•••

📚 What I’m Reading

I recently read, and really loved, Emily St. John Mandel’s 2014 novel “Station Eleven.” Here’s a brief Book Notes post.

•••

👊 Fist bump from Hong Kong – and see you before long,

Newley

Categories
Book Notes

Book Notes: ‘Station Eleven,’ by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven

Station Eleven
By Emily St. John Mandel
Published: 2014
Publisher: Knopf
ISBN-10: 0385353308
Amazon link.

I really loved this novel. It’s deftly plotted, with leaps through time and place. The characters are vivid. There are sparkling descriptions of the natural world.

It’s a meditation on love, friendship, and regrets. And amazingly, for a book set amid an apocalypse, it’s ultimately hopeful.

I wasn’t aware, until finishing, that it’s also an HBO TV series. I’ll have to check that out.

(For previous Book Notes posts, click here).

Categories
Journalism Tech

Facebook Promised Poor Countries Free Internet. People Got Charged Anyway

That’s the headline on my newest story, with my colleagues Justin Scheck and Tom McGinty. It was on Tuesday’s WSJ front page. It begins:

Facebook says it’s helping millions of the world’s poorest people get online through apps and services that allow them to use internet data free. Internal company documents show that many of these people end up being charged in amounts that collectively add up to an estimated millions of dollars a month.

To attract new users, Facebook made deals with cellular carriers in countries including Pakistan, Indonesia and the Philippines to let low-income people use a limited version of Facebook and browse some other websites without data charges. Many of the users have inexpensive cellphone plans that cost just a few dollars a month, often prepaid, for phone service and a small amount of internet data.

Because of software problems at Facebook, which it has known about and failed to correct for months, people using the apps in free mode are getting unexpectedly charged by local cellular carriers for using data. In many cases they only discover this when their prepaid plans are drained of funds.

In internal documents, employees of Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc. acknowledge this is a problem. Charging people for services Facebook says are free “breaches our transparency principle,” an employee wrote in an October memo.

In the year ended July 2021, charges made by the cellular carriers to users of Facebook’s free-data products grew to an estimated total of $7.8 million a month, when purchasing power adjustments were made, from about $1.3 million a year earlier, according to a Facebook document.

Click through to read the rest.

Categories
Hong Kong

Hong Kong License Plate: Macho

A new one for the collection. On a Prius, no less.

Categories
Newley's Notes

NN287: Pyrotechnics-loving Pups

Sent as a newsletter January 10, 2022. Want to join my email list? Sign up here.

👋 Hi friends,

Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter containing my recent Wall Street Journal stories, must-read links on tech and life, and funny dog videos.

Image of the week, above: I hope your holiday season was restful, and that you got a chance to see friends and family. Onward and upward to 2022!

Here are 10 items worth your time this week:

1) 👉 Out just before the new year, a WSJ Facebook Files story I helped with: What happened inside the company when whistleblower Frances Haugen stepped forward. The hed: Facebook’s Pushback: Stem the Leaks, Spin the Politics, Don’t Say Sorry.

2) 🍎 A story I wrote last Monday: India Hits Apple With Antitrust Investigation Over App-Store Practices

3) 🇭🇰 And one I wrote Friday: Hong Kong Officials Quarantined After Covid–19 Case at Tapas Birthday Party

4) 📚 New on Newley.com: The Best Books I Read in 2021.

5) 🎨 Also on Newley.com: a recent watercolor I like. Viewable on Instagram, as well.

6) 🩸 Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes was convicted on four counts of fraud. But her legal fight is far from over.

7) 😔 RIP Sidney Poitier.

8) 😿 And RIP Betty White.

9) 💫 Here is a gorgeous, close-up image of a comet.

10) 👏 100 things Austin Kleon enjoyed in 2021.

•••

🦴 Dog-related video of the week:

Good boi attends the fireworks.”

•••

💡 Quote of the week:

“The most erroneous stories are those we think we know best – and therefore never scrutinize or question.” – Stephen Jay Gould

•••

🤗 What’s new with you? Hit reply to send me tips, queries, random comments, and brave dogs who just want to join in the fun.

•••

👊 Fist bump from Hong Kong,

Newley