The Big Story

The death of brick-and-mortar retail is coming about because fashion and culture are curated and discoverable on social media now, not exclusively by hitting the mall. And while the retail industry may be fine as a whole, stories are closing twice as fast as they open. That’s going to hit people who work there hard and is why union leaders are making a push for these workers to organize for protection.

That same movement is why writers and producers at “new” digital media companies have been unionizing for the last couple years, though those efforts have been met by owners with complete site shutdowns or total staff layoffs.

A shift from physical retail to social and online commerce is one many tech companies want to hasten along with the move to a system that makes cash difficult, if not impossible to use. As usual, that’s going to leave the most disadvantaged and vulnerable behind since they don’t have access to plastic and credit that can be used via apps or other cards. Those “disruptions” also often push out immigrants and others who have relied on cash businesses to achieve whatever level of success has been available to them.

The problem is compounded by the reality that if you’re not already well off, male and white also have trouble getting access to the meager capital available that could help them with their own innovations not only because of their gender, race or status but because their ideas are geared toward people like themselves. And if you’re an up-and-comer who does manage to get funded, the toppling of net neutrality rules means you don’t get to play on the same field as the big guys, meaning your chance of success is limited.


Considering some of the draconian measures it’s taken recently it’s no wonder many journalists are worried about the media pressure a combined Disney/Fox company could exert.

The media is terrible at portraying race and poverty. Terrible.

Content Marketing

MoonPie’s Twitter account is the latest obsession of the marketing world, so it’s natural that Fast Company profiles the small agency that is behind that success.

Trying to go after Giphy, which has ruled the market for a while, Tenor is allowing media companies to sell sponsored GIFs, with the company taking a cut of that revenue.

The light, easy-to-use TinyLetter service that gave rise to so many small, personal, independent email newsletters is being shut down by owner MailChimp, which wants everyone to move to the core product. No word on when that sunsetting is going to happen.

I’d be shocked that 10% of publishers admit to not labeling their native advertising, with most saying they don’t do it because of “budget demands.” Which means advertisers are saying they’ll pay more for unlabeled stories.

Oh hey, the latest example of why influencer marketing and the rise of the amateur social media superstar is bad for marketing, brands, social outlets and just about everyone else. But at the same time, let’s profile a Hollywood apartment complex that’s full of up-and-coming such dimwits as being kooky and creative.

Social Media

The problem with the Library of Congress saying they’ll take a more selective, newsworthiness-based approach to archiving Tweets is that you can’t always tell what’s going to be newsworthy until after the news has happened.

With a couple recent disappointing quarters that showed flat (at best) user growth, Snapchat seems to be hoping distributing its content to other platforms helps bring more attention and interest. And it’s considering forcing users to watch at least three seconds of an ad before skipping it, which is surely a demand advertisers have made. This at the same time CNN has ended its platform-exclusive news show while Snapchat makes an effort to sign more content deals.

Instagram is officially going to be inserting “recommended” posts into your feed from accounts you don’t follow, which means things are about to get messy and not at all what people signed up for.


The approaches being taken with mobile marketing efforts are still pretty rough, largely because fear of unreliable data makes marketers wary of more finely-targeting an audience.

Digital voice assistants of some kind are now used by 46% of Americans according to new data from Pew Research. Mostly that’s done via smartphones but there’s also a good number that use them to connect with or control other devices.

Demand for wearable devices is still pretty low, despite all the hype and despite the growing number of such devices. Maybe this is just a bad idea that’s going nowhere?

Some interesting thinking going on here as we consider whether the promise of the internet heralded back in the mid-90s and early-00s even has the potential to be realized any longer or if we’re stuck with something vastly different from what many predicted.

States taking up the challenge to create their own net neutrality-esque laws is a great protest move but it’s hard to believe the FCC won’t come in and shut these down. Still, the court challenges that will ensue could be essential, as well as fun to watch.

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Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.