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In Trump’s Wake, Hurricane Harvey

It looks like the beginning of an intense debate, from which there is no returning to a status quo where the outrageous activities of a Harvey Weinstein go unnoticed or are excused as locker-room normalcy.

The Las Vegas Shooting: An American Nightmare

There were countless reported acts of heroism Oct. 1 — people throwing themselves on others to protect them, others applying bandages and pressure to bleeding wounds.

Hugh Hefner, Who Outlived Style He Created, Dies at 91

The founder of the Playboy empire had the resources to live his youth over and over again, Dorian Gray with a pipe.

The Emmys: Where Was Trump?

The heavy dose of Trump talk at the Emmys reinforces certain facts of daily cultural life in America during the age of Trump. You can’t get away from him even when’s gotten away from you.

Jim Vance, the Coolest, Remembered

Friends, colleagues, big shots and regular folks came to the cathedral to celebrate the life of the late WRC anchor, who on this day appeared not to have left our consciousness.

A Loss in the Family: Jim Vance

The longest serving broadcaster in the D.C. area succumbed to cancer last Saturday.

Shed No Tears for the Media

Fake news. Shrinking revenues. Vanishing jobs. Oh, woe be journalism. Oh, woe to be a journalist. Oh, spare me. It is true that many talented journalists,...

Anything but Conventional

The inimitable Ted Koppel was the first major television news anchor to break the tradition, opting not to devote his “Nightline” to the conventions...

Georgetown’s History as a Hotbed for High-tech

Other than the birth of the newspaper whose influence far exceeds its size, Georgetown has an important place in the history of technology as well. San Francisco, Silicon Valley and the Dulles Tech Corridor are all places that are strongly associated with technology, but Georgetown remains a place where innovators work towards progress. The Birthplace of IBM Washingtonians may be surprised to know that the first computers were invented right here in Georgetown. Visitors to 1054 31st Street, right next to the C&O Canal, will find a plaque marking the building as where Herman Hollerith’s Tabulating Machine Company was located at the turn of the 20th century. Hollerith’s company would later merge with other companies to be renamed International Business Machines, also known as IBM. Hollerith originally came to Georgetown in 1879. In 1886, the U.S. Census Office decided to hold a contest to see who could come up with a more efficient system of counting the census. Hollerith receieved inspiration from French jacquard weaving machines, which were set up with punch cards to automatically weave intricate repetitive patterns. Hollerith created his own punch card system of tabulation and got a patent for the invention in 1889. When he entered the census office contest, his sample census took a fraction of the time of his nearest competitor. Better yet, he saved the government $5,000,000, a huge amount of money in 1889 dollars. In 1896, Hollerith started the Tabulating Machine Company. The first factory employed mostly women, who worked on their individual tabulators in a large open room. These women were called “computers,” because that was their job description. Hollerith’s business thrived, and his machines were sold to countries around the world for census taking. His fortunes grew, too, and in 1915 he built a grand house in Georgetown at 1617 29th Street, where the house stands to this day. While his machine was a big success, other innovators came up with similar inventions. Hollerith sold his company in 1911, amd it was merged with two others to be the Computing Tabulating Recording Company. Later. the company again and changed its name to International Business Machines. Alexander Graham Bell’s Volta Laboratory Alexander Graham Bell is best known as the inventor of the telephone. In 1880, Bell won the Volta Prize, a prize of 50,000 francs for scientific achievement given by the French government. Bell used the money to establish the Volta laboratory in the carriage house of his stepfather’s house at 1527 35th Street. In 1887, Bell founded the Volta Bureau at 1537 35th Street “for the increase and diffusion of knowledge relating to the deaf.” Both Bell’s mother and wife were deaf, and much of his father’s work was in elocution. The current building was built in 1893 and is a National Historic Landmark. The Future of Tech in Georgetown Both Hollerith and Bell were drawn to Washington because of the special nature of it being the nation’s capital. Hollerith began his business thanks to the Census Bureau, and Bell was frequently involed in patent disputes at the United States Patent and Trademark Office. These days, most techies are familiar with the Dulles Tech Corridor, the region along Virginia State Route 267 where many technology firms are located. Washington remains a place where innovators are working together to get new companies off the ground. As the coming “mobile wave” breaks, location may cease to be an issue as people in different parts of the area, country or world collaborate on projects.

A Supreme Court Ruling and a Referendum on the Media

Much has been written about the seminal Supreme Court decision to uphold the Obama health care law. But perhaps less recognized was Thursday’s news gaffes —one which may go down as an even more pivotal turning point for American media. Decades ago, the death and funeral of President Kennedy were true watersheds for live television news. In 1989, the Tiananmen standoff made CNN a real news force, while Michael Jackson’s death 20 years later gave Twitter news legitimacy. But CNN and FOX News’ misreporting that the healthcare mandate had been overturned could be viewed as the moment that media legacy forfeited its monopoly on credibility. It’s not like they didn’t know this ruling was a minefield. Bush v. Gore had set a precedent as to why you should never rush reporting a Supreme Court ruling. It’s like stepping in the puddle that you know is there — and yet they stepped right in, anyway. This is why that fateful Thursday could be the end of news as we know it. That is, no more big names setting the agenda for what is right and good in journalism. Those big brands of American journalism have long made their resources, expertise and credibility to get it right their last stand as to what separates them from everything else — from small papers such as this one, to startup news organizations to mommy bloggers. And yet they stepped in the puddle that so many others do — the very alternatives to which they have held themselves superior, the very competition they say lacks their credibility. But, needless to say, most of them got it right. David Shuster, a former MSNBC anchor reported from of the grandiose plaza outside the Supreme Court, live online for a new venture called Take Action News. He proudly noted that while both CNN and FOX got it wrong, his team had taken the time to get it correctly — suggesting openly that if you want accuracy, turn off the networks and turn on Take Action News. And, in many cases, that turning off has already begun. For while CNN was getting it wrong, the leaders of D.C. ‘legaldom’ gathered for a retreat outside town, where they weren’t even bothering with CNN. They had already been relying on their Supreme Court news from SCOTUSblog, the definitive blog site covering the Supreme Court, which reportedly had over a million hits on the day of the fateful decision. This event certainly won’t be the end of the brand name networks, and this process has been underway for a while, but the fateful Thursday at the Supreme Court may come to be remembered as the day the “credibility superiority” claim finally came undone. To update CNN’s most famous tag line, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that it is now just one of the networks, blogs or other media of record. ?

The News hasn't changed...the delivery has.

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