Daily Briefing

Deep buzz for the content-deprived

Every weekday, while you get showered and dressed, we pluck these dewy- fresh, breaking stories from the info-clogged byways of the datasphere. Pour yourself a cup of coffee and stoke up on everything you need to know, or at least enough to fake it.

Madness Made Them Great
Joshua Kendall, Slate | Madness Made Them Great | June 28, 2013

Thomas Jefferson, Steve Jobs, Estee Lauder, and Charles Lindbergh suffered from the same menal illness.

The man could not stand dirt. When he built his company’s first factory in Fremont, Calif., in 1984, he frequently got down on his hands and knees and looked for specks of dust on the floor as well as on all the equipment. For Steve Jobs, who was rolling out the Macintosh computer, these extreme measures were a necessity. “If we didn’t have the discipline to keep that place spotless,” the Apple co-founder later recalled, “then we weren’t going to have the discipline to keep all these machines running.” This perfectionist also hated typos. As Pam Kerwin, the marketing director at Pixar during Jobs’ hiatus from Apple, told me, “He would carefully go over every document a million times and would pick up on punctuation errors such as misplaced commas.” And if anything wasn’t just right, Jobs could throw a fit...

The Accidental Genius Of "8 1/2"
Jon Wiener, Salon | The Accidental Genius Of "8 1/2" | June 28, 2013

Fifty years ago — on June 25, 1963 — Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2 had its US premiere in New York City. It’s a transparently autobiographical film about a world famous director unable to finish his next film, beset by doubts, anxieties, and nightmares. As the film opens, our hero Guido, Fellini’s alter ego, played by Marcello Mastroianni, faces a dilemma that may be familiar to many: What if your deadline arrived, but you had written nothing? What if people came to hear you, but you had nothing to say? What would happen if you ran out of ideas?...

Black And White And Red All Over
Aaron Mesh, Willamette Week | Black And White And Red All Over | June 27, 2013

The death of The Oregonian as you know it came at 9:58 am on June 20.

That’s when reporters, editors, photographers and designers who put out the 163-year-old daily newspaper were told to “please proceed” to a large basement conference room. 

Such meetings at the newspaper—especially on short notice—are unusual at The Oregonian’s headquarters at 1320 SW Broadway. But the staff knew what it was about.

For months, there had been speculation The Oregonian’s owners, the Newhouse family, intended to cut back the publication schedule of the newspaper, rely more on its website to deliver news, and make deep cuts in staff...

Steve Wozniak: Snowden 'Is A Hero Because This Came From His Heart'
Lloyd Grove, The Daily Beast | Steve Wozniak: Snowden 'Is A Hero Because This Came From His Heart' | June 26, 2013

The Apple co-founder tells Lloyd Grove why he supports the NSA leaker, how the agency hasn't 'done one thing valuable for us' in regard to Prism -- and why the Internet wasn't supposed to be this way.

Computer whiz Steve Wozniak is more than a little distressed that the technology he helped develop nearly four decades ago is being used on a massive scale to invade people’s privacy.

He’s especially troubled by the secret intrusions into the private emails of American citizens by the National Security Agency—secret, that is, until the recent detailed revelations of the NSA’s Prism program of electronic surveillance by a 29-year-old NSA contractor turned fugitive named Edward Snowden.

“I think he’s a hero,” said the 62-year-old Wozniak...

The Decline And Fall Of The English Major
Verlyn Klinkenborg, International Herald Tribune Opinion | The Decline And Fall Of The English Major | June 26, 2013

In the past few years, I’ve taught nonfiction writing to undergraduates and graduate students at Harvard, Yale, Bard, Pomona, Sarah Lawrence and Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism. Each semester I hope, and fear, that I will have nothing to teach my students because they already know how to write. And each semester I discover, again, that they don’t...

Last Song For Migrating Birds
Jonathan Franzen, National Geographic | Last Song For Migrating Birds | June 26, 2013

From glue-covered sticks in Egypt hang tow lives, and a question: How can we stop the slaughter of song irds migrating across the Mediterranean?

In a bird market in the Mediterranean tourist town of Marsa Matruh, Egypt, I was inspecting cages crowded with wild turtledoves and quail when one of the birdsellers saw the disapproval in my face and called out sarcastically, in Arabic: "You Americans feel bad about the birds, but you don't feel bad about dropping bombs on someone's homeland."...

In The Badlands, A Tribe Helps Buffaloes Make A Comeback
Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post | In The Badlands, A Tribe Helps Buffaloes Make A Comeback | June 24, 2013

Buffaloes stroll undisturbed, pausing occasionally to wallow in the grass and caked dirt, while prairie dogs yip intermittently as they dive into their holes and pop out again to survey the landscape. This northern stretch of the park, known as Sage Creek Wilderness, is what the Northern Great Plains used to look like.

Several miles away, in the park’s 133,300-acre South Unit, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, the scene is more barren. The U.S. Army forced more than 800 Oglala Sioux families to leave their homes here in 1942 so part of the reservation could be turned into a bombing range. The land has partially recovered, but the bison have yet to return.

That could soon change. The Oglala Sioux and National Park Service are drafting legislation to create the first tribal national park...

Out Of Concrete And Drudgery Come Canoes That Float
Henry Fountain, The New York Times | Out Of Concrete And Drudgery Come Canoes That Float | June 24, 2013

It’s not easy making the unsinkable out of the unthinkable.

But at the National Concrete Canoe Competition, civil engineering students use a material that is normally the stuff of dams and parking garages to build a 20-foot-long craft that will float even if completely swamped...

Herblock's Indelible Ink
Matt Wuerker, Politico | Herblock's Indelible Ink | June 24, 2013

Editorial cartoonists are used to being given a little ink and a few square inches on the editorial pages. And for that we’re grateful.

But some ink-stained wretches take those few column inches and make a mark on history. Herblock, The Washington Post’s legendary cartoonist, was one of those fearless talents, who showed what well-honed political cartoons can do...


The Ax Falls At The Oregonian
Ryan Chittum, Columbia Journalism Review | The Ax Falls At The Oregonian | June 22, 2013

Not that long ago, The Oregonian was one of the better news organizations in the country.


In 2008, Editor & Publisher named Sandy Rowe and Peter Bhatia its Editors of the Year and reported that The Oregonian had 315 full-time journalists in its newsroom the year before. The paper, two decades earlier a backwater, had picked up five Pulitzers in eight years.

Five years later, the paper’s newsroom now has 175 employees, according to its directory. That number is about to drop dramatically, with “significant layoffs” occurring this week now that the paper is the latest to get Newhouse’d...