paper trail

John Keene wins Lannan Literary Award; "Post-truth" is Oxford Dictionaries' word of the year

John Keene

Jelani Cobb remembers Gwen Ifill, the PBS host, journalist, and author of The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama, who died on Monday at the age of sixty-one. Cobb writes, “It is a particular cruelty that Ifill, who was a standard-bearer for journalism, a mentor of young reporters, and a profoundly decent colleague, should depart now, when the country has never been more in need of those qualities.”

Philip Hoffman will take over as the chairman of Penguin Random House in January, 2017, replacing the retiring John Makinson. 

John Keene has won the 2016 Lannan Literary Award for Counternarratives, his collection of novellas and short stories.

At The Guardian, Jacqueline Rose—author of Women in Dark Timesargues that the election of Donald Trump has tapped into frightening forces on both the left and the right: “Trump has licensed the obscenity of the unconscious. He has set the worst human impulses marching. But there are no clean slates in the unconscious. Not for any of us. At the very moment we galvanise politically, we must remain as vigilant of ourselves as of everyone else.”

Oxford Dictionaries has fittingly named post-truth as 2016’s word of the year. Post-truth—which has a more serious connotation than truthiness—was first used in The Nation in 1992, and narrowly beat out alt-right as the word that best captures “the ethos, mood or preoccupations” of the day. To give a sense of just how bad this year has been, the Times points out that 2015’s word of the year was the laughing-with-joy emoji.

Zeynep Tufekci, a professor of information and library science, criticizes Mark Zuckerberg’s refusal to acknowledge the role that Facebook’s algorithms played in the spreading of fake stories and creation of echo chambers during the presidential campaign. Tufekci also points out that real studies of the algorithm’s effects and influences are impossible, since Facebook doesn’t allow anyone else to access its data. “It’s as if tobacco companies controlled access to all medical and hospital records,” she writes. According to BuzzFeed, Facebook employees are secretly creating a task force to examine these practices and evaluate how they can be improved.

Breitbart News is planning a lawsuit against a “major media company” after being criticized as a racist, white nationalist website. In a statement to The Hill, Breitbart News said that it “cannot allow such vicious racial lies to go unchallenged, especially by cynical, politically-motivated competitors seeking to diminish its 42 million monthly readers and its number one in the world political Facebook page.”

In the aftermath of the 2016 election, news organizations are seeing extreme increases of subscriptions and donations. ProPublica reported receiving three donations per minute on Monday, up from its usual ten per day. Newspapers like the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal have also benefited from a newfound desire for facts. Since the election, the Times has been gaining subscribers at four times its usual rate.