An arrest of a journalist is typically followed by calls for release, including organizational outrage at the detention and wider concerns of the treatment individually and of the press generally. But what happens when the organization is itself delicately positioned in a country and itself the target of public complaint?
The Wall Street Journal examines the cautious campaign to free Al Jazeera English journalist Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and three colleagues, held in Egypt since Sunday. Al Jazeera's Arabic network has been criticized for its coverage of the country in the months since the ouster of Mohamed Morsi for what is perceived to be sympathetic coverage of the Muslim Brotherhood. The legal endeavour to free Fahmy involves "tip-toeing around his affiliation," the WSJ says. Any criticism of the military would move Fahmy from a detainee to a criminally charged journalist.
Alexis C. Madrigal, senior editor at The Atlantic, has a fascinating piece that helps explain how an algorithm can recommend content for the consumer. He focuses on Netflix and what he concluded are the 76,897 specific genres of movies it has identified in order to create an engine that leads consumers to the most relevant choices.
Madrigal goes another step: He spent weeks pulling apart what Netflix calls "altgenres" that help retain consumers, including the attributes of actors and details of plots, and concludes it is an enormous competitive advantage. To get there Netflix employ a small army of movie-watchers, gave them a 36-page guide to rate the films, and produced its metadata. The engine is affirmed by consumer patterns.
Madrigal speculates that while the algorithm couldn't necessarily make a film, it would be instrumental in helping someone determine what to make.
Felix Salmon of Reuters, meanwhile, takes a contrarian perspective. He says Netflix is losing access to big movies since it moved to streaming from DVDs and that its "dumbed-down" algorithm is largely shifting consumers to second-rate material because it cannot afford to buy the best content from Hollywood.
When The New York Times published its editorial Thursday calling for clemency for former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, it likely expected strong reaction from both sides. Snowden, the source of information on U.S. surveillance programs, has been living in Russia. The Obama Administration has not indicated he can return home without facing prosecution, but the Times and the Guardian each wrote Thursday that his efforts should not be sending him to jail and that a deal should be sought to permit him to come back to America.
The Times' public editor, Margaret Sullivan, looks at the decision-making behind the editorial (she declares her agreement with it). The Times' editorial page editor, Andrew Rosenthal, says that every so often an editorial goes beyond what is realistic to discuss what "should happen."