I've been writing about news, technology, and media since 1999. I write NextDraft, a newsletter offering a quick and entertaining look at the day’s most fascinating news. I spend so much dive diving headfirst into the news tsunami that my readers know me as the Managing Editor of the Internet. This news addiction led me to write Please Scream Inside Your Heart: Breaking News and Nervous Breakdowns in the Year That Wouldn’t End. It’s a time capsule and a real-time ride through the maddening hell that was the 2020 news cycle—when historic turmoil and media mania stretched American sanity, democracy, and toilet paper. I live in the Bay Area with lives my wife, two kids, two cats, two beagles, and two broadband providers (in case one ever goes down).

PROOF: https://i.redd.it/swkq1q26z6z71.png

Comments: 57 • Responses: 19  • Date: 

caketaster21 karma

Hi Dave, I read through your app pretty regularly. As a Brit (living in China) the American news seems so crazy - there seems little incentive to be balanced from either side. America is divided over basic facts. The most watched channels seem hopelessly biased. What's your prognosis for democracy in this climate? Is America entirely f'd?

PleaseScream36 karma

I would say America is not totally Effed, but we're authoritarian curious, and that itself is a terrible shock. But don't confuse general bias that's aways been around with intentionally spreading falsehood for power, money, and politics. There aren't two equal news universes.

HomeFires9 karma

I only recently subscribed to your newsletter and I really appreciate both the links and your summaries. The combination of sarcasm and self-deprecation is a pleasure to read! And I manage to feel like I'm up on the news without drowning in it. Thank you.

How many hours does it take you to sort through the day's news and put your newsletter together?

PleaseScream1 karma

Thanks for the kind words. I am never not keeping my eye open for stories. But the actual dedicated time is about an hour at night and then 3-4 four hours before sending.

StumpTheSchwab98 karma

Hi Dave, just a couple of questions. Considering you’re old enough to remember the days of pre-Internet news, do you believe society is better off having such access to such array of news topics just by clicking a few times?

Additionally, I believe that the “news” has always been biased and particular media conglomerates have always used media as a way of influencing the masses. Now it’s simply consumed more widely; more easily and more tailored for us to consume.

Question: firstly, do you agree with that statement? Do you think that “misinformation” is more prevalent than before? If so, is it simply because we had more news to consume or it’s been done purposefully?


PleaseScream16 karma

It's definitely worse now, in part because the folks who spread lies have the ability to test and hone messages that will spread. That's why lies spread faster than the truth online. You can tell people what they want to hear, unhampered by the truth. Of course money and corporate interests are always a factor, but these days it's worst. And yes, 100% these messages are created and spread quite purposefully.

zoinkability5 karma

I hate to say it but some of the most depressing things I've read in the past year have been via your newsletter. How do you stay sane and retain a sense of humor when there are so many relentlessly awful aspects to reality nowadays?

PleaseScream4 karma

Great question. I actually have it easier than the avg news consumer. You just have to absorb the news. I have to professionalize it. So even if I'm bummed, I can change the subject in my mind to how I'm going to write about it. My job isn't to feel, it's to make you feel.

anantj5 karma

Is NextDraft your primary work? Is it enough to sustain you (and maybe family)

PleaseScream3 karma

No, it is a side gig and doesn't make money now, tho when I choose to have a sponsor, it prob makes a journalist level salary.

trckdsd4 karma

What tools do you use to monitor news?

PleaseScream7 karma

I mostly open about 50-75 tabs a day with a plain old browser. I also check twitter quite often and get stories shared by readers or editors.

ravenhairedmaid4 karma

The media has been completely taken over by politicized zealots, and a non-stop "us vs. them" rhetoric that plays to hostile emotions is the easiest way to get people to the polls.
This also creates a sort of nation-wide, or even global, middle school-mentality peer pressure. Corporate has shown the viewing public that talking heads who deviate from the party script even a fraction are immediately & publicly punished, and their lives ruined.
Corporate are the school bullies maneuvering to keep the others in line.

Imo, with the universality of social media, this could have given rise to freelance, hard-hitting investigative journalism to expose these zealots, but apparently no one wants to.
Many folks who are perhaps more well-versed in history are pointing out that civil war is a growing threat, since this kind of escalating maelstrom is exactly what paved the way for us last time.


PleaseScream3 karma

When it comes to social media, we built the exact opposite thing that we thought we were building. The truth is that extremes drive clicks on news sites and on social media. The big issue today is that those trying to spread false information have a big advantage. They can test market numerous messages and then push what works. Real journalists are stuck with reality.

PleaseScream3 karma

In general, hate has become the primary currency of politics and the current platforms are designed to spread and stir up that hate effectively. I don't see a civil war in terms of physical violence. But on the internet and in the media, one is already going on

speartongue1 karma

Dont be surprised at the death of journalism when the FBI violates the first amendment and raids a journalist’s house and takes his cellphones, contact lists, private information and notes from whistleblowers.. on behalf of the POTUS. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, look up the story on google, Biden’s daughter’s journal, if you can find it..)

Now you have journalists not willing to do the same, and whistleblowers afraid they can’t even be protected under the first amendment rights of journalists.

Combine with big tech censoring everything not part of the narrative (Twitter and YouTube arbitrarily banning people for reasons never explained) and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

PleaseScream1 karma

Private companies have the right to ban whomever they want. The FBI is not the problem. The lies and those who spread them for personal and political gain is the problem.

speartongue1 karma

What are you even saying? If you can’t trust people working in the FBI not to respect their fellow Americans’ rights, in the highest spheres of police authority, under a request from those who are elected to protect those very citizens they violate the rights of, who are you gojng to trust?

The government is the problem, the FBI is the problem, and private companies who serve those first two, gaining favor (and influence and profit) from them, are the problem.

PleaseScream2 karma

When you have a president who lives 35K times in 4 years, tries to overthrow an election, and spread deadly misinformation about a killer virus, and he's being aided by an army of online liars, who are you going to trust?

StupidizeMe3 karma

Hi Dave. Do you think the US will ever get back to a Pre-Trump level of normality?

Are we doomed to live through more years of ignorance, incivility, idolatry and idiocy? Do you think there's any light at the end of this tunnel?

PleaseScream7 karma

It's definitely not over or necessarily trending in the right direction in terms of political trends. But in terms of our media obsession, it's a bit better. So that's one hopeful sign.

crashkg2 karma

Is there any way to return to the media of old where facts mattered, or is too late? I feel like the media will give more space to the crazies just because it draws more attention and clicks.

PleaseScream7 karma

Facts do matter in one media universe. They are intentionally destroyed in the other. But everyone wants clicks and engagement. And that's a problem. One newspaper a day was enuf before. And it's more than enuf now. But the race your attention is always on, and the extremes get the clicks.

rufustphish2 karma

What tools do you use to work? Do you use an rss reader?

PleaseScream3 karma

I'm fully old school. I use a browser because I want to see what the editors of the news sites think is important. I used BBEdit to write. I use a custom WordPress VIP install to publish to Mailchimp, Substack, and IOS App, Apple News, a Blog, etc.

spatz20112 karma

So fark.com in newletter form?

PleaseScream5 karma

More like a column with links and analysis. But I stop by Fark also.

FemaleKwH2 karma

Do you think there is a bias in US news to give equal coverage to both sides when such coverage is not warranted? Eg climate change.

PleaseScream2 karma

I think bias is everywhere. But in the news game, there is one side that makes things up and attacks for political and personal gain. The other side deals in reality but has the normal human biases. That said, the mainstream media does bend over backwards to give equal time to ridiculous ideas.

goofballl2 karma

What do you think the role of media should be in the post-truth era? On one hand, we shouldn't ignore what public figures are saying, so that we can all judge for ourselves how to feel about a piece of information, even if it's blatantly false. On the other hand, platforming someone who cares nothing about the truth can amplify a dangerous message to people who also prioritize end goal over content.

Are any current media outlets equipped to deal with the change in public discourse?

PleaseScream2 karma

This is a really tough one. I don't think the media every adjusted to Trump's lies. All of the costly misinformation that spread during his coronavirus press conferences was damaging. But it was covered live because you're supposed to covered presidents live.

greenthumble1 karma

Hi Dave! Caught your AMA a bit late. It's been like a dozen years since we last spoke.

My question is for the AMA is: I have that ancient Apple laptop with the 8-ball trackball. You want it?

Oh and congrats on nextdraft.com! Hope Gina and the fam is well.

PleaseScream1 karma

Great to hear from you! And yes, I think about the 8 ball often. Hope you guys are doing well, too! Still Drupaling?

AliasTwain1 karma

Do you think main stream media needs and ethics/priority check? Television does more human interest stories than genuine journalism and written journalism seems to have more grammatical errors and I've ever seen. We should receive a breakdown of the news every day, not opinions hidden as news.

PleaseScream1 karma

Interesting. I don't see many human interest stories on TV news (at least national cable news). I see panels, discussions, and opinion, and almost no reporting at all. But yes, speed and competition lead to poor reporting and a lot of typos.

lost_in_life_341 karma

how is this year crazier than 1836, any year during the civil war or 1968? or even 1918? or 1873 or 1929?

PleaseScream5 karma

I describe 2020 as the craziest 'media' year. In some ways, 2020 was the opposite of 1929. The investor class had the year of its life.