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Jeff Koons stainless steel rabbit for sale

Jeff Koons stainless steel rabbit for sale

This would have been a perfect inclusion in someone’s (oversized) Easter basket. The Jeff Koons stainless steel “Rabbit” (41″ x 19″ x 12″, 1986) will be on the auction block at Christie’s on May 15 during their Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale. The current owner purchased it from the Gagosian Gallery in 1992. It is expected to sell for between $50 million and $70 million.

According to Christie’s, “this work is number two from an edition of three plus one artist’s proof and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist.”

If you can’t afford this Rabbit for yourself, you can always visit one of the others for free at the truly fantastic Broad museum in Los Angeles. From The Broad’s description of Rabbit:

In 1979 Jeff Koons made Inflatable Flower and Bunny (Tall White, Pink Bunny), the seed for so much of his future work. This sculpture, also in The Broad’s collection, features two vinyl inflatable toys — a flower and a pink bunny — that sit on top and in front of four square mirrors. Seven years later, Koons ditched the flower, combined the mirror and the bunny, and created Rabbit. The switch from the word “bunny” to “rabbit” is intriguing. Bunny is cute and floppy; rabbit is quick and sharp. The carrot in the rabbit’s paw is wielded like a weapon, and the once soft, leaky, and cheap vinyl shell of the bunny has been replaced by armorlike, costly stainless steel, which reflects everything surrounding Rabbit and deflects any allusions to the sculpture’s interior.

(via Uncrate)

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The Gentle Side of Twitch

The Gentle Side of Twitch

“Hi! I see you, but I’m focused on the reading right now. I can chat during the next break!” This message popped up on the stream from Ryan Blake Hall, better known as Storyteller Mars on Twitch.

He was busy reading from Henry Wysham Lanier’s A Book of Giants: Tales of Very Tall Men of Myth, Legend, History, and Science (published in 1922). Sitting in front of decoratively open books and teacups, he even did character voices—gruff, booming voices for the giants, a calm voice for narration. A few viewers chatted amongst themselves during Hall’s broadcast. Hall loves talking with his small, but growing community (his 242 followers, with about 20 tuning in on each stream), but he won’t interact with them until a break, when the chapter is over.

Illustration for article titled The Gentle Side of Twitch
Screenshot: Storyteller Mars on Twitch

“There was this lovely couple when I was reading Treasure Island back in November,” Hall told Gizmodo. “They would do their nightly ritual of climbing into bed, turning off all the lights, and put me on [the TV] and listen to me read until they fall asleep. It makes me feel like what I’m doing is 157 percent worth my time and effort. Knowing that even if it’s one person who I’m helping deal with life better, just get through whatever difficulties they’re having, feels like I’m giving back to the world all the kindness and generosity I’ve been given in my life so far.”

Twitch is known primarily as a video game live-streaming site, where users broadcast a number of different video game streams: “Let’s Play”–style broadcasts that see a game through to completion, esports players streaming their practice, and later, tournaments and leagues showcasing official, competitive play. Most often, the streams with the most viewers are fast-paced, exciting, and, often, over-the-top. League of Legends, Fortnite, and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds are typically leading in viewership numbers for that reason. (Twitch users watched “tens of millions of hours of Fortnite on Twitch” in 2018, Kotaku reported last year. This month, the game brought in an average of 140,740 viewers, with more than 10,000 live channels broadcasting at any given time, according to Twitch Metrics.)

But there’s a quieter side of Twitch, with much less stimulation and shouting. There is joy and amusement to be found in the shrieks of loud, gregarious streamers, but an emerging sector of the platform—“Twitch for introverts,” as Hall called it—is offering up a different, more relaxed experience. These quieter places on Twitch are more evocative of a slower form of entertainment, not unlike Norway’s slow TV, which broadcasts long train rides or a 12-hour knitting marathon, and the holiday tradition of watching a yule log burn.

Now owned by Amazon, Twitch launched in 2011 as an off-shoot of broader live-streaming platform Justin.tv. These days, Twitch has a reported three million streamers broadcasting from the platform each month, the company announced in December 2018. On average, that’s nearly half a million users live-streaming on Twitch each day, reaching more than 15 million viewers every day—according to Twitch, each of those users spends around 95 minutes, on average, watching streams each day.

Most streams are focused primarily on video games, but there are also streams from musicians, knitters, storytellers, makeup artists, scientists, and photographers. There are streamers sewing costumes, snapping together LEGO bricks, and creating digital paintings of their favorite characters. Streamers like these have been on Twitch since the beginning, but the platform officially recognized these broadcasts under the “Creative” banner when it launched the new vertical in October 2015. It was kicked off with a week-long marathon of Bob Ross’ The Joy of Painting, setting a standard for what the Creative channels could be.

Illustration for article titled The Gentle Side of Twitch
Screenshot: Bob Ross on Twitch

When 58-year-old Jennifer Chambers speaks about her channel, she isn’t talking about herself. Chambers, known on Twitch as JennyKnits, talks in we’s. We’re going into our fourth year of streaming. We applied to the partnership program. We earned partner status months after creating the channel, she told Gizmodo. (Partners on Twitch are an elite-level status, available to prollific streamers, that gives them benefits and community creation tools, like the ability to run ads and access to more custom emote slots.)

Chambers began streaming on Twitch in 2016, but had been watching others stream Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft for years prior. A lifelong knitter, she taught knitting classes at local craft stores. When the creative section of Twitch opened up in 2015, she realized that teaching knitting on Twitch was an option, too. “Honestly, I didn’t think 10 people would be interested,” Chambers said. Now, she’s got a modest, but steady group of viewers—around 100—who watch, knit, and chat with her every day. “It’s gotten so much bigger than just teaching knitting,” she added.

Illustration for article titled The Gentle Side of Twitch
Screenshot: JennyKnits on Twitch

Not long after she began streaming, Chambers was diagnosed with breast cancer. “I got the email from Twitch saying, ‘Your hard work has been rewarded, and you’re going to become a partner,’” she said. “The very next day, I had surgery to have my port installed to start chemotherapy. [The next day] I had chemotherapy for the first time. I was pretty much sick from the moment I got my Twitch button.”

Chambers streamed all through the physical and psychological hardships of treatment, and now she’s cancer free. “It was an amazing process and journey,” she said. “I feel like by being open about what was happening in my real life, they’ve become like my family.”

It’s for that reason that streaming on Twitch, for Chambers, is less like a musician performing to a stadium-full of fans and more like a knitting club, naturally.

A streamer like Tyler Blevins—better known as Ninja, the rainbow-haired Fortnite streamer championed for his loud, goofy streams and rowdy gameplay—is attractive to viewers for a number of reasons, one of which is his ability to make fans feel connected to him. This is a phenomena digital anthropologist Dr. Crystal Abidin calls “perceived interconnectedness,” something close to parasocial relationships, but updated for the digital age. With a hundred thousand viewers tuned into each of Ninja’s streams, it’s impossible (and, likely, unsafe) for him to consider a personal relationship with his viewers. Consider the chaos of a typical stream, too—Fortnite is a fast-paced, loud, and colorful game to begin with. Often, Ninja is playing with other personality-heavy streamers, each putting on a show for their respective channels, creating an environment that’s both visually and aurally stimulating.

Instead of making personal connections with each of his viewers, which would be near impossible, he can practice perceived intimacy by opening up his life to viewers in calculated ways. Between matches, Ninja speaks directly to viewers, answering questions, sometimes personal, and individually thanking viewers that subscribe during the broadcast. He can’t speak directly to each of his estimated 23,000 subscribers (even more so at the height of his popularity, when he had around 200,000 subscribers), but the act of pulling out some viewers, of which he has thousands each stream, makes viewers feel like they could be one of them.

Creative channels are generally less visually overwhelming than the frantic, flashing gaming streams, taking away one distracting element to make way for more personal community-building. Relationships built in Chambers’ channel aren’t perceived. Chambers considers many in her community her friends, just folks she hangs out and knits with daily. (Chambers’ channel is much less crowded than Ninja’s, 3,760 followers to Ninja’s 14 million. Ninja typically streams to around 40,000 viewers, whereas Chambers has an average of 60 to 80 viewers. But Chambers doesn’t necessarily want to grow to Ninja levels of fame; a community that large can feel impersonal.)

“A bunch of [my viewers] decided to do this cool little project, which had me in tears when they sent it to me,” Chambers said. “A bunch of them all knitted and crocheted little pink ribbons. They did this without telling me, and they sent them all to one person who assembled all these ribbons hanging from strings. They all attached notes of encouragement to me. I was bawling.”

Among the millions of streamers that broadcast on Twitch, there certainly is a variance in video game streamers. There are Twitch stars, like Ninja, but there’s plenty of video game streamers nurturing smaller, quieter communities. Mainstream perception of Twitch, though, puts the Ninjas at the forefront. A glimpse into these larger streams’ chat—literally a chat room to the right of a broadcast—oftentimes documents the worst of the streaming community. Chat moves fast—often too fast to actually read—and is filled with inside jokes and memes. Depending on a streamer’s chat moderation, racist and sexist toxicity can, and does, get through.

Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin told GamesIndustry.biz in 2017 that smaller channels on Twitch are creating foundational communities that self-police toxic behavior, something that has the potential to spread outward into Twitch’s larger channels and chats. “If you go to smaller channels with hundreds of concurrents rather than tens of thousands, you’ll see a lot less [toxic behavior,]” Lin continued. Streamers with smaller communities are able to interact more directly with viewers, allowing them to manage the environment of a stream more effectively.

“At times the slower pace and ability of the broadcaster to turn their attention more readily to the chat window can produce a more conversational quality,” T.L. Taylor, professor of Comparative Media Studies at MIT and author of Watch Me Play: Twitch and the Rise of Game Living Streaming, said. “Unlike watching a large esports match alongside tens of thousands of people where the crowd experience dominates, creative channels often boast smaller communities with rich histories and more attention to the maintenance of the group around the broadcaster.”

Illustration for article titled The Gentle Side of Twitch
Screenshot: StarStryder on Twitch

Dr. Pamela L. Gay is an astronomer, podcast host, and Planetary Scientist Institute scientist who reads books and paints planets on Twitch. Dr. Gay uses a super fluid paint technique that mimics how different atmospheres mix “due to differences in [paint] density,” she explained. As paint is poured and layered over circular boards, the colors spread into each other to create patterns and textures. Dr. Gay uses fire to apply different effects on the paint’s surface, depending on the look she’s going for with a specific project, like if she’s painting gaseous giant planets or dark, cratered moons. Each of her planets is designed to look relatively realistic—i.e, planets that are scientifically possible—but she takes some liberties with color, she said.

When she’s not painting planets or reading science stories, Dr. Gay’s broadcasting a daily space news show, aptly named Daily Space, through her day job with CosmoQuest and the Planetary Science Institute.

When the program, which helps citizen scientists work on NASA projects, lost funding. Dr. Gay and her team set up a 40-hour marathon fundraiser on Twitch. “Suddenly my entire staff was unemployed just in time for Christmas,” Dr. Gay said. “But we were able to raise enough money to keep my team at least part-time employed, and we’re continuing to bring in funding so that people can do science.”

“We’re leveraging the Twitch platform to communicate what we’re doing to say, ‘We’re here to do science with you, to explain what we’re doing and make you part of it. Can you support us?’”

The camaraderie of a shared activity brings people back together on Twitch regularly. “The reason I keep doing it is because it’s just become such a fun part of my life,” Chambers said. “I can’t wait to spend time with everybody.” Conversation flows depending on the day; sometimes, Chambers tells her viewers about her current World of Warcraft game. Other times, she answers questions about her knitting technique. On a recent stream, she explained to her viewers how to do a thing called planned pooling, which uses variegated yarn to create patterns.

An interest in knitting and learning brings viewers in, but they stay for the community. After all, knitting isn’t all that exciting to watch, Chambers said. Knitting is a series of small, repetitive movements. A garment is knit together with thousands of stitches. Projects take hours. “Knitting is like fishing,” Chambers said. “It’s fun for the person who’s doing it, but it’s not always that much entertainment to sit and watch somebody do it.” The interactive element of it all, like you’re knitting with a group of friends, changes the dynamic.

Sometimes, Chambers looks up at her computer, where the chat is displayed, and though there’s a hundred or so folks in the channel, the chat’s dead. “I’ll say, ‘Hello? Is anybody still there?’ and they’re like, ‘Yes, we’re still here. We’re knitting!’ A few of them will usually start typing again [after those moments,] but I know they’re just doing their craft while they hang out with me.”

“There can be something not only compelling, but comforting, in watching creative streams,” MIT sociologist Taylor said. “Sometimes it’s the slow unfolding of seeing an imaginative work emerge. The sound of a channel can also draw you in, with the alternation between quiet moments and then hearing the broadcaster describe their process as they work with their hands. These channels offer a kind of aesthetic pleasure that is slightly different from traditional gaming channels.”

Creating an environment on Twitch like this isn’t a conscious effort by all streamers, but Chambers, Hall, and Gay all expressed a desire to create safe, calm spaces where viewers can step out of an otherwise overly-stimulating world.

Hall creates this environment by reading free e-books available by Project Gutenberg, an online initiative designed as a reservoir for books in the public domain. Hall starts and ends his streams with at least 15 minutes delegated to talking with his community. He’s creating a calm space, but is also making a more explicit effort to talk about mental health—a topic he’s found not discussed enough, on Twitch or elsewhere.

“I had this idea to [start this channel] for over a year, but my depression and anxiety made me too afraid,” Hall said. “It made me feel like it was a pointless effort. I defeated myself before I even started.”

Once he got help, including medication and therapy, the anxiety of starting a Twitch channel was no longer an obstacle. “I just did the darn thing and found success almost immediately,” he added. “I want so desperately to help other people not fall into the darkness as I once did.”

For many, that kind of support resonates deeply.

“I love that aspect of Twitch where there are Twitch streamers that tag themselves as being all about positivity,” Dr. Gay said. “They provide a safe place to be an introvert, to be someone struggling who just wants to consume content and know they’re not alone, even if they’re just lurking in the chat. The people on Twitch really take care of each other.”

Nicole Carpenter is a writer and reporter based in Massachusetts.

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A Week In Saint Paul, MN, On $16.45 Per Hour

A Week In Saint Paul, MN, On $16.45 Per Hour

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we’re tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We’re asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we’re tracking every last dollar.

Today: a customer service representative working at a nonprofit who makes $16.45 per hour and spends some of her money this week on frozen açai packets.

Occupation: Customer Service Representative

Industry: Nonprofit

Age: 24

Location: Saint Paul, MN

Salary: $16.45 per hour

Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,018.17

Monthly Expenses

Rent: $532.50 (My roommate and I split a two-bedroom apartment.)

Student Loans: $0 (I paid off my student loans in 2017. My dad contributed about $4,000.)

Internet: $60.99 (My roommate pays for electricity, and it’s usually about the same.)

Health, Dental, & Vision Insurance: $84.98 (My employer puts about $83 per month into my HSA account as well.)

Cell Phone: $60

Netflix: $0 (I use my sister’s account.)

Hulu: $1.99 (Black Friday deal for 12 months, which I share with my sister.)

403(b): About $152.10 (My employer matches up to 3%, so they contribute about $76.06 per month.)

Additional Expenses

Car Insurance: $350 twice a year

Gym Membership: $420/year (I like it because there’s no contract.)

6 a.m. — Wake up at my mom’s house. I took off work today and stayed the night last night because of some appointments this morning in my hometown. I usually feel a little bit of shame staying at either of my parents’ houses when I have my own apartment, but sometimes I really miss them and just want to spend more time with them, particularly as they get older. I eat breakfast and say goodbye to my mom who is working remotely from her home office today.

7:40 a.m. — Arrive at my dentist appointment. This is a new dentist — I recently got on my own insurance plan, and my previous dentist isn’t a part of my new in-network options.

8:30 a.m. — No cavities! But they said I am in the “at-risk” category for them. They told me to lay off the coffee and to not drink any more pop…easier said than done. My insurance covers this visit in full because it’s a routine check-up.

9 a.m. — Need to stop by my dad’s house to pick up my passport. He keeps it in his safety-deposit box that he mysteriously will not allow me access to. So whenever I need it, I need to ask him to go to pick it up. I’ve started looking into getting my own safety-deposit box, but for now this arrangement works. After picking up the passport, I drive to the DMV to get a new driver’s license. I turn 25 in a month, and my current one is due to expire.

9:30 a.m. — DMV is surprisingly quick and efficient. I feel vain when I ask the assistant to retake my photo, but I will have to live with it for a while. $24.63

10 a.m. — Debate going to get a coffee at Caribou, but I hold back. I think I’ll want to treat myself this weekend, and it’s probably best to start limiting my coffee intake like my dentist advised. For my teeth and for my wallet. I head to the library instead! Return four books that I finished (three very quickly and one half-heartedly) and pick up another three. I’ve been on this Y.A. murder-mystery kick lately, and luckily enough there are a lot to choose from in this genre.

12 p.m. — Head to Walgreens to pick up my birth-control prescription. I was pretty worried there would be a co-pay, as my new insurance does not consider birth control to be a preventative drug (but my old insurance did). I’m relieved and confused when the pharmacist says my insurance covered the cost. I’ll never understand insurance.

12:30 p.m. — I’ve been on the hunt for some new work pants, so I check a few secondhand clothing stores. I find nothing at either of them and leave empty-handed. I received my state tax return in the mail today (hooray!) for $241, so I take it to my credit union to deposit into my checking account. I head back to my mom’s to cook myself some lunch.

1:45 p.m. — My mom already made BLTs! We have lunch together in the living room while her super cute little cat takes a nap in the sunlight. I’m tempted to join her. My mom mentions that she and my sister are going to a furniture sale in Minneapolis this weekend and asks if I would like to come. She knows I’ve been looking for a new coffee table for the apartment, but I’m not really feeling like fighting any crowds, and I tell her I’ll pass. I spend the rest of the afternoon working on my homework. I’m currently enrolled in a paralegal certificate program at a local community college. Lately, I’ve been feeling like my job isn’t going to offer much advancement in the direction I want to go, so this program is my way of setting a career goal.

6 p.m. — I stop by my dad’s on the way back to my apartment. He made salmon, rice, and broccoli for dinner, so I join him. We discuss how my classes are going and how his job is going. He works in a very stressful field and has for my whole life, but I like to think talking it out helps him in some way. He offers to fill my car at the Costco gas station (he has a membership) and tops off my car. I really have the best parents in the world, and I hope someday I’ll be successful enough to show my appreciation in a big way.

8 p.m. — I get back to my apartment after finding a parking spot. The city recently implemented a one-sided parking ban and parking has gotten a bit tight near my unit. It doesn’t help that everything has been melting and refreezing overnight, which makes the walk dangerous!

9 p.m. — I do a core yoga video, wash the dishes that I left in the sink, do my skin-care routine, and hit the hay.

8:30 a.m. — Wake up and cuddle into my blankets a bit more. I sleep with the window open because the old radiator in my room is very active. Pull myself together to get ready for the gym and am dressed and out the door in 15 minutes.

9 a.m. — Arrive at the gym and start on the treadmill because my favorite elliptical machine is occupied. I usually only do cardio at the gym because I figure I can do strength training at my apartment.

10:45 a.m. — Leave the gym and head back to eat breakfast. I have a bowl of Cheerios and indulge in a piece of sourdough bread with some scrambled eggs. Start looking at the homework pile again.

12:30 p.m. — I finish an assignment and then turn on a new episode of Chef’s Table while I start making lunch. I pop a chicken-tomato sausage on a sheet pan with some thinly sliced sweet potatoes and make seasoned sour cream with paprika, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

2:30 p.m. — My roommate gets home from work, and we chat a bit about how her shift went. She is in graduate school right now but manages to pick up a few shifts where she used to work full-time. She invites me out with some of our mutual friends to a brewery, but I think I’m going to pass. I spend the rest of the afternoon alternating between doing homework, watching Chef’s Table, and checking social media.

6 p.m. — My roommate heads out to the brewery, and I start my yoga core workout video in the living room. Really feeling the burn today — the sit-ups where you push your lower back parallel to the floor are killer.

7 p.m. — Decide to do a face mask and lotion my entire body. I also eat some cookies. While waiting for the mask to dry, I listen to J. Cole. He was popular when I was younger, but I hadn’t heard of him until “Middle Child” came out.

8 a.m. — Wake up a bit earlier this morning to get to the gym at my regular time. It doesn’t feel as cold this morning, but I still wear my winter boots to the gym. I’m thinking of stopping for a coffee afterward, so I do my eyebrows rather than going to the gym au naturel. I rarely leave the house without makeup because I’m very self-conscious about my skin, but for the gym I do my best to get over it because I would just sweat it off anyway, and it’s usually dark when I go on the weekdays.

10 a.m. — Leave the gym (which was much less crowded today), and I get a small cold brew at a coffee shop. They let me know I have a free drink perk, but I decide to save it for a larger or more fancy coffee purchase. I’m glad I did my eyebrows, because the barista looks super hip. $4.01

10:15 a.m. — Get home and see that my federal tax return was deposited in my bank account ($707), hooray! I don’t feel so guilty about the coffee now. I eat a bowl of cereal and put on some lounge clothes.

11:30 a.m. — I finish my second homework assignment and submit it online. I text my group members and let them know I’ll be back online to help put together a final draft this week. Then I decide I need to get out of the house, so I gear up.

11:45 a.m. — It’s not as cold today, and the sun is out! The sidewalks aren’t as slippery, so I forgo my treads and just wear some tennis shoes. On the way, I listen to some old Dolly Parton.

12.15 p.m. — I first go to one of my favorite secondhand stores. Today they’re playing an old Queen CD on their boombox. I find some pants I like (and I can get them zipped), but even though they’re rad, I decide I won’t actually wear them. I do buy a red high-neck, short-sleeve sweater that I can wear both to work and outside of work, though. $15

12:45 p.m. — I head to the Whole Foods next door to pick up a few things. I don’t need a huge haul of groceries yet, so I just buy some Sambazon frozen açai puree packets and some non-plain Chobani yogurt. I debate buying some chia seeds, but I can’t fork over the $9.99. $11.48

1:15 p.m. — Get back to the apartment and put some chicken nuggets in the oven. I mix some mayo and Sriracha together to make a spicy dipping sauce like the one at one of my favorite burger places. Now I really want to go to that burger place for dinner…

2 p.m. — Finish lunch and start to pack my lunch for work tomorrow. I’m getting low on food, so I chop up some lettuce, halve some grape tomatoes, and cut up some cheese for a salad, which I’ll have with pretzel chips, two clementines, and a waffle cookie for the rest of the packed lunch.

2:45 p.m. — My mom texts me to ask how my homework is going. She says the furniture sale was very busy and she and my sister ended up leaving early to look at some other antiques stores. She didn’t buy anything (she already has a lot of antiques), and she didn’t see any cute coffee tables. Her text motivates me to creak open the books.

3:30 p.m. — Really thinking about the burger place now, so I decide to head back out. This time I remember to grab the bathroom trash to throw in the dumpster. The wind has picked up, and this walk isn’t very enjoyable.

4 p.m. — I order a veggie burger with lettuce, tomato, ketchup, mustard, pepper jack cheese, and dill pickles. Cheese is an extra $0.50, but it’s worth it. I also substitute the fries that come with it for onion rings for an extra $1.50. The couple in front of me has a coupon, and now I feel silly for not checking my mailbox before coming over. $10.52

5:15 p.m. — Finish my dinner and feel more full than I have in a few days. I look for something to watch on Hulu and settle on Gravity Falls. It’s a kids’ show, but I think it’s cute and I always wished I could have cool supernatural adventures when I was young.

6:30 p.m. — I do a yoga core video in my bedroom and light my candles to try to focus less on the workout and be more mindful of my practice. Afterward, I lie on the floor and meditate.

8:45 p.m. — I feel pretty good after the meditation. Lately, I’ve been feeling a bit down. Sometimes meditation makes me fixate on what’s bothering me, and sometimes it makes me feel better. Tonight is one of the better nights. I have a cry session for a minute, though, while listening to Arcade Fire’s cover of “Baby Mine.” Then I do my double cleansing routine, apply my wrinkle cream and moisturizer, and get in bed.

5:30 a.m. — Wake up to go to the gym.

6:45 a.m. — Feeling a little sore today, but am better at the end of the workout than at the beginning. Get back to my apartment to shower and apply my sunscreen, moisturizer, and makeup. I wear my new sweater I got this weekend.

7:30 a.m. — Try to make a smoothie bowl with my açai packets, but the blender craps out on me. I end up blending it by hand with a spoon and making a mess. I grab coconut coffee creamer from the fridge on the way out the door.

10 a.m. — Work is pretty quiet, as a few people are out today. I catch up on things that piled up in my inbox while I was out.

10:30 a.m. — Completely forgot today was class-registration day for the summer and fall semesters. I quickly log on and register from my work computer. I’m glad the classes I need to take aren’t full! Summer tuition is due now, so I pay that right away. Glad I just got my tax returns. $533.25

1:30 p.m. — Lunchtime! I scarf down the salad while watching clips from the new season of Broad City.

3 p.m. — My coworker reminded me that last week I asked if I could join her Monday Tabata workout. I’m feeling like I shouldn’t push it, but it’s a fun class and she’s a fun coworker. I commit and prepare for the pain.

5:30 p.m. — We both arrive earlier than expected. She has a guest pass for me, so it’s free! We end up walking around the track catching up on office gossip — lately there has been a lot of turnover at the office.

6:50 p.m. — Class kicked my butt into next week. Everything is sore, and I know I’m going to feel it tomorrow.

7 p.m. — Get home. I cook up some dinner (tacos made with chicken, lettuce, sour cream, and Trader Joe’s corn salsa) while I catch up with my roommate. We talk about how we both want to find love. She is much more dedicated to the search than I am.

7:30 p.m. — My roommate asks if I want to go on a walk with her and I agree, despite my soreness. It’s colder than we thought, and we end up walking back early.

8:45 p.m. — Do my skin-care routine, floss, brush my teeth, and get into bed. Watch an episode of the new Queer Eye and listen to the “Baby Mine” song again.

5:30 a.m. — My alarm goes off and my body feels like it died, so I reset it for 6:30 and roll back over.

6:30 a.m. — Wake up and still feel like death. My legs and abs are really sore, so I do some stretching to try to limber up. I decide not to shower and start the day by spraying about a half canister of dry shampoo in my hair.

6:45 a.m. — Do my makeup and get dressed. I notice a pimple by my lip that is particularly prominent. Eat a bowl of Cheerios and grab two pieces of bread from the freezer to pop in the toaster at work. Also grab coconut coffee creamer.

8 a.m. — Arrive at work and begin checking my email and getting ready for the phone lines to open. I get a cup of coffee from the kitchen.

10 a.m. — Today has been a very quiet day on the phones! A huge part of my job is offering phone support, and some days the calls can be overwhelming. We’re moving into our slow season, and I am very grateful.

10:30 a.m. — Have a weekly check-in with my supervisor. I really appreciate that she takes the time to do this. Last month I was told a promotion I had interviewed for was given to another candidate. It really did hurt at the time, as I have worked here for years, but at this point, I think I’ve moved past it. I still worry that my job performance or personality was a reason I wasn’t promoted, though.

1:30 p.m. — Have a very sad lunch of microwaved cheese quesadillas and watch more clips of Broad City. I should really just watch a full episode.

4:45 p.m. — Leave work and head home. Traffic isn’t bad and I make it in near record time.

5:15 p.m. — I start spiralizing some zucchini to make zoodles for dinner, but then my roommate slyly asks me if I want to go out to eat. I try to resist but…I really love this Mexican restaurant nearby, and we haven’t been in forever. We call our friend who lives in the basement apartment of our unit, and she’s in as well!

5:30 p.m. — We get to the restaurant and are told it’s happy hour AND taco Tuesday! Tacos are $2 and nachos are $2 off. I order my usual loaded nacho platter all for myself, and my roommate and basement friend (haha) order three tacos each. We have a great time and don’t spend too much. $12.78

7 p.m. — Get back and I log onto my computer to do some group work for one of my classes. I’m not in the mood to video chat with my groupmates, which I think annoys them. But I end up writing a new comprehensive draft of our individual drafts, and they seem appeased.

9 p.m. — Do my skin-care routine, floss, and brush my teeth with this old fluoride toothpaste I found in my drawer. I turn off my 5:30 a.m. alarm and reset it to 6:15. I know my knees are still going to be sore in the morning. Instead of “Baby Mine” tonight, I go for some Fleetwood Mac.

6:15 a.m. — Wake up and rush to shower before my roommate wakes up. I’m always very conscious of messing up her morning routine, because I’m usually still at the gym when she leaves for a shift or for class.

6:50 a.m. — Get dressed, brush my teeth, do my makeup, and eat a bowl of Cheerios. I turn on an episode of Hell’s Kitchen while I eat and also make a smoothie bowl with the açai frozen puree packets I bought this weekend. I layer the Greek yogurt, thawed açai, and coconut flakes into a parfait, which I put in a coffee travel container so it’s easier for me to carry out the door.

7:55 a.m. — Team meeting. We discuss what people are calling about on the phones and common trends we are seeing in the inbox.

1:30 p.m. — Lunch! I have some leftover loaded nachos I tossed with some chopped Romaine. Watch a few movie trailers and some clips from Girls Trip.

5 p.m. — My sister meets me after work at my apartment. We sit in my room and I roll out my muscles with a foam roller while we hang out for an hour or so.

6:30 p.m. — Eat the last of the nachos with some lettuce and turn on The Great British Baking Show. My roommate and I have a blast dragging a guy who forgot to put the tomato jam in his upside-down cake.

8:30 p.m. — Start to pack my lunch for tomorrow. I cook the zucchini noodles I spiralized yesterday with some chicken sausage and slice the last of the grape tomatoes. I add a little butter and pepper to taste. I also pack some regular pretzel chips and two clementines.

9 p.m. — Do my skin-care routine, floss, brush my teeth with the fluoride toothpaste, and say goodbye to my roommate. She’s going out of town for a week, so I won’t see her until next weekend. Make a last-minute decision that I’m not going to the gym or showering tomorrow and reset my alarm for 6:30 a.m.

6:30 p.m. — Wake up and feel a bit guilty for not going to the gym. Get dressed, do my makeup, and brush my hair.

7:15 a.m. — Eat a bowl of Cheerios with oat milk and take a look at the discussion page for my class group project. One member of my group is kind of annoying me, but I know I’ll have classes with her in the future, so I try to look beyond my annoyance.

7.30 a.m. — Leave the apartment and stop to get coffee and a breakfast sandwich. I use my free drink promo to buy a drink I usually wouldn’t splurge on. $2.64

8 a.m. — Get to work and our inbox is looking good! Have a feeling it’s going to be another quiet day.

1:30 p.m. — Eat my zucchini noodle/chicken sausage combo. End up just eating the sausage around the zucchini. I eat my two clementines, too.

4:45 p.m. — I have class tonight, so instead of heading home, I drive to my community college campus. I plan to stop at McDonald’s for small fries, but it’s closed for remodeling. Instead, I stop at the grocery store and get macaroni salad, dill pickle chips, and Sour Patch Kids. $7.45

7:50 p.m. — Class ends. It was surprisingly fun! We got our midterm grades back, and I aced it.

8:15 p.m. — On the way home, I stop at Trader Joe’s for some groceries for this weekend. I pick up a frozen pizza, shredded cheese, pita chips, frozen mac ‘n’ cheese with hatch chiles, flour tortillas, a loaf of sourdough bread, spinach and kale Greek yogurt dip, chicken-apple sausage, and some salsa. $27.21

9 p.m. — Get home, do my skin-care routine, floss, and brush my teeth. I really try to psych myself up to go to the gym tomorrow, but I think it’s a losing battle.

Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual women’s experiences and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29’s point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.

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Can the media business be saved? A “Spotify for news” is not the answer, says News Media Alliance CEO David Chavern.

Can the media business be saved? A “Spotify for news” is not the answer, says News Media Alliance CEO David Chavern.

On the latest episode of Recode Decode, News Media Alliance CEO David Chavern joined Recode’s Kara Swisher in studio to talk about the challenges facing the thousands of print and online media businesses that the NMA represents — and possible solutions. One of Chavern’s jobs is talking to big platforms like Google and Facebook, but he acknowledged that, historically, “We have not had a good interaction with them.

“They’re our regulator,” he said. “The government can’t regulate the news business, First Amendment. But these guys can … They determine which of our content gets delivered to who, in what priority, how it’s monetized, whether we exist on their platforms or not. They stand between us and our audience and determine everything about that relationship.

“One thing I always try to tell them is, it could be an opportunity,” Chavern added. “We need better technical solutions for the news business, and they could be a way to deliver great, high-quality content to people. If they have a fake news problem, guess what, we’re in the real news business. So why can’t we have a better, more productive relationship?”

Working with the tech sector is one thing. But some people working in tech, Chavern recalled, had told him the media business could just be more like them. He disagrees that that’s a real solution.

“There’s this mental model: When it comes to content, they always say ‘Spotify for,’ right? ‘Spotify for news,’” he said. “A couple things to keep in mind when news is compared to music, though. First of all, our back catalog is not super valuable. You may have listened to Ella Fitzgerald this morning but something tells me you didn’t read about Jimmy Carter. … And trust is a huge part of the transaction. You have to know where it’s coming from and have some trust in who developed it. As long as it sounds like Ella Fitzgerald, you’re kinda pretty okay.”

You can listen to Recode Decode wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts, and Overcast.

Below, we’ve shared a lightly edited full transcript of Kara’s conversation with David.


Kara Swisher: Hi, I’m Kara Swisher, editor-at-large of Recode. You may know me as someone who can’t stand cow impersonators — it’s all fake moos — but in my spare time I talk tech and you’re listening to Recode Decode from the Vox Media Podcast Network.

Today in the red chair is David Chavern, the president and CEO of News Media Alliance. It’s a nonprofit based in Washington, DC, that advocates on behalf of hundreds of print and digital news organizations from around the country. Previously, he spent more than 10 years at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. David, welcome to Recode Decode.

David Chavern: Excellent, thank you very much.

So, we have a lot to talk about, news. We have to talk about all kind of things, but let’s talk a little bit about your background, because I knew you from when you were at the Chamber of Commerce and we were talking about all kind of things like retail and things like that.

Yeah, exactly.

So talk a little bit about your background.

I’m a Pittsburgh guy, born and raised.

Not that far, Dave, just what you were doing … I don’t wanna know your mother’s …

Exactly. I was a lawyer for a long time, represented a lot of strange and unusual people, including … I spent a lot of time at the Export-Import Bank, which was actually a really fun thing to do when nobody knew what it was. It was actually going around the world, working on infrastructure projects, of all things. Then I decided to switch careers and I got a connect at the US Chamber of Commerce, and got into those whole world of, as they say, “advocacy,” here in DC, you know, jumping into the swamp, lobbying and communications. I really love that.

I was the CEO at the US Chamber for almost 10 years. The great thing there was dealing with every different kind of business you can imagine, every industry out there. I reached the end there, I’d done that long enough.

Tell me about what the US Chamber shifted from doing, because we got in touch because of internet stuff, so talk about how that shifted.

Sure. Again, for those of you who don’t know, the US Chamber is the 800-pound gorilla of lobbying organizations in town.

One of the many.

Yeah, a long base of industrial companies, historic industrial companies, and businesses that everybody would think of as being in a “chamber of commerce,” right? One of my tasks was to really reach out to the tech industry and try to find ways to bring them into the fold of that conversation.

One of the surprising things was how much everybody had in common. Like, the tech guys like to talk about how different they are than traditional businesses, how they have different perspectives. Actually, if you look at one of the things they care about …

Taxes.

They care about taxes, right. The best thing, by the way, was on Veep … do you remember when Julia Louis-Dreyfus meets that Mark Zuckerberg character? He said, “We’re post-tax.” For me, it crystallized everything about dealing with the tech business in that they may not have identified with the Chamber, but their issues were very much the same.

Yes, they suddenly seem to like money all of a sudden, right.

Exactly.

Just realized that.

So as part of that, I think you and I met … I was spending a lot of time in Silicon Valley dealing with those folks. I got a call about what was then the Newspaper Association of America, and it was immediately …

Which used to be a very big, powerful organization.

Used to be big, and then it shrank tremendously and was in some trouble, frankly. They asked me whether I’d be interested and I’m like, well listen, I’m a big consumer of the product. The fact of industries being in transition didn’t really scare me very much. I’d dealt with everybody. I spent two years of my life dealing with domestic manufacturers, right, I mean those guys have been disrupted, okay?

What I saw was an industry where, oddly, even though they’d been disrupted, the audience for the product is bigger than ever. They’re not the coal business. The coal business, people … nice people by the way, I met a lot of people in the coal business. Not a great business. People don’t want what they make as much.

Right. My family is in the coal business, but go ahead.

Again, tough business. Nice people.

You’d be surprised how many people still want coal, but go ahead. My brother’s in it.

But people consume the news product way more than ever. Multiples of peak print era. So I was like, well this is something. This is an intellectual challenge, it’s important, it matters to our civic society, so let’s try to figure out the bridge to that future understanding that we have an audience, and that’s a good thing to build a bridge from.

Right, absolutely. So it was called the Newspaper Association, now it’s not. Explain the shift in tone for what’s it’s supposed to … who does it represent?

2000 publishers, from legacy newspapers to now we have some digital-only news organizations. One thing about newspaper is, whenever you said “newspaper,” people heard “thunk.” It was the thing that hit the driveway. Really, I wanted to have a conversation about the future, the news publishing business in the future. As part of a whole range of changes we were making at the Association, I said, “Listen, we’re news media, our connective tissue is we hire and pay reporters, that’s a good thing, and everybody who does that should be eligible to be in the Association.”

And that’s been like … the news media that’s online, it’s sort of been … just the way the tech people have been fractured, there was an Internet Association and then it didn’t … it just went … These people didn’t like to associate necessarily. Now they’ve hired like crazy, and we’ll talk about Google and Facebook’s lobbying power, which was negligible and now is massive, essentially, in Washington, but they didn’t organize. Like, the online news business people didn’t … it was an adjunct to news, from my experience.

Yeah. If you looked at the legacy publishers, they started out having a separate digital divisions-

They did. Washington Post had one across the river so they didn’t unionize and stuff like that.

Frankly, I was also used to businesses … as you said, you know we’re not joiners.

Right.

And we’re new and we’re different and we have a different perspective. The bottom line, what’s become clear is that you have some folks that have a print business — a declining print business, by the way — and some folks who don’t, but otherwise we’re all in the mix together and trying to build a digital future for this business. There are very few business model or other distinctions between the two sets.

Talk about the declining part, the newspaper part. How many members had you had? What’s the makeup of it now?

We haven’t had that many declines in actual membership. Despite what the president says, there haven’t been all that many failures in the news business.

We’ll get to that.

What you have is, for a lot of legacy publishers, a declining print business, which, by the way, is still quite lucrative. What people don’t get is it still pays for most of everything.

Yes it does. It used to really pay, but …

A friend of mine does the print at a very digitally-focused news organization everybody would know about, but he does the print part, and they never talk about the print part. He said, “I just want them to buy me lunch every once in awhile and thank me for paying for everything.” People can get very Callous Sophisticate about their digital news consumption, but please understand, for the most part, it’s still heavily subsidized by print products. But those are declining, and declining steadily.

You have a declining business that still makes money, an exploding digital business, where the audience is many times what it was even in peak print era, that doesn’t make nearly as much money.

If at all.

So it’s managing this runway, if you will, and the runway’s getting closer to the end of how do we build a digital future, understanding that this thing that still makes a lot of money is declining clearly?

What about the numbers of news organizations? You just saw Gannett and then the Cox papers and things like that being sold off to hedge funds and things like that.

Yeah, there’s a lot of consolidation going on. Where we’ve lost is super local, community newspapers, and there’s a statistic that 1,300 local community newspapers have gone away. You have not seen broad-based failures, particularly at regional or major newspapers, but that doesn’t mean it’s pretty, right?

If you look at the financials of the public companies, it’s rough, it’s rough out there. So we haven’t yet lost a lot of major publishers, there’s a lot of consolidation and a lot of cutting going on trying to make it to the future.

Well, let’s talk about that consolidation, because hedge fund companies buying newspaper organizations is not a good formula for success, especially when those hedge fund organizations are known for cutting in order to squeeze out either real estate or whatever they’re looking for, often real estate, actually.

You’ll find the people who are doing better have actually invested in the journalism. Obviously people always talk about the New York Times, and yeah, they’re doing great, but Minneapolis Star Tribune, or what’s happening at the LA Times, they’re reinvesting in the news rooms because it turns out that’s what people want to consume. The folks who just cut, cut, cut, that is a circle-the-drain kind of strategy and it’s not building for the future.

But when these companies do consolidate, what happens, then, to an organization like yours? How do you manage it when you think about … where do you see consolidation going?

Well, there’s going to be a lot of it this year potentially, between what’s happening with Gannett and …

Cox.

… and Tribune, and all the rest. There’s a lot at play currently. Consolidation in and of itself doesn’t scare me so much because there’s two things. There’s consolidation on the business side, and then, do you still have reporters and journalists in these communities? If consolidation on the business side can help sustain the journalism, then great. If it’s just a means to cut everybody and cut more, then I think that’s gonna end up being a losing strategy over the long run. Also, consolidation now doesn’t mean what it did in the ’80s or ’90s, okay, where …

Right. We’ll talk about that.

It is not like these legacy news publishers have monopoly voices or monopoly power in any circumstance. They are folks who pay reporters and trying to do great journalism and trying to make it work economically while their print is declining and the digital isn’t making a lot of money.

So when you have that … you don’t represent broadcasters.

I do not.

You do not. That’s another whole organization, but they’re news organizations, though.

Yeah, absolutely.

They’re seeing a very big shift in ownership and everything else. So all means of news delivery is shifting really dramatically.

Yeah, and it’s all going online. If you actually talk to one of our members about their primary online competition, it’s often the local TV station’s website. Now the one thing about TV stations, first of all, we’re all converging into this digital space, but local TV historically, yeah, they did some reporting, but a lot of the reporting they did was out of the local newspaper.

That’s right, they did. I recall being at the Washington Post and enjoying seeing my stories on …

Okay, so … yeah. So as we’re all converging in this digital space. I think one of the challenges for local broadcasting is like if there’s been cutbacks in the local newspaper or newsroom, where are those stories coming from?

We’ve been supportive, by the way. There used to be rules that the local broadcaster couldn’t own the local newspaper, and I actually …

Doesn’t matter.

I said, “Listen, as an industry, we’re neither dead nor monopolists, but we definitely can’t be both.” So the idea that they could combine …

That was a long-time issue. I mean, mostly because of Rupert Murdoch, as I recall. It was based around the idea of too much influence in a city, in a big city, that they would own the local news and the local paper.

And by the way, you have monopoly power in things like advertising, which now is ridiculous.

Right, exactly. So how would you assess … and then in the next section I’d like to talk about the big Google and Facebook, essentially, which dominates everything, and how you look at them. How would you assess the market right now that you represent?

How do I assess it financially?

Mm-hmm.

Financially it’s very stressed because, again, these declining print dollars aren’t being replaced by sufficient digital revenue. Interestingly, at the same time, though, we’re more central to the public conversation. People are talking about journalism more than they were even three or four years ago, and our president plays a role in that, but …

And we’ll get to that, too.

There’s an understanding of the importance of journalism in society that just people are more aware of. So in a strange way, while we’re financially stressed, we’re also more central and more relevant than we’ve been.

Right. So when you set it up to where it’s going, the big challenge for all these things, besides figuring out their new business plans, is the ascendance of Google and Facebook, essentially, in the digital advertising market, because that’s where they’re heading into, which is big headwinds.

Absolutely. Two things … well, I got a lot more than two things.

Yeah, we’re gonna get to … we have a whole section for you. Well, let’s set that up.

Listen, in the traditional newspaper sense, we had the most direct relationship you could have with a customer. We made a physical product and we walked it up your driveway and handed it to you while you were in your bathrobe.

But in the digital space, first of all, there are now two companies that now sit between us and our customers in terms of the delivery of content, determining everything about that delivery, but who also then absorb an increasing and accelerating proportion of the digital ad revenue, and by the way, are reaching into localities. Google didn’t used to have advertising products for your local florist, who was advertising in the local paper. Now they do, and so the advertising monopoly is expanding.

At the same time, we actually count on these folks as a delivery and distribution mechanism. It’s a challenge.

Talk about them and how you all look at them, because you’ve been pretty tough on them, and they’ve had a pretty tough year. Talk a little bit about how you see them in the atmosphere, what they’re doing to the atmosphere.

They’re our regulator. The government can’t regulate the news business, First Amendment. But these guys can, and what I mean …

That’s a really loaded sentence. What do you mean by that? They’re our …

They determine which of our content gets delivered to who, in what priority, how it’s monetized, whether we exist on their platforms or not. They stand between us and our audience and determine everything about that relationship.

That power is a threat, certainly, and it has been because we have not had a good interaction with them, but one thing I always try to tell them is, it could be an opportunity. We need better technical solutions for the news business, and they could be a way to deliver great, high-quality content to people. If they have a fake news problem, guess what, we’re in the real news business. So why can’t we have a better, more productive relationship?

So why?

I wrestle with that all the time. As you know better than I, in dealing with tech firms for a long time, getting their head wrapped around what could be a socially positive thing that’s hard to do technically. Again, they’re the hammer people and the rest of the world’s a nail, and if it’s not an algorithm answer, they have a real problem with it.

For companies that talk all the time about the amazing things they’ve done for the world, the amazing things they can do, mostly what they tell me is they can’t do stuff. It’s amazing how …

Yes, they become stupid.

It’s like, “That’s impossible, I can’t do it.” It’s like, “You guys just said you can change the world in all of these positive ways.”

Well, not that world.

Yeah. News and journalism and the human world is a difficult, complicated, messy place. Right?

Right.

And they don’t really want to touch it if they can help it.

Right.

But they’re kind of okay if they roll over it and crush it.

What a nice way of saying it.

What I try to say is, I know this is messy and you’re not going to have perfect solutions, but we can help. We produce good stuff. We actually pay people to go out and do journalism.

Right.

And if we can thrive with you and you can improve the sweet/sour ratio of good information to bad, that’s good for you too. Right?

Right.

And this isn’t impossible.

There’s two parts to this. There’s, one is they control the means of distribution or the current way people get a lot of their news. Facebook is 97 percent of news in the Philippines, for example. They control the pipes, essentially, but then they also want to own the digital advertising market, which is the lifeblood of how you make the stuff that goes over the pipes. But they don’t want to be a media company that makes the stuff.

And so they allow just any old crap to flow over it, pretty much, and don’t regulate it very much or think about regulating it or provide tools for people to do that. And they essentially leave it to the listener or the reader or the audience to determine what’s crap and what’s not. It’s just they take the best, juiciest parts of the steak and then leave the shit behind. You know what I mean?

No, exactly. Here’s what I ask of them.

Okay.

First of all, it’s always good to talk about money. Money’s a good thing, and they license other kinds of content. They license music. If Britney Spears is playing in the back of grandma’s video on Facebook, Facebook’s paying for a license for that, share of ad revenue. But the algorithm’s hugely important. They could reward original quality journalism from sources who actually pay reporters over Macedonian teenagers, right? Just serve more of our stuff. Brand suppression is a huge challenge for us.

Explain that.

Listen, when we were younger … there’s always been crazy conspiracy theories. Right?

Mm-hmm.

When we were younger, it was your crazy uncle over the dining room table, right?

Mm-hmm.

That source was different from what was on TV, Walter Cronkite or whoever, and the paper that landed. And those were clearly different sources. In the internet blender, all that stuff is delivered to you exactly the same way.

Right.

And they, in every way you could imagine, suppress the origin of the information so that it’s very hard. It puts a big onus on the public to figure out, “Is this crazy Uncle Joe? Is this the New York Times?”

Right.

So the brand suppression thing, particularly in a business where trust is a key part of what we’re delivering, is a huge business problem for us. But if you increase the brand, the problem is your relationship then isn’t necessarily with Facebook. People say, “I got my news on Facebook,” I think Facebook likes that. Whereas, “I read the New York Times or the Des Moines Register on Facebook,” that’s a brand interfering with that relationship.

Right.

So they suppress our brands. And that’s dangerous. That’s bad for us in the trust business and that’s bad for the public, frankly.

Why do you imagine they do that part? Let’s talk about that idea, distribution, wanting to … And contrast Google with Facebook, if there is a contrast.

There is a contrast. So why do they do that?

By the way, I’m only talking about those two because they are the only two that matter. We can talk about Apple News, which is coming up. But go ahead.

I’m happy to talk about that as well. But yeah, this is …

It’s really a Google and Facebook world.

Right. Why they do that, I think they want you to be attached to their brands and they want you to stick around. And sticking around may mean reading whatever. Whatever keeps you interested.

Whatever is viral.

If it is stuff that may not catch your attention for a minute, there’s all the sort of automated disincentives to that. So I think it is kind of the end point of what were probably rational decisions on their part of keeping people engaged. The two are different. Facebook’s been more difficult and I wrestle with why that is.

I think Google is getting a better sense of the importance of news and the news business. They do control discovery and they control what gets surfaced at the top and what doesn’t. So for example, if you do a breaking news story and it pops up at the top of the search results, but guess how long it stays there? It’s your story, by the way. It usually stays there for about six minutes before it’s been copied and screwed over and people pave priorities over top of it.

So they make a huge number of decisions in the discovery process that impact what you get to see and what you don’t get to see. I’d be happy to compare and contrast more, but I think Google seems to be wrestling with these at a deeper level, or at least currently.

And then Facebook?

Facebook’s a tough one. I haven’t gotten the same sense of real sensitivity to what journalism is and the importance of it to society from them. It’s been a more difficult relationship and I think you’ll hear that commonly from a lot of news publishers. They seem less receptive to comments and complaints, but that can improve. That can get better. And you’d understand their internal culture better than …

I think they could care less. That’s what I would say.

Yeah.

I don’t think it’s anything negative or positive. I think they could care less about a lot of things. They don’t think about it at all.

Yeah.

They don’t have any interest in it, obviously.

Did you ever read Chaos Monkeys?

Yes, I did. I know Antonio and I spar almost, very frequently online. I like him a lot.

There was that one piece in there about Facebook’s engineering enterprise, but there’s this thin layer of communications and legal and other things on the outside that most people interact with. So most people talking to Facebook, you’re not talking to people who can change the machine, change the product.

Right, absolutely.

Mark can change the product, and it’s very hard for us to find the people who can change the machine in ways to help journalism.

Right. Then the third would be Apple News. This is just the distribution part. I’m going to get to the advertising in a minute. And there would be Apple News, which is, how do you look at that?

Let me talk about the current Apple News product. First of all, drives lots of traffic. You’ll just see people’s traffic numbers are off the charts from Apple News.

They have no other business but to drive it. That’s why they have nothing else.

But it also produces almost no money for a whole bunch of … There’s technical advertising and they take cuts.

They’re not in the advertising business.

And they only allow certain ad units or whatever so the common refrain is, drives a lot of traffic and by the way, it doesn’t even pay for the coffee. Right?

Mm-hmm.

So, okay. Actually, my one serious complaint with the current Apple News product is it doesn’t have local news in it. It’s a national and general interest. The only local news is stuff that pops up nationally.

Nationally, right.

And that is both a cause and effect of one of the dilemmas in local news in the sense that Apple is saying “this is what people want.” Okay. But also, you’re not exposing them to local. It ends up being a de facto suppression of local.

A big challenge that local news has had broadly is what I’d call nationalization of news interest. And this was before Trump, but it’s certainly been accelerated by him, where the public spends relatively more time and attention looking at national and general interest stories as opposed to local than they used to.

Right, which is born by online.

Right. That makes it hard for local news publishers, but that trend is also accelerated by things like Apple News and other products that don’t even surface local news for you.

Right.

So it’s kind of okay, some good, some blah, Apple News. They propose or they’re talking about a new subscription layer in Apple News where they would take the $5 out of the $9.99. Really, they’ve surfaced very few details about that so far.

And then the digital advertising market.

Yeah.

It’s now pretty much owned by Facebook and Google and now Amazon sort of slipping in off to the side in terms of products, which is always a big mainstay of local news and national news. How do you look at the digital advertising business? Because while they’re maintaining their platform, they’re already sucking all the, like I said, the juicy bits out.

Yeah. I’m coming from an industry that had huge advertising businesses, but online, in the data wars, we’re never going to have the data to compete with Google and Facebook. And as long as advertising online is geared around who’s got the most data about Kara Swisher, then more and more money is going to flow to those folks. You can scream at the weather, but you’re not going to change it. We’re not going to win a data game.

That doesn’t mean we give up all of our advertising products or we don’t have some unique things to offer advertisers. But the trends toward the money going through Google and Facebook and to some degree Amazon are accelerating. Because you know, it’s a data game.

Right. And then what do you do about that?

Well, I don’t know that we, as news publishers, can do anything about it. I think there are anti-competitive and monopoly concerns.

We’ll get to that.

Yeah, related to that. I think what we also forget is how recent the understanding that they were going to take all the ad money is. It’s really the last three or four years. Until then, other people thought they could build ad-based businesses.

Not me. No, they’re vacuum cleaners. They’ll take everything.

But it became statistically very clear like three or four years ago that, oh, wait a minute. They get all of it.

Right. I used to call them the Borg all the time. I remember they said, “That’s mean, Kara.” I’m like, “No, that’s Borg.” They just will wander the universe sucking up everything that’s valuable.

And frankly, in my membership who are digital only, they’ve obviously faced that front and center. All their digital ad dollars are getting sucked away by Google and Facebook. And by the way, they don’t have a declining print business …

To live on. They suck up everything and then they don’t have the responsibility of the platforms. They don’t have to pay for what it costs to do the news, but they get all the benefits. Like, that’s really, it’s a simplistic way of doing it. I’m sure Antonio would say that, but it really is. They get all the good stuff and none of the bad stuff. And that’s why their businesses are so good, because they don’t have the costs.

Yeah. And also, they’re not doing much to sustain the people who are incurring the costs.

Does that feel like charity to you? Some people say it shouldn’t be charitable. I’m like, well …

Do you mean like their $300 million over three years things?

Yes. What do you think of those?

Charity isn’t going to solve this problem.

Right. What’d you think of that? I was like …

Charity is nice. I mean, what the hell? But that’s not sustainable. We need something that is going to actually be a sustainable relationship over a long time.

Suggestions? Because we’re referring to the hundreds of millions of dollars that Facebook just recently put under news, which I was like, “Why wasn’t it a billion?” But that’s just me. It wasn’t a really substantive amount of money.

Yeah. By the way, a lot of that is for using their products.

Yes, of course it is. Are you kidding? It’s like Microsoft and that pad that they were going to use in third-world countries. Oh, as long as you use a Microsoft product, that sounds great. Of course it is.

To some degree, this is similar to the argument, people think that there are going to be philanthropists who are going to fly in and save everybody, or billionaires or whatever. Listen, actually a number of my members are owned by billionaires. One of the things I’ve learned about them is for the most part, they don’t like to write more checks.

No, they don’t.

They’ll write a check, say, “Here you go.” For the most part, they don’t necessarily require a current return. They’ll say, “You don’t have to send me a check every year.” But they don’t like to write new ones. So that means you still have to build a sustainable thing that pays for itself.

Right.

And the same way the charity, charity is not going to sustain this thing. We need a business arrangement that provides value to the people who hire reporters. And then by the way, we then provide you good content so you have less fake news problems. That’s money. That’s data. They hoard all the data about our own readers.

At the same time, they always tell us, “You need a closer relationship with your readers.” This is also another Apple News problem, by the way, which is, “You need a closer relationship with your readers. We won’t tell you who they are, by the way, just as long as you’re cool with that.”

Yeah, exactly. We’re here with David Chavern, the president and CEO of the News Media Alliance. He represents news organizations as they continue to figure out how they live in this new digital media environments dominated by Facebook, Google, and to an extent, Apple, and soon Amazon. What to do? You know, you go to them and say, “We want to provide you a better organization.” They don’t clean up the fake news. They don’t clean up. You’re sort of in a dirty city. I think of it as a real dirty city, like I call it, “The Purge every night.” What can be done? First, there are regulatory ways to do this, right?

Yeah.

Where’s that right now?

Here’s what we’ve asked for, which is we’ve asked for the ability to collectively negotiate with the platforms.

Oh, interesting.

So interesting, under the current antitrust laws, and this is based in a precedent from the booksellers and Apple, the antitrust laws protect Google and Facebook from us. I’ll let that sink in for a minute. They protect Google and Facebook from us banding together. Right?

Mm-hmm.

And so we’ve got a bill that was introduced by David Cicilline, chairman of the House Antitrust Subcommittee, that would allow us to band together as an industry and negotiate collectively with them. And what would we negotiate?

This is what you are doing in Europe, they were trying to do in Europe.

Yeah, their proposals, like that.

They’re doing it, yeah.

Were negotiated over money, data, brand suppression, algorithms.

Right. So they can’t keep you separate.

Exactly. By the way, they negotiate with other people. The music folks get a deal. Where’s the deal for news? But the only way we’re going to get there, apparently, is to be able to band together and have one industry voice.

How likely is this bill gonna pass?

Actually I’m feeling, there’s that old saying, first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they get mad at you, then you win. I think we’re moving from laugh at us to get mad at us slowly.

What happens? Because they’ve got lobbyists coming out the ying-yang.

A lot of lobbyists.

Yeah. These are people who used to disdain Washington. I just want to say, I’ve been on so many receiving ends of them going, “We don’t move in Washington,” and now I’m like, “Is there someone you didn’t suck up? Some horrible lobbyist you didn’t suck up?”

We don’t have much leverage, but we have some.

With who?

With politicians, policymakers. That leverage comes from the fact that news is important, right? Nobody’s asking for congressional hearings about fake cat videos. That news is seen as important to the republic in a way that is disproportionate to maybe other kinds of content.

Right.

Making the argument that we’re at a precipice with the news business. In a world where print is declining and we need to live off this digital world, we need a better deal from these platforms. And by the way, if we get a better deal, we actually can have a sustainable, good business for the country and ultimately one that would endure to the benefit of the platforms as well.

One is collective bargaining with them, essentially.

Yeah.

The second, cleaning up their platforms.

Cleaning up.

How does that happen, from a regulatory point of view?

Well, I don’t know that there’s a government answer for …

Well, Section 230.

Section 230.

You don’t get immunity. You have to clean up your dirty, dirty, dirty platform.

Section 230, the interesting things about it is my guys are responsible for …

That’s right. Me, too.

What they put in the paper. They can get sued all the time, right? The only actually parts of our business that have a 230 protection are the comments sections.

Right.

We would still moderate those. There’s nobody that doesn’t manage those and moderate those. The 230 played an interesting role in helping the whole ecosystem develop.

What do you imagine should be done with them? I’m very interested in Section 230.

The interesting thing is they’re sort of already half pregnant because they have the 230 protection but also Zuckerberg says at the hearings, “We’re responsible for what happens on our sites.”

Right.

Those two things are …

Should bigger organizations not get the protections from 230 and keep them for smaller organizations, for example?

Yeah.

They can do that.

Applying 230 to Google and Facebook currently, particularly as they’ve applied them, I think is ridiculous.

They won’t behave because they don’t have to behave.

It can’t be they’re protected and we’re not. The content creators aren’t.

We want the consumer to be protected from all of you. That’s the whole point.

Yeah. I mean, I don’t see a reason why they get those 230 protections at a given size.

Where is that?

Politically, where that is is there was a crack in the door on 230 …

With the porn and the …

SESTA and FOSTA. There are gonna be new cracks in that door. People are gonna talk about opioid sales and other things. But we need to have a bigger conversation about content and the future of the news business and that’s part of what I’m trying to drive.

Okay. What about in cleaning up that fake news, that’s one way to do it. Do you see any antitrust actions being taken on these companies?

On the advertising side. I understand something like Google and the Google ad side, they own all sides.

Yes, they do.

The sales side, the exchanges in the middle, the buy side, and they also participate in all those markets themselves, as their own independent player.

Mm-hmm. They like that game, that’s a good game.

That’s actually a very good thing.

They’re so smart.

By the way, there have been other industries in the past that have been able to do that. You just can’t do it forever.

Right.

Eventually, the antitrust authorities come knocking.

Movie theaters, yeah.

They were allowed to acquire a lot of businesses at times when the federal government was asleep at the switch. There has to be some analysis of the role that they play in the advertising markets. Now, do I think that’s gonna win back ad business necessarily for news publishers?

I’m not necessarily willing to make that argument, but I think it’s obvious that at some point, when you’re getting 80-plus percent of digital ad revenue, somebody’s gotta say, “Hmm, that sounds slightly anti-competitive.”

Right. But is there any move on the Hill to do that? There’s stuff going on in Europe, for sure.

Absolutely.

Which goes too far, I think a lot of people feel. The [right to be] forgotten, the copyright stuff.

People are … There’s hints about it in the ecosystem and certainly Dave Cicilline in the House is talking about holding hearings on antitrust in the platforms. This is an area where the US government has to put a lot more investment in terms of developing a new policy, researching the impact of these platforms on these markets, and really bringing some regulation to bear. You just can’t sustain this trajectory.

Does the current mood pushed by President Trump and others hurt that, the idea of fake news? He just did it this weekend again in large caps. The “fake news” … How do you react to that as a …

Groan.

Yeah, but it’s dangerous. You can groan, like what a silly …

It’s really dangerous. Listen, I represent “fake news,” in his calculation.

Mm-hmm.

I think that rhetoric is horrific and what he does to individual reporters is really bad and dangerous. I don’t think it’s gonna impact these debates about the role of the platforms. What I try to use it as is saying, it’s an opportunity for us to talk about who we really are and the value we really provide. He says this, here’s what we really are.

But you’re on his agenda. You’re talking about whether you’re fake or not.

Yeah, that’s a good point. I also try to be very careful not to get sucked into whatever his latest tweet is about fake news.

Do you think it has a real impact, or is it just him screaming?

No, you see the rhetoric picked up by people. Look at on TV about his rallies and stuff, people chanting “Fake News.” We hear it all the time.

Not so sure those are buyers of newspapers, but okay.

No, but it degrades the public discourse in a serious way and becomes this sort of shutdown response to things, “That’s fake news,” or whatever.

Do you have anything to do about it? You have CNN doing things, you’ve got other … It’s not just newspapers and print organizations but it’s also broadcast networks and other stuff.

Actually, we have a whole public education campaign called Support Real News where we’re out trying to …

Is news literacy enough anymore? Is there enough news literacy?

That’s a really good question.

[Walt] Mossberg is working on this.

It’s really important, but understand, in the internet environment, for the reasons I talked about before, we put a big burden on users.

Absolutely.

Much more than ever in the past.

Right.

The answer can’t be we’ll just keep educating these people while we shove garbage at them constantly. That can’t be the … You’re never gonna have enough news literacy to overwhelm the garbage.

Yeah.

You need a system that rewards the delivery of good, high-quality content. And yes, have news literacy but also have the responsibility in the platforms about what they deliver and to who.

All right, I wanna finish up talking about the ownership by all these internet zillionaires. You’ve got Marc Benioff, you’ve got Jeff Bezos from Amazon owning the Washington Post, you’ve got Marc buying Time. You have Laurene Powell Jobs buying things. Talk about that. There’s more, there’s more rumors. There’s a rumor … Ev Williams buying things. You have Medium, Ev Williams from Twitter doing Medium. How do you look at all this?

There have always been rich families owning media.

Yes, there are. Indeed.

That’s actually not necessarily a new thing.

Bancrofts. Those Kentucky people.

I think you’ve got examples of where it’s really worked well.

The Grahams.

Look at the Washington Post.

Yes.

Where they really make investments …

This is Bezos.

Yeah, and invest for the long term.

Mm-hmm.

Look what’s happened in LA, Dr. [Patrick] Soon-Shiong is doing some great investments.

Couldn’t get worse there, could it? It’s literally the worst.

That’s one kind of owner I have in this industry. What I’m very careful to say is, listen, let’s not wait to be rescued by the billionaires.

Right. “That’s not my policy!”

First of all, again, you still have to make it sustainable. This idea that billionaires are gonna keep writing checks to fund losses at something, that’s not the billionaires I’ve run into over time.

Right.

They can provide long-term strategic support, really carry things through, but that underlying business still has to pay for itself.

Why do you think they’re doing it? You ever think about it? Because it’s either hedge funds or internet billionaires doing this. It’s a really interesting … There’s not some new … Well, I guess Patrick, no, he’s a tech person.

He’s a tech guy. I think they’re doing it out of, for the most part, a real civic sense, because I don’t think the billionaires anyway are doing it to make money. I think they care about journalism. They very much care about their communities. Note that you don’t have millionaires buying chains. They tend to buy in some locality that they care about.

I think usually it comes out of a good civic sense. There’s relatively few examples of somebody trying to drive coverage one way or the other. There’s other things and I think that’s a fine model, but again, it’s gotta pay for itself.

Right.

We gotta solve these business structural issues because the billionaires are not gonna save us, believe it or not.

You’re kidding. They think they are. They don’t wanna be taxed, that’s for sure.

They’re post-tax.

I literally posted why the Elizabeth Warren thing was a good explainer and ahh, they went crazy. Oh man. Sometimes I’m like, “How rich can you be?” “There’s not gonna be innovation!” I’m like, I’m certain there’s gonna be innovation whether you have another billion dollars or not. That’s my guess.

Again, all your political figures now are talking about we need the power of philanthropy to save journalism. Listen, philanthropy is fine and good. Yay. But that can’t be shorthand for oh, by the way, there’s no business here.

Right. What do you think the big businesses should be, if you think about them, let’s finish up talking about them. What is promising? Give me two or three examples of what you think is promising. Subscriptions, what?

Oh, subscriptions, definitely. I think that’s a way …

Podcasts.

Podcasts. It’s super lucrative, I’ve heard.

They are. Shh, no it’s not. It’s the worst business ever. Don’t get into it.

Subscription is where everybody is focused on. We do need actually more technical solutions for journalism. If I could digress a minute …

Sure.

If you talk to anybody in tech, they always like models from something else that works. Uber for X, right? Uber for dog walking. There’s this mental model. When it comes to content, they always say Spotify for, right? Spotify for news.

Interesting ideas, but micropayments is the other one. A couple things to keep in mind when news is compared to music, though. First of all, our back catalog is not super valuable. You may have listened to Ella Fitzgerald this morning but something tells me you didn’t read about Jimmy Carter.

No.

We’re one-time-only consumption. You usually don’t read news articles over and over again.

You do not.

And trust. The biggest one is, trust is a huge part of the transaction. You have to know where it’s coming from and have some trust in who developed it. As long as it sounds like Ella Fitzgerald, you’re kinda pretty okay.

Right. That’s a good point.

We’re gonna need technical solutions. You can’t just say Spotify for news unless it really invests in this trust component and builds that attachment to the brand. All these ideas that disintermediate people from the brand are disasters.

Right, I’d agree with you. Are you positive or negative, or how are you feeling about your job?

Oh, positive. More people consume our stuff than ever, like millennials.

They do. I think it’s crap that they need it in little bits or snackable.

No. Actually, if you do data around this, the thing people value most is big, deep, enterprise, data.

100 percent.

That’s really what they value. And millennials consume much more than we did at that age because they can. It’s available easily.

Right, in lots of ways. That’s the difference is understanding lots of ways and reaching people lots of ways. That’s the one thing that a lot of traditional news sources these days don’t get. They stick with just print or something like that.

Now, you get people where they are but it turns out people are much more available than they ever were before.

Absolutely.

My kids consume tons of news.

When I started this podcast four or five years ago, something like that, so many people in traditional news sources were like, “You know millennials don’t wanna listen for an hour.” I’m like, “Yes, they do,” and they’re like, “No, they don’t. They like it snackable.” I’m like, “Stop using that word.” They’re like, “Snackable.” I’m like, “Stop. If you do it again, I’ll have to hit you.”

I was like, We’re gonna do it now and we’re gonna see.” I bet they do care about longer, substantive … Treating them like they have a different … There’s certain things. How they consume it and where is different than what … You know what I mean?

My kids, this gets anecdotal, but I know my kids consume huge amounts of long-form content.

They do.

Documentaries on Netflix. My kids are both in tech, so they’re into computers and they listen to podcasts like eight hours a day. Back a million years ago when I was in Philadelphia, Terry Gross was a Philadelphia interviewer …

She’s great.

Her original broadcast was two-hour interviews.

Yes, they were.

They were fantastic.

Fantastic. She is still fantastic. She remains fantastic. She is the best, absolutely.

Anyway, David, it was great talking to you. Thank you so much for coming on the show.

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Lindy Waters III and how to make the most of a second chance

Lindy Waters III and how to make the most of a second chance

Feb 8, 2019

  • Alex ScarboroughESPN Staff Writer

    Close

    • Covers the SEC.
    • Joined ESPN in 2012.
    • Graduate of Auburn University.

STILLWATER, Okla. — Less than a week after his entire world was turned upside-down, Lindy Waters III woke up three hours from his home in an unfamiliar boarding house on the outskirts of Wichita, Kansas. The small suburban college preparatory school, Sunrise Christian Academy, was pleasant enough and the facilities were, in fact, quite nice, but it wasn’t where he wanted to be. He’d told his parents as much before they visited the well-appointed campus, that something about it just didn’t feel right. It was then that his father reminded him of the cold truth: No one else will take you.

Waters’ plan — to graduate from Norman North (Okla.) High School, take a prep year at the prestigious Brewster Academy in New Hampshire to get bigger and stronger, and then start his career as a Division I basketball player — had gone off course. It was all happening so fast now, like he’d taken a wrong turn and was sent careering down a steep cliff. He tried to treat his time at Sunrise as if it were just another weekend basketball tournament, but he knew better. He knew he wasn’t returning to his family and friends on Monday, and he knew exactly why.

He could tell himself it wasn’t fair, that it was all a big misunderstanding and an even bigger overreaction. He could say it was a careless prank that was supposed to stay among friends and instead broke into the open. He could blame it on a lack of due process. When his mother, Lisa, got the call saying he was no longer welcome at Norman North, there wasn’t much of a conversation. “OK. … All right. … Thanks,” is all Waters overheard her say before hanging up. Rather than receiving a three-day suspension as they’d imagined, she informed her son he was suspended the fall and spring semesters of his senior year. In effect, he’d been expelled.

All of this because of a bet over a game of “NBA 2K”? Waters played with the Bulls, his friend the Trail Blazers. He lost by five, and as a result, he had to take a photo holding an Airsoft gun and share it on Snapchat. His face out of the frame, he sent it to four friends and didn’t give it another thought. It was Monday and he was excited to visit Brewster the following day. They had the rest of the week off for fall break.

When he landed in Detroit the next day to catch a connecting flight, his phone regained a signal and a tidal wave of notifications lit up his screen. Where are you? Everyone is looking for you! Panicked, he asked why, wracking his brain for what he might have done. The response was a gut punch: There’s a picture of you with a gun.

He couldn’t believe it and slowly put together the puzzle: Someone took a screen-grab of his Snapchat and shared it; traced the AAU jersey he was wearing back to him; and although the black plastic Airsoft gun had an orange tip, it was mistaken for being the real thing. And it all was tied to a message written on a bathroom stall that Monday warning of a school shooting. It was crazy how the cops and helicopters descended on campus. The entire school went on lockdown.

From the airport, Waters called the principal to explain. He hadn’t made any threats. It was all a big mistake, he said. He thought the conversation went well and it would blow over. But it kept picking up steam.

“It was a little overwhelming,” Waters recalled. College coaches such as Tony Bennett and Travis Ford, who were recruiting him, called his father to try to get to the bottom of what happened. How could this kid with offers from Harvard and Yale get expelled? This son of school administrators? And what was the deal with the gun?

When Waters’ mother told him he’d need to find a new school, he went into shock. He couldn’t lift himself off the couch for hours. Brewster wasn’t planning on him coming for another year and didn’t have a scholarship available. Other schools wouldn’t allow him to enroll in light of the incident. It took a one-on-one conversation with Sunrise’s president to get the all-clear to go there, and even then Waters wasn’t thrilled with the possibility.

“This is what my life is now,” he told himself. “I need to move on.”

At Sunrise, he would be shut off from the world. Books and ball; that was it. They weren’t allowed to use their phones during the day, and they couldn’t leave. But the siloed nature of the academy focused him. He gained confidence going against better competition on the basketball court. He matured off it.

“It made me grow up extremely fast,” he said. “If it had been a real gun, if I had been on campus — I was 18 and could have been charged with something. I came to the realization that I need to be careful — who I’m around, what I’m doing, think about how it’s going to impact my future.”

A few months later, Norman North rescinded his suspension and he returned home. After sitting out several games, he was allowed back on the basketball team and helped it make a run all the way to the state title game. He no longer needed a prep year, he thought. Inadvertently, he’d already gone through that experience. He was ready to go to Oklahoma State.

He had no idea the surprises in his life weren’t over, his journey from cautionary tale to role model of the Native American community only beginning.


It’s not that Waters didn’t embrace his Native American heritage. That was never the case. According to his father, it was “critical” he did. So he was raised in it and grew up knowing where he came from. That he was of Kiowa and Cherokee descent. That his great-great-great-grandmother was an Irish captive in the 1800s, and how his great-grandparents had their native languages beaten out of them in grade school.

As a kid, he’d visit tribal lands, attend powwows and stomp dances. Back home, his father, who worked for more than a decade in Native American outreach at the University of Oklahoma, would take him to cultural events at the Lloyd Noble Center on campus.

But while Waters enjoyed the music and dancing that took place — he often found himself humming along — he shied away from actually participating himself. He was just like his father, Lindy Jr., when he was younger. If you wanted to find the former NAIA All-American power forward on the reservation, the first place to look was the gym.

It was there — not back home at Norman North with teammates such as Trae Young, but on the road playing with his fellow Native Americans — where Waters’ hobby and heritage began to intersect. It would teach him a type of basketball he didn’t know existed — “rez ball” — and help elevate him to a platform he didn’t realize was possible.

Waters was in the seventh grade when he was invited to his first Native American basketball tournament. His father saw how nervous his son was during that long drive to Henryetta, Oklahoma. He’d never been around so many Native Americans, and when they got there the other kids mockingly called him “white boy.” (Waters’ father is a full-blooded Native American, and his mother is of both Cherokee and white heritage.) They were the same taunts he got when he played in the city, and every time he wanted to correct them.

He’d just hit a growth spurt to reach 6-foot-4 by then, but was still only 140 pounds. To him, everyone on the court looked like a grown man. And right away, things got chippy. The first shot he attempted, someone took his legs out from under him. The next time down, a defender hit his elbow. Neither drew a foul.

It was then, after a teammate was practically tackled attempting a layup, that the competitor in him took over.

“I think for the most part they acknowledge me because I acknowledge them back. I talk about it. I express it. I tell everyone how important it is to me. I go to clinics. I help Native American kids, teach them basketball, answer any questions. I’m a part of them.”

Lindy Waters III on his relationship with the Native American community

“I’m like, ‘All right, you want to play like that? I’m just here to play basketball, but if you want to get physical, we can,'” Waters recalled. “And then I start using my sweep move.”

As an accurate midrange shooter, it wasn’t uncommon for defenders to crowd him. So he used an old trick his father taught him to create space. Holding the ball with both hands, he would lean forward and move it in a circular, sweeping motion up above his head and back down to his chest. That way if the defender was cheating in too close, they’d catch a face full of elbows. It was legal as long as he kept his elbows tucked in.

The first sweep move in the tournament made contact and nearly broke his defender’s nose. A scuffle had to be broken up. It got more physical after that, and the game eventually ended in a brawl.

“Technically, the rules are the same,” Waters said of rez ball. “Technically.”

“I still point to that time in his basketball career when his basketball IQ went through the roof,” Lindy Jr. said. “Everything changed with him. He got more aggressive.”

A few years later, at an AAU tournament in high school, that newfound edge helped him when he went head-to-head with Dennis Smith Jr. and held the future NBA first-round pick to roughly 10 points. Waters, meanwhile, scored more than 20. Soon after, the Ivy League and mid-major schools offered him scholarships. Power 5 programs such as Oklahoma State followed.

Waters wasn’t a mega-watt recruit, per se. ESPN ranked him as a respectable three-star prospect and the third-best player in the state, just ahead of an undiscovered Trae Young. His hometown university, Oklahoma, slow-played his recruitment enough to prop the door open for in-state rival Oklahoma State to eventually gain his commitment. But when the largely anonymous guard arrived on the Stillwater campus in 2016, it was as if the entire Native American community stood up and took notice of him.

Ever since his freshman season, the website NDNSports.com, which covers Native American athletics exclusively, has attended Waters’ games, written feature stories on him and filed regular updates on his progress. The response, according to one of the site’s founders, Brent Cahwee, has been overwhelming.

As one of only seven Native American Division I basketball players last season, Waters has become a role model in the community. And, more importantly, he has embraced the opportunity because he knows there haven’t been many athletes historically for Native Americans to look up to. He’d grown up with antique photos of Jim Thorpe to hang on his wall. When the Oklahoma City Thunder wanted to honor Native American basketball players before a game in 2010, his father was one of only three people asked to appear — one from the ’50s, one for the ’70s and one from the ’80s. You couldn’t help but think: Was there really no one from then until now?

So when Native Americans reach out to Waters, he takes care to respond. When they want an autograph, he signs whenever it’s possible. Last May, he and his father hosted basketball clinics for Native American kids, teaching them the game and answering questions.

“It was wild,” Waters said. “My first day we had two camps — one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The first one there were 30-40 kids, and then the next one we were in a high school gym with 150 kids. We didn’t have enough basketballs. It was just eye-opening.”

Cahwee heard about those camps through the grapevine and points to acts like that as being the real difference-maker. Waters is a solid Big 12 player — not quite a star — but the reason he draws such a strong response from the Native American community is, as Cahwee put it, “He embraces his heritage.”

In August, the American Indian Exposition took the extraordinary step of naming him — a 21-year-old college basketball player — “Indian of the Year.” At the parade an hour west of Norman, he was blown away by the response. He looked out and saw a sea of Oklahoma apparel. “Just crimson everywhere,” he said, “and a little bit of orange.” And yet they were all there for him, blurring party lines.

“It didn’t matter who we cheered for, we were all Native Americans coming together,” he said.

When asked why they gravitate toward him, he said he thought basketball played only a small role.

“I think for the most part they acknowledge me because I acknowledge them back. I talk about it. I express it. I tell everyone how important it is to me. I go to clinics. I help Native American kids, teach them basketball, answer any questions. I’m a part of them.”

His is an eminently relatable story. He made a stupid mistake when he was young and has learned from it. He encountered obstacles along the way and persevered.


Lindy Jr. remembers his son showing up at home unexpectedly during the summer of his freshman year. He was crying and wouldn’t say why. Then, after a few hours, he composed himself and told his parents how his teammate, Tyrek Coger, had died earlier that day.

Not just that, Waters was there when it happened. When Coger collapsed in the middle of a workout, Waters was the one asked to pump the CPR mask delivering oxygen while emergency personnel tried in vain to resuscitate the 21-year-old Coger, who had recently transferred to OSU.

If the incident with the Airsoft gun didn’t make him grow up, seeing Coger die before his eyes from what was later deemed to be an enlarged heart did. Although Waters doesn’t talk about it much — same for his tumultuous senior year of high school, which many of his teammates don’t even know about — both instances made an impact on him, Lindy Jr. said.

There was a scripture passage the family had come to identify with that would later find itself written inside Waters’ sneakers. The passage is Philippians 3:13, which is about moving on for a higher purpose. But the specific phrase that has become a mantra for both father and son is, “I press on.”

As it turns out, his time in Stillwater would demand the patience and perspective he picked up along the way.

During his freshman season, Waters suffered a concussion and a fractured foot that caused him to miss significant time. And even then — even after he helped the team reach the NCAA tournament — came more bad news when coach Brad Underwood left unexpectedly for Illinois after being hired at OSU only a year earlier. A few months later, when Waters was sitting in class, another flood of notifications hit his phone. The team’s group message wouldn’t stop pinging. “What’s happening?” read one text. Another said, “I don’t know yet. Let’s have a team meeting.”

At first, Waters thought it was just a couple of his teammates having a one-on-one conversation in the group chat that he could ignore. Then he got a call from his parents. Then his coaches.

“They’re like, ‘Coach Lamont is in trouble,'” Waters recalled. “The FBI was at his door.”

Lamont Evans, an assistant coach, was arrested that September as part of a sweeping federal investigation into corruption within college basketball. He was charged with accepting bribes, later pleading guilty.

The team limped to a 21-15 record that season, but the next season was supposed to be better. Waters was one of a handful of veterans stepping into leadership roles, and there were a few underclassmen who looked to have potential. One of them, sophomore guard Michael Weathers, started off hot, averaging 9.2 points per game.

“I’ve got a great admiration for his ability to take things in, to shoulder some responsibility for his opportunity here in making it the best possible, regardless of the circumstances surrounding him.”

Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton, on Lindy Waters III

But then, in mid-January with the team hovering around .500, Weathers and two others were dismissed from the program after allegedly committing acts of vandalism. OSU was left with only nine players on the roster, including a walk-on.

So, yes, there have been plenty of opportunities for Waters to throw in the towel — to give up or straight up leave. But he shrugs it off.

“My senior year of high school I had to do a big change really quick,” he explained. “And then I was there for a little bit, came back to North for a couple of months, go to OSU, change, Coach Underwood one year, change. Everything was changing so fast that I got used to it. New coach, new year, everything is fine.”

He has had to adjust, of course. When it felt as if half the team had been suspended, he vowed to do what he had to in order to get through it. Coaches asked him to shoot more, to be more aggressive. Now he’s playing everything but the center position, and much of the offense is flowing through him.

Coach Mike Boynton says Waters is the most versatile player on the team now, which is a good thing when you barely have enough players to field a team in the first place. Boynton called him a “stabilizing force.”

“Hats off to him to have the courage to say that things don’t look perfect and that’s OK, this is going to be a learning experience that I’m going to be better for in the future,” Boynton said. “I’ve got a great admiration for his ability to take things in, to shoulder some responsibility for his opportunity here in making it the best possible, regardless of the circumstances surrounding him.

“I’ve never felt any hesitation from him that this is where he wants to be.”

Boynton, who was an assistant with Underwood, has seen Waters’ progress up close over the past three seasons. As a freshman, he shot 71.4 percent from the foul line and averaged 5.7 points per game. This season, as a junior, he’s up to 94.6 percent, missing just three of his 56 attempts. Through 21 games, he’s averaging 12.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game.

At 6-foot-6 with a point guard handle, he’s a mismatch. He’s a solid defender and knows how to play physical basketball. “He’s got an edge,” Boynton said. In other words: There’s a lot there to like. The only missing piece seems to be belief.

Talking to Boynton and Lindy Jr., there’s the sense that Waters is still coming into his own, still learning, still maturing on and off the court. Being so calm and introspective has helped him weather so many storms, but now he needs to turn the corner.

“He needs to start thinking of himself as an elite player,” Boynton said. “Because he has that ability. I don’t know that he thinks of himself in that regard because he’s so unselfish, because he wants everyone to share in that success. But sometimes you need a guy to step up and feel like, ‘Yeah, I’m the man here.'”

Maybe he’ll get there. Then again, maybe he won’t. His story is already compelling enough as it stands.

With his senior season rapidly approaching, Waters said he wants to go as far as basketball will take him. He’s not ready to give up playing competitively anytime soon.

But there is a plan whenever that part of his life comes to an end. He got the bug hosting those basketball clinics last summer and wants to see where that goes. His goal: start a nonprofit organization and help Native American kids.

He knows better than most what it’s like at that age — the possibilities and the pitfalls. He can show them how to play basketball, but he can teach them so much more.

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