Starbucks’ $10 Coffee, and 5 Other Stories You Should Read

Here’s what you missed while you were wondering why you still have a Yahoo account

New York Magazine: Sandy Hook Parent Lenny Pozner Is Fighting an ‘Emboldened’ Conspiracy Culture

Selected by Dillon Baker, associate editor

Sometime it’s easy to forget that there is a very human cost to conspiracy theories. Seeing people like InfoWars’ Alex Jones yell and rip his shirt in two can be funny from a distance, but when you remember that many people believe in these kinds of alternative realities, the darkness underlying conspiracy theories can be overwhelming.

We saw that when a gunman, who had fallen for the #pizzagate conspiracy, fired a shot in a pizza parlor in Washington D.C. And we see that in this article, which follows up on a larger story on parents of Sandy Hook victims dealing with people who deny that the deaths of their children ever happened.

It’s a tragic story, and it’s telling of how much blame the parents place on platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter for “emboldening” conspiracy theorists. It shows that the kind of unmediated, engagement-thirsty philosophy espoused by social platforms can lead to some horrible results.

Digiday: ‘Apps are the new magazines’: Why Bloomberg’s doubling down on apps

Selected by Brian Maehl, talent development manager

In an attempt to have total control over the reading experience for its audience, Bloomberg plans to focus on overhauling its app interface with personalized content streams in 2017. According to Scott Havens, Bloomberg’s global head of digital, “We want to bring users into a direct relationship. To forego that is essentially waving a white flag.”

While an effective app experience can be a plus, Havens’s comments make it seem like this is the core of their growth strategy. “Apps are the new magazines and papers,” he adds. But I can’t help but feel that this is a dated idea for a solution. It’s dangerous for publishers to ignore Facebook as a necessary driver of traffic, even if you don’t like the power it has over the market.

Conventional wisdom may argue that losing the direct relationship with an audience is indeed surrendering. However, I think it’s a necessary evil in order to adapt and succeed in a new media world. We’re a few years past the age of believing that apps can save us all.

Slate: Donald’s Beautiful Dark Fascist Fantasy

Selected by Craig Davis, editorial intern

Every time Kanye West displays support for Donald Trump, I’m pretty sure an angel loses his wings. First there was the vocal praise at multiple California concerts. Then the two had a strange, headline-grabbing meeting at Trump Tower on Tuesday. Now Kanye, in full Trump fashion, is taking to Twitter to show off his Trump autograph collection. (Side note: I really like Kanye. I really don’t like Donald. I hate all of this.)

But beyond the bizarre tableau of power-suited president-elect alongside a rapper in sweats, the Tuesday meeting provided a face-off of perhaps America’s two biggest egos. And as Katy Waldman writes in Slate, one of them clearly won out: “Before they cohabited a camera frame, the gravity of Trump’s star was pulling on the light from Kanye’s.”

It’s an interesting study into what happens when two mega brands with ultra-polarizing presences collide. For all their differences, the two share quite a few common traits: a propensity for bombastic comments, godlike ambition to alter the status quo, and a fragile enough self-image that causes them to lash out at any objectors.

Ad Age: Google’s ‘Year in Search’ Finds Love and Hope Among the Lowlights of 2016

Selected by Ann Fabens-Lassen, communications manager

I’ve always been a fan of Google’s annual year in search video because it makes you feel all the feels. But I think this one is particularly relevant as the media debates whether Facebook and Google should be gatekeepers of news (both legitimate and fake).

This year’s video does not disappoint; you’ll laugh, cry, and remember things that you already forgot happened. But it also serves as a reminder of how much Google impacts what we know, think, and care about.

The New York Times: Twitter Has the Right to Suspend Donald Trump. But It Shouldn’t.

Selected by Erin Nelson, marketing editor

It’s a moral dilemma no one could have foreseen. What do you do when the president-elect uses Twitter to bully and endanger other U.S. citizens? As a corporation, Twitter is under no legal obligation to uphold First Amendment laws. Twitter’s executives alone are able to decide whether or not to let Donald Trump continue his unfiltered rants or to set clear guidelines that limit harassment.

Many progressives are calling for the president-elect’s Twitter privileges to be revoked. Others fear that removing Trump from Twitter would threaten freedom of speech principles at large and obstruct a window into Trump’s unfiltered positions. And while Donald Trump wouldn’t be the first public figure to get the boot—Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos and white supremacist Richard Spencer were kicked off of Twitter previously—the removal of a man soon to be the most powerful person on earth would indicate a movement toward corporate censorship.

It is in the public’s interest for Twitter to protect free speech on its platform. But if there had been a corporation that could have limited the dangerous rhetoric of former demagogues—and had chosen to take action—perhaps our history books would be written differently.

BuzzFeed: The Future Of Starbucks Is Slower And More Expensive

Selected by Jordan Teicher, senior editor

Even though I don’t drink coffee, the latte culture has always fascinated me. The coffeehouse vibe seems pretty bougie, but you can get an “artfully brewed” drink from Starbucks for three bucks, which is half the price of a Big Mac meal from McDonald’s. That disconnect may be about to change.

Starbucks is ready to roll out a new high-end franchise, Reserve, which will offer $10 coffee that takes 10 minutes to brew. I’m skeptical that this approach can succeed, but apparently Wall Street analysts are optimistic that the “premiumization strategy [will] continue to build a moat around the brand.”

That all sounds like bullshit to me since Starbucks hasn’t hit recent sales targets. More importantly, brands don’t have moats. It seems like the Kool-Aid has caffeine in it now.

Image by Creative Commons