Best of the web: why elites fail, the dubious authenticity of viral news and how nationalism is going mainstream

Welcome to my incredibly exciting new blog series: best of the web. Here I hyperlink to the three best things I’ve read online this week, and tell you a little about what I think about them.

In short, I’m trying to squeeze something useful out of my (nerdy) procrastination.

The soul of a new machine: Gawker struggles with the slippery slope between viral and true

Matthew Ingram, paidContent.org

You’re an editor on an online news outfit and a compellingly emotive video, or letter, falls onto your lap. But you don’t know if it’s true and lack the full details. Do you click ‘publish’? “To drive traffic or tell the truth?” as Ingram puts it. Web traffic is gold dust but viral content doesn’t allow for nuance or truth. Do Gawker, Buzzfeed and the like have a journalistic responsibility to wait and double-check or should we respect the fact that their business model doesn’t allow for the sort of verification process that ‘old media’ adheres to.

The Year of Living Carlos Dangerously: Trailing Anthony Weiner’s New York Mayoral Campaign

Marshall Sella, GQ

Nate Silver, the famed US pollster, has called political punditry “completely useless”. But I love this sort of political journalism, the sort that gets under the skin of a candidate and even cultivates a little empathy for him or her. It’s all the more interesting when that candidate is as colourful and confused a character as Anthony Weiner, the serial sexter who tried and failed to resurrect his political career this year by pursuing the Democratic nomination for Mayor of New York City.

Dédiabolisation: Marine Le Pen tries to drag the National Front into the political mainstream

The Economist

Nationalist movements are interesting. The word ‘nationalist’ typically invokes vivid images of stomping storm troopers or a smirking Nick Griffin. But nationalism doesn’t have to be racist: UKIP, which is properly described as a party of the English, has its oddballs but it is closer to the mainstream than critics like to admit. Nationalism doesn’t even have to be right-wing: it can be liberal and progressive – take the politically successful SNP for instance. I liked this piece therefore about how Le Pen is attempting to rebrand and redefine French nationalism.

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