Summary: Meet Manoush and Jen, founders of Stable Genius Productions. They’re documenting the process of starting a media company while trying not to simultaneously become bad mothers, bankrupt themselves, or destroy their wonderful creative partnership. And when their first funding comes in the form of cryptocurrency, things get really interesting. ZigZag is a meta-mix of voice memos, taped conversations, come-to-Jesus moments, and mini-stories about entrepreneurship, deciding how to align your values with your ambitions, and building strong partnerships.
It's been an extraordinarily weird year. This mini episode compresses Manoush and Jen's story so far into a strange mash-up of voice memos that documents their leap from public radio producers to audio entrepreneurs (who often are very stressed and seem to rarely sleep). Think of it as an audio thank you note for being on this ZigZag ride. We're so glad you're here with us. We hope you'll also consider supporting Radiotopia, the podcast collective that helps make ZigZag possible. Go to radiotopia.fm where you can choose from an unusual array of donation gifts (including an outing to the Stable Genius' favorite bar).
Julia Angwin, the award-winning reporter whose investigations make Facebook sweat, just got $20 million from Craig Newmark (yes, as in Craig's List) to start her own publication. Hear her vision for The MarkUp, why we need a new kind of watchdog journalism, and how she plans to combine hardcore data analysis with shoe-leather reporting. Plus, the honest lowdown on how Julia beats decision fatigue, as a startup founder and a parent. It's not all black turtlenecks and green smoothies, but it's close. GO DEEPER: Julia Angwin's investigations for ProPublic. Mark Zuckerberg Doesn’t Understand Journalism. Looking back at Craig's List. Jessica Lessin left the Wall Street Journal five years ago to found The Information. Closing Rookie: hard truths about digital media from teenage entrepreneur Tavi Gevinson. Who You’ll Hear: @manoushz (Manoush Zomorodi) @JuliaAngwin (Investigative journalist and Cofounder of The MarkUp)
CRIMINAL was a mega-hit long before the genre of true-crime took off in podcasting. On this episode, Manoush and Jen talk to the show's co-creators, Phoebe Judge and Lauren Spohrer, about quitting their stable public radio jobs to start a company (sound familiar?), managing each other's quirks, and saying 'no' to the many business opportunities that come their way. This duo has great advice for anyone trying to manage a partnership, balance creativity with bill paying, or just stay to one's weirdo self. GO DEEPER: A deep dive into the messy relationship between true crime podcasts and justice. How Phoebe and Lauren get it done from Raleigh's The New & Observer. The New Yorker article on the new golden age of podcast storytelling. Guy Raz's mega-entrepreneur podcast in the New York Times. The Future of Voice and the Implications for News from Reuters. It's a bear market for some podcast shops. More acronyms: PRX (of which Radiotopia is a branch) merges with PRI (think The World). Help someone discover the joy of listening by sharing Gretchen Rubin's free Gift of Podcast instructions. Btw, the SEC has a new guide to ICOs. And Crypto is crashing. Who You’ll Hear: Manoush Zomorodi (@Manoushz), Jen Poyant (@jpoyant), Phoebe Judge co-creator and host of Criminal (@PhoebeVJudge), Lauren Spohrer cocreator of Criminal (@laurenspohrer)
This week, we explain how the ZigZag inbox works and Manoush answers two very special letters: one from a listener with an unusual financial frustration and another who has an existential entrepreneurial query. Because in the daily cacophony of signals, email sometimes shines through as a place to get the news and information we want from people and sources we trust. GO DEEPER: A study about our email habits finds half of us achieve in-box zero. The SEC says tokens are securities (we think). That unnerving New York Times expose about how Facebook handles crises. Manoush was in GQ talking about the importance of boredom. How about a Fair Credit Reporting Act to make platforms more accountable? The BBC's look at how (and why) people in India, Kenya, and Nigeria interact with fake news. Another journalism experiment with a radical membership engagement model: The Correspondent. Who You’ll Hear: Manoush Zomorodi @manoushz and ZigZag listeners!
Can you scrub the truth from the web? Or will people always find a workaround? An extraordinary tale this week about the intersection of new tech, personal stories, human rights, and repressive regimes. Plus, producer Thalia Beaty explains how governments around the world use digital tools to censor and surveil journalists and their citizens. GO DEEPER: New Yorker writer Jiayang Fan's article, China's #MeToo Moment. The testimony nestled in an Ethereum transaction. How Civil plans to repurpose the Chinese blockchain hack as an archiving solution. No more anonymity for blockchain in China? Producer Thalia Beaty explains her reporting on Syria for Storyful. Citizen Lab shows how images get censored on WeChat. India cut the internet the most times of any country last year. Why Russia has struggled to block access to Telegram. Will Google offer censored search in China? **Who You’ll Hear: ** Manoush Zomorodi (@manoushz) Jiayang Fan Staff Writer at The New Yorker (@JiayangFan) Thalia Beaty journalist (@tkbeaty) CREDITS: Thalia Beaty, Producer David Herman, Audio Engineer and Composer Dan Dzula, Audio Engineer ZigZag comes from Stable Genius Productions, in* partnership with Civil. We are proud members of Radiotopia, from PRX.* Keep the podcast going with your donation. And thank you!
Meat world, real life, 'social infrastucture'...whatever you want to call it, human contact with our neighbors is crucial to mending divided communities, according to sociologist Eric Klinenberg, author of Palaces for the People. On this episode, Eric issues a passionate plea for more investment in libraries, public squares and other places where people can quite literally meet on common ground. Jen does her own reporting about the 'social infrastructure' that she believes kept her community together through natural disaster: the boardwalk at Rockaway Beach. GO DEEPER: Eric Klinenberg's op-ed: To Restore Civil Society, Start with the Library. Voters approved a tax on San Francisco businesses to help the homeless. Newark wonders if its beat-up downtown can thrive without getting pummeled by gentrification. Is Paul Allen to Seattle what Carnegie was to Pittsburgh? New York City's water communities, as captured by Jen's friend, photographer Susannah Ray. Back online, a 'Magna Carta for the Web' is the only way to save it, says its inventor. WHO YOU”LL HEAR: Jen Poyant (@jpoyant) Manoush Zomorodi (@manoushz) (Eric Klenenberg (@ericklinenberg)
This week's episode is focused on a very specialized job in journalism: the Fact-Checker. Our guide is journalism's OG of information verification, Pulitzer Prize winner Bill Adair. He explains the origins, methodology, and challenges of fact-checking in a "post-truth" world. Plus, how journalists are partnering with technologists to build tools that they hope can make the very word "fact" less politically charged. GO DEEPER: Post-truth politics and why the antidote isn't just fact-checking. Platforms driving users to misinformation. There's such a thing as fake fact-checkers. Fact-checkers going OT in Brazil. Google is working on a fact-checking search engine. Fact-checking is on Broadway. How Facebook is downplaying false headlines. Why this journalist fell for this fake video. *Who You’ll Hear: * Manoush Zomorodi (@manoush) Bill Adair @BillAdairDuke
Hear from three entrepreneurs (Jen, Manoush, and Civil Media CEO Matthew Iles) on how each is coping with uncertainty, deciding how to grow, and bouncing back when things go...well, badly, like that token sale you heard about in the previous episode. Because ZigZag listeners are emailing a lot about going through their own entrepreneurial growing pains. And they're grateful for the raw honesty about being a businessperson: "I appreciate so much that you don't know what you're doing." "It's such a daily struggle to figure out how to be sustainable and not sell your soul." "Thanks for sharing the stuff that is uncomfortable. Or unpleasant." **GO DEEPER: **That funny Breaker article on Civil's failed token sale. A public radio insider's analysis of Civil and community media. The 10 Best Books on productivity? What does a fair algorithm actually look like? Uber, Google, Facebook: Your experiments have gone too far. Who You’ll Hear: Manoush Zomorodi (@manoushz) Jen Poyant (@jpoyant) Matthew Iles @matthewiles
Civil couldn't convince enough people that blockchain and crypto-economics were the answer to journalism’s problems. It didn't even come close to its $8m goal. But, #failure is common in the tech world. And so are pivots. On this episode, Civil Media CEO Matthew Iles acknowledges the screw-ups and explains why the company is still solvent. Plus, the second half of our Twitter and 'misinformation' explainer with research from the Knight Foundation. Can you, lawmakers, or Twitter do anything to stop the falsehoods from flowing? Yes, actually. GO DEEPER: The Knight Foundation's report on Misinformation and Twitter includes unusual and beautiful mapping of tweets. Twitter plans to ban 'dehumanizing speech' and measure 'conversational health'. Civil's mea culpa and Nieman Lab's analysis of the token-sale failure. In his TED talk, sociologist Duncan Watts explains why common sense doesn't apply in the digital world. Learning from the Civic Tech graveyard. The New Yorker's excellent feature on the weird world of crypto. Who You’ll Hear: Manoush Zomorodi (@manoushz) Jen Poyant (@jpoyant) Vlad Barash Matthew Iles (@matthewiles)
Manoush and Jen kick off the season with surprising new research from the Knight Foundation into how false information spreads on Twitter and its effect on society. They also have news about Civil, the blockchain startup for journalism, which is struggling to sell $8m worth of its cryptocurrency. With only days left in the token sale, techie journalist (and former WNYC colleague) John Keefe joins the duo to share his experience buying CVL tokens and where he thinks the startup went wrong. **GO DEEPER: **The Knight Foundation’s report Disinformation, ‘Fake News,’ and Influence Campaigns on Twitter. Here are the Civil token sale stats. Forbes announced it will publish on Civil. Coincidentally (no, really) Jen and Manoush were profiled in Forbes. John Keefe went through 44 steps to buy CVL tokens. The links between trust, media, and democracy. CanThe Trust Project standardize a seal of ethical journalism? Who You’ll Hear: Manoush Zomorodi (@manoushz) Jen Poyant (@jpoyant) Matt Hindman (@Matt Hindman) Sam Gill (@thesamgill) Vladimir Barash (@vlad43210) John Keefe @jkeefe
ZigZag is BACK on October 11 for Season Two. The theme is Trust + Information. Listen to the trailer to hear what Jen and Manoush have planned...and click here to learn how to get the podcast delivered to you every Thursday. *Never heard ZigZag? *Give Episodes One and Two of Season One a try. You'll get to know Jen and Manoush and finally understand what blockchain technology is. Still not convinced? Read what the press and listeners have to say about the show.
Manoush and Jen explain the latest news on Civil’s token sale. They also admit why they're a little uneasy about some recent press coverage of their endeavors, and try to make sense of one man’s failed attempt at #MeToo redemption. Who you’ll hear: Manoush and Jen (@manoushz) (@jpoyant) A PROGRAMMING NOTE: Season Two officially kicks off on Oct 11, 2018. Never heard the show? Start with Season One here. GO DEEPER: Clarifications on where the money from the sale goes and how the process of buying CVL will get easier. The New York Times features ZigZag. PBS Newshour has a Civil explainer and Coinbase interviews Manoush about her hopes for journalism. An honest assessment of the current process for buying CVL from Nieman Lab. Are the days of explosive crypto growth over? #MeToo must-reads from Jia Tolentino at the New Yorker and Mike Pesca at Slate. Listener donations help keep this podcast going. CREDITS: David Herman, Audio Engineer and Composer Tory Williams, Photography ZigZag comes from Stable Genius Productions, in partnership with Civil. We are proud members of Radiotopia, from PRX.
Never heard ZigZag? Start with Season One, Chapter One. This is an update episode between Seasons 1 and 2 of ZigZag. On Sept 20, we'll have a special report on the Civil token sale. Season Two officially starts on Oct 11, 2018. This week, Manoush and Jen discuss Civil’s biggest partnership to date, why boredom is more relevant than ever, and address listeners who wish they would stop cursing on their show. GO DEEPER: What the Associated Press hopes Civil’s tech will help them achieve. Not only is Manoush’s book Bored and Brilliant out in paperback: a 3-year study about boredom is underway. The Basic Attention Token is a blockchain experiment worth watching. Tech testifies about how you get your information. Women curse too and that’s a good thing. The badass song in the episode comes from listener Tine Schenck, a Norwegian feminist and musician. The button to donate to Manoush and Jen is still working. Who you’ll hear: Manoush (@manoushZ) Jen (@jpoyant) Support our work at https://zigzagpod.com/donate/ **CREDITS: **David Herman, Audio Engineer and Composer ZigZag comes from Stable Genius Productions, in partnership with Civil. We are proud members of Radiotopia, from PRX.
Manoush and Jen wrap up Season One* by interviewing Joe Lubin, co-founder of the Ethereum blockchain, about his involvement with Civil and whether the tech is up to the task of supporting a new platform for journalism. They also have honest answers for listeners about where ZigZag and their business, Stable Genius Productions, go next. Plus, a surprise treat at the end makes this season finale sing. *ZigZag will be back with updates on the Civil token sale on Sept 6 and Sept 20. Season Two officially starts on Oct 11. GO DEEPER: Joe Lubin believes the most valuable companies of the future will be decentralized with “flat” leadership. What Ethereum is doing to handle more transactions. 40 Ethereum apps you can, allegedly, use right now. But also, Ponzi schemes are breaking out there too. Track how many people have signed up for the Civil token sale here. The state of podcasts in 2018. “The challenge is not a small one”: analysis of Civil from the Columbia Journalism Review and Brooklyn Based, Breaker, and Marketplace. The button to donate to Manoush and Jen is finally working. Who you’ll hear: Manoush (@manoushZ) Jen (@jpoyant) Joe Lubin, co-founder of Ethereum and Founder of Consensys (@ethereumJoseph) Support our work at https://zigzagpod.com/donate/ **Credits: **David Herman, Audio Engineer and Composer Alice Rutherford, Illustrations
From Crypto Kitties to Bitcoin Carnivores, the world of crypto is like a weird parallel reality, hidden just out of plain sight from most of us. This top ten countdown will grant you powers to see previously-invisible blockchain subcultures and experiments surrounding you...but beware: once spotted, they cannot be unseen. Our field guide is the very knowledgable and deadpan Joon Ian Wong of Coindesk. **GO DEEPER: **ZigZag: Chapter 2 is Blockchain 101. So much lingo: magical crypto friends, Hodl and Buidl, Bitcoin Maximalists. South Korea is crypto crazy. Ethereum’s creator and his concept of a “World Computer.” Paul Krugman’s op-ed: Why I’m a Crypto Skeptic. Why Venezuelans want out of the Bolivar. Joon uses Bitrefill in Asia. Russian hackers paid by Bitcoin. Mining warehouses in Mongolia. Blockchain + Brooklyn = a solar panel experiment. Fighting back against Bitcoin energy guzzlers. Will proof-of-stake lower Ethereum’s environmental impact? Jimmy Song thinks smart contracts are dumb. Ethereum's existential crisis. Who you’ll hear: Manoush (@manoushZ) Jen (@jpoyant) Joon Ian Wong (joonian) Managing Director at Coindesk Support our work at https://zigzagpod.com/donate/