Saturday, December 24, 2016

opinion | If a tree falls in a forest...

It's 11:30 at night.

I'm on the bus as it rattles its way through the Lincoln Tunnel, wondering why I'm always drawn to rallies and protests. Yes, they're inherently newsworthy. Something is happening right here, right now, you're in the thick of it and you're the first person to know. Yes, it's our constitutional right. The liberty to think, then to talk, to spread these ideas, to assemble, and in doing so enact change.

But the rally and the protest happen for a more fundamental reason: passion. People feel strongly about the cause, something that makes it worth fighting for. It's passion that makes the cold bearable. That compels people to march down streets. Passion ignores rain and fatigue, the summertime heat and the stares of strangers.

Covering rallies is difficult. Sometimes you see something remarkable. Other times nothing happens. And you're always on your feet, one eye peeled for something newsworthy.

But it's worth it because of the result. Passion looks beautiful on camera and in print because it's real, raw emotion. Passion is what makes us human. You're out there because you want to capture that passion. You're out there because you know they want their voices to be heard. Is that not what we're here for, what journalism is all about?

Sunday, June 26, 2016

analysis | What is “passporting” and why is it so important to the UK after Brexit?

Papers, please.

No Exit signs at St Pancras station in London. Credit: Author, 2014

The British financial industry, hammered by the country’s momentous decision to leave the European Union after Thursday’s referendum, faces continued uncertainty over the “passporting” arrangements between a newly separated UK and the EU. The future of British trade hangs in the balance, with the financial sectors calling for swift clarification on the country’s new political and financial relationship with the trading bloc.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

news | Media roundup on Brexit: politics and education

The UnTied Kingdom.

Credit: author

In a historic vote on Thursday, the United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union, causing panic in worldwide markets and a sea change in British politics. The end of Britain's 43-year relationship with the European Union shocked the world, shrouding the entire continent's future in uncertainty. Here's what you may have missed.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

opinion | Security through obscurity: hiding the unpleasant through bad writing

Verbal camouflage.

In his aptly named seminal book, “On Writing Well,” William Zinsser extolls the virtues of simplified, well-crafted prose. He crusades against the cloudy and the obtuse, which is used to both hide inadequacies and inflate the importance of people in power. “Clutter,” he writes, “is the disease of American writing.”

The State of New York might want to see a doctor.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

news | Activists rally for nuclear-free statewide clean energy plan

A rally held after a public hearing of the renewable energy proposal in lower Manhattan. Credit: Author

Some want nuclear power gone with the wind.

NEW YORK – Local environmental groups met at the corner of Church and Vesey streets on Tuesday to call for a clearer vision of New York State’s renewable energy proposal. The rally, held shortly after a public hearing, attracted about fifty people including citizen activists and members of environmental groups.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

analysis | What Facebook's news suppression reveals about our relationship with machines

On Monday, technology news site Gizmodo published an article alleging the routine suppression of conservative news from its “Trending” news aggregator by a group of curators instructed to manipulate the list from behind the scenes. Setting aside many of the partisan issues surrounding the controversy, what the “man behind the curtain” really reveals is our intricate relationship with—and misguided perception of—computers and machines.

news | Journalists publish a searchable database with information from Panama Papers

A screenshot of the ICIJ database, Tuesday, May 10, 2016. (Author) 

On Monday, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists announced a searchable database with information compiled from the massive Panama Papers leak last month. While the database doesn’t contain copies of the original, leaked documents and information, it uses an interactive graphic to show the connections between shell companies, corporate structures, and their owners.

Friday, May 6, 2016

news | Panama Papers source calls for whistleblower protection, criticizes groups in statement

The anonymous source of a large cache of documents collectively known as the "Panama Papers" issued a wide-ranging statement on Thursday criticizing several groups and calling for the protection of whistleblowers from prosecution. The statement was confirmed by the Süddeutsche Zeitung, a German newspaper that first broke the story in conjunction with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

Friday, April 22, 2016

analysis | Not all data journalism is created equal--here's why.

The surge of big data, on the backs of the Facebook, Gmail, and Instagram generations, has led to an explosion of information available from every corner of your life. It’s here, it’s most certainly going to stay, and it’s something journalists have been quick to catch on to. Learn it. Use it. Love it.

But not all data journalism is created equal.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

meta | The Tenet and The Future

Know more. Fear less.

The tenet that Six Past Twelve was built upon, the very essence of its journalistic credentials, distilled into four simple words.

It was a phrase I had hastily scribbled down on a hot pink Post-it one morning amidst the swirl of cases, a note pinned to my wall for so long the blue-tack holding it left a dark grease spot against the paint. It was a promise to myself, to be bold in seeking the truth. It was a promise to my readers that business news didn’t have to be inscrutable, and an allusion to the core economic principle my writing was founded on: the most rational actor was the most informed actor. It became the spirit that defined my writing and my purpose. A motto proudly posted on the top of my blog.

Six Past Twelve in the evening. The perfect time to write.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

news | Apple store rallies reveal wider rights issue

A reporter interviews an activist outside the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue. Credit: Author

NEW YORK—A small knot of about 20 people stood outside the flagship Apple Store on Fifth Avenue early Tuesday evening to show solidarity with Apple as it continues to fight a government request to unlock an iPhone used by Syed Rizwan Farook, the shooter in the San Bernardino attacks. Although the debate centers around Apple’s refusal to bypass or disable security features in the shooter’s smartphone, activists at the rally revealed a deeper, ideological debate about privacy, security, and government overreach in the digital age.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

opinion | Apple’s opposition to unlocking shooter's iPhone is all for show—and that’s a good thing

In an open letter released early Wednesday morning, Apple has refused a court order to unlock an iPhone belonging to Syed Rizwan Farook, the shooter in the San Bernardino mass shooting. Although its opposition to the FBI is largely for show, Apple is right in taking a principled stance against the government.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

analysis | Why your hull insurance policy doesn’t actually cover main engine breakdown.

Here’s a quick way to tell if you’re part of the maritime industry. Read the below and ask yourself: Does any of it make sense to you?

If you have better luck reading Egyptian hieroglyphs, congratulations. Your sanity is intact, you lead a fulfilling life, and you probably have a full head of hair to boot. If it does make sense, you have my sympathy: you’re one of the poor guys dealing with the wonderful world of maritime claims.
Here’s an excerpt from the TAYLOR form, a standard hull insurance policy.

Try to stay awake.

“This insurance also covers loss of or damage to the vessel named herein directly caused by: Breakdown of motor generators or other electrical machinery and electrical connections thereto, bursting of boilers, breakage of shafts, or any latent defect in the machinery or hull, (excluding the cost and expense of replacing or repairing the defective part);”

Maritime claims handlers will recognize it as “the bit in the policy that provides coverage for breakdown of the main engine.”

But here’s the thing: it doesn’t actually provide coverage for main engine breakdown.
Companies that for years have incorporated the standard TAYLOR 1953 (Rev. 70) into their policies—the boilerplate used by insurance policies around the nation—have been writing policies of hull insurance that may not provide coverage for engine breakdown.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

analysis | Stocks fall as oil prices slide amidst investor gloom on China and world economy. Here’s why.

Stock markets around the world have fallen sharply today, after nervous investors triggered a rout following a slide in oil prices and continued contractions in the Chinese economy. The panic was exacerbated by lingering market jitters over a weak start to the new year. The basic explanation is quite simple: oil, China, and fear.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

analysis | The Korean Conundrum: why the peninsula remains intractable

It’s a routine that would verge on the comical if so many lives weren’t at stake. North Korea threatens nuclear destruction in the hopes of extracting concessions out of its neighbors, forcing them to ignore, react to, or placate the pariah state. Last Wednesday, North Korea announced it had detonated its first hydrogen bomb in its fourth nuclear test, and while this claim has been disputed by U.S. officials, the blast—whatever it used—was powerful enough to register as a magnitude 5.1 seismic event. But amidst the sorties, calls for sanctions, and saber speaker rattling, the world by and large shrugged its shoulders.

Kim Jong Un might be a lot of things, says the world. But he’s not crazy enough to provoke a war he knows he’ll lose. The theory of Mutually Assured Destruction proves it: two countries find themselves in an intractable situation. Each wants to achieve its desired outcome, but neither country wants to go to war because they have the power to utterly destroy each other. Any other action would leave the countries in a worse state than before. (This is called a Nash equilibrium.) The upshot of all this is that neither side would be incentivized to start a conflict as it would be irrational.

Thing is, MAD rests on a few assumptions: neither party wants to back down, both parties have things to lose, and both parties implicitly wish to survive.