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Facebook’s demise wouldn’t affect us much

Filed by Jack Yan/May 30, 2020/11.14

Like many other publications, Lucire sends updates to Facebook, Twitter and Mastodon. Occasionally we’ll Instagram an image to a story. However, we’ve had reservations about social media, especially Facebook, for over a decade. In November 2010, we wrote on our Facebook page, ‘We have stopped the automated importing of notes to this Facebook page. These stories receive around 200–400 views each, but that also means that our site loses 200–400 viewers per story.’ At that stage we probably had around 600 fans on the Lucire fan page, showing you just what cut-through pages were getting before Facebook intentionally broke its sharing algorithm to force people to pay to get the same reach. (Reach dropped 90 per cent overnight.) We didn’t feel any desire after that to build social media presences, because we spotted the con—as did this YouTuber:

   Back then, Facebook allowed the importing of articles via RSS, which meant everything from Lucire’s news pages automatically wound up on the social network. It was a crazy idea, when you look back: it wasn’t designed to drive traffic to our main site, it only made Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg rich as you spent more time in their walled garden.
   Even after we stopped, we still shared headlines to Facebook, thinking that these would entice fans sufficiently to click through. At one stage, we could see referrals from Facebook among our stats, but these days, there is no correlation between the Facebook reach numbers and the actual views of the story on our own site.
   In 2016, NPR posted a headline to its Facebook page, ‘Why Doesn’t America Read Anymore?’ but the contents of the article read, ‘We sometimes get the sense that some people are commenting on NPR stories that they haven’t actually read. If you are reading this, please like this post and do not comment on it. Then let’s see what people have to say about this “story.”’ You can predict what happened: the link got plenty of comments. Anyone who says that Americans don’t get irony is gravely mistaken.
   Even in the late 2000s I was saying we lived in a ‘headline culture’ where people might never read the article itself, and social media have exacerbated this phenomenon. Many social media today, including the largest sites, are little more than glorified Digg sites, places where links are shared, but not necessarily places which drive traffic.
   Of course there will be exceptions to the rule, but generally, social media do not mean engagement. A 2015 study by Parse.ly showed that social media-referred readers engage the least with a given article. Search engine-referred readers were slightly better. But the best came from those who were already loyal readers on the site.
   In an age of “fake news” I do not believe the statistics will have improved, particularly on websites whose businesses thrive on outrage. People are divided into tribes where they seem to derive some reward for posting more links that support that aims of those tribes: a situation rife for exploitation, if certain countries’ investigations are to be believed. Certainly as early as 2014 I was warning of a ‘bot epidemic’, something that only became mainstream news in 2018 with The Observer’s exposé about Cambridge Analytica.
   But none of that bad news broke the addictions many people have to these websites. On our ‘about’ page on Facebook, we note: ‘Fast forward to (nearly) the dawn of the 2020s. We won’t lie to you: we’re not fans of how Facebook says one thing and does another. In our pages, we’ve promoted based on merit, and Facebook wouldn’t actually pass muster if it was a fashion label.
   ‘We know Facebook is tracking you, often more than your settings have allowed. Therefore, we’re consciously trying to limit the time you spend on this website.
   ‘However, we also know that we should maintain a Facebook presence, as there are many of you who want that convenience.’
   Nonetheless, I regularly wonder if that convenience is even worth it if there is no correlation with readership.
   Twice this month I was locked out of Facebook, because, allegedly, there was unusual activity. If checking your Facebook on a far less regular basis—say a couple of times a week—is unusual, then I’ll expect to get locked out far more frequently. As the importing of our Tweets to Facebook is driven by another program (on IFTTT), and that is linked to my personal account (one that I haven’t updated since 2017), then each time Facebook blocks me, it breaks the process. It’s also a website that has bugs that were present when I was a regular user in the late 2000s through to the mid-2010s, including ones where we cannot even share Lucire links because the site automatically ruins the address, rendering the previews anywhere from inaccurate (claiming the page doesn’t exist) to useless (taking you to a 404). Only the text link will work.
   We get the occasional like and share from our Facebook, although these do not inform our editorial decisions.
   We won’t go so far as to proclaim the end of social media, regardless of how angry the US president gets with fact checks; but we’ve been sceptical about their worth for publishers for a long time, and there are increasing days where I wonder whether I’ll even bother reconnecting the sharing mechanism from Twitter to Facebook if Facebook breaks it again. The question I’m really asking is: does the presence of links to our articles matter much to you?
   Ultimately, I care about all our readers, including Facebook users, and that remains the overriding motive to reconnect things one more time after Facebook locks me out. And I suppose the lock-outs in 2020 are much better than the ones during most of the 2010s, where Facebook forced you to download a “malware scanner” on false pretences, planting hidden software with unclear purposes on to millions of computers around the world. Their record is truly appalling, and if Facebook vanished overnight, I wouldn’t shed a tear.—Jack Yan, Publisher

 


YOOX and Vogue Italia launch sustainable, responsible fashion programme with €50,000 top prize

Filed by Lucire staff/February 23, 2020/1.09

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Jacopo M. Raule

YOOX and Vogue Italia celebrated the launch of their mentoring programme, the Vogue YOOX Challenge—the Future of Responsible Fashion, at the San Paolo Converso church in Milano yesterday, during the city’s fashion week.
   The programme aims to support and mentor designers, creatives and start-ups who are investing in social responsibility and sustainability.
   The Challenge culminates in September when 10 finalists are selected by a group of sustainability experts. An international jury then evaluates the projects during the Milano moda donna for spring–summer 2020 in September. The winner is then announced, and their project is celebrated in February 2021, at the autumn–winter 2021–22 collections. In addition to the support, mentoring, communications and distribution, the winner will receive a cash prize of €50,000 to realize their project.
   The international jury includes Federico Marchetti, chairman and CEO of Yoox Net-à-Porter Group; Emanuele Farneti, editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia and L’Uomo; Sara Sozzani Maino, deputy editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia and head of Vogue Talents; Liya Kebede, model and women’s rights’ activist; Amber Valletta, model and actress; Lisa Armstrong, head of fashion at The Telegraph; Alice Ben Arous, chief of staff of Richemont’s fashion and accessories’ division and a member of its CSR committee; Carlo Capasa, president of the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana (Italian Chamber of Fashion), Rosario Dawson, actress and co-founder of Studio 189; Orsolo de Castro, founder of Fashion Revolution; Tonne Goodman, sustainability editor of Vogue; Eva Herzigová, model and editor-at-large of Vogue CS; Suzy Menkes, international Vogue editor; Clare Press, presenter of the Wardrobe Crisis podcast; Dilys Williams, director of the Centre for Sustainable Fashion at the London College of Fashion.
   The sustainability experts are Alex McIntosh, founder and creative director of Create Sustain; Giorgia Roversi, director of sustainability and inclusion at of Yoox Net-à-Porter Group; Francesco Perrini, ordinary professor of the Department of Management and Technology of Bocconi University; Francesca Romana Rinaldi, director of the Master in Brand & Business Management and New Sustainable Fashion at the Milan Fashion Institute (an inter-university consortium composed of Bocconi University, Università Cattolica di Milano and Politecnico di Milano); Elisa Pervinca Bellini, sustainability and talent editor of Vogue Italia and a member of the Condé Nast Global Employee Council on Sustainability.
   Guests at the event welcomed by Marchetti, Farneti, Valletta and Kenede included Karolína Kurková, Coco Rocha, Bianca Balti, Anna Wintour, Suzy Menkes, Carla Sozzani, Giuseppe Zanotti, Walter Chiapponi, Maurizio Cattelan, Francesco Vezzoli, Aya and Ami Suzuki, Nataly Osmann, Miriam Leone, Greta Ferro, Arthur Arbesser, Sara Battaglia, Linda Tol, Stella Jean, Ekaterina Darma, Ilenia Durazzi, Ferdinando Verderi, Nina Yashar, Matteo Ward, Paula Cademartori, Gabrielle Caunesil, Andrea della Valle, Vogue Russia’s Masha Fedorova, Helen Nonini, Massimiliano Locatelli, Kris Ruhs, W’s Stefano Tonchi, Candela Pelizza, Vogue Japan’s Anna dello Russo, Andrea Incontri, Abrima Erwiah, and former Miss Italia Miriam Leone.
   Wines were provided by Masi Agricola.

Jacopo M. Raule

 


Instagram won’t replace the fashion magazine

Filed by Jack Yan/January 31, 2020/12.14


Lindsay Adler

Above: The cover from Lucire KSA, January 2020, modelled by Camille Hyde with fur by House of Fluff. Photographed by Lindsay Adler Photography, styled by Cannon/the Only Agency, hair by Linh Nguyen, and make-up by Joanne Gair using Danessa Myricks Beauty.

A few weeks ago, I got out of the habit of Instagramming. Since 2012, I did it initially out of fun, then as a way of keeping up with hobbies and a few friends, but when some personal changes happened, the habit left. Facebook I had departed for any personal updates in 2017, after some well documented problems—before Christopher Wylie voiced his concerns to The Observer, incidentally—while Twitter has revealed that its data-gathering doesn’t stop even when you’ve opted out of personalized advertising. Facebook does the same, and it’s public knowledge that it’s quite happy to sell these data to others.
   I thought it was a massive mistake for Facebook to remind us that it owned Instagram and Whatsapp through its latest branding efforts, because surely the parent company and its flagship product are tainted by now? It’s been further tainted by the stench of politics, the tribalism that they exhibit, and the outright lies its bosses tell.
   At some point, some government will develop the cohones to say monopoly power is bad and stifles innovation, changing Big Tech significantly. Perhaps some agency will have the guts to point out that regular deceptive comments to the public do have consequences. But till then, this first year of the decade won’t look too different from the last year of the last in terms of how the majority of people consume media, old and new.
   None of these fleeting media give you much depth, and Instagram is arguably the least tainted by politicking and negativity, showing pretty pictures (for the most part) that you can either like or scroll past.
   I was, therefore, surprised that in the last few years, I read one proclamation that the days were numbered for fashion magazines since there was Instagram. I beg to differ, and it’s not just out of a personal bias, but out of keen observations of the ebbs and flows of social media. Yes, I may have got out of the habit of Facebooking and Instagramming, but millions of others haven’t. But to say fashion magazines were a thing of the past? It’s hard to fathom.
   Instagram does give a few obvious benefits. Immediacy, for one. Users can then link the item to a smartphone-optimized shopping site. As a retail aid, it’s clever. It has video, where brand stories can be told. But, like any new medium, at best this complements what already exists. Instagram doesn’t replace long-form journalism told by an objective observer.
   At home we have a 34-year-old copy of The Australian Women’s Weekly. It’s the Christmas issue, and it’s packed with articles that entertain, with barely any sensationalism. The magazines of this era, buoyed by healthy advertising prices and editors who arguably enjoyed educating as much as entertaining, aren’t, to me, relics. Lucire has always strived to be a decent read, more so in our print editions, and while our presentation is more contemporary, our values haven’t changed. We moved past offering a magazine that was based around today’s news, with retail specials for the following month, long ago. We could see that wasn’t relevant in a digital age. But we repositioned and kept what did work. World-class photography. Interesting articles, properly subbed. You deserve a good read, where you pick up a copy and gain something from it. We also wanted to reflect (perhaps even preempt) your values about the environment and our place in this world. I think that’s why Lucire, in particular our original edition; our newest edition, Lucire KSA; and the former Twinpalms Lucire in Thailand, have reader appeal. It should last you for more than a single sitting. That December 1985 issue of The Australian Women’s Weekly could even last beyond the date the February 1986 issue went on sale.


Aleksandr Mavrin


Hilde Osland, via Instagram

Top: Like travel editor Stanley Moss, Russian model Viki Odintcova headed to Canggu, Bali, and shared this image from Wapa di Ume Sidemen photographed by Aleksandr Mavrin on her Instagram. Above: Hilde Osland models Fashionnova, not far from Lucire’s HQ in Wellington, New Zealand.

   Social media have only really replaced any medium that was fleeting and shallow. You could potentially get more insight into your favourite reality TV stars on their personal ’Grams than in a gossip magazine. Glamour models and certain celebrities—Viki Odintcova of Russia, and Norwegian-born, Australian-based model and singer Hilde Osland for two—may show more on their accounts than in lads’ magazines. Cellphone cameras can rival some professional ones in resolution, and while there’s no substitute for the professionally shot photos, those surfing social media and its small, rectangular, black-mirror format of all of seven inches are quite happy with “near enough”. And, indeed, for those professional images, especially editorials, a beautifully printed page has a totally different effect to something seen on screen.
   Digital is here to stay—and being one of the earliest proponents of that, we should know. Social will also stay, maybe offered by other firms, but we won’t break our addictions easily. Admittedly, as a company, we never expected social to play as big a part as it ultimately did. But print, and the long-form articles that appear in it, are going to stick around for a long time to come, too.—Jack Yan, Publisher

 


Megyn Kelly’s new channel gets into the Zeitgeist, interviewing former news producer wrongly accused of Robach leak

Filed by Lucire staff/November 9, 2019/0.10

On her new YouTube channel, former lawyer and Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly interviews Ashley Bianco, a former ABC News producer who was fired by her new employers, CBS News, over the leaking of a clip featuring journalist Amy Robach talking off-air but with a “hot mic” about the Jeffrey Epstein case.
   Epstein was a convicted pædophile who had connections with politicians and royalty, including HRH the Duke of York, and died while in custody after being charged with sex trafficking offences. He had served a light sentence in the late 2000s after a plea deal with prosecutors. The story ventured back into the limelight after a major investigative piece by the Miami Herald.
   The controversial clip shows Robach being frustrated that, despite having had the Epstein story for three years and an interview with one of his victims, Virginia Roberts, ‘we would not put it on the air.’ She added, ‘We were so afraid we wouldn’t be able to interview Kate or Will, I think that also squashed the story … And I freaking had on all of it. I’m so pissed right now like every day I get more and more pissed. Because I’m just like, “Oh my God, what what we had was unreal.” Other women backing it up … Brad Edwards the attorney, three years ago, saying like there will come a day where we will realize Jeffrey Epstein was the most prolific pædophile this country has ever known. I had it all three years ago.’
   Robach later clarified with a statement: ‘As a journalist, as the Epstein story continued to unfold last summer, I was caught in a private moment of frustration. I was upset that an important interview I had conducted with Virginia Roberts didn’t air because we could not obtain sufficient corroborating evidence to meet ABC’s editorial standards about her allegations.’
   Bianco made the clip—as well as many others—as part of her job at ABC News, but ensured it stayed within the network. She had never leaked it, a claim that has been confirmed by James O’Keefe of Project Veritas, which published the clip last week.
   O’Keefe’s source inside ABC News has also gone public, confirming that it was not Bianco.
   Nevertheless, under New York’s laws, Bianco could be fired “at will” and without reason. ABC News had tipped off CBS News, which had hired Robach, saying she had accessed the clip. That led to her dismissal after four days.
   Bianco says the clip was well known inside ABC News and numerous people could have accessed it.
   She was interviewed by Kelly to give her side of the story.

 


Julianne Moore, Kim Kardashian, Gigi Hadid, Riccardo Tisci head to WSJ Magazine’s Innovator Awards

Filed by Lucire staff/November 8, 2019/14.59




Lars Niki

It’s not your usual awards’ season ceremony, but it certainly pulled plenty of stars: News Corporation’s WSJ Magazine held its ninth annual Innovator Awards at MoMA on November 6, sponsored by Harry Winston and Rémy Martin, honouring Julianne Moore (acting and activism), Cindy Sherman (art), Studio KO (Karl Fournier and Olivier Marty, for design), Eddie Murphy, readying himself for a stand-up comeback (entertainment), Riccardo Tisci (fashion), Melina Matsoukas, director of the upcoming Queen & Slim (film), Tyler, the Creator (music), and human rights’ lawyer Bryan Stevenson (social justice). VIPs attending the event included Kris Jenner, Imaan Hammam, Gigi Hadid, and Mj Rodriguez, while presenters were Bette Midler, Molly Ringwald, Madison Cox (president, Fondation Pierre Bergé–Yves Saint Laurent), Jerry Seinfeld, Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West, Hype Williams, A$AP Rocky, and Trevor Noah.
   Each winner received an award designed by former ‘Innovators’ winner Joris Laarman.
   The special ‘Innovators’ issue is available in the US from Saturday, with split runs featuring each of the honorees as the cover model.







Lars Niki








 


Demasking the torture of Julian Assange

Filed by Lucire staff/June 26, 2019/19.38


David G. Silvers/Wikimedia Commons


Above: The author, Prof Nils Melzer

I know, you may think I am deluded. How could life in an embassy with a cat and a skateboard ever amount to torture? That’s exactly what I thought, too, when Assange first appealed to my office for protection. Like most of the public, I had been subconsciously poisoned by the relentless smear campaign, which had been disseminated over the years. So it took a second knock on my door to get my reluctant attention. But once I looked into the facts of this case, what I found filled me with repulsion and disbelief.
   Surely, I thought, Assange must be a rapist! But what I found is that he has never been charged with a sexual offence. True, soon after the US had encouraged allies to find reasons to prosecute Assange, Swedish prosecution informed the tabloid press that he was suspected of having raped two women. Strangely, however, the women themselves never claimed to have been raped, nor did they intend to report a criminal offence. Go figure. Moreover, the forensic examination of a condom submitted as evidence, supposedly worn and torn during intercourse with Assange, revealed no DNA whatsoever—neither his, nor hers, nor anybody else’s. Go figure again. One woman even texted that she only wanted Assange to take an HIV test, but that the police were ‘keen on getting their hands on him’. Go figure, once more. Ever since, both Sweden and Britain have done everything to prevent Assange from confronting these allegations without simultaneously having to expose himself to US extradition and, thus, to a show trial followed by life in jail. His last refuge had been the Ecuadorian embassy.
   All right, I thought, but surely Assange must be a hacker! But what I found is that all his disclosures had been freely leaked to him, and that no one accuses him of having hacked a single computer. In fact, the only arguable hacking-charge against him relates to his alleged unsuccessful attempt to help breaking a password which, had it been successful, might have helped his source to cover her tracks. In short, a rather isolated, speculative, and inconsequential chain of events; a bit like trying to prosecute a driver who unsuccessfully attempted to exceed the speed-limit, but failed because their car was too weak.
   Well then, I thought, at least we know for sure that Assange is a Russian spy, has interfered with US elections, and negligently caused people’s deaths! But all I found is that he consistently published true information of inherent public interest without any breach of trust, duty or allegiance. Yes, he exposed war crimes, corruption and abuse, but let’s not confuse national security with governmental impunity. Yes, the facts he disclosed empowered US voters to take more informed decisions, but isn’t that simply democracy? Yes, there are ethical discussions to be had regarding the legitimacy of unredacted disclosures. But if actual harm had really been caused, how come neither Assange nor Wikileaks ever faced related criminal charges or civil lawsuits for just compensation?
   But surely, I found myself pleading, Assange must be a selfish narcissist, skateboarding through the Ecuadorian embassy and smearing fæces on the walls? Well, all I heard from embassy staff is that the inevitable inconveniences of his accommodation at their offices were handled with mutual respect and consideration. This changed only after the election of President Moreno, when they were suddenly instructed to find smears against Assange and, when they didn’t, they were soon replaced. The President even took it upon himself to bless the world with his gossip, and to personally strip Assange of his asylum and citizenship without any due process of law.
   In the end it finally dawned on me that I had been blinded by propaganda, and that Assange had been systematically slandered to divert attention from the crimes he exposed. Once he had been dehumanized through isolation, ridicule and shame, just like the witches we used to burn at the stake, it was easy to deprive him of his most fundamental rights without provoking public outrage worldwide. And thus, a legal precedent is being set, through the backdoor of our own complacency, which in the future can and will be applied just as well to disclosures by The Guardian, The New York Times and ABC News.
   Very well, you may say, but what does slander have to do with torture? Well, this is a slippery slope. What may look like mere “mudslinging” in public debate, quickly becomes “mobbing” when used against the defenceless, and even “persecution” once the state is involved. Now just add purposefulness and severe suffering, and what you get is full-fledged psychological torture.
   Yes, living in an embassy with a cat and a skateboard may seem like a sweet deal when you believe the rest of the lies. But when no one remembers the reason for the hate you endure, when no one even wants to hear the truth, when neither the courts nor the media hold the powerful to account, then your refuge really is but a rubber boat in a shark-pool, and neither your cat nor your skateboard will save your life.
   Even so, you may say, why spend so much breath on Assange, when countless others are tortured worldwide? Because this is not only about protecting Assange, but about preventing a precedent likely to seal the fate of western democracy. For once telling the truth has become a crime, while the powerful enjoy impunity, it will be too late to correct the course. We will have surrendered our voice to censorship and our fate to unrestrained tyranny.—Nils Melzer

 


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