Feminist Weekly: Can PolicyMic Save the World?


Editor's Note: Every Thursday, I'll be rounding up my favorite pieces from the past week so that PolicyMic Pundits can more easily read and comment on the great content being written about sex, sexuality, gender, and race in politics and culture, in addition to updates from our community and GIFs galore! You can subscribe to get updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Highlights This Week:

It's been too long since I last wrote.

Last week, fellow editor Michael McCutcheon and I visited Palo Alto, CA, for a conference on the future of news organized by the Knight Foundation. (Thanks, Megan Zimroth!)

In case you didn't know it, PolicyMic is part of the future of the news. Michael and I spent three days unconferencing, brainstorming, creatively colliding, hacking, and doing all those other buzzwordy things that tech-and-media start-up conference attendees do. But I admit that I'm a bit of a skeptic when it comes to the Silicon Valley ethos of social betterment: empowerment through the internet. As George Packer put it in the New Yorker a few months ago, "The phrase 'change the world' is tossed around Silicon Valley conversations and business plans as freely as talk of 'early-stage investing' and 'beta tests.'" My own notes confirm as much.

I find myself of two minds. On the one hand, I appreciate that the internet has facilitated greater access for more people to organizing and media tools which can be wielded to powerful effect. (I've written before about the importance of having a diversity of voices in political and cultural discussions.) On the other, access is not universal and does not equal influence, individuals and organizations still from suffer the same problems they have always had, misinformation and distortion abound, and our own thinking can become ever more superficial and reactionary. At PolicyMic, I've seen both sides of this coin, and I still can't call how it will land.  

To add to my general aggressively-optimistic-tech start-up hangover — who knew that people in the Valley actually wear Google Glass? — I spent my Labor Day holiday reading The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. Getting to work on Tuesday was that much harder, after spending my day off terrified about my potentially deteriorated deep thinking skills. Luckily, I had amazing pieces to read from all of you, which have kept my anxieties at bay ... at least for now. 

What do you think? How do you fit in to the future of news? How does PolicyMic? Let me know via email: sam@policymic.com

Updates From Our Pundits:

Check out Carmen Rios in the New York Times! (For more on Carmen's work to end sexual violence, read her piece "11 Million Students Are About to Become Allies in the Fight to End Sexual Assault.")

What did you do last week? I'll share any outstanding writing achievements in our community, and highlight the great work that all of our Pundits do offline as well. If you have anything you'd like for me to include about yourself or a fellow PM writer, please send it along!

As always, help us continue to grow our section by sharing our call for new writers! Recommend any friends or colleagues who you think would be interested.

Must Reads From Last Week:

Are Labor Unions Ready to Stand Up For Today's Working Class? (Polina Kroik) — Fast food and service employees are living in homeless shelters in this country. Something has to change.

Women Are Still No. 2 in Silicon Valley (Hanna Johnson, @lovehannalynn) — Sheryl Sandberg and other female tech COOs are showing the power of women executives in tech. So why aren't we seeing more female CEOs?

Suicide is the Third-Leading Cause Of Death Among Millennials – Here's How I'm Trying to Stop It (Jewelyn Cosgrove, @JewelynCosgrove) — I lost a friend to suicide in 2010. We need to work together to save each others' lives.

Why the U.S. Must Keep Syrian Women in Mind (Arielle Newton@NikkiNeutron01) —As the potential for intervention in the region grows, focusing on humanitarian goals is the best solution for everyone.

Moral Monday Activists in North Carolina Demand Republicans Actually Pay Attention to Their Constituents (Walker Bristol@WalkerBristol) — There's an unprecedented, historical statewide civil disobedience movement going down in North Carolina right now.

The One Thing White Writers Get Away With, But Authors Of Color Don't (Gracie Jin, @gracie_jin) — Critics are dumbfounded by the fact that Bill Cheng, a Chinese American from Queens, New York, wrote his debut novel about rural Mississippi. Would a white writer have received the same response?

Exxon Made Us Sick: Ann Jarrell is Outraged, And She's Not Alone (Carly Pildis@CarlyPildis) — Five months after Exxon's Pegasus pipeline spilled oil across her hometown of Mayflower, Ark., Ann Jarrell and her family are getting worse. So what's Exxon doing about it?

The U.S. Economy From the Eyes Of An Unemployed 20-Something (Stephen Okin@StephenOkin) — What is my generation supposed to do?

The IRS Gay Marriage Decision Suddenly Means Paying Taxes is Awesome (Zach Weaver, @zdweave) — The announcement by the Treasury Department and IRS to treat gay couples the same under tax law is great news for equality and the economy.

Inside the System: How We're Failing the Mentally Ill (Anna Hogeland) — The behind-the-scenes story of the Red House, one of the last surviving day treatment centers in Boston

Thanks for reading! Please encourage friends to subscribe here. Send me your feedback, give me a tip for what I should be reading, and tell me how I can do better:sam@policymic.com.

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