Crikey long reads

Sally Whyte, journalist

“Confessions of an Instagram Influencer” by Max Chafkin in Bloomberg

“Look a little more closely at your Instagram feed, and you’ll probably notice that attached to the post of the gleaming hotel lobby, the strappy heels, the exquisitely berried breakfast is a sea of hashtags — among them, #ad or #sp, which discreetly disclose that these are in fact sponsored posts.

“There are thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of influencers making a living this way. Some make a lot more than a living. The most successful demand $10,000 and up for a single Instagram shot. Long-term endorsement deals with well-known Instagrammers, such as Kristina Bazan, who signed with L’Oreal last year, can be worth $1 million or more. Big retailers use influencers, as do fashion brands, food and beverage companies, and media conglomerates. Conde Nast, publisher of the New Yorker and Vogue, recently announced that it would ask IBM’s artificial intelligence service, Watson, to take a break from finding cancer treatments to identify potential influencers.”

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Cass Knowlton, editor

“Once more, with feeling” on This American Life

In the first act of this excellent episode, University of Sydney tutor Eleanor Gordon-Smith confronts men who catcall her in Kings Cross and asks them why they do it. Their answers floored me: they think women like it. I had always thought men catcalled women and touched them without consent because they knew women hated it, and they thought it was funny to demean women and flaunt their power. It seems like such an obvious bullying exercise in humiliation, like knocking over the fat kid in the lunch line. The concept that men think women are flattered by the attention never entered my mind (nor Gordon-Smith’s). It’s a fascinating, though thoroughly depressing, look into the culture of catcalling and street harassment, and I think everyone will learn quite a lot. — Cass Knowlton

Myriam Robin, media reporter

“The hidden costs that threaten Australian literary awards” by Susan Wyndham in The Sydney Morning Herald

“While awards enhance the reputation and morale of both author and publishers, all the prize money goes to authors, helping the lucky few to keep writing and offsetting a general decline in advances and sales.

“Many authors presume their publisher will enter their books widely and yet there are at least 60 annual awards in Australia, a number that is growing. Most carry an entry fee of $50-100 for each book to cover administrative costs and discourage indiscriminate entries that can overwhelm judges. They require as many as six copies of each entry.”

Josh Taylor, journalist

“How Silicon Valley helps spread the same sterile aesthetic across the world” by Kyle Chayka (illustrations by Daniel Hertzberg) in The Verge

“It’s easy to see how social media shapes our interactions on the internet, through web browsers, feeds, and apps. Yet technology is also shaping the physical world, influencing the places we go and how we behave in areas of our lives that didn’t heretofore seem so digital. Think of the traffic app Waze rerouting cars in Los Angeles and disrupting otherwise quiet neighborhoods; Airbnb parachuting groups of international tourists into residential communities; Instagram spreading IRL lifestyle memes; or Foursquare sending traveling businessmen to the same cafe over and over again.”

Dan Wood, subeditor

“A former Oxford English Dictionary editor explains the word ‘pom'” by Tiger Webb on

“While some recall dictionaries as bastions of proper usage, bulwarks of correct English or simply handy ways to resolve arguments, their chief job for many decades has been simply to record what happens to language.

“Nor are lexicographers always pedants. ‘We don’t try and say, “This is right, this is wrong,”‘ said Simpson. Does he get het up if, say, “criteria” is used in the singular? Not really. “I just think, ‘Well, that’s an interesting point. We’ll mark it in the dictionary.'”

‘We analyse words,’ he said. ‘We look at them as scientists — how old they are, which part of the word they’re used in, why they change senses at particular times.'”