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April 22 2011

17:00

Mediatwits #4: Impressive, Creepy Apple; The iPhone Radio Reporter

neal augenstein larger.JPG

Welcome to the fourth episode of "The Mediatwits," the new revamped longer form weekly audio podcast from MediaShift. The co-hosts are MediaShift's Mark Glaser along with PaidContent founder Rafat Ali. This week's show is obsessed with all things Apple -- and iPhone. Apple had a blow-out earnings quarter, nearly doubling its profits and selling more iPhones than ever with the new Verizon iPhone. But the creepy part is the finding by scientists that your iPhone (and iPad) knows your location and has been storing that in a secret file since last June. (Update: Today the Wall Street Journal found that Google is also tracking Android phones.)

Our guest this week is Neal Augenstein, the first major-market radio reporter to give up his bulky equipment and use just an iPhone to do audio and video reports for WTOP-FM and wtop.com in Washington, DC. Plus, there are two new news aggregators and apps, Trove and News.me, that needed a quick take.

Check it out!

mediatwits4.mp3

Subscribe to the podcast here

Follow @TheMediatwits on Twitter here

Intro and outro music by 3 Feet Up; mid-podcast music by Autumn Eyes via Mevio's Music Alley.

Here are some highlighted topics from the show:

Apple's blowout quarter

3:30: Apple by the numbers

5:30: iPod going into the sunset?

7:00: Mark enjoys freedom from AT&T

iPhones tracking you

7:50: Background on consolidated.db file

9:15: Rafat says it will be shut down

10:40: WSJ series What They Know

12:10: Do people care?

Neal Augenstein interview

13:40: Neal details all the old gear he used to carry

16:10: The app Neal uses on his iPhone for audio editing

17:50: Audio is about 92% as good as before

20:10: Figuring out best practices as he goes along

23:40: RIP Flipcam

Trove and News.me

25:30: Mark's experience with News.me

27:40: News.me is a Twitter replacement or enhancement?

29:20: Flipboard gets $50 million in funding

More Reading

Apple clobbers estimates, iPad sales fall short at Fortune

AT&T Boosts Subscriber Rolls Even as Verizon Gains IPhone at Bloomberg

With iPhone, everybody wins: Verizon, AT&T and Apple at Computerworld

Got an iPhone or 3G iPad? Apple is recording your moves at O'Reilly Radar

Researcher: iPhone, iPad track users' whereabouts at CNET

iStalk: Apple's iPhones, iPads revealed to be tracking user data at NY Post

Apple, Google Collect User Data at WSJ

News.me, the iPad News Aggregator Blessed by Big Publishers, Gets Ready to Launch at AllThingsD

News.me

Trove

What They Know series by Wall Street Journal

Holy Crap, Flipboard Just Raised $50 Million At A $200 Million Valuation at Business Insider

Weekly Poll

Don't forget to vote in our weekly poll, this time about the iPhone tracking your movements:




What do you think about iPhones tracking your location?survey software

Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit.

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November 11 2010

10:17

What inflation has to do with the price of fish

One of the forms of data that journalists frequently have to deal with is prices. And while it’s one thing to say that things are getting more expensive, making a meaningful comparison between what things cost now and what things cost then is a different kettle of fish altogether.

Factoring in inflation can make all the difference between arbitrary comparisons that provide no insight whatsoever, and genuinely meaningful reporting.

Thanks to computing power it’s actually quite easy for journalists to factor inflation into their reporting – by using an inflation calculator. It’s also easier to find historical price data with data-driven search engines like Wolfram Alpha.

But inflation is only half of the calculation you need. The other is earnings.

Professor Ian Stewart illustrates this perfectly in this article in The Telegraph:

“[A] 1991 pint cost around £1.40, which is £1.80 in today’s money. The current price is around £2.80, so beer really is more expensive. On the other hand, the average salary in 1991 was £19,000, and today it is £38,000. Relative to what we earn, a pint costs exactly the same as it did 19 years ago.

“Our house? That would be £125,000 today, so it has gone up by 84 per cent. Relative to average earnings, however, the increase is only 10 per cent.

“The Guardian knows about inflation, and said that the pub pint has increased by 68 per cent in real terms. But this compares the real increase in new money with the original price in old money. If I did the calculation like that for my house it would have gone up by 850 per cent. Calculated sensibly, the rise in the price of beer is about 55 per cent relative to inflation, and zero per cent relative to earnings.”

Of course the danger in averages is that they only illustrate aggregate change, and if you’re talking about a purchase that a particular section of the population makes – or you’re only talking to a particular region – then a national average may not be as meaningful a comparison to make.

If the poor are getting poorer and the rich richer then a pint of beer really is more expensive for some – and cheaper for others – than it used to be. Likewise, particular parts of the country might be suffering more from house price increases than others because of local average wages and local house prices.

It’s also worth pointing out that, when talking about financial data, a median is a much more useful measure to take than a mean.

Finally, aside from the statistical considerations it’s worth coming back to some of the basics of pricing. Ian again:

“There are two things to remember about prices. One is basic economics: if something gets too expensive for people to buy it, they don’t. So prices and wages have to stay in step, broadly speaking – though with big fluctuations in some commodities, such as housing. The other is inflation. We all know it exists, but we forget that when we start comparing prices. ‘My God! A Ford Anglia cost only £295 in 1940!’ True, but the average salary then was £370. The equivalent price today is £30,000, which will buy you a Jaguar XF.”

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