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Comments: Week of June 25, 2018

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1. For New York’s latest cover story, Josef Adalian showed readers the inner workings of Netflix, the company that’s swallowing the entertainment industry whole (“Inside the Binge Factory,” June 11–24). Rajiv Nathwani, director of global creative marketing at Netflix, tweeted, “I often get asked what it’s like to work at Netflix. This story gets closer than ever, and provides an inside look at who we are and how we think.” Michael L. Wayne at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev wrote: “As an academic researching marketing within the television industry, I found that Adalian’s article provides significant insights into how Netflix constructs its brand. However, there is ample reason to be skeptical of [Netflix content chief] Ted Sarandos’s insistence that Netflix is not trying to put anyone out of business. In a 2013 interview, he described his company’s approach in precisely those terms. ‘The goal,’ Sarandos said, ‘is to become HBO faster than HBO can become us.’” Clement Thibault, a senior analyst at investing.com, responded: “As a consumer, I like Netflix as much as anyone. It provides great value for little money. As an analyst, I’ve always had more trouble appreciating the company. Netflix’s VP of original content Cindy Holland implies that Netflix isn’t limited by budget, but it’s only true until Netflix’s lenders and investors demand to see a positive ROI and a nice green number at the bottom line of the company’s report.” BuzzFeed’s Anne Helen Petersen, though, questioned how you can “write this many words about Netflix and not talk about how mediocre its original movies are? I just want someone to admit that they’re an old-​school B-movie production house.” But @BittrScrptReadr pointed out, “In the last year I’ve watched at least 15 original series from Netflix. Knock their process but they’re doing something right.”

2. Reeves Wiedeman chronicled how Vice transformed itself from a free Montreal print magazine into a multibillion-dollar media empire — albeit one with a dubious future (“A Company Built on a Bluff,” June 11–24). Naomi Klein wrote, “This jaw-dropper story about Vice is proof positive that while the world is run on carbon-spewing fossil fuels, it’s powered by misogyny-spewing bullshit.” And former Vice contributor Ryan Broderick tweeted: “As someone who worked at Vice right out of school from Spring 2010 to Fall 2011 and had literally no idea what was going on pretty much at any point this was definitely a very eye-opening article!” Readers also homed in on the story’s economic angle. Dave Dix said: “The read of the week. Vice is finally beginning to fall apart. It’s a big deal if you knew its past … and realized it’s been valued recently … at 10x the value of the WaPo and more than the NY Times.


3. “This Is What a Nuclear Bomb Looks Like” (June 11–24) gave readers a detailed account of what would happen if a Hiroshima-size blast went off in Times Square. Dave Mosher of Business Insider wrote: “I have read much on the topic and spoken to a lot of experts, and this … is easily the best piece I’ve seen.” Christopher Barrett, executive director of the Biocomplexity Institute at Virginia Tech, wrote: “New York Magazine has provided a clear and sober-minded summary of what is known about the effects of a very particularly situated nuclear detonation. After decades of research by thousands of scientists, the level of detail at which nuclear-weapons effects can be understood is truly remarkable. However, the details of the psychological, sociological, economic, and societal dimensions of effects over days and decades are not understood. Those are the true and lasting effects and the actual target for anyone considering using such a weapon.” And Jeff Schlegelmilch and Irwin Redlener of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University called the article “an important analysis of what a nuclear detonation may look like in NYC. As opposed to the Cold War, when the threat was from many thousands of thermonuclear devices, this scenario will not end civilization, or even our republic. Of course, the elimination of nuclear weapons is the only way to avoid this scenario with certainty. In the interim, however, robust planning by emergency officials and the public can have a real impact in the unlikely event of nuclear attack.” Some readers, though, accused us of fearmongering, including @Nicola_Brady, who wrote, “I love New York magazine but this makes for a very odd read. It only serves to create panic, as far as I can see.” But @EliotCalhoun responded on Twitter: “We need more frank talk about this.”


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