Apr 22, 2019

Axios AM

🌏 Good Monday morning, and happy Earth Day.

The coordinated Easter Sunday bombings of churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka — an island just off the southern tip of India — were carried out by seven suicide bombers, a government investigator tells AP.

  • The death toll is nearing 300, with more than 500 wounded.

⚡ Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) launched his presidential campaign this morning. He's off to New Hampshire, South Carolina, Iowa and Nevada over the next five days.

Was this email forwarded to you? Get your own! Sign up here.

1 big thing: The job of the future is editor in chief

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

What's new: When your smartphone can access any song, movie or book ever created, and you can use it to do anything from ordering food to finding dates to getting rides, companies are realizing they need a new weapon in the war for attention: an editor in chief, Axios editor in chief Nicholas Johnston writes.

  • Why it matters: Because it's never been harder to reach distracted consumers, more companies are hiring editors and content creators to build everything from podcasts to news websites to print magazines to grab your interest.

Driving the news:

  • Airbnb this year started a print magazine — free for hosts; $18/year for others.
  • Bumble, a dating app, launched a lifestyle magazine.
  • Netflix is publishing a free magazine "to promote its programs and stars ahead of this year's Emmys," Bloomberg reports.
  • BlackRock, the giant money manager, recently hired a global head of content.
  • Robinhood, a millennial-based financial services company, last month bought MarketSnacks, a financial newsletter and podcast company.
  • Stripe, a payments company, is publishing books.
  • Goldman Sachs has a talk show.
  • Blue Apron, Slack, Away, Shopify and Casper created podcasts.
  • Verizon is hiring an "Editor in Chief-Social" to oversee an editorial team tasked with "high frequency coverage" of Verizon activities.

By the numbers: The proportion of people on LinkedIn who report they work in content/editor roles at non-media companies (not typical news or journalism) has grown by 32% in the past decade, according to LinkedIn data.

  • Our thought bubble, from Axios chief financial correspondent Felix Salmon: You know how every company is a technology company? Well maybe on some level every company is a media company, too. There’s no point felling trees in forests if nobody hears them.

Share this story.

2. Violence prompts global social media crackdown

Sri Lankan security personnel keep watch outside the church premises following a blast at the St. Anthony's Shrine in Colombo. Photo: Ishara S. Kodikara/AFP/Getty Images

World leaders are scrambling to contain acts of violence and hate crimes by introducing censorship measures, or by shutting down internet access — partially or totally — in trouble spots, Axios' Sara Fischer reports.

  • Why it matters: Some experts argue that heavy-handed rules meant to curb the online promotion of violence could unintentionally make the problems worse instead.

Driving the news: Sri Lankan officials temporarily blocked social media and messaging apps in the country to curtail the spread of fake news after multiple bombings killed hundreds on Easter Sunday.

  • Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, YouTube, Viber, Snapchat and Facebook Messenger were blocked in Sri Lanka, according to data from Internet monitoring group NetBlocks.

Why experts warn this could be bad:

  • Rumors spread in a vacuum.
  • It gives bad actors cover for more damage, and "can add to the sense of fear and can cause panic."
  • Research shows that blocking social networks can cause more "increases in violent collective action than with non-violent mobilization."

What's next: The link between outbreaks of violence and social media is leading to calls for tighter regulation of social media and messaging apps, pitting free-speech ideals against efforts to curb horrifying incidents.

3. Two arresting Earth Day facts
A hot March: Global average temperature anomalies in degrees Celsius, compared to the 1951-1980 average for that month. Chart: NASA GISS

Hawaii's Waikiki Beach could soon be underwater, as rising sea levels caused by climate change overtake its white sand beaches and bustling streets, AP reports:

  • Honolulu will start experiencing frequent flooding within the next 15 to 20 years, officials predict.
  • State lawmakers are considering spending millions for a coastline protection program aimed at defending the city from regular tidal inundations.

U.S. nuclear plants weren't built for climate change, Bloomberg reports:

  • "54 of the [60] nuclear plants operating in the U.S. weren’t designed to handle the flood risk they face."
  • "Nineteen face three or more threats that they weren’t designed to handle."
Bonus: Pic du jour
Photo: Yana Paskova/Getty Images

Laura Bopp wore this homemade hat in the Easter Parade on Fifth Avenue in New York City.

4. Staking out Mueller
Robert Mueller departs Easter services at St. John's Episcopal Church. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Mueller obsessives will enjoy this account by four CNN journalists who staked out the special counsel's office every weekday f0r 18 months — Sam Fossum, Em Steck, Liz Stark and Caroline Kelly:

  • "Our mornings followed a pretty standard routine: one of us would arrive around 6:50 a.m., set up our camera by the garage, and look for Mueller and his team to arrive."
  • "The unofficial FBI uniform of a bright white dress shirt — Mueller does not like his team wearing shirts with patterns — ... helped to spot people."
  • "[W]hen a group of people — prosecutors, FBI agents, DOJ paralegals or administrative personnel — headed to the garage, we could ... send a heads up to our colleagues at U.S. District Court."

And the big score:

Prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky ... frequently zipped into work on a motorized scooter ... But on one memorable Thursday in January, ... Zelinsky walked into work with a small suitcase ... His charcoal helmet, which he wears while usually scootering or biking into the office, was noticeably absent. We knew Zelinsky was ... working on matters relating to Roger Stone ...
[W]e ... spotted Zelinsky leaving the office in casual clothes with his suitcase and briefcase. He then walked ... to a nearby hotel, where he hailed a cab. ...
Back at the CNN office, reporters covering the investigation put this clue, along with the grand jury session on a Thursday, rather than the usual Friday, together and guessed that Stone may have been indicted. CNN sent a producer and camera to his home in Florida that night, and sure enough, less than 12 hours later, captured the dramatic pre-dawn arrest on video.

Keep lurking.

5. Comedian wins presidency
Photo: Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

"Ukraine entered uncharted political waters ... after ... a comedian with no political experience and few detailed policies had dramatically up-ended the status quo and won the country’s presidential election," per Reuters:

  • The landslide by Volodymyr Zelenskiy, 41, "is a bitter blow for incumbent Petro Poroshenko," who cast himself as a bulwark against Russian aggression.
Volodymyr Zelenskiy at a debate Friday in Kiev. Photo: Danil Shamkin/NurPhoto via Getty Images
6. Musk's "Autonomy Investor Day"
Musk unveils the Model Y at Tesla's design studio in Hawthorne, Calif., in March. Photo: Jae C. Hong/AP

Amid skepticism, Tesla CEO Elon Musk today will unveil a plan to bring full autonomy to his electric cars, making them truly driverless vehicles, AP reports:

  • The technology required to make that quantum leap is scheduled to be shown off to Tesla investors at 2 p.m. ET at the company's HQ in Palo Alto, Calif.

Musk indicated in a recent interview that Teslas should be able to navigate congested highways and city streets without a human by next year.

  • "My guess as to when we would think it is safe for somebody to essentially fall asleep and wake up at their destination? Probably towards the end of next year," Musk said in February in an ARK Invest podcast. (CNBC)

The big picture: More than 60 companies in the U.S. alone are developing autonomous vehicles.

  • Some of them are aiming to have their fully autonomous cars begin carrying passengers in small geographic areas as early as this year.
  • Many experts don't believe they'll be in widespread use for a decade or more.
  • Steven E. Shladover, a retired UC Berkeley engineer who has been researching autonomous driving for 45 years, said of Musk's announcement: "It's all hype ... The technology does not exist to do what he is claiming."

Be smart: Musk's description of Tesla's controls as "Full Self-Driving" has alarmed some observers who think it will give owners a false sense of security and create potentially lethal situations in conditions that the autonomous cars can't handle.

7. Renewable energy mandates are costly policies

Illustration: AĂŻda Amer/Axios

A study out today says that one of the most popular climate-change policies in America — renewable energy mandates — is also expensive, Axios' Amy Harder writes in her weekly "Harder Line" column:

  • Standards in roughly 30 states that require a portion of electricity to come from renewable sources, mostly wind and solar, are driving up power prices and imposing a high cost to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, according to the report by the University of Chicago.

Why it matters: This report, one of the most comprehensive analyses of its kind, questions the conventional wisdom that says these policies are effectively addressing climate change.

  • The study indicates that such mandates do reduce carbon emissions — but at a far higher cost than more market-oriented policies like a carbon tax.

What’s next: Amy will moderate an in-person and online event about the report in Chicago, on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. CT.

8. Exclusive poll: College students on 2020
Expand chart
Data: College Reaction online survey of 1,052 U.S. college students, April 4-8. Margin of error ±3.0. Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

Cyrus Beschloss — a Williams College graduating senior who is the founder and CEO of College Reaction, a clever startup that captures opinion and news from the college demographic — shared his group's latest poll with Axios first. 

Our thought bubble, from Axios editor in chief Nicholas Johnston: For all the talk about young voters charting the course, their preferences line up pretty much with the older folks. So don't look for them to propel some new candidate to the forefront (though they do trend very Dem).

P.S. ... A Harvard Institute of Politics Youth Poll out this morning finds voters between 18 and 29 are experiencing anxiety as much as joy:

  • "By wide margins, younger Americans do not believe that the Baby Boomer generation, especially elected officials, ... 'care about people like them.'"
  • "Half of young Americans experience anxiety, and it is correlated with views related to state of our nation."
9. Ivanka's Africa tally
Ivanka Trump took part in the first West African summit on female entrepreneurship, in Adzopé, Ivory Coast. Photo: Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images

Ivanka Trump's four-day Africa trip last week included 13 events, meetings and site visits in Ethiopia and Ivory Coast, plus these announcements with the Overseas Private Investment Corp.:

  • The launch of OPIC’s 2X Africa women’s initiative, which will invest $350 million in businesses and funds owned by women, led by women, or that provide a good or service that empowers women on the continent.
  • $2 million to support Ivory Coast women in the cocoa industry.
  • A $260,000 loan for a female-owned coffee business in Ethiopia.
  • A goal of economically empowering 50 million women in developing countries by 2025.

See a video.

10. 1 fun thing: The real Netflix chill

The literal chill of Netflix ("One of us usually ends up falling asleep") is so great that some young couples call it the new birth control, The Wall Street Journal's Shalini Ramachandran writes in an A-hed (subscription):

  • "Demographers have lots of theories about why the U.S. fertility rate recently hit an all-time low, ranging from the aftereffects of the recession that followed the financial crisis to the broader use of long-term birth control."

"It is hard to ignore, anecdotally at least, the impact of streaming entertainment."

  • "A 2017 paper in 'Archives of Sexual Behavior,' which revealed that Americans were having less sex, on average, than they did three decades ago, offered streaming video as one possible culprit."

🌎 Thanks for reading Axios AM. Get your friends, relatives, coworkers to sign up here.