The Weekly Wrap: Creative & Freelance News

Gunman Kills 5 At Capital Gazette

On Thursday, a gunman shot and killed five people at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, MD. Three other people were taken to the hospital.

According to the Gazette’s police reporter, Phil Davis, the gunman fired through the news room’s glass door.

Police have arrested 38-year-old Jarrod Warren Ramos and charged him with five counts of first-degree murder. He was found hiding under a desk in the building, according to CNN. And there’s video recordings of him and the shootings.

It seems Ramos has been seething over the paper’s coverage of his guilty plea in a 2011 harassment case. He filed a defamation case against the Gazette and the reporter who wrote the story in 2012, but it was dismissed.

Meanwhile, the Capital Gazette has been threatened on social media, including as recently as yesterday. A Twitter account with references to the paper and the reporter, which is believed to belong to Ramos, has been suspended.

Japanese Blogger Stabbed to Death

Blogger and cyber-security expert Kenichiro Okamoto was stabbed to death Sunday night when he went to the bathroom after a seminar he was hosting about writing on the internet.

A 42-year-old man named Hidemitsu Matsumoto reportedly turned himself in later, and said he decided to kill Okamoto because he “held a grudge” against him related to their online exchanges.

Ironically, some of the topics Okamoto was discussing at the seminar that night was how to handle the troubles he experienced while blogging, reported The Verge.

TruthGaurd To Fight Fake News

The digital agency IronMonk Solutions launched TruthGuard, a free web tool that lets anyone rate newspapers and magazines based on their credibility, quality and truthfulness.

TruthGuard also has a Chrome extension that you can download to report and flag fake news you find around the web. And there’s a feature that gives you a popup notification if you go to a story that others have flagged as fake.

“Instead of a centralized system where only a handful of people can submit ratings and fake news reports, we decided to build an open system that allows everyone to rate a publication or report a fake news story,”  says Amine Rahal, the founder.

But Rahal says each submission can be upvoted or downvoted by other users. If you get downvoted too often, your account will be suspended.

There are reportedly already thousands of publications listed on the site that users can go rate.

GIDEON FALLS Comics Headed for TV

Hivemind, a production company that launched this year, revealed they won a bidding war for the rights to adapt the Gideon Falls comic series for television.

Gideon Falls is a psychological horror series about people who confront their demons, including a Catholic priest, an uncompromising female sheriff and a recluse obsessed with a  conspiracy theory. It’s described as colliding rural mystery with urban horror.

Hivemind plans to develop the series into an hour-long drama series alongside the comic’s co-creators, author Jeff Lemire and artist Andrea Sorrentino.

UK Authors Blast Publishers for Low Pay

In the UK, writers’ median annual income dropped 42% since 2005 to under $13,700, according to research from the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society.

Over that time, the number of professional writers whose income comes solely from their writing also fell, from 40% to 13%.

Authors Philip Pullman, Antony Beevor and Sally Gardner are among those blaming publishers and online booksellers like Amazon. In both 2016 and 2017, UK  books and journal sales rose, and since 2005, Amazon’s global turnover has risen from $8.49 billion to $177.87 billion, the Guardian notes.

“What concerns us is that during the same period that we see authors’ earnings plummet, the large publishers are seeing their sales rocket,” says Nicola Solomon, chief executive of the Society of Authors.

These industry insiders are calling on Amazon and publishers to pay writers more money. We’ll see who answers the call.



After Sex Scandal, Author’s Book Is Coming Back

It has been three years since  Billy Graham’s grandson, Tullian Tchividjian, stepped down as pastor of a Florida mega church for having affairs with members of his congregation. Now, Fortress Press has decided to bring his book Jesus + Nothing = Everything back to print.

It was originally published in 2011 and reportedly sold over 80,000 copies before the publisher Crossway backed away from it due to the sex scandal.

Tchividjian told Publishers Weekly he hopes that Jesus + Nothing = Everything reaches readers who like him have “crashed and burned.”

The new version will have a new cover, new endorsements, and an introduction by Tchividjian that addresses “how the message of God’s grace has sustained him.”

YouTube Money-Makers Rising

At Vidcon, YouTube’s chief product officer, Neal Mohan, revealed that the number of YouTubers making 5-digits a year is up 35% and the number earning 6-digits is up 45%.

He also announced some changes to help content creators earn more money.

YouTube Memberships, which let viewers pay $4.99 a month in exchange for perks such as members-only posts, badges, exclusive livestreams, and shout-outs, will be available to eligible channels with over 100,000 subscribers in coming months. Currently, it’s only available to select group.

YouTube partnered with Teespring to give creators the opportunity to sell over 20 merchandise items from their channel. This option is available to YouTubers in the U.S, with over 10,000 subscribers.

The company also announced Premieres, which allows creators to set a date and time they will release a video, and it creates a public landing page to build anticipation, Adweek explains. When fans show up to watch they can chat with each other and the creator in real-time, like being in a theater altogether.

Creators can use Super Chat, which lets viewers pay to have their message highlighted or pinned. Plus, they can take advantage of Channel Membership perks that were limited to live videos.

Instagram Lite Is Here

Instagram launched Instagram Lite for Android, a version that’s geared toward people in developing countries. It’s 1/55th the size of the 32-megabyte full version, says TechCrunch.

In many countries, there’s a lot of people using older phones with less storage. They have slower networks. Or they can’t afford a lot of data.

With Instagram Lite, users can reportedly filter and post photos, watch Stories, and browse the Explore page. But they cannot share videos or use the direct message feature yet.

Instagram Lite is currently testing in Mexico and is expected to roll out to other countries and get more features later this year.

The good thing is if this helps Instagram boost international users, it can help you boost your international following.

LinkedIn Launches Translations and QR Codes

LinkedIn is helping users expand their reach on the platform by instantly translating content that isn’t in the reader’s default language.

Initially, the feature is available in over 60 languages, but the company plans to add more, says TechCrunch. And right now, the feature is only available on the website, but LinkedIn is preparing to bring it to the iOS and Android apps.

The company also launched QR codes, which make it quicker and easier for LinkedIn users to swap contact details. Now, instead of people trying to narrow down which John Smith or Betty Johnson they’re looking for, users can exchange QR codes. It can be used as an alternative to business cards or displayed to create a shortcut to a user’s profile.

Castbox Launched A Podcast Paywall

Castbox introduced a native paywall and subscription setup that’s designed to make life easier for creators, publishers, and listeners.

Usually, placing a podcast behind a paywall and collecting subscriptions is a fragmented process that requires users to jump around to multiple platforms to get set up. And, of course, that effort discourages some potential listeners.

But Castbox has delivered a remedy by allowing everything to be done in one place.

Wondery, the podcast network behind series like Young Charlie, American History Tellers and Dirty John, has already signed on. The company will offer Wondery+, a premium subscription that gives members perks such as early access to ad-free episodes, bonus content and exclusive previews.

Art/Work Space May Be Headed to Hopkin, MN

Artspace, a nonprofit developer of affordable housing for artists, is gauging interest for a work and living site in Hopkin, MN.

The company says a study and some focus groups revealed there’s interest in a building with housing, community gathering space, and private studio space. They have already toured seven potential sites on or near Mainstreet within walking distance of Hopkins Center for the Arts, reported the Sun Sailor.

They asking creatives who are interested to take a 10-minute survey, which is located here. So, if you’re interested, lend your voice.

Photographer’s Wildfire Wedding Photo Goes Viral

Sarah and Michael Kramer were scheduled to get married at Cascade Village Lodge in La Plata County, Colorado. But they couldn’t because the area was evacuated due to wildfire.

They relocated their wedding site, and later that evening photographer Alexi Hubbell captured a picture of the two in their wedding attire embracing against a backdrop of orange smoke from the blaze.

The image went viral, attracting the attention of journalists and international news agencies. However, Pacific Standard said it also brought backlash from people who criticized the couple’s intentions.

Both the newlyweds and the photographer used the picture to commend the firefighters and call for assistance for the area. See the photo

Anti-Corruption Blogger’s Prison Sentence Stands

The Supreme Court of Azerbaijan upheld the two-year prison sentence of Mehman Huseynov, an anti-corruption blogger.

One night in January 2017, Huseynov was reportedly dragged into a vehicle by five plainclothes police officers then blindfolded, gagged, and beaten.

The next day, he was charged with resisting the police. During the trial, he told the court about the police beating. The police chief for the district charged him with defamation over the allegations. He was found guilty and sentenced to two years in prison.

According to the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, this series of events came after he published a series of photographs and video reports covering lavish villas that allegedly belonged to Azerbaijani officials. Huseynov claims he’s innocent.

What’s  New

Stories from The American Dream: The Music Edition: a YouTube web series that features aspiring artists, their parents, and expert freelance entrepreneurs working together to pursue success.


Window 10 will soon let you literally write an email with a stylus, says The Verge. There will be various pen options and colors. Look for availability in September, if not before.

Serial Box will launch Microfiction Mondays. Each week the app‘s users can receive a push notification with a story that’s no more than 150 characters. For now, it will only be available on iOS.

So, if you’re an Apple user and you really, really, really don’t have time to read but you want to indulge in just a drip of fiction. This is for you. Get the app. Turn your notifications on.

Go For It

2018 Nature Photography Contest sponsored by the Audubon Community Nature Center. The theme is Natural Wonders: Big and Small.

Deadline July 31. First prize is $300 + $75 gift card to Deleware Camera.

More Details

Nonesuch Humor Writing Contest sponsored by The Mark Twain House & Museum. It’s open to anyone worldwide.

Deadline July 15. Writing must be original and cannot exceed 7,000 words. Entry fee is $23. First prize is $1,000

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