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Alexis Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is a staff writer for The Atlantic.
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Local News Is Dying, and Americans Have No Idea

March 27, 2019 Local news is in the midst of a long financial crisis, as newsrooms are hit with layoffs, page counts shrink, and entire papers go belly-up. And yet Americans haven’t noticed. Seven in 10 Americans believe that their local news outlets are doing “very or somewhat well financially,” according to a...

Facebook Does Have to Respect Civil-Rights Legislation, After All

March 21, 2019 FROM NEXTGOV arrow For most of Facebook’s existence, a prospective advertiser listing a job or a home or a loan could have kept the ad from reaching women or people over 55 or those with an “ethnic affinity” for African Americans. When ProPublica documented this in late 2016, housing-rights advocates were shocked. After...

The FAA Rigorously Tested the Boeing 737’s Software

March 14, 2019 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Two Boeing 737 Max 8 airplanes have crashed under similar circumstances in the past six months, one in October in Indonesia and the other in Ethiopia last week. These were new planes, and both had a control system installed that has been implicated in the Indonesian crash, and that might...

The FAA Rigorously Tested the Boeing 737’s Software

March 14, 2019 Two Boeing 737 Max 8 airplanes have crashed under similar circumstances in the past six months, one in October in Indonesia and the other in Ethiopia last week. These were new planes, and both had a control system installed that has been implicated in the Indonesian crash, and that might...

What Mark Zuckerberg Thinks People Want

March 7, 2019 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Facebook has always been good at giving people what they want, whether they like it or not. That was the premise of News Feed, the most successful attention sponge in internet history. When Snapchat’s vertical, ephemeral “Story” format took off, Facebook brought it to its core service, Instagram, and WhatsApp....

The Servant Economy

March 6, 2019 FROM NEXTGOV arrow In March 2009, Uber was born. Over the next few years, the company became not just a disruptive, controversial transportation company, but a model for dozens of venture-funded companies. Its name became a shorthand for this new kind of business: Uber for laundry; Uber for groceries; Uber for dog walking;...

The Reason Conspiracy Videos Work So Well on YouTube

February 24, 2019 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Cataloging the conspiracies on offer on YouTube is a fool’s errand, but let’s try: fake moon landing, flat Earth, 9/11 stuff, the Illuminati, anti-vaxxer propaganda, medical quackery, QAnon, Nikola Tesla and the pyramids, fiat currency, global cooling, lizard people, robot overlords, time travel, and many even odder things you’ve probably...

When Amazon Went From Big to Unbelievably Big

February 7, 2019 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Amazon’s origin story is firmly embedded in the chunky-sweatered dorkiness of the late-1990s dot-com boom. But the Amazon of today—the dominant, ubiquitous retailer of everything—is a much, much newer creation. The past three years have seen a new Amazon emerge as the company’s physical footprint balloons. According to its latest...

The Peaceful Transition of Government Twitter Accounts

January 9, 2019 FROM NEXTGOV arrow The various committees of the House of Representatives are strange, human institutions. They are staffed by whoever holds the majority, which, since January of 2011, had been the Republicans, but is now the Democrats. And with that change, the committees must deal with important business, such as establishing new chairpeople,...

How a Feel-Good AI Story Went Wrong in Flint

January 3, 2019 More than a thousand days after the water problems in Flint, Michigan, became national news, thousands of homes in the city still have lead pipes, from which the toxic metal can leach into the water supply. To remedy the problem, the lead pipes need to be replaced with safer, copper...