Laura McGann

Laura McGann is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard.

Recent Articles

Farewell, Facebook

Why one super-connected internet enthusiast decided it was time to pull the plug.

(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Sean Kilpatrick)
The chorus of pro-privacy, anti-Facebook bloggers is getting louder. Facebook wants to keep track of everything you "like" -- all over the Web and even in the real world. McDonald's has signed on as Facebook's first geolocation partner. Whatever that means. The Observer has a deeper relationship with my Facebook page than my best friend. Today I'm deactivating my account. Here's why. My problems with Facebook started in mid-April when the holding tank of pending friend requests from family members was overflowing. It was either everyone or no one; I approved all, afraid of the barrage of guilt-inducing phone calls. Then came the decision to pare down my friend list to people I actually talk with. I was shocked when one de-friended person sent me an aggressive message. I'd never concerned myself with the "privacy settings" The New York Times had been urging me to check out for months, but in light of the angered ex-friend and, more important, my new online friendships with the family,...

Where Does Palin Fit in Alaska's Culture of Corruption?

Alaska politics at both the state and national levels are rife with bribery, corruption, and scandal. Has Sarah Palin stayed out of the fray?

ANCHORAGE -- Alaskans are no strangers to political corruption. In the last year and a half, federal prosecutors have indicted seven politicians, three executives and a lobbyist on crimes of public corruption, including the ex-governor's chief of staff, five state senators, two oil services heads, and Alaska's senior U.S. senator, Ted Stevens. Shortly after Sarah Palin started her tenure as governor, the FBI raided the offices of a half-dozen state legislators, including that of then Alaska Senate President Ben Stevens, who has not been charged with a crime. News cameras captured agents leaving the state Capitol with boxes filled with evidence -- including baseball caps with the logo of one Juneau clique: the "Corrupt Bastards Club." The CBCers were a group of a dozen state lawmakers who joked among themselves and with other public officials about their involvement with oil service firm Veco Corp., whose former chief executive, Bill Allen, and former vice president, Rick Smith, have...