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Recode Daily: Is the podcast bubble bursting?

Plus, hackers are shedding anonymity as it becomes a profession; Walmart will deploy 17,000 Oculus Go VR headsets to train U.S. employees; combat-ready pizza.

Two people wearing headphones sit across a table from each other and speak into microphones to record a podcast. Getty Images / Maskot

Is the podcast bubble bursting? Inexpensive, addicting, profitable and popular, podcasting was supposed to be one of the saviors of digital media. But now, many media companies are slimming down their podcast projects to specialize — or are just slimming down. Panoply, the podcasting unit set up by Slate magazine, recently laid off most of its staff and will become just a distributor of podcasts. BuzzFeed recently announced it was laying off staff at its dedicated podcasting unit, and Audible, the audio arm of retail giant Amazon, laid off its entire podcast staff. This doesn’t mean podcasting is dead, but it’s not looking like the next big solution for every media company. Meanwhile, digital publisher Vox Media, which owns websites including Recode, The Verge and SB Nation, is expected to miss its revenue goal for this year by more than 15 percent, adding to the list of new-media companies struggling to live up to lofty growth expectations. [Mathew Ingram / Columbia Journalism Review]

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Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court is potentially at risk as another woman has accused him of sexual misconduct. This time, it’s from his college years at Yale: The New Yorker reports that Deborah Ramirez says she remembers Kavanaugh exposed himself during a dorm party, “thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away,” and is calling for the FBI to investigate. Also, Michael Avenatti — Stormy Daniels’s attorney, who is considering running for president — says on Twitter he represents “a woman with credible information regarding Judge Kavanaugh” — who is not Ramirez. [Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer / The New Yorker]

Investigative reporter Julia Angwin and data journalist Jeff Larson, both formerly of ProPublica, are starting The Markup, a news site dedicated to investigating technology and its effect on society. Funded in part by a $20 million gift from Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, the site will hire two dozen journalists for its New York office; stories will start going up in early 2019. The Markup will explore three broad investigative categories: How profiling software discriminates against the poor and other vulnerable groups; internet health and infections like bots, scams and misinformation; and the awesome power of the tech companies. Journalists will be partnered with a programmer from a story’s inception until its completion. [Nellie Bowles / The New York Times]

Deep anonymity — staying “unGoogleable”— used to be critical to hackers. But new pressures seem to be reshaping the hacker community’s attitudes toward privacy and anonymity. Many longtime hackers have been drawn into the open by corporate demands, or have traded their anonymity for public roles as high-level cybersecurity experts. Others are attracted by the widespread professionalization and gamification of the hacking world. “This is a profession for a lot of people now,” says one hacker. “And you can’t fill out a W-9 with your hacker handle.” [Stephen Hiltner / The New York Times]

What happens when internet users can’t go on Facebook? A lot of them, it turns out, spend that time reading the news. When Facebook experienced a 45-minute outage on Aug. 3 in many parts of the world, traffic to news websites sharply spiked, according to data from Chartbeat, a firm used by many major news publishers to track traffic to their websites. Once Facebook went down, internet users went directly to news websites or searched for news of any kind, including entertainment and sports, through Google or other search engines to replace their Facebook browsing fix. [Hanna Kozlowska / Quartz]

Walmart is using 17,000 Oculus Go virtual reality headsets to train employees in all its U.S. stores. The big-box retailer first experimented with VR in its training academies a year ago; it is using the headsets to train within three key areas: New technology, compliance and “soft skills” like empathy and customer service. With the technology training, Walmart is aiming to prepare employees for the wave of in-store technology it is rolling out as part of its overall digital strategy. [Natalie Gagliordi / ZDNet]

The secret life of teen scooter outlaws: Teenagers are flocking to ubiquitous electric scooter services like Bird and Lime, ignoring requirements that riders be 18 or older with valid driver’s licenses. Of course, they’re not wearing helmets, either. [Will Kubsansky / The Verge]

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