Laura Sydell fell in love with the intimate storytelling qualities of radio, which combined her passion for theatre and writing with her addiction to news. Over her career she has covered politics, arts, media, religion, and entrepreneurship. Currently Sydell is the Digital Culture Correspondent for NPR's All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, and NPR.org.

Sydell's work focuses on the ways in which technology is transforming our culture and how we live. For example, she reported on robotic orchestras and independent musicians who find the Internet is a better friend than a record label as well as ways technology is changing human relationships.

Technology
4:00 am
Tue December 6, 2011

How Twitter's Trending Algorithm Picks Its Topics

Occupy Wall Street protesters meditate while a sign bearing their Twitter hashtag hangs from a railing in Zuccotti Park in October. Some activists accused Twitter of censorship because #OccupyWallStreet wasn't appearing on trending lists.
Jessica Rinaldi Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Wed December 7, 2011 1:18 pm

The list of "trending topics" on the right side of Twitter's home page is a coveted spot because millions of people see it. It often reflects what's hot in the news, from the death of Steve Jobs to Kim Kardashian's latest exploits.

Sometimes a topic that seems hot, like Occupy Wall Street, doesn't trend, leading some activists to charge Twitter with censorship. But the complex algorithms that determine trending topics are intended to find what's trending in the moment, and not what's been around for a long time.

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Tovia Smith is an award-winning NPR News National Desk correspondent based in Boston.

For the last 25 years, Smith has been covering news around New England and beyond. She's reported extensively on the debate over gay marriage in Massachusetts and the sexual abuse scandal within the Catholic Church, including breaking the news of the Pope's secret meeting with survivors.

Smith has traveled to New Hampshire to report on seven consecutive Primary elections, to the Gulf Coast after the BP oil spill, and to Ground Zero in New York City after the September 11, 2001 attacks. She covered landmark court cases — from the trials of British au pair Louise Woodward, and abortion clinic gunman John Salvi, to the proceedings against shoe bomber Richard Reid.

Scott Horsley is a White House correspondent for NPR News. He reports on the policy and politics of the Obama Administration, with a special emphasis on economic issues.

The 2012 campaign is the third presidential contest Horsley has covered for NPR. He previously reported on Senator John McCain's White House bid in 2008 and Senator John Kerry's campaign in 2004. Thanks to this experience, Horsley has become an expert in the motel shampoo offerings of various battleground states.

Horsley took up the White House beat after serving as a San Diego-based business correspondent for NPR where he covered fast food, gasoline prices, and the California electricity crunch of 2000. He reported from the Pentagon during the early phases of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Politics
3:47 am
Tue December 6, 2011

In Kansas, Obama Seeks Teddy Roosevelt Comparisons

President Obama will try Tuesday to follow in the footsteps of Teddy Roosevelt when he delivers an economic speech in Osawatomie, Kan., the same city where Roosevelt issued a famous call for a "New Nationalism" more than 100 years ago.

For Obama, this is a "connect-the-dots" speech. White House spokesman Jay Carney said it's a chance to show how the president's various economic proposals — from stricter banking oversight to payroll tax cuts — fit together, as Obama prepares for a re-election battle.

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Environment
3:45 am
Tue December 6, 2011

Calif. Takes Big Step Toward Greenhouse Gas Limits

Matt Horton is CEO of Propel Fuels, a company that installs equipment and pumps to handle biofuels. Horton says California is a great market because consumers are interested in renewable fuels.
Christopher Joyce NPR

Originally published on Tue December 6, 2011 7:18 pm

First of a two-part series on California's climate policies

California is about to try a radical experiment. A little over a year from now, the state will limit the greenhouse gas emissions from factories and power plants, and, eventually, emissions from vehicles.

The U.S. Congress tried to pass a similar plan for the whole country but dropped the idea last year.

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Hard Times: A Journey Across America
3:39 am
Tue December 6, 2011

For Mill Town's Youth, 'It Can't Get Any Worse'

High school senior Jared Lyons (center), shown here with his parents, Kim and Bob, worries how he'll afford to achieve his dream of becoming a doctor. The economy, he says, "can't get any worse than it is now."
Courtesy of Kim Lyons

Originally published on Tue December 6, 2011 11:25 am

Part of a monthlong series

Coming after Gen X and Gen Y, the next generation of young people have been called "Gen Wrong Place, Wrong Time." With unemployment and college costs both sky-high and the housing market in collapse, young people today are facing extraordinary economic uncertainty.

Perhaps nowhere is that more clear than in a small town like East Millinocket, Maine.

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U.S.
3:00 am
Tue December 6, 2011

W.Va. Mine Settlement Expected

Originally published on Tue December 6, 2011 7:21 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning.

Let's talk, now, about the reported settlement in last year's deadly coal mine disaster in West Virginia. Details are expected later this morning, but NPR and other news organizations have confirmed some elements of a $200 million settlement that involves civil and criminal penalties levied against the owner of the Upper Big Branch mine.

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U.S.
3:00 am
Tue December 6, 2011

Blagojevich Sentencing Hearing Starts

Originally published on Tue December 6, 2011 7:21 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

The public corruption saga of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is nearing an end. Earlier this year, he was found guilty of 18 counts of corruption, including trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat once held by President Obama. Today, a federal judge begins a hearing to determine Blagojevich's sentence. NPR's Cheryl Corley reports.

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Africa
3:00 am
Tue December 6, 2011

Fears Of Violence Over Congo Election Results

Originally published on Tue December 6, 2011 7:21 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

On November 28th, elections were held in the Democratic Republic of Congo. They were only the second democratic polls in the nation's turbulent half-century of independence, and even before voters went to the polls there were signs that all was not well.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Violence marred the run-up to the actual voting day, so polling was extended in some areas up to three days. Opposition candidates said the election itself was tainted.

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