Laura Sydell

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.

Sydell has traveled through India and China to look at the impact of technology on developing nations. In China, she reported how American television programs like Lost broke past China's censors and found a devoted following among the emerging Chinese middle class. She found in India that cell phones are the computer of the masses.

Sydell teamed up with Alex Bloomberg of NPR's Planet Money team and reported on the impact of patent trolls on business and innovations particular to the tech world. The results were a series of pieces that appeared on This American Life and All Things Considered. The hour long program on This American Life "When Patents Attack! - Part 1," was honored with a Gerald Loeb Award and accolades from Investigative Reporters and Editors. A transcript of the entire show was included in The Best Business Writing of 2011 published by Columbia University Press.

Before joining NPR in 2003, Sydell served as a senior technology reporter for American Public Media's Marketplace, where her reporting focused on the human impact of new technologies and the personalities behind the Silicon Valley boom and bust.

Sydell is a proud native of New Jersey and prior to making a pilgrimage to California and taking up yoga she worked as a reporter for NPR Member Station WNYC in New York. Her reporting on race relations, city politics, and arts was honored with numerous awards from organizations such as The Newswomen's Club of New York, The New York Press Club, and The Society of Professional Journalists.

American Women in Radio and Television, The National Federation of Community Broadcasters, and Women in Communications have all honored Sydell for her long-form radio documentary work focused on individuals whose life experiences turned them into activists.

After finishing a one-year fellowship with the National Arts Journalism Program at Columbia University, Sydell came to San Francisco as a teaching fellow at the Graduate School of Journalism at University of California, Berkeley.

Sydell graduated Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor's degree from William Smith College in Geneva, New York, and earned a J.D. from Yeshiva University's Cardozo School of Law.

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4:18pm

Mon August 4, 2014
Business

In Tech Marketing Jobs, Women's Successes Are Rarely Recognized

Originally published on Fri August 8, 2014 6:04 pm

Brooke Hammerling, the founder of Brew Media Relations, says she created her own firm because she got sick of a mix of dismissive tech guys and sexism inside some companies.
Christof Stache dpa/Landov

It's no secret that there aren't a lot of women in Silicon Valley and the tech industry in general. There is one exception — marketing and public relations. Though these women aren't the people writing the code or building the chip, their role in the success of many tech companies is often crucial and overlooked.

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5:45pm

Thu July 3, 2014
All Tech Considered

In A Battle For Web Traffic, Bad Bots Are Going After Grandma

Originally published on Mon July 7, 2014 11:05 am

By hijacking a user's computer, "bad" bots make it look as if she visits a website often, thus making the site more valuable to advertisers.
iStockphoto

As the Web turns 25, it's becoming a terrific place if you're a bot.

It began as a tool for human communication, but now, over 60 percent of the traffic on the Web is automated applications called bots talking to other bots, according to one study. And experts say about half of those bots are bad.

But first let's talk about the good bots.

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4:15pm

Wed June 25, 2014
Law

Supreme Court Deals A Big Win For TV Broadcasters

Originally published on Wed June 25, 2014 9:30 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. It was a bad day for a certain tech startup. The U.S. Supreme Court dealt a heavy blow to a service that lets consumers stream and record broadcast TV from their phones, computers or tablets. The High Court said it violates the programming copyrights of broadcasters. NPR's Laura Sydell has the story.

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12:18pm

Fri June 13, 2014
All Tech Considered

Critics Renew Calls For More Diverse Video Game Characters

Originally published on Mon June 16, 2014 11:11 am

Actress and gamer Aisha Tyler hosted game developer Ubisoft's press conference at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles. The company was recently criticized for not animating female assassins in one of its new games.
Lucy Nicholson Reuters/Landov

There's a myth that only nerdy white guys play and make video games. At this week's video game extravaganza in Los Angeles called Electronic Entertainment Expo, Microsoft didn't do much to change that image.

At the company's E3 press conference, there was an unseen female announcer, but there was only one female who stood on stage and spoke. Bonnie Ross, who heads the Microsoft studio that produces its blockbuster game Halo, spoke for less than two minutes.

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5:17am

Fri June 13, 2014
Business

At E3, Critics Renew Calls For More Diverse Video Game Characters

Originally published on Fri June 13, 2014 9:29 am

Even though women make up a significant proportion of dedicated gamers, there are few female protagonists in big-selling video games. The same goes for ethnic and racial minorities.

5:36pm

Thu June 12, 2014
All Tech Considered

Q&A: Nintendo President Says Don't Count Out Mario

Reggie Fils-Aime is president and chief operating officer of Nintendo of America.
Jae C. Hong AP

The American face of Nintendo, President and Chief Operating Officer Reggie Fils-Aime, once said, "I'm about kicking ass, I'm about taking names."

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4:06pm

Mon June 9, 2014
Music News

Reach For The Sky, YouTube: Music Service In Standoff

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 11:41 am

A still from Vampire Weekend's "Diane Young" music video, which has received more than 3 million views on YouTube.
YouTube

5:11am

Wed June 4, 2014
All Tech Considered

Into The Virtual Reality Lab With Pioneering Researchers

Originally published on Wed June 4, 2014 11:41 pm

Peter Mason tries the Oculus virtual reality headset at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco earlier this year. Some see Facebook's acquisition of the company as a turning point.
Jeff Chiu AP

When Facebook paid $2 billion to buy Oculus VR, the company that makes the virtual reality goggles, it turned heads. Oculus doesn't even make a profit, but many enthusiasts believe this may be a turning point for a technology that's been around for decades.

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5:24am

Thu May 29, 2014
Business

For $3 Billion, Apple Buys Dr. Dre's Beats Electronics

Originally published on Thu May 29, 2014 7:33 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Apple is moving to the beat. The company's made it official. It's buying Beats Electronics, which streams music and makes the popular Beats headphones. Rumors of this deal leaked earlier this month. All told, Beats came with a $3 billion price tag - the largest acquisition in Apple's history. As NPR's Laura Sydell reports, it's a deal that has some analysts scratching their heads.

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5:09am

Tue May 20, 2014
Business

Malicious Software Probe Reveals Vast Criminal Network

Originally published on Tue May 20, 2014 11:43 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with a crackdown on hackers.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MONTAGNE: Law Enforcement officials announced charges in connection with malicious software that makes it easy for anyone to spy on computer remotely. The case reveals a vast international criminal network that made blackmail and password theft simple and cheap.

As NPR's Laura Sydell reports.

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