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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7:30am

Wed October 24, 2012
Business

Apple Unveils Pencil-Thin iPad Mini

Originally published on Wed October 24, 2012 6:36 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

OK. Let's talk a little more about a small screen. Of course, Apple has dominated the tablet computer market with its iPad. The company says it's sold 100 million of them, but it's had some competition from smaller rivals - smaller screens, that is. Amazon's Kindle and Google's Nexus can easily fit in a purse, or even a jacket pocket. So, as expected, yesterday, Apple introduced a smaller version of the iPad - bigger than an iPhone, smaller than the iPad, the iPad Mini. NPR's Laura Sydell reports.

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6:36pm

Tue October 23, 2012
All Tech Considered

Hands On With The New iPad Mini: Lighter, Costlier Than Rivals

Originally published on Wed October 24, 2012 11:29 am

The new iPad Mini is displayed after its unveiling at an Apple event in San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday.
Kevork Djansezian Getty Images
  • Hear Laura Sydell's Story On Morning Edition

Apple has unveiled a smaller, cheaper version of its popular iPad tablet. NPR's Laura Sydell attended the event Tuesday in San Jose, Calif., and got a hands-on look at the new iPad mini. Below are her first impressions.

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8:50am

Thu September 27, 2012
The Record

YouTube Shares Ad Revenue With Musicians, But Does It Add Up?

Originally published on Thu September 27, 2012 10:04 am

Donna Summer in 1976. YouTube's Chris Maxcy says the company targets advertising to videos by artists like her and gives a share of the revenue from it to the track's label and publisher.
Keystone Getty Images

5:06pm

Thu September 20, 2012
Digital Life

Vimeo's Virtual Tip Jar Invites Viewers To Chip In

Originally published on Thu September 20, 2012 6:04 pm

The video sharing site Vimeo has added a feature that invites users to chip in to support the filmmakers they like.
Vimeo

From teenagers strumming guitars in their bedrooms to big studio executives in Hollywood, there are a lot of people trying to figure out how to make money from online videos. The video-sharing site Vimeo has just added to their site a feature with a time-tested history in the real world — a virtual tip jar.

Electric-bass player Brian Compton has been a musician for 20 years. He plays with a three-piece band on a San Francisco street corner and hopes for tips from afternoon commuters. He estimates that less than 1 percent of passersby actually leave a tip.

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6:11am

Tue September 18, 2012
Business

Google's Digital Library Plan Hits Another Snag

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 3:29 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Google's plan to create the world's largest digital library ran into legal problems when groups of authors sued to defend the rights to their work. If that sounds like an old story that's because it is. The lawsuit, now in its 11th year, has run into yet another legal delay.

NPR's Laura Sydell reports.

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5:29pm

Mon September 10, 2012
All Tech Considered

What Will Apple's Patent Case Mean For Phone Design?

Originally published on Mon September 10, 2012 6:52 pm

These Nokia phones unveiled earlier this month are the first smartphones built for Windows 8.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

A lot of thought goes into giving your smartphone a distinctive look and feel, from the shape of the speaker — square, round or oval — to where to put the buttons — side, front or back.

But industrial designers like Robert Brunner say he doesn't have a lot of room to be creative.

"Because you're really being so heavily driven on maintaining a minimal physical size," he says. "So you really get into this very fine envelope of a few millimeters that you have to work with."

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3:18am

Fri August 24, 2012
All Tech Considered

Is The Cloud In Gamers' Future?

Originally published on Fri August 24, 2012 11:56 am

Nintendo's Wii U is the only new game system on the horizon as console makers are having a hard time figuring out how to improve on what they've got.
Kevork Djansezian Getty Images

Last year, consumers spent $17 billion on video games. That sounds like a lot, but it was nearly $1.5 billion lower than the previous year. One reason: there haven't been any new game consoles out to excite buyers.

Only Nintendo's Wii U might be on shelves for the holiday season.

The console makers are having a hard time figuring out how to improve on what they've got.

Try asking a gamer like Ryan Block what would entice him to drop a few hundred bucks on a new console.

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5:32am

Thu August 2, 2012
Technology

Amazon Takes Entertainment Step With App Offerings

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Amazon is positioning itself to be a bigger player in the digital music and movie market. This week, the company announced that it would be offering its movie and music apps on more devices, including Apple's iPad.

NPR's Laura Sydell reports.

LAURA SYDELL, BYLINE: Netflix has been a dominant player streaming movies online, and its app is on almost every device, from Xboxes to iPads. Now, Amazon's added a movie and TV app to the iPad.

Should Netflix worry?

SARAH ROTMAN EPPS: Netflix should worry.

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5:04am

Mon July 30, 2012
Technology

Samsung Fight Among Many In Apple's Patent War

Originally published on Mon July 30, 2012 9:01 am

Samsung Electronics' Galaxy S (left) and Apple's iPhone 4 are displayed at the headquarters of South Korean mobile carrier KT. Apple claims some of Samsung's designs violate its patents.
Ahn Young-joon AP

An epic battle between the two biggest smartphone makers begins Monday in a federal district court in San Jose, Calif., where computing giant Apple is asking for more than $2.5 billion from rival phone maker Samsung for patent violations.

The suit would be the most expensive patent violation in history, and it's just one front in Apple's war against phones running Google's Android operating system.

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5:31pm

Mon July 23, 2012
Digital Life

YouTube Network Plays Well With Latino Audiences

Originally published on Mon July 23, 2012 7:04 pm

uses YouTube to get the word out on her signature transformable fashion, modeled here by Cindy Vela. She says joining the Latino lifestyle network Mitu will only help increase her exposure." href="/post/youtube-network-plays-well-latino-audiences" class="noexit lightbox">
Designer Ximena Valero uses YouTube to get the word out on her signature transformable fashion, modeled here by Cindy Vela. She says joining the Latino lifestyle network Mitu will only help increase her exposure.
Ximena Valero via YouTube

Whenever 29-year-old Trina Hernandez and her family have questions, they all turn to the same place.

"YouTube is such a popular word in my family," she says, and that's not just with her husband and son. "With my mom, she has a question and she'll go to YouTube to search. And my aunts, they're like, 'Oh, did you watch that video on YouTube? Oh, look it up real quick.' "

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