Podcast

ZigZag

Meet Manoush and Jen, founders of Stable Genius Productions. They’re documenting the process of starting a media company while trying not to simultaneously become bad mothers, bankrupt themselves, or destroy their wonderful creative partnership. And when their first funding comes in the form of cryptocurrency, things get really interesting. ZigZag is a meta-mix of voice memos, taped conversations, come-to-Jesus moments, and mini-stories about entrepreneurship, deciding how to align your values ...more

Episodes

  • S2 EP10: An App for Information Overload?

    Dec 13 2018

    Journalists-turned-entrepreneurs Mark Little and Áine Kerr believe the experience of getting news online is broken. (And they should know: Mark worked at Twitter and Áine at Facebook.) So, they're building an app called Kinzen which they hope can reboot our daily news habit by delivering trustworthy journalism without overwhelming us. Afterall, they reason, we have apps to track our sleep, steps, and calories... Why not news consumption? But can there really be an app for that? GO DEEPER: You ...more

  • S2 BONUS: The Story of ZigZag Through Voice Memos

    Dec 06 2018

    It's been an extraordinarily weird year. This mini episode compresses Manoush and Jen's story so far into a strange mash-up of voice memos that documents their leap from public radio producers to audio entrepreneurs (who often are very stressed and seem to rarely sleep). Think of it as an audio thank you note for being on this ZigZag ride. We're so glad you're here with us.  We hope you'll also consider supporting Radiotopia, the podcast collective that helps make ZigZag possible. Go to radioto...more

  • S2 EP9: Julia Angwin's Investigations Haunt Facebook

    Dec 06 2018

    Julia Angwin, the award-winning reporter whose investigations make Facebook sweat, just got $20 million from Craig Newmark (yes, as in Craig's List) to start her own publication. Hear her vision for The MarkUp, why we need a new kind of watchdog journalism, and how she plans to combine hardcore data analysis with shoe-leather reporting. Plus, the honest lowdown on how Julia beats decision fatigue, as a startup founder and a parent. It's not all black turtlenecks and green smoothies, but it's clo...more

  • S2 EP8: The Women Who Make CRIMINAL

    Nov 28 2018

    CRIMINAL was a mega-hit long before the genre of true-crime took off in podcasting. On this episode, Manoush and Jen talk to the show's co-creators, Phoebe Judge and Lauren Spohrer, about quitting their stable public radio jobs to start a company (sound familiar?), managing each other's quirks, and saying 'no' to the many business opportunities that come their way. This duo has great advice for anyone trying to manage a partnership, balance creativity with bill paying, or just stay to one's weir...more

  • S2 EP7: Forget Inbox Zero

    Nov 22 2018

    This week, we explain how the ZigZag inbox works and Manoush answers two very special letters: one from a listener with an unusual financial frustration and another who has an existential entrepreneurial query. Because in the daily cacophony of signals, email sometimes shines through as a place to get the news and information we want from people and sources we trust. GO DEEPER: A study about our email habits finds half of us achieve in-box zero. The SEC says tokens are securities (we think). Th...more

  • S2 EP6: A Secret #MeToo Weapon

    Nov 15 2018

    Can you scrub the truth from the web? Or will people always find a workaround? An extraordinary tale this week about the intersection of new tech, personal stories, human rights, and repressive regimes. Plus, producer Thalia Beaty explains how governments around the world use digital tools to censor and surveil journalists and their citizens. GO DEEPER: New Yorker writer Jiayang Fan's article, China's #MeToo Moment. The testimony nestled in an Ethereum transaction. How Civil plans to repurpose...more

  • S2 EP5: Meat World Matters

    Nov 08 2018

    Meat world, real life, 'social infrastucture'...whatever you want to call it, human contact with our neighbors is crucial to mending divided communities, according to sociologist Eric Klinenberg, author of Palaces for the People. On this episode, Eric issues a passionate plea for more investment in libraries, public squares and other places where people can quite literally meet on common ground. Jen does her own reporting about the 'social infrastructure' that she believes kept her community tog...more

  • S2 EP4: What IS Fact-Checking?

    Nov 01 2018

    This week's episode is focused on a very specialized job in journalism: the Fact-Checker. Our guide is journalism's OG of information verification, Pulitzer Prize winner Bill Adair. He explains the origins, methodology, and challenges of fact-checking in a "post-truth" world. Plus, how journalists are partnering with technologists to build tools that they hope can make the very word "fact" less politically charged. GO DEEPER: Post-truth politics and why the antidote isn't just fact-checking. Pl...more

  • S2 EP3: Trusting Yourself in Startup-Entrepreneurland

    Oct 25 2018

    Hear from three entrepreneurs (Jen, Manoush, and Civil Media CEO Matthew Iles) on how each is coping with uncertainty, deciding how to grow, and bouncing back when things go...well, badly, like that token sale you heard about in the previous episode. Because ZigZag listeners are emailing a lot about going through their own entrepreneurial growing pains. And they're grateful for the raw honesty about being a businessperson: "I appreciate so much that you don't know what you're doing." "It's suc...more

  • S2 EP2: Why Civil's Token Sale Failed

    Oct 18 2018

    Civil couldn't convince enough people that blockchain and crypto-economics were the answer to journalism’s problems. It didn't even come close to its $8m goal. But, #failure is common in the tech world. And so are pivots. On this episode, Civil Media CEO Matthew Iles acknowledges the screw-ups and explains why the company is still solvent. Plus, the second half of our Twitter and 'misinformation' explainer with research from the Knight Foundation. Can you, lawmakers, or Twitter do anything to st...more

  • S2 EP1: How Misinformation Spreads

    Oct 11 2018

    Manoush and Jen kick off the season with surprising new research from the Knight Foundation into how false information spreads on Twitter and its effect on society. They also have news about Civil, the blockchain startup for journalism, which is struggling to sell $8m worth of its cryptocurrency. With only days left in the token sale, techie journalist (and former WNYC colleague) John Keefe joins the duo to share his experience buying CVL tokens and where he thinks the startup went wrong. **GO ...more

  • Announcing Season Two of ZigZag

    Oct 04 2018

    ZigZag is BACK on October 11 for Season Two. The theme is Trust + Information. Listen to the trailer to hear what Jen and Manoush have planned...and click here to learn how to get the podcast delivered to you every Thursday. *Never heard ZigZag? *Give Episodes One and Two of Season One a try. You'll get to know Jen and Manoush and finally understand what blockchain technology is. Still not convinced? Read what the press and listeners have to say about the show.

  • The Civil Token Sale is Live

    Sep 20 2018

    Manoush and Jen explain the latest news on Civil’s token sale. They also admit why they're a little uneasy about some recent press coverage of their endeavors, and try to make sense of one man’s failed attempt at #MeToo redemption. Who you’ll hear: Manoush and Jen (@manoushz) (@jpoyant) A PROGRAMMING NOTE: Season Two officially kicks off on Oct 11, 2018. Never heard the show? Start with Season One here. GO DEEPER: Clarifications on where the money from the sale goes and how the process of buy...more

  • Update: It’s Hard Going Back to School, Work, and Saving Journalism

    Sep 06 2018

    Never heard ZigZag? Start with Season One, Chapter One. This is an update episode between Seasons 1 and 2 of ZigZag.  On Sept 20, we'll have a special report on the Civil token sale. Season Two officially starts on Oct 11, 2018. This week, Manoush and Jen discuss Civil’s biggest partnership to date, why boredom is more relevant than ever, and address listeners who wish they would stop cursing on their show. GO DEEPER: What the Associated Press hopes Civil’s tech will help them achieve. Not ...more

  • Chapter 12: Enter the Mesh

    Aug 23 2018

    Manoush and Jen wrap up Season One* by interviewing Joe Lubin, co-founder of the Ethereum blockchain, about his involvement with Civil and whether the tech is up to the task of supporting a new platform for journalism. They also have honest answers for listeners about where ZigZag and their business, Stable Genius Productions, go next. Plus, a surprise treat at the end makes this season finale sing. *ZigZag will be back with updates on the Civil token sale on Sept 6 and Sept 20. Season Two of...more

  • Chapter 11: Ten Things You Should Know About Crypto

    Aug 16 2018

    From Crypto Kitties to Bitcoin Carnivores, the world of crypto is like a weird parallel reality, hidden just out of plain sight from most of us. This top ten countdown will grant you powers to see previously-invisible blockchain subcultures and experiments surrounding you...but beware: once spotted, they cannot be unseen. Our field guide is the very knowledgable and deadpan Joon Ian Wong of Coindesk. **GO DEEPER: **ZigZag: Chapter 2 is Blockchain 101. So much lingo: magical crypto friends, Hodl...more

  • Chapter 10: Listening to Anthony Bourdain

    Aug 09 2018

    Anthony Bourdain did a very unusual interview a few months before his death: he spent an afternoon with Maria Bustillos, founder of Popula.com and the first journalist to join the Civil platform. Bourdain Confidential, her piece about their wonderfully philosophical and fiery conversation, went viral when she published it in July. Now, for the first time, Maria shares her audio recording of their time together; hear Bourdain’s take on Obama, his choice words for other celebrities, and why he fel...more

  • Chapter 9: Letter from Startup-Blockchain-Women-Entrepreneurland

    Aug 02 2018

    Civil postpones its token sale until September and lowers expectations of how much the sale can generate. Meanwhile, Manoush and Jen are floored by emails from listeners about the changes they’ve made in their lives since #MeToo. Plus, Manoush responds to criticism that she and Jen “act like silly dumb girls” whenever they discuss high-level concepts. **GO DEEPER: **Here's where to 1) read the Civil FAQ and Constitution 2)take the registration quiz, 3) ask questions in Telegram and 4) educate y...more

  • Chapter 8: Putting Crypto Pioneers to the Test

    Jul 26 2018

    It’s true. ZigZag listeners agree that registering to buy CVL tokens is a pain in the ass. And yet, many still plan to join Civil’s experimental social network for journalism. On this episode, listeners ask tough question and explain why they’re undeterred by the platform’s growing pains. Also, Manoush and Jen gather the “First-Fleet” of Civil journalists to discuss problems with employers and business-models past (DNAInfo, The Denver Post, the New York Daily News)...and how they plan to make su...more

  • Chapter 7: A New Frontier for Journalism?

    Jul 19 2018

    The time has come. Civil, the blockchain startup for journalism, made its big announcement: members of the public can now register to buy its digital currency, the CVL token. But Manoush and Jen are surprised by the strict parameters Civil has set for the sale. What do these restrictions mean for their finances? Will people go through Civil’s rigorous process to buy tokens? Maybe...but only if they’re absolutely convinced that the ethics of the platform are worth supporting. Enter Vivian Schille...more

  • Chapter 6: What's a CVL Token?

    Jul 12 2018

    A heady cocktail of cryptoeconomics and game theory is fueling Civil’s big plan to save journalism. Add a “token curated registry” to the mix and it’s enough to give everyone a virtual hangover. Luckily, economist Stephanie Hurder, obsessive crypto-journalist Laura Shin, and hot sauce come to the rescue.

  • Chapter 5: Men, Women and Vulnerability

    Jul 05 2018

    With Civil’s token launch looming, Manoush and Jen go for one last gut check with the guys who helped inspire their meta journey: Alex Blumberg and Matt Lieber, co-founders of Gimlet Media. Season One of their hugely successful podcast StartUp documented Alex and Matt’s own entrepreneurial highs and lows. But the two women want to know: how did living out loud affect their psyches and families? And does gender change the story? Who you’ll hear: Manoush (@manoushZ) Jen (@jpoyant) The Cofounders ...more

  • Chapter 4: Hedging Your Bets

    Jun 28 2018

    Manoush and Jen give themselves 36 hours in San Francisco to come up with a financial backup plan, just in case this whole blockchain-token-thing doesn’t work out. Silicon Valley runs on VC money so maybe Stable Genius Productions should too? First, they talk to a well-known venture capitalist on whether aligning their mission with investor expectations is a laughable goal. Then, they visit Roman Mars, host of 99% Invisible and Radiotopia co-founder, at his headquarters in Oakland. He explains h...more

  • Chapter 3: Higher Than We Knew

    Jun 21 2018

    In Chapters 1 and 2, Jen and Manoush decide to gamble their future on new technology that hasn’t been proven and a virtual currency that doesn’t exist yet. In this chapter, they meet up with another pair of female co-founders to confide their fears about joining the experimental journalism platform called Civil. Alyson Martin and Nushin Rashidian cover the burgeoning marijuana industry in the U.S. and are about to publish Cannabis Wire on Civil. They believe it’s their best shot at growing Cann...more

  • Chapter 2: Blockchain. Blockwhat?!

    Jun 14 2018

    Manoush and Jen have a LOT of questions. Should they stake their careers on the blockchain? How can they explain it without sounding like techno-utopians who have bought into a pyramid scheme? And anyway, can the blockchain really upend how society works...AND help fund Manoush and Jen’s media company? Most importantly, can this episode really explain, simply and clearly, what the hell the blockchain is and how it works? Who you’ll hear: Manoush (@manoushZ) Jen (@jpoyant) Cofounder of Ethereum...more

  • Chapter 1: Meet the Stable Geniuses

    Jun 14 2018

    Manoush and Jen just formed a new kind of media company. But is it possible for them to simultaneously be entrepreneurs, mission-driven journalists, and good mothers without falling off a financial cliff? They quit their public radio jobs to find out. Just as panic starts to set in, they meet a mysterious funder with an intriguing proposal. — About the podcast: Join Manoush and Jen as they document every step of their journey from public radio journalists to media entrepreneurs… on the blockch...more

  • Introducing ZigZag!

    May 29 2018

    A new podcast about women and tech. And the blockchain. And anxiety. First two episodes drop June 14th! But meanwhile come say hi at Stableg.com and sign up for our newsletter.