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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All Tech Considered
5:58 pm
Mon August 19, 2013

Combining The Nation's Digitized Libraries, All In One Place

The San Francisco Public Library has been digitizing its historical document collections for years, including the scrapbooks of famed homicide detective Theodore Kytka. The SFPL is among scores of libraries and archives adding their digital collections to the DPLA.
Via San Francisco Public Library

Part of a series, Keys To The Whole World: American Public Libraries

Buried in the archives of America's public and academic libraries are historical treasures — old papers, photos and records — that flesh out a detailed picture of our past.

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Business
4:55 am
Fri August 9, 2013

FTC Receives Complaints About Learning Apps For Babies

Originally published on Fri August 9, 2013 11:06 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Maybe you've seen a busy parent do this - hand over their smart phone to a child with a kid-friendly app running to keep them busy. Well, yesterday an advocacy group complained to the Federal Trade Commission that Fisher Price is deceiving parents by promoting its Laugh & Learn apps as educational.

NPR's Laura Sydell reports.

LAURA SYDELL, BYLINE: Babies are encouraged to learn about shapes and colors on this version of Laugh & Learn apps.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGH & LEARN APP)

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All Tech Considered
4:48 am
Wed August 7, 2013

Amazon Enters Art World; Galleries Say They Aren't Worried

Amazon said its new art marketplace will provide access to more than 40,000 works of art from at least 150 galleries and dealers.
Amazon.com

Originally published on Wed August 7, 2013 10:35 am

Local record and book shops have been disappearing as the market for music and literature moves online. In the past few years, there's been a growth in sites that sell fine art on the Internet. On Tuesday, Amazon joined that market. But in this case, many brick and mortar galleries aren't seeing the Internet as a threat.

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All Tech Considered
5:24 pm
Mon August 5, 2013

Trade Case Puts Apple In Washington's Sights

The U.S. Trade Representative has overturned a ban on the import of the iPhone 4 and the iPad 2.
David Paul Morris Getty Images

Originally published on Mon August 5, 2013 6:08 pm

Apple has been notoriously disinterested in Washington politics. But two decisions coming from the Obama administration in the past few days indicate that Washington is increasingly interested in Apple.

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Business
4:27 pm
Mon July 29, 2013

Ad Agency Merger Reflects New Realities Of Online Advertising

Originally published on Wed July 31, 2013 8:01 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

It's Paris meets Madison Avenue. Yesterday two of the world's largest advertising agencies announced plans to merge. The French ad company Publicis is combining with the New York-based Omnicom. The merger is largely a response to the growing dominance of Silicon Valley companies such as Google and Facebook.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

NPR's digital culture correspondent Laura Sydell joins us now to talk about what it all means. Hey there, Laura.

LAURA SYDELL, BYLINE: Hello.

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Business
4:55 am
Wed July 24, 2013

Apple's iPhone Sales Up, But Profits Down

Originally published on Wed July 24, 2013 10:59 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Apple sold more iPhones than expected last quarter, though its profits are down compared to last year. Still, in a quarter were other tech companies aren't meeting expectations, some analyst's say Apple isn't doing too badly.

NPR's Laura Sydell reports.

LAURA SYDELL, BYLINE: Apple's revenue was pretty much flat, at a little over 35 billion, and its profits were down nearly two billion. Despite a rise in iPhone sales, Samsung is still selling more smartphones.

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All Tech Considered
2:04 am
Mon July 15, 2013

How Hackers Tapped Into My Cellphone For Less Than $300

It's easier — and cheaper — than you'd expect to hack a cellphone, say a team of white hat hackers.
iStockPhoto.com

Originally published on Mon July 15, 2013 7:57 am

In the wake of the National Security Agency cyber-spying revelations, you may be worrying about the government keeping track of your digital life. But, for less than $300, a group of ordinary hackers found a way to tap right into Verizon cellphones.

This is a group of good-guy, or "white hat", hackers. They hacked the phones to warn wireless carriers that the phones have a security flaw.

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Business
4:13 am
Fri July 12, 2013

Apple To Appeal Ruling It Fixed E-Book Prices

Originally published on Fri July 12, 2013 4:40 am

A federal judge this week ruled that Apple conspired to raise prices of e-books, handing a victory to the Justice Department. Another winner in the fallout from this case was Amazon, the dominant seller of e-books.

Remembrances
3:42 am
Thu July 4, 2013

Douglas Engelbart Dies At 88, Invented Computer Mouse

Originally published on Thu July 4, 2013 8:48 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And a remembrance, now. The, a computer visionary best known for inventing the mouse has died. As NPR's Laura Sydell reports, the mouse was just one small piece of what Douglas Engelbart contributed to the development of personal computers.

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The Record
2:18 am
Wed July 3, 2013

New Jay-Z Album Tests The Musician And Samsung

A still of Jay-Z from the commercial for his new album.
YouTube

Originally published on Wed July 3, 2013 2:26 pm

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Business
3:04 am
Thu June 27, 2013

$99 Game Console Ouya Aims To Take Down Barriers To Fans

The Ouya game console and controller. Games are sold through something like an app store, allowing customers to sample them before buying.
Courtesy of Ouya

Originally published on Thu June 27, 2013 11:37 am

Sony and Microsoft are preparing to launch their latest gaming consoles this fall with price tags from $400 for the PlayStation 4 and $500 for the Xbox One. But this week, a $99 game console went on sale and sold out at Target and Amazon.

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The Record
4:28 am
Sat June 15, 2013

Pandora Buys A Radio Station, Songwriters' Group Calls It A 'Stunt'

Blake Morgan's songs were played some 28,000 times over a 90-day period on Pandora, earning $1.62 in royalties.
Jim Herrington Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sat June 15, 2013 3:40 pm

This week, the Internet radio broadcaster Pandora made what seems like a backward move — technologically speaking. Pandora purchased a local radio station in Rapid City, S.D. The company says it's aiming to get the more favorable royalty rates given to terrestrial broadcasters, but the move has songwriters and composers up in arms.

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Business
4:23 am
Tue June 11, 2013

Competitors Try To Chip Away At Pandora's Audience

Originally published on Tue June 11, 2013 5:56 am

On Monday, Apple announced iRadio — its entry into the crowded field of music streaming services. iTunes has become the top music retailer by selling song files. But no one in the music business thinks the iTunes model is the future. Pandora is the oldest and most successful streaming service so far. But it's been a disappointment to investors.

Music
4:25 pm
Mon June 10, 2013

Apple's Music Streaming Service Smaller Than Anticipated

Originally published on Tue June 11, 2013 7:11 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Now to another topic in tech. Today, Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference launched in San Francisco. The company made a slew of announcements: new MacBooks, a new operating system, and the most anticipated announcement - Apple's entry into the streaming music market with iTunes Radio. But as NPR's Laura Sydell reports, many analysts are underwhelmed.

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Business
4:30 am
Tue June 4, 2013

Apple: Price-Fixing Charges 'Not True'

Originally published on Tue June 4, 2013 3:29 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Lawyers for Apple will be back in court today, defending the company against government charges that it conspired with publishers to fix eBook prices. All the major publishing houses settled months ago with the Justice Department.

But as NPR's Laura Sydell reports, Apple's lawyer told the court the company won't settle because it did nothing wrong.

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