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.

Pages

All Tech Considered
3:16 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Game Over For Nintendo? Not If Mario And Zelda Fans Keep Playing

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 2:09 pm

Some analysts say that Nintendo's days are numbered. Holiday sales of its new console, the Wii U, have been lackluster compared to Microsoft's Xbox One and Sony's PlayStation 4.

But since Nintendo still offers some of the most popular game franchises, the love of Zelda and Mario may keep the company going for a long time.

In preparation for this story, I put out a call to talk to die-hard Nintendo fans. I was inundated with responses. Among them, Brian White, 30, grew up playing the Zelda games.

Now he's got a daughter. "We named her Zelda," he says.

Read more
All Tech Considered
8:54 am
Mon December 30, 2013

Hot On YouTube: Videos About Video Games, And Science, Too

A screengrab of a YouTube video of the game Walking Dead from the Swedish gamer known as PewDiePie. Videos of people offering commentary while playing video games are wildly popular on YouTube.
YouTube/PewDiePie

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 7:34 am

Read more
All Tech Considered
9:26 am
Wed December 18, 2013

What It's Like To Live On Low Pay In A Land Of Plenty

Manny Cardenas, seen here with his 5-year-old daughter Zoe, has earned $16 an hour as a part-time security guard at Google.
Laura Sydell NPR

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 10:11 am

This week, we're exploring the San Francisco Bay Area and the way income inequality is affecting the region. Check out the other pieces of the week, aggregated on this page.

Read more
All Tech Considered
4:50 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Wireless Companies, FCC Reach Deal On 'Unlocking' Cellphones

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 4:45 pm

U.S. wireless carriers reached a deal with the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday that will make it easier for consumers to "unlock" their mobile phones and use them on a competitor's network.

The deal came in the wake of a consumer rebellion over the policy of locking cellphones to a carrier. A petition that garnered more than 114,000 signatures landed at the White House, and the Obama administration sided with the petitioners.

Read more
All Tech Considered
11:00 am
Fri November 15, 2013

Will New PlayStation, Xbox Click Beyond The Hard-Core Gamer?

The Sony PlayStation 4 sells for $399.
Pablo Blazquez Dominguez Getty Images

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 5:07 pm

Read more
All Tech Considered
2:34 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

What Today's Online Sharing Companies Can Learn From Napster

Napster founder Shawn Fanning in February 2001, after a ruling that the free Internet-based service must stop allowing copyrighted material to be shared.
Paul Sakuma AP

Originally published on Mon November 11, 2013 6:02 pm

This week on-air and online, the tech team is exploring the sharing economy. You'll find the stories on this blog and aggregated at this link, and we would love to hear your questions about the topic. Just email, leave a comment or tweet.

Read more
Music News
9:34 am
Sun June 30, 2013

Taj Mahal: Still cooking up 'heirloom music' his own way

Taj Mahal is credited with helping popularize American blues over the course of his five-decade career.
Jay Blakesberg Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sun June 30, 2013 9:46 am

Taj Mahal has a degree in animal husbandry and agronomy, and planned to be a farmer. Music was just something he did.

"No matter what went down, music was always going to be a part of my life," the guitarist and singer says. "What ultimately happened is that, over a period of time, I just kind of looked around and when like, 'Wow! I'm actually making a living doing this.'"

Read more
Law
8:57 am
Wed February 20, 2013

Law Change Makes It Harder To Unlock Cellphones

Originally published on Wed February 20, 2013 6:41 am

Maybe you don't like your mobile phone carrier, but you like your phone and you want to keep it but change providers. An obscure change in federal law makes it illegal to switch without permission from your carrier.

If you have, for example, AT&T, in order to switch to T-Mobile you have to unlock the phone, and AT&T can now stop you from doing that.

The change in the copyright law has some people upset, and they're petitioning the White House for a fix.

Read more
All Tech Considered
4:43 pm
Thu November 29, 2012

Yet Another Shift In Facebook Policies Raises Privacy Concerns

Joerg Koch AP

Originally published on Thu November 29, 2012 2:37 pm

Facebook has a long history of upsetting its users by suddenly announcing a change to its privacy settings. In 2009, as a way to quiet the critics, Facebook set up a system for its customers to vote on changes. If enough of them were unhappy, the company would back down. Now, Facebook wants to get rid of the voting.

Read more
All Tech Considered
10:10 pm
Mon September 10, 2012

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

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

Originally published on Mon September 10, 2012 3:52 pm

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."

Read more
The Record
10:29 pm
Thu January 19, 2012

Megaupload Shut Down By The FBI

Courtesy of Megaupload.

Originally published on Fri January 20, 2012 1:37 pm

Click the link above to listen to Laura Sydell's conversation with Morning Edition's David Greene about the Megaupload indictment and the attack on the Department of Justice's website by the group Anonymous.

Read more
Presidential Race
3:37 pm
Fri January 6, 2012

How Rick Santorum's 'Google problem' has endured

Originally published on Fri January 6, 2012 12:00 pm

Rick Santorum has been working hard this week to capitalize on his strong showing in the Iowa caucuses, trying to convince Republicans in New Hampshire that he is presidential material. One thing he's not encouraging possible supporters to do: Google him.

Read more

Pages