Shark Week: It’s a Bad Week to be a.. Shark? [Infographic]

Sharks. We love ‘em, we fear ‘em, and for an entire week on The Discovery Channel, we even pay homage to them. Yet in recent years, our fascination with these predatory powerhouses have made a disturbing shift from what’s depicted in JAWS to what’s featured in today’s soup du jour. Yes, that’s right folks. We’re talking shark soup.

Shark Week

Shark fin soup is considered a delicacy in Chinese culture, and is generally reserved for special occasions and events. According to statistics provided by the Wild Aid and the Chinese Wildlife Association, 83 percent of Chinese participants have consumed shark fin soup at some point in time.

In China, the texture of food is just as important to the dining experience as the meal itself. Often described as “chewy,” “tasteless” and “gelatinous” by most, shark fin soup nonetheless proves palatable to the Chinese majority.

Within recent years, financial prosperity in the Far East has lead to the consumption of shark fin soup in vast quantities; placing an unsustainable and crippling demand on shark populations. As a result, this widely-coveted commodity has seen a spike in the heinous practice known as “shark finning,” which refers to the removal and retention of shark fins. Believe it or not, shark fins are among the most expensive seafood products worldwide, and are commonly retailed at $400 per kilogram.

Many sharks are still alive during this process, and are often discarded back into the ocean once their fins have been removed. This debilitating extraction severely hinders a shark’s mobility, and they eventually succumb to their long-suffering injuries, or at the mercy of other predators.

To reduce the inhumanity of finning practices, several countries now require the removal of fins to be monitored at the closest port. Unfortunately, such protocol proves too tedious for corrupt fishermen and/or profiteers who prefer to fin at sea, as it increases both their profitability and the number of sharks harvested.

While the practice of finning is prohibited in the U.S., the act of eating it is apparently alright. There are countless restaurants across the nation that continue to serve shark fin soup (a list of these restaurants are made available on the Animal Welfare Institute’s official website,

Shockingly, an average bowl of shark fin soup in the U.S. is priced anywhere between $70 to $150, and for those “prized” species (particularly the whale and basking sharks), a single fin can easily fetch $10,000 to $20,000. What’s even worse? Shark meat is barely fit for human consumption! Shark fins are known to contain high levels of mercury, and are advised against by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

By the end of Shark Week’s seven-day course, over 1,848,000 sharks will be mercilessly slaughtered. This figure translates into three sharks that are killed every second. It’s strange, really, how we base our perception of sharks as the sea-trolling predators with a penchant for human blood. Who would have known that it was us humans who were the true predators, after all?

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Is Medium looking to be to magazines what The Huffington Post is to newspapers?

Like any company, as Medium matures it ultimately has to find a sustainable revenue source. Follow the revenue and you’ll find the future. For now, Medium’s most promising route to revenue has been its newly added “Publications” series. These work like digital magazines around certain focused topics. Like collections used to work, they can be started by companies, organizations, individuals. They are then updated regularly with content from authors allowed to write for the publication. Reform is a publication sponsored by BMW. This was Medium’s first attempt at monitizing their platform and it looks like they have been doubling down on publications ever since.

Content from publications dominates the content found on the home news feed and each category feed. Whether that is from an internal algorithm push to promote publication’s content or it’s just the result of content from publications being well written and well received — is hard to tell. But ultimately it leaves Medium’s content at a crossroads of two competing sources, open community content and exclusive publications content. You can see Medium isn’t even sure how to handle merging these two currently as their publications page isn’t discoverable from the home page. Even if you find this publications page, it is just a nondescript search box void of even some suggestions or a popular list. The only way to find publications at this point are to happen upon an article which was published through one, notice the article was published on a publication and click through to it. It’s clear Medium is still deciding how to mold together these two sources.

Moving towards publications make sense from a revenue standpoint and even as a value standpoint as publications will have more quality control. But as publications become more popular, they will continue to dominate community space. Community members not writing for publications are going to be continually pushed into a smaller and smaller box of displayed content. It will be next to impossible (as it pretty much already is) for a community member without an audience to get their content discovered. Only writers posting through publications or writers with large audiences they had accrued pre-changes will be able to get their content above the fold and found by readers.

This isn’t the only battle shaping the future of Medium. As publications continue to grow, more pressure will be put on the issue of paid writers vs free writers. Yes, Medium is paying writers, some of them at least. These select few now mainly head the content being submitted through Medium’s publications as the quality bar there has to be high if they are going to sell companies on the idea of sponsoring them. This paid vs. free issue will create a divide between authors.

If the quality bar has to be high to be able to post on Publications, how can you argue one writer being compensated for their work on that publication and another writer doing so for free? Because Medium is beautiful and fun to write on? Or the general cut your teeth now, earn an income later promise? Both writers had to pass the same quality bar.

Again, I believe this is another factor that will erode away the community contributors as it does on every other publishing platform when some writers are getting paid and others aren’t. Even the free contributors that have made their way onto writing for publications will dwindle as they find the quality bar continue to rise and their value gained remaining stagnant.

Let me try and explain visually the effect the current incentive structure will have on Medium.

Medium's future

Now I’m assuming a lot here. Sponsored publications is just Medium’s first attempt at revenue. Evan Hansen, a senior member of Medium’s team, noted “We’re in exploratory moment,” “It’s not about the money, it’s about the experiment”. This is still early days for their revenue model. A startup can and will go through many iterations before finding the right fit.

With this piece I’m looking at what Medium might look like if sponsored publications continue to be the revenue model. The answer being, magazines for the web written by talented (mostly paid) journalists. Magazines are still relatively popular for both their aesthetically pleasing reading experience and a focus on industry defining content. Newspapers have had a much harder time due to their focus on timely content which the web does a much better job at providing. But just like newspapers, magazines have had to make the switch to online publishing in order to stay relative.


Look at that chart and realize you are looking at a 97 billion dollar industry making its transition to online publishing. Medium has done what many others haven’t been able to which is replicate magazine’s aesthetically pleasing reading experience and design onto the web. This is something magazines are struggling to accomplish. And given their lack of a background in tech, it’s something they will likely continue to struggle with. This coupled with Medium’s focus on industry defining long form content and their new flagship product “Publications”, leaves Medium seemingly aimed at being to magazines what the Huffington Post is to newspapers.