Kat Downs Mulder named managing editor/digital of The Washington Post

Downs Mulder is currently Vice President of Product and Design, overseeing The Post’s product strategy. She leads a team focused on developing and refining The Post’s website, apps, internal tools and new products to expand the audience for The Post’s journalism, deepen connections with new and loyal readers and grow subscriptions. Downs Mulder previously led The Post’s award-winning Graphics department for almost five years.

“I’m excited to return to the newsroom and look forward to leading this talented team of innovative journalists,” said Downs Mulder. “Having led product the last three years, I’ve gained a deep understanding of our subscribers and potential subscribers, and the content and experiences they value. I’ll bring that experience to this role with the ultimate goal of engaging readers more deeply and continuing to aggressively grow our subscriber base.”

Downs Mulder will start in her new position on Monday, Oct. 19.

Full memo from Post Executive Editor Marty Baron below:

I am delighted to announce that Kat Downs Mulder will become The Post’s new managing editor/digital, effective next Monday.

Kat, who now serves as vice president of product and design and previously headed The Post’s Graphics department for almost five years, will lead our efforts to innovate in a rapidly changing digital landscape and to guide the newsroom through a dramatic evolution in storytelling forms and in how the public consumes information.

Kat has been a leader for years in the digital transformation of The Post. As director of Graphics, she moved the department from its print orientation to an intense digital focus, promoting original visual reporting, creative storytelling that fuses the powerful tools now at our disposal, and presentations tailored to mobile and social platforms. The work won gold medals from Malofiej and the Society for News Design, and contributed to three Pulitzer prizes.

Washington state’s broadband guru on an internet moonshot and being a metaphorical prom king

Russ Elliott in his man-cave COVID-19 workspace. (Photo courtesy of Russ Elliott)

When a buddy of Russ Elliott‘s asked if he’d join him in starting a telecom company, he flat out said no. While his friend had been a great help building a website he needed, the venture didn’t have any financial backing and Elliott wasn’t versed in internet connectivity.

But when his friend took the unusual step of sending him a motivational postcard — something with an iceberg and a corny message about not knowing what’s out there unless you took a risk — it played on his mind. Elliott had an MBA. He had drive. He decided to embrace the inspirational cliché.

With that, some 20 years ago Elliott helped launch what became a successful business in Colorado called Brainstorm Internet, serving as its president for 13 years.

“We were nimble and quick and had smart people on our team and started DSL in our area,” Elliott said. They applied scrappy, creative solutions to deliver connectivity to rural areas in parts of Colorado and New Mexico.

 It certainly is a moonshot, but it is not unattainable.

There were other ventures mixed in, but the job with Brainstorm Internet wound up prepping him for his current role as the first director of the recently created Washington State Broadband Office, an organization within the state’s Department of Commerce. Elliott has the challenge of providing high-speed internet connectivity — 150 megabits per second for both downloading and uploading data — to all residents and businesses in the state by 2028.

“That really does set us on a different path. It is the most aggressive goal in the country today,” Elliott said. “It certainly is a moonshot, but it is not unattainable.”

He estimates that half of Washington’s population currently lacks fast,

CEOs of 3 Tech Giants to Testify at Oct. 28 Senate Hearing | Washington, D.C. News

By MARCY GORDON, AP Business Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — The CEOs of technology giants Facebook, Google and Twitter are expected to testify for an Oct. 28 Senate hearing on tech companies’ control over hate speech and misinformation on their platforms.

The Senate Commerce Committee voted last week to authorize subpoenas for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai of Google and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey to force them to testify if they didn’t agree to do so voluntarily. Spokespeople for the companies said Monday that the CEOs will cooperate.

The hearing “must be constructive and focused on what matters most to the American people: how we work together to protect elections,” Twitter said in a tweet in its policy channel.

The hearing will come less than a week before Election Day. It marks a new bipartisan initiative against Big Tech companies, which have been under increasing scrutiny in Washington and from state attorneys general over issues of competition, consumer privacy and hate speech.

The executives’ testimony is needed “to reveal the extent of influence that their companies have over American speech during a critical time in our democratic process,” said Sen. Roger Wicker, a Mississippi Republican who heads the Commerce Committee.

Facebook, meanwhile, is expanding restrictions on political advertising, including new bans on messages claiming widespread voter fraud. The new prohibitions laid out in a blog post came days after President Donald Trump raised the prospect of mass fraud in the vote-by-mail process during a debate last week with Democratic rival Joe Biden.

With Trump leading the way, conservative Republicans have kept up a barrage of criticism of Silicon Valley’s social media platforms, which they accuse without evidence of deliberately suppressing conservative views.

The Justice Department has asked Congress to roll back long-held legal protections for online platforms, putting down a legislative

SpaceX’s internet-from-space Starlink system helping first responders fight fires in Washington

Responders fighting wildfires in Washington are getting some extra help from SpaceX and the company’s internet-from-space Starlink initiative. SpaceX loaned the Washington Emergency Management Division a handful of user terminals that can tap into the company’s Starlink satellites, providing internet to rural areas where first responders are battling raging wildfires.

SpaceX is still at the very beginning of building out its Starlink constellation, which could consist of nearly 12,000 satellites when it’s complete. That number of satellites could beam broadband internet services to every spot on Earth at all times from relatively low orbits, potentially providing global internet coverage from space. There’s still a ways to go. So far, SpaceX has launched nearly 800 satellites, though dozens have also been taken out of orbit. SpaceX plans to start beta testing in the Washington area with the satellites that remain in orbit.

“What happened is that they happened to have satellites that could reach our area,” Steven Friedrich, a spokesperson for the Washington Emergency Management Division, wrote to The Verge in a message.

The Washington Emergency Management Division is using two of SpaceX’s user terminals to receive broadband from overhead satellites. One is located near Malden, Washington, which was devastated by wildfires, and another is located near a smaller fire dubbed the Sumner-Grade Wildfire in western Washington. “Without the terminal, internet would be nearly impossible to achieve” near the Malden area, according to Friedrich. “My understanding is this is the first [public] use of Starlink and the partnership their technical experts have had with our team in the state [Emergency Operations Center] has been invaluable,” Friedrich said.

Washington emergency responders use SpaceX Starlink satellite internet

Washington Emergency Management Division

The Starlink satellite internet network that SpaceX is developing has been used in the field by Washington state emergency responders in recent weeks, the first early application of the company’s service to be disclosed.

Washington’s state military, which includes its emergency response division, began employing Starlink user terminals in early August to bring internet service to areas devastated by wildfires. User terminals are the small devices on the ground that connect to the satellites. The emergency division has seven Starlink user terminals, which it is deploying with early success.

“I have never set up any tactical satellite equipment that has been as quick to set up, and anywhere near as reliable” as Starlink, Richard Hall, the emergency telecommunications leader of the Washington State Military Department’s IT division, told CNBC in an interview Monday.

How Washington’s using Starlink

Starlink is the name for SpaceX’s ambitious plan to build an interconnected internet satellite network, also known as a “constellation,” to deliver high-speed internet to anywhere on the planet.

The full Starlink network is planned to have about 12,000 satellites flying in what is known as low Earth orbit, much closer to the surface than traditional broadband satellites. Hall, whose division has used other satellite broadband services, said “there’s really no comparison” between Starlink and traditional networks, where the satellites are farther away from the Earth in Geosynchronous or medium earth orbits.

“Starlink easily doubles the bandwidth” in comparison, Hall said, noting that he’s seen more than 150% decreases in latency. “I’ve seen lower than 30 millisecond latency consistently,” he said.

Hall said that, with other traditional services, it typically takes between 30 minutes to an hour to set up a satellite connection, “with a lot less speed and bandwidth and a lot higher latency in a much larger