The power of parody: Fotoshop by Adobé

There are few things I love more than a brilliant parody. This spoof commercial, by commercial director Jesse Rosten, shows exactly why plastering media with unachievable ideals of feminine beauty hurt women. Which sounds like a really heavy point to make. But this is fun. That’s the art of really making a point.

Fotoshop by Adobé from Jesse Rosten on Vimeo.

My first TV news appearance: CNN interview, Easter 2011

This past Sunday (Easter 2011) was a pretty interesting day for me. I did my first-ever TV news appearance — I was interviewed live on CNN by Fredricka Whitfield about how mobile phone users are more vulnerable to e-mail phishing attempts. Here’s the video (sorry about the annoying preroll ads)…


CNN tech Writer Amy Gahran talks to CNN about… by BeyondPixBroadcast

And here’s the transcript.

Now that you’ve seen the finished product, here’s the backstory….

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Why limiting employees’ online presence is a big mistake in journalism and elsewhere

Recently Forrester Research decided on an unfortunate, shortsighted policy. Forrester analysts can no longer can their own personally branded research blogs. They’re allowed to run their own blogs about their personal life or topics unrelated to their work at Forrester. But all their blogging on work-related topics must be done in blogs that are owned by Forrester.

Forrester’s rationale for this, according to VP Josh Bernoff, is that “Forrester is an intellectual property company, and the opinions of our analysts are our product.”

Which IMHO is the equivalent of saying “If you work for us, we reserve the right to own your brain and your social/professional network and reputation.”

Here’s why that’s a bad idea all the way around — not just for research, consulting, and IP companies, but for news organizations and journalists, too… Continue reading

Media mending the vocabulary gap: Polyamory and the Boston Globe

Last weekend, the cover of the Boston Globe Sunday magazine featured a good story about a topic I know well: polyamory. In Love’s New Frontier, Globe writer Sandra Miller did a far better job explaining this approach to relationships than most mainstream publications do. No wide-eyed, mock-shock sensationalism.

As a polyamorous person, I was rather tickled that this topic got such prominent play. I figured: Cool! There goes a chunk of the vocabulary gap!

If you haven’t heard the term, polyamory means being open to having more than one intimate relationship at a time, with the full knowledge and consent of everyone involved.

Yes, I realize any new term sounds awkward until you get used to it. So: Get used to it. Because here’s what the vocabulary gap looks like to a poly person…

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It’s 2010: Where are you writing and reading?

Over the past few years, I’ve noticed my personal patterns of writing and reading have changed significantly. Some of this has been in response to the changing technology of communication — the rise of social media, in particular. But some of it has also been about where I am in my life and my work.

Here’s a quick rundown of my own changes, and contributing reasons for them. I’d be curious to hear about other people’s personal media evolutions, too. Please share your own experiences in the comments below…

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Citizen v. Pro Journalism: Division is Diversion

The house to the right is a small settlement, ...
What, exactly, are journalistic fences supposed to accomplish? (Image via Wikipedia)

Recently Kellie O’Sullivan, a third-year communication student studying at the University of Newcastle in Australia, asked me some questions about citizen journalism for a class assignment. I get questions like this a lot, so she said it was fine if I answered her in a blog post.

The way she framed her questions made me wonder: Why are folks from news organizations and journalism/communication schools still so hung up on building fences to divide amateur from professional journalism? Does this reflect insecurity about their own status/worth, or simply a lack of understanding of how much these endeavors mostly overlap and complement each other?

Seems to me that we’d all gain more by focusing on the practice of reporting and journalism (especially being transparent and open to discussion, correction, and expansion of news and information). In my opinion, doing journalism is more important than what kind of journalist you consider yourself to be, or how others label you.

With that caveat, here’s what she asked, and how I answered… Continue reading

Why blocking news aggregators is dumb and won’t work

DALLAS - MAY 1:  Owner of the Dallas Mavericks...
Mark Cuban: This is your media on crack. Any questions?
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

The apparent crack epidemic sweeping the executive suites of media organizations across the U.S. has claimed another victim.

Mark Cuban loves the news business. Over the years he’s done and said some smart things in media. But on his blog a few days ago, he took a big ol’ nose dive straight into the shallow end of the pool.

In his Aug. 8 post, My Advice to Fox & MySpace on Selling Content – Yes You Can, Cuban exhorted news sites to start blocking access to links to their content coming from aggregators. So, for instance, someone might encounter a Newser summary of a USA Today story — but if USA Today blocked inbound links from Newser, someone who wanted to learn more from the full story would click the link and go nowhere.

Here’s the key point for news orgs to grasp: The audience would NOT view Newser as the problem there. Newser has already provided value with the story summary — and they were trying to provide the audience with even more value through a direct link to the full story.

Instead, the news organization would be spoiling its own reputation by presenting itself as an obstacle. The blocked aggregator link in effect says “We don’t want your attention unless you come to us our way, even though we’re not providing the kind of easy summary through aggregators that obviously meets your needs and attracts your interest.”

To which the audience would more likely respond, “Yeah, screw you too. I’ll take my eyeballs elsewhere, thanks.”

Not exactly good for the news business.

The sad and scary thing about Cuban’s post is that a lot of news execs will probably listen to Cuban right now, and maybe even follow his advice, because they’re scared and he’s playing to their fears, prejudices, and weaknesses. It’ll be sad to watch.

Perhaps the one bright spot in this mess is that it may be technically simple to get around aggregator link blocking…

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Newspapers & social media: CO Daily’s stupid Facebook trick

Facebook Friends box, Colorado Daily, May 13, 2009

Facebook Friends box, Colorado Daily, May 13, 2009=

I was just out to lunch with Tom Vilot, and he pointed out to me one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen a print newspaper do. He slapped the Colorado Daily onto the table and pointed to the upper-right corner of the tabloid’s table of content page. There, in that important bit of visual real estate, I saw this “Facebook Friends” box (see right).

OK, I snapped that picture with my crappy iPhone camera, I know it’s fuzzy. Here’s what it says:

“Status updates from Facebook users who’ve become friends of the Colorado Daily. To join, go to ColoradoDaily.com and follow the Facebook link.

  • Ed Post is kinda disappointed with his lunch.
  • Evan Taksar is already ready to go back to Boulder. WHO IS WITH ME?
  • Natalie Pritchett: Cookie dough for breakfast 2 mornings in a row can’t be good but gotta try it out b4 i pass it out! yum!”

I kid you not. This is, without a doubt, the stupidest thing I have ever seen a news organization try to do with social media.

What is the point here? It could have been, at the very least, to highlight some particularly intriguing things noted by the Colorado Daily’s Facebook friends. But instead it appears the paper went out of its way to choose the most inane comments, thus putting their worst face forward.

This, in my opinion, is worse than if the print edition of the paper ignored social media entirely. It’s using valuable print real estate to devalue that news brand’s print and online efforts. It’s almost as if someone at the CO Daily either really hates social media, or doesn’t get it, or both. This strategy is so bad that it nearly smacks of self-sabotage.

I applaud news organizations getting involved with social media, and integrating it into print efforts. And the Colorado Daily does a moderately decent job of communicating via Twitter. But this? Arrrrrggggghhhhh….

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Time’s “Mine” — Custom Magazine? Hardly

Yeah, I wasn't the only person who found Time's "Mine" magazine disappointing.

Yeah, I wasn't the only person who found Time's "Mine" magazine disappointing.

I really don’t like golf — at all. So I was surprised when, this weekend, my first issue of Mine (Time Inc.’s slick glossy foray into custom magazine publishing) included selected articles from Golf magazine.

Nearly a month ago I signed up on the Mine site to receive five issues of this custom biweekly magazine. I opted to include articles from these titles: Time, InStyle, RealSimple, Food & Wine, and Money. My issue of Mine arrived with only three out of five right — instead of Money and Food & Wine, it included stories from Golf and Travel & Leisure.

I found this amusing, because I remember thinking when I filled out the subscription form for Mine how little information about my lifestyle, interests, or preferences Time was asking for. I wondered how any publisher could deliver anything approaching a custom magazine based on my address, picking five out of eight general-interest magazines, and my answers to these four questions that are nebulous bordering on ridiculous:

  1. Which do you crave more: pizza or sushi?
  2. Do you like to sing in the car?
  3. Which would you like to learn: juggling or celebrity impersonation?
  4. Who would you like to have dinner with most: Leonardo da Vinci or Socrates?

According to the Associated Press, my experience wasn’t unique…

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