Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

Sat 30 Oct 2010 3:34 pm   //   Posted in: In the news, Media, TV

Some thoughts on the Jon Stewart speech

I just finished watching the broadcast of Comedy Central’s “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear” from Washington D.C. I think a lot of people weren’t sure what to make of it (Is it serious of funny? Political or agnostic? Cynical or sincere?) but I thought of it as a smart marketing promotion for two very good TV shows, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. And as expected, the rally came off as a funny and well-produced live variety program.

The YouTube Moment came at the end, when Jon Stewart devoted about 10 or 15 minutes to a serious speech. He spoke about how, unlike what you see on cable TV news and in Washington politics, Americans are mostly people who work together to solve problems.

On a windblown stage on a sunny afternoon, Stewart tried to make himself the voice of reason in American media. I think he succeeded, but in doing so I’m worried he ignored the role that passion—irrational, rude, confrontational passion—plays in making American work.


Wed 27 Oct 2010 8:14 am   //   Posted in: Media, New York is different

“Our diversity is our greatest strength.”

I saw this ad on a bus shelter last night:

Our diversity is our greatest strength ad new york

The full text of the ad is:

Our DIVERSITY is our greatest STRENGTH.

When any New Yorker is atacked for who they are, what they believe or whom they LOVE it is a crime against all of us.

Keep our City strong.


This is a totally on-pitch PSA that makes me proud of the city. To the best of my memory, this is the first time I’ve seen the slogan “Love love. Hate hate.” That’s a seriously good tagline. Also impressive is how timely this PSA is—the text seems to allude to recent hate crimes against a Muslim cab driver and several gay men in the Bronx, fresh wounds against the city. The campaign was launched October 14, not even 2 weeks after the Bronx attacks. The ads are produced by NYC & Company, the city’s public affairs division; more information in this press release.

Sun 24 Oct 2010 4:14 pm   //   Posted in: In the news, Media, Technology

Phrase of the year: It Gets Better

The It Gets Better Project is so good, so spot-on, that it ought to be celebrated as a triumph of Internet video, social media and even the English language. I can’t find one damn reason to be cynical about it.

You’ve probably seen at least a piece of this campaign. It’s an online media project started last month in response to a series of suicides by gay youth who were bullied in school. Writer Dan Savage started a website and YouTube channel seeking videos of adults counseling kids to hang in there, it’s going to get better. Savage recorded the first video with his husband, and promoted it in Savage Love, his nationally published sex column.


Fri 22 Oct 2010 12:00 am   //   Posted in: In the news, Media, Stray data

Chart: How much tax money do we spend on NPR, anyway?

Every few years, it becomes smart politics to attack public broadcasting and call for Congress to stop funding it. This week, following the Juan Williams debacle and just a few weeks before the midterm elections, National Public Radio is taking an especially hard beating from the right.

  • Mike Huckabee: “NPR has discredited itself as a forum for free speech and a protection of the First Amendment rights of all and has solidified itself as the purveyor of politically correct pabulum and protector of views that lean left…. It is time for the taxpayers to start making cuts to federal spending, and I encourage the new Congress to start with NPR.”
  • Sarah Palin: “If NPR is unable to tolerate an honest debate about an issue as important as Islamic terrorism, then it’s time for ‘National Public Radio’ to become ‘National Private Radio.'”
  • Some dude on Huffington: “It’s clear that NPR would rather play consistently to the left than reach a balanced audience. And for that, they deserve to be pushed away from the public trough.”

I’ve never been a big fan of using tax money to support media programming; its too close to the state-run media in countries with less freedom of speech. But the truth is, in the U.S., public radio hardly gets any tax money. NPR gets no tax money directly. Most of NPR’s revenue comes from private donations. Federal money is funneled through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which doles out grants to local stations, which can use it to pay their NPR dues. How much did the CPB budget for radio this year? $90.5 million. That’s nothing.

I’ve become interested in data visualization, so just for fun, here’s a quick and dirty chart illustrating the amount of tax money spent on public radio compared to a few other choice areas. I threw News Corp’s annual revenues in for good measure. All numbers (except the TARP spending) are from FY 2010.


Wed 20 Oct 2010 7:00 am   //   Posted in: Media, Technology

Facebook and freedom

The other day at work, someone spotted a customer complaint on a social network that I don’t use. I got started setting up a profile so I could respond to the customer and try to put things right. (This is a big part of what marketers do these days, in case you were wondering.) It felt like a million steps. The web site demanded a profile picture, and insisted that it be a photo of an actual person (not a logo), or else your messages would be deleted. I also noticed this site already had two entries for our company, under two slightly different names, both with an incorrect address and phone number. It soon became clear I would need to set up 3 profiles, one for each incorrect version of the company, and one for myself (since you can’t send messages from a company to an individual, which was all I really wanted to do in the first place).

I might have been better off just letting it go, but I wanted to do the right thing. Unfortunately, it became a huge frustration rather than a positive communications experience. Basically, I was letting a company I heretofore never cared about suddenly push me around, demanding my picture and phone number and a big chunk of my time. (You may have already guessed that the site I’m talking about is Yelp.) How annoying!


Thu 30 Sep 2010 8:24 am   //   Posted in: Labeling, Media, Technology

Nobody knows what “social graph” means

For three years, people who write and speak about technology have been using the phrase social graph. It’s sometimes used casually like a synonym for Facebook, the company that popularized the term. But what does social graph really mean, and where did it come from?


Mon 27 Sep 2010 8:00 am   //   Posted in: Media, Technology

Flow chart: Choosing a social network

Social media is too confusing! In an effort to simplify it, I took a stab at creating a chart illustrating when it’s appropriate to post an update on each of the social networks I use.

Thu 26 Aug 2010 8:00 am   //   Posted in: Media, TV

The new disinformation

Last week a survey that found 18% of Americans, when asked to name Barack Obama’s religion, incorrectly said he is Muslim. That’s up from 11% in 2009.

How could a growing number of people get a basic fact so wrong? I don’t believe it’s because 18% of Americans are fools. I think it’s because we are just beginning to see the effects of a radically new way of communicating. The strategy involves a mix of broadcasting and the Internet. Here’s the formula:

Fri 23 Jul 2010 6:35 am   //   Posted in: Failure, Media, Technology

Is Yahoo News proud of its comments feature?

“It’s as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots.”
Gene Weingarten, writing about web comments in the Washington Post.

* * * *

Yahoo News is one of the most popular news web sites in the world. It has a problem, though. Every major story comes with a generous helping of the most vile hate speech you’ve ever seen.


Tue 11 May 2010 11:28 pm   //   Posted in: Media, Technology, TV commericals

Notes on impatience

We can find anything we want on the Internet. The other day, I had an old advertising jingle stuck in my head that I remembered from childhood. (“You’ve got a lot to do before lunch!”) It took me about 10 minutes to find a YouTube video of the 1992 Cheerios commercial it came from.