Tag Archives: News

Are You Reading Fact or Fiction on Your Favorite Blog?

It has now been nearly 48 hours since the world learned of the death of Usama Bin Laden at the hands of a United States soldier. There have been thousands upon thousands of blog posts and news stories written, dissecting every possible angle of this monumental story. Still more articles have been penned which do not even come close to anything resembling the truth. Speculation, conspiracy theories and outright lies have been printed on websites around the globe. The Internet is a fantastic place to get the news, there’s no doubt about it. But it is always accurate news you’re reading?

I cannot begin to tell you how many times in the past two days I have literally slapped a hand to my forehead, nor how often I have sighed very loudly while reading yet another far-fetched account of the events in Pakistan. The problem is that it’s not a simple matter of people having different opinions and viewpoints than you or I do. The issue is that too many people are focused on getting as much traffic as they can… and they don’t really care if they are printing actual facts. These types of people will say anything they can to suck you in. They love to tick you off, knowing you’ll link to their “journalistic piece” on their social networks in order to tell others how bad it is. That, of course, gains them even more traffic.

Earlier tonight, I happened to be browsing my way through recent stuff posted on our LockerGnome questions and answers site. I was reading a thread where people are debating whether or not the burial of Bin Laden was “proper.” An argument broke out when one person posted something absolutely ludicrous, claiming it to be a fact. When asked to back up his statement, he provided a link to an obscure blog that he favorites. Clicking through to read their article, my hand once again made contact with my head. (Note to self: invest in a forehead cushion!)

A quick ten-second Google search gave me the needed ammunition. Solid proof can be found on a website dedicated to the teachings of the Islamic religion. Which “facts” are you going to believe… those which came from a blogger who clearly doesn’t agree with something and hasn’t done his research or an official website of the religion itself?

Take everything you read online with a few grains of salt, even supposed news stories. Fiction abounds, my friends, as do people with less-than-honorable intentions. You also have to wade through rumors to determine what is real. Let’s not forget that the original stories about Bin Laden included the “fact” that he had been dead for a week. Unfortunately, there are many out there still holding on to that little tidbit as truth.

Just like when buying a product, do your research before accepting what you are reading as truth. Try to set aside your feelings and take the words in through an open mind before deciding whether the words on the page are facts.

Facebook Releasing Public Commenting System

According to CNET, Facebook is set to unleash a new public commenting system in just a few weeks. This system is said to be set to roll out on some “major blogs and sites” as soon as it is officially ready. The same system is already being used on Facebook’s own blog, and it looks mighty nice.

Looking at the actual comment system on their blog, you can see how elegant it looks. You can post as yourself, or as a Page. If you hover over a person’s name, you will see how many comments they’ve left and what their “Like” percentage is. It’s unclear right now if these Like percentages are made up only of actual Likes, or if it’s a combination of Likes and how many times someone pushed the big red X in the comment.

An official (yet short) announcement out of the Facebook camp has very little to say:

Based on feedback from developers about ways to improve our existing comments plugin, we’re testing an updated plugin that leverages authenticity and social relevancy to increase distribution. We’re testing the plugin on our Facebook Blog and Developer Blog but have no further details to share at this time.

Note the words “authenticity” and “social relevancy.” For public sites and blogs who implement this commenting system, people are held more accountable. You will be leaving your pithy little messages under your actual name – the one you registered with on Facebook. No more hiding behind the handles “anonymous poster” or “concerned citizen” when leaving a trolling missive.

I see this as a fantastic step in a good direction. Other comment systems – such as Disqus – are likely not as optimistic, though.

Where Do You Read the News?

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My dog, Wicket, decided to demonstrate how to use Google News. I figured I’d let him.

Wicket proved in a matter of seconds how easy it is to consume your news right within Google. You’re likely already using it as your search engine or home page on your desktop, laptop and mobile devices. Why not use it to find out what’s going on in the world around you, as well?

How do you find the news? Do you use a particular website or service to alert you? Where do you go to read up on the latest happenings around the globe?

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Digg Hires Editors to Bring You the News Faster

Digg has always had trouble getting the hottest news to you as quickly as they would like. With the way things used to be done, it could take hours for users to submit a story and vote it up. From now on, there will be editors on staff to make sure headlines make it onto the site as quickly as possible.

“Starting today, Digg will add a breaking news/interesting stories module that will be managed and curated by Digg’s community team. This team will aggregate stories that they think should be on the Digg front page but haven’t garnered enough votes by the community yet. These curated modules will appear on the top right side of the Top News, My News and Upcoming pages.”

Do you think this move will make Digg more viable as a news source?

Twitter: Social Media or News Source?

There have been a flurry of stories on the web today about Twitter and their new home page. I admit to being as excited as the next guy over the changes. The mini profiles, in-line media and new design are definitely worth talking about. However, it was a story on Read Write Web that captured my attention. Instead of simply regurgitating the same story about these changes, Sarah Perez began a discussion stemming from comments made by Kevin Thau during the press conference.

@kevinthau, Twitter’s VP for business and corporate development, stated emphatically that Twitter is not a social network. With those words, every person in attendance was momentarily shocked into silence. Confusion reigned supreme for a few seconds until Kevin continued: “Twitter is for news. Twitter is for content. Twitter is for information.”

Well, duh! We already knew this, right? Twitter is hands down the best and fastest way to obtain information and learn about breaking news these days:

Twitter is changing the very nature of news today. Journalists are sending their stories to Twitter and some are even publishing directly to Twitter. It’s also allowing everyday users to become journalists themselves by providing them with a simple mechanism to break news.

However, does that mean that we aren’t being social at the same time? Social media is about meeting people, making connections and sharing information. If that sharing of information just happens to be a breaking news story, does that make the Twitter mechanism any less social? It’s almost as though there are negative connotations being placed upon being social, and I don’t like that one bit. Can we not be serious while being social? Is it impossible to merge the social world with the newsworthy one?

As social media outlets continue to surface and we allow our connections to the world to grow, the very definition of the word social will continue to evolve. Sites such as Twitter and Facebook will become more important to us… we will turn there first when needing advice and opinions, when wanting to find out what is happening in the world and when hoping to gain other perspectives. It doesn’t matter if we are looking for breaking news stories or the hottest new disco club in the city. Social media is where we will figure out the answers.



Photo credit to Read Write Web

Flipboard for the iPad – Free!

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The other night my long-time friend Robert Scoble tweeted out a link about his interview with the CEO of the company that created the free Flipboard application. This app is the future of news distribution. It’s a beautiful mashup between social media connections as well as traditional and community sources. This, my friends, is the way I’m going to start navigating information that flows through all of the channels I am most interested in.

Flipboard takes news sources that YOU choose and mashes them together with your Twitter and Facebook feeds. It then provides you with a unique web experience. Maneuvering through the interface is as easy as flipping the page in a printed magazine. Things shared across Facebook are suddenly turned into articles in said magazine, and all of your multimedia is put right in front of your nose when you want it.

Right at the top, it shows me my Twitter lists. If I wanted to, I could add information from the various lists I have built into my Flipboard stream. There are some interesting “picks” that the app suggests for you to check out – which is a fantastic way to discover new types of content.

The only drawback I see thus far is being limited to only nine different sources. Hello! I’m a Geek. I need more information – not less! It was quite late when I recorded this video, so forgive me if I missed something somewhere. There may very well be a way to add more. I simply hadn’t found it as of the recording of this video.

Thanks so much to @scobleizer for sharing information about this app. This is by far the most amazing must-have app I’ve come across in a long time.

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Why are Digital Journalists Burning Out so Fast?

An article in the New York Times today discusses the early burnout rate of journalists who work exclusively in online media formats. As I read the article, I could completely understand and empathize with every word in front of me. This is a cutthroat world we live in online. There are thousands of news outlets, all of which have to compete with each other to publish first and publish better. There are more places to read your news online than there are stories to digest. This equates to a niche that is so competitive we are seeing high turnover rates at many big-name media sites.

Google search ranking is the name of the game. If your story doesn’t rank up at the top, it may never be digested by anyone at all. You have to not only crank out articles the very nanosecond they hit the wire… you also much be conscious at all times of keywords, SEO and branding. Gone are the days of writing interesting articles and intensive investigative pieces for the Sunday edition. The world we live in demands to know everything about everyone – and they want to know it now.

Many companies track how many page views each article published on their site receives. Authors are paid (and/or given bonuses) based on these numbers. At Gawker Media’s offices in Manhattan, a flat-screen television mounted on the wall displays the 10 most-viewed articles across all Gawker’s Web sites. The author’s last name, along with the number of page views that hour and over all are prominently shown in real time on the screen, which Gawker has named the “big board.”

While this is an interesting way to attempt to reward and motivate writers, many feel that it is more of a “wall of shame.” If your name doesn’t appear on the board at all times, then you are regarded as not being “up to par.” The stress that these companies are placing on their staff is astronomical. I’ve heard from many of you out there who want to write for a living. There is so much talent and enthusiasm inside of you all. The problem is, I also have seen too many fresh-faced young journalists end up burned out and cynical before the ink on their degree has fully dried.

What are your thoughts? How do you feel we can begin to slow things down to a reasonable pace? Is it possible?

Is the New iPhone 4 Newsworthy?

KING 5 News here in Seattle came knocking on my door this morning to get some live reactions to my new iPhone 4. After showing the long lines at the Apple store, they cut away to me standing in my front yard playing with my new toy. The reporter asked me how the new phone compares to previous versions before anything else.

The new iPhone 4 is faster, but the biggest difference is in the screen. While the two screens side-by-side may look the same, they definitely are not. There are four times as many pixels in the resolution of the iPhone 4 than in the 3GS model. That makes for crisp text and clear picture. Using FaceTime to talk to other iPhone 4 users is not only easy – it’s a beautiful experience thanks to this screen.

The biggest downside to the new phone is the display issue with the Retina display. Some phones that have yellow bands or spots on the screen will be replaced, according to Apple. There’s also a cosmetic defect on the phone… if you join your finger and bridge the gap between the two antenna your signal will drop to zero. Apple is reporting that this will be fixed with a software update. The entire perimeter of the iPhone 4 is an antenna. In the spot where there is a tiny gap, some type of short is made and your signal will simply fade to nothing in a snap.

This is my favorite phone by far. Apple controls the software and the hardware. How well the hardware works with the software is what makes something great. Even though other phones may have the same basic hardware, they don’t necessarily have the software to back it up. I will go back to that every single time. If the two don’t play nicely together, you’re going to have a horrible experience.

Thanks so much to the team at KING 5 for coming out to talk to me today.

USA Today Delivers News Right to Your iPad

The USA Today is the top-selling print newspaper in the country. Today, they announced that the USA Today app for the iPad will be available beginning tomorrow. Access will be completely free until July 4th, thanks to Courtyard by Marriott. Once Independence Day has passed, the app will only be available by paying a subscription fee.

Newspaper officials say that the app will provide a rich news experience which include graphics and photos. Matt Jones, VP of mobile strategy and operations, said this morning: “Our team is very excited to see the launch of the USA TODAY app for iPad. With its sleek format and vivid touch screen, the iPad is the perfect device to display USA TODAY’s signature design and content. We think we’ve delivered a very high quality product and I can’t wait to see people explore and interact with our news and information in a whole new way.”

The popular paper has been downloaded by millions of people using the iPhone or Android devices. The app looks much like the physical news source you would pick up off of your doorstep in the morning. The layout and design are virtually the same, and using your finger to “turn” pages should make it feel similar, as well.

Maybe if we all switch to reading our newspaper in this manner, a few trees can be saved!

How Will the End of Print Journalism Affect Pack Rats?

How Will The End Of Print Journalism Affect Old Loons Who Hoard Newspapers?

I had to embed this on my blog… it’s fabulous!

With so many newspapers struggling financially, some people fear for their future. However, if print media dies, what will old loons do with all of their hoarded papers? Where will they go? Will our landfills overflow with useless paper, or will our air become toxic due to all of the burning?!

Let’s hear your thoughts. What should the pack-rats do with all that paper?!