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Oscar Sunday Gets Social on Facebook

As most of you may know, this Sunday is the 82nd Academy Awards.  While I’m not happy with some of the retro changes (let’s be honest and say that the ten Best Pic nominees could’ve been whittled down to four films, including one that was completely overlooked, The Informant) we’ll see in this weekend’s ceremony, I thought it was worth pointing out some new social media promotion tactics the Academy is trying out this year.

For the first time, the Oscars will broadcast red carpet coverage online, thanks to their partnership with Facebook, and will give users like you a chance to ask your favorite actor a question.  According to their page:

“We know you’re used to seeing stars at the Academy Awards®, but now for the very first time you can get involved! Oscar.com has partnered with Facebook to bring you Oscar.com Live from the Red Carpet, a very special online pre-show that allows you to watch the stars walk the Red Carpet and answer questions from fans like you. Yes, you read that right!

Join hosts Lisa Guerrero and Brett Chukerman as they cover all the action unfolding outside the Kodak Theater. Using your Facebook account, you can send a message to them on the Red Carpet, and they’ll pass along the best questions and comments in real time to the stars that sashay by. But that’s not all! Rico Rodriguez (Manny from the ABC hit comedy Modern Family) will also be on hand to meet and interview fans in attendance, as they experience all the glitz and glamour right from the Red Carpet.”

For viewers who like options and have either Facebook or Twitter log-ins, they can go to APLive and see streaming coverage there as well.   APLive is also making this available on their Facebook page, but users will have to become a fan in order to see the coverage, so it’ll be interesting to see if the 1,373 fans of the page jumps to a significantly higher number over the weekend** (See update).   This streaming event is the first of many for the year-long partnership between APLive and Livestream.

If you really feel like you need more connection to this year’s awards, there are a few iPhone Apps available for download for this (again, let’s be honest) very crowded awards year.   One thing I probably will be checking out this weekend is Adam Shankman’s Twitter feed, one of the two being promoted on Oscar.com.

I don’t want to sound pessimistic or snobby.  There were some great films this year and I’ll take a moment to throw out my top picks for Best Picture:

  1. Up (Pixar just knows how to pull at the heartstrings)
  2. Inglorious Basterds
  3. The Informant (what movie? Netflix it when it comes out later this month)
  4. An Education (probably my pick of the year)
  5. Honorable Mention: Drag Me to Hell (I’m not being cute here. It really is a great film.)

Update:  We all know the winner’s from last night’s ceremony.  Another Update**: AP Live’s Facebook page now has 7,672 fans.

New NewsHour Site Spotlights Multimedia Content and Team

During last year’s election cycle, I worked as the Online NewsHour’s associate editor for the Vote 2008 site, and while the site and show changed considerably during my year and a half there, bold revisions on the site today (and soon, the show) demonstrate an invigorated energy at the organization to keep up with new media during rocky times for traditional journalism.

In addition to a new design layout, some new site features include a new blog, written by both online and on-air employees, and the promotion of online video, something the site’s actually had for a long time but was never given its due prominence.

Of course, one of the most prominent features of the site and show is its new correspondent. Hari Sreenivasan, who comes to the NewsHour from years at CBS News, will be joining the on-air broadcast and working with the Online team to combine new media efforts.

Sreenivasan talked to The Bivings Group about the new site and the strategy behind its design.

… and about new social media and outreach efforts.

… and last, what other news outlets can learn from the redesign.

Blending the traditional program with Online efforts has not been an easy task. It took years to get the teams in the even in the same building, let alone the same work space.

Many of the new initiatives emerge due to pressure from dwindling sponsorship resources earlier in the year.

“Newspapers are thinning, and television has its own crisis,” show anchor Jim Lehrer said in an interview with the New York Times in May.

With the Online changes come revisions to the show format and a new name. Starting Monday, “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” will officially become “The PBS NewsHour.”

All of these changes reflect a struggle within Public Broadcasting to find a place across all media spaces, promoting brand without losing purpose.

Lehrer told the New York Times in a more recent article, that he’s “’very concerned about serious journalism,’ and for longtime practitioners of the craft, ‘we damn well better get with it.’”

Tech Geek Myth Busted: Top Ten Ways Technology Boosts Your Social Life

Image by Flickr user Extra Ketchup In 2006, a popular study by experts at Duke University and the University of Arizona concluded new technologies have been making loners of us since 1985. Earlier this month, this theory was challenged and perhaps debunked. New technologies actually increase our social interactions, not our isolation, the Pew Internet and American Life Project found.

Pew’s deep research came up with a variety of causes and conclusions to support their hypothesis, but in my opinion, here are their most interesting finds:

10. There’s been no significant jump in the number of truly isolated Americans. While the study did support the idea the number of many Americans’ social connections may have gotten smaller and less diverse in the last 30 years, there are two important caveats: First, new technologies actually combat, rather than cause, this trend. Second, roughly the same number – six percent – of the American public is completely isolated from others in 1985 and now.

9. Web users are more likely to seek counsel outside their own family. “Whereas only 45% of Americans discuss important matters with someone who is not a family member, internet users are 55% more likely to have a non-kin discussion partners,” the study reports.

8. Many 18-22-year-olds use social networking to keep in contact with nearly all of their key contacts. Pew found 30 percent of those 18-22 — the age group most likely to use social networks — use those networks to keep in touch with 90 percent or more of their “key influentials.”

7. Internet users like clubs. If you own a cell phone, use the internet at work or blog, you’re more likely to join a voluntary group, on or offline. These can include neighborhood associations, sports leagues, youth groups and social clubs.

6. Technology users have more “core” friends in their discussion networks. “On average, the size of core discussion networks is 12 percent larger amongst cell phone users, 9 percent larger for those who share photos online, and 9 percent bigger for those who use instant messaging,” Pew reported.

5. Web users leave their rooms. Contrary to the iconic image of a lone blogger on a couch sans sunlight in a basement apartment, it turns out internet users are 42 percent more likely to visit a public park or plaza and 45 percent more likely to frequent coffee shops than non-users.

4. Cell phone and web users make better neighbors. Whether or not you own a cell phone or use the internet makes no difference in the amount of time you spend face-to-face with your neighbors, however, 10 percent of internet users supplement their face time with personal emails. When online neighborhood discussion groups are considered, 60 percent of users “know ‘all or most’ of their neighbors,” compared to the average 40 percent.

3. Technology users seek conversation outside their marriage. If you use the internet at all, you’re 38 percent less likely to rely exclusively on a spouse as a discussion confidant, the study found. Use instant messaging? You’re 36 percent less likely than other internet users and 59 percent less likely than non-internet users.

2. Sharing those family vacation photos online might make you more politically open minded. “Those who share photos online are more likely to report that they discuss important matters with someone who is a member of another political party,” the study showed. 

1. Bloggers have more racially diverse friends. Pew found those who use the internet frequently and especially those who maintain a blog are “much more likely to confide in someone who is of another race.”

New Advocacy Site Maps and Tracks Journalists in Peril

New media journalists around the globe face technological barriers and increasing dangers when reporting from within the boundaries of protective governments. A new site by Global Voices Advocacy maps and tracks journalists who have been threatened or arrested and aggregates the information into a robust map database with real-time statistics and details of each case.

threatened_voices The site, Threatened Voices, aims to raise awareness to the growing number of bloggers and other online journalists being persecuted across the world. While both traditional and new media reporters have faced recent danger, the site acknowledges the growing importance and number of online journalists in the global media.

“Online journalists and bloggers now represent 45% of all media workers in prison worldwide,” Global Voices says in a press release.

The captures of high profile journalists abducted in Iraq and North Korea have called attention to the dangers of the profession, while “the harshest consequence for many has been the politically motivated arrest of bloggers and online writers for their online and/or offline activities, in some tragic cases even leading to death,” Global Voices reports.

The site allows users to enter their own location and anecdotal details, drawing from the international community of journalists to fill the site’s map content.

Outside of the central map, other features of the site include statistics and analysis organized in a timeline or by country. The site lists China, Egypt and Iran as the top three countries, respectively, with the highest number of recorded cases of threatened or arrested bloggers.

Each case is tracked to record whether the blogger was threatened or arrested and if arrested, when and if they were released. Another aim of the site is to allow the online community to call attention to campaigns to free particular journalists.
The Committee to Protect Journalists, one of the partners of the Threatened Voices project released a report in April on the 10 Worst Countries to be a Blogger.

Along with a thorough description of each country (at the time, Burma was listed at the top), the article quotes CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon, who emphasizes, “Freedom of expression groups, concerned governments, the online community, and technology companies need to come together to defend the rights of bloggers around the world.”

The site was also built in collaboration with the BBC, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, among others.

Bloggers to be Subject to FTC Endorsement Disclosure Laws

The Federal Trade Commission Monday released revised regulations holding bloggers responsible for disclosing any freebies or payment associated with their writing.

“The post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement,” the FTC said in a statement. “Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service.”

The regulations may have widespread ramifications considering the millions of bloggers and the variety of their audiences. The Associated Press reported Monday bloggers who are caught without providing this disclosure could face $11,000 penalties after the regulations go into effect Dec. 1, 2010.

The disclosure is very similar to the Federal Communication Commission’s Payola Rules for broadcast media, which state that “all sponsored material must be explicitly identified at the time of broadcast as paid for and by whom, except when it is clear that the mention of a product or service constitutes sponsorship identification.”

This update to the FTC’s regulations on testimonials and endorsements is the first since 1980. While the regulations don’t declare how disclosures must be made, they must be “clear and conspicuous,” the AP reported.

Some bloggers touted the new regulations and welcomed recognition of their presence in mass marketing. Others, however, worried the rules would be too difficult to enforce and would lead to favoritism.

MediaBistro’s GalleyCat blog listed several difficult questions and potential problematic areas with the new regulations, including questions about liability if a blogger is writing for a news organization.

“If an unpaid blogger at the Huffington Post ‘endorses’ a consumer product without meeting the FTC guidelines for disclosure of ‘material connections’ to the makers of that consumer product, who’s liable: the blogger or the Huffington Post?” the post asks.

While the new regulations specifically refer to the expansion of regulations on blogs, the FTC also tightened rules on celebrity endorsements, which include mentions in Twitter streams or social networks.

“Along with advertisers, stars can be held liable for making false and misleading claims about a product under the new rules,” the New York Post reported.