Posts Tagged ‘social media’


My post at Mediaite: What the Sunday Shows Need is a New Media Makeover

January 13, 2010

This was  originally posted at Mediaite. And it was also quoted in The Nation, NPR, and Politico.

“Since Sunday shows never really appealed to 20-year-olds, Thompson thinks that trying to skew younger or add new technology and graphics isn’t likely to work. “Even before cable and the Internet, you wouldn’t have gotten younger viewers,” Thompson said.”
— from “Will the Sunday shows ever change?” Politico, January 9, 2010.

A debate has been raging online about the Sunday morning political talk shows, one of the venerated old institutions in American political discourse. It was started by Jay Rosen of NYU, who tweeted that maybe Sunday talk shows should fact check everything their guests say on Sundays and run it online every Wednesday.

Today, Politico’s Michael Calderone ran a thoughtful piece on whether Sunday shows will ever change, including commentary from several media personalities. They all agreed on one thing: the Sunday show format has changed very little over the years, and has done almost nothing to adapt to the new media age that we now live in.  And as such, their audience is shrinking.  Their guests are largely older white males and Washington insiders, their show formats haven’t changed since they were first started, and they rarely focus on issues that most Americans care about.  They’re Beltway shows that appeal only to Beltway audiences.

What troubled me the most was a quote in Calderone’s piece from Robert Thompson, a professor at Syracuse, who argued that the case for modernizing Sunday shows wasn’t that relevant because young people wouldn’t care enough to watch the shows anyway.

I stopped reading right there. I am 21 years old and have been watching Sunday talk shows for as long as I can remember, thanks to a very politically active father. And yeah, that puts me in that tiny category of political junkies who will watch Sunday shows no matter what.  But as a 21-year-old I resent having my entire generation casually brushed off as uninterested in Sunday morning talk shows.  Perhaps my cohorts would tune in every Sunday if they felt like these shows catered to them and spoke on the issues they care about. We are a very politically active generation, and we proved that in the 2008 election.  So it’s not that we’re not interested – the problem is that the networks are failing to adapt and provide programming that appeals to and informs the masses.

I fully believe that the Sunday morning talk shows need a new media makeover, and I have a handful of ideas for how they can do so.  I admit that I know absolutely nothing about what goes into the making of a political talk show. But what I do know  is that my generation wants transparency, participation, and engagement in their political process – and their news.  So here are my suggestions on how the Sunday shows might undertake a new media makeover that could finally usher them into the year 2010:

Take Questions From Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube

We may be living in the YouTube age, but from the look of most Sunday shows you’d never know it. Remember the 2008 presidential election debates, where CNN and YouTube asked citizens to submit questions to ask of the candidates, and then featured selected video questions during the debate? Would it kill us to allow citizens to submit questions to the newsmakers and politicians on Meet The Press, Face The Nation, and This Week? Whether it’s via Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube videos, allowing citizens to ask questions would give them a connection to the shows, engage them, and allow them to play a role in setting the news agenda. And talk show hosts like David Gregory and Bob Schieffer should help facilitate that citizen-politician connection. Although David Gregory, Bob Schieffer, and George Stephanopoulos all have Twitter accounts, their level of engagement with fans is very low. Schieffer and Stephanopoulos’s Twitter accounts aren’t even really them, but are merely RSS feeds of updates from their websites.

And while we’re on the subject, the only Sunday show with a Facebook page and Twitter account is Meet The Press. And even then, their Facebook and Twitter are both used as one-way, broadcast mediums only. The MTP Facebook page is used solely to push out promotional content for each week’s show, and they receive little response from Facebook users.  But what if instead they posted a status update asking citizens: what do you want to ask Janet Napolitano on Meet The Press next Sunday? What if there was a chance David Gregory would actually ask your question to Napolitano on air? I guarantee you citizens of all ages and all backgrounds would start paying more attention if they felt like the networks were paying attention to them.

Continue reading the rest at Mediaite.


Can Twitter Help Raise Awareness for Gaza?

December 27, 2009

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the 22-day Israeli military raid on Gaza. Gaza, one of the two Palestinian territories currently under Israeli occupation.

I know Gaza is not a topic of polite cocktail party or happy hour conversation for most people. Most people probably aren’t quite aware of where Gaza is (here is a map for that), especially since it’s a tiny territory that’s only about 139 square miles on the coast of the Mediterranean.

So it is probably not widely known that one year ago, Israeli military forces killed 1,400 Palestinians, of which over 900 were civilians and over 300 were children. And considerable damage was done to Gazan roads, houses, and infrastructure — most of which has still not been repaired.

The UN Secretary General has acknowledged that Gaza is currently suffering from a dire human rights crisis. Since the attacks last year, the UN says, Gazans have been denied basic human rights and have been denied the resources to rebuild their infrastructure.

The mainstream media has hardly reported on the ongoing crisis there.  They’re focused on other stories — whatever sells the most papers or the most advertising, I guess.

So human rights activists around the world are using unconventional channels to air their concerns about the lasting human rights crisis in Gaza — they’re mounting a Twitter campaign to raise awareness. Buoyed by the success of the Iran election activists, who tweeted their observations about the controversial Iranian election and subsequent protests using the hashtag #iranelection, and capured the world’s attention — now Palestinian activists are hoping to start a movement of their own using Twitter as their primary tool of communication.

Their hashtag is #gaza, and today, December 27, from 3 pm – 7 pm GMT, they are encouraging everyone they know to tweet using the hashtag #gaza in the hopes of making Gaza the #1 trending topic on Twitter — which is no easy feat, given the millions of people using Twitter everyday.

The topic was already trending even before the campaign was scheduled to start at 3 pm GMT. It hasn’t hit #1 yet, but has been in the trending topics all day Sunday as Twitter users from all over the world share their thoughts, hopes, and fears for Gaza. The hope, of course, is to generate attention from the mainstream media and the larger public similar to the way the Iranian election protesters did.

The power of a trending topic, however, may seem silly to some but should not be underestimated.  Getting a campaign’s hashtag in the trending topics on Twitter makes the tag visible to everyone visiting — bringing the topic into the public consciousness and into the forefront of discussion. Twitter users who aren’t already aware of the issue will, hopefully, click on the trending topic to learn more about it — and maybe even choose to join in.

(images: Jillian York and Global Voices Online)

Will it work? We’ll know this week. My hope is that bloggers will start to pick up the story first as they notice that #Gaza has been sitting in the trending topics on Twitter all day, and then mainstream media should take a cue from political bloggers and start to report on it as well.

You can view all the #gaza tweets here.


Sarah Palin: Who Needs the WSJ When You Have Facebook?

September 8, 2009

Sarah Palin is not governor of Alaska anymore, she’s not a VP candidate anymore, no one even knows WHAT she is really doing these days and yet the woman. is. everywhere.

She supposedly resigned to get out of the limelight and get her life together, yet she’s continuing to push her healthcare agenda to anyone who will listen, through a variety of channels.

Tonight she penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. Her Twitter account has been inactive since she resigned, but that’s okay — she’s all about Facebook now. She responds to major stories via Facebook notes. Like this one, penned in response to the controversy over the Associated Press releasing the photo of the dying Marine.

Really, it’s kind of fascinating to see how she is using Facebook notes as a primary communication channel. Who needs a blog when you can do that? Really, who even needs to place op-eds in the WSJ when you can write a Facebook note that will be read by roughly 860,000 fans?

She, like everyone else, can publish her thoughts instantly through a blog or Facebook note. But because she is Sarah Palin, she has rare and coveted access to the Wall Street Journal to publish her ideas there if she so desires — but does she really need it? Why wait for a paper to publish her thoughts when she can do it herself on Facebook, instantly, and with full control over her message?

What’s really telling is that she published the WSJ op-ed, but simultaneously copied and pasted the text of it into a Facebook note and re-posted it on Facebook.

So what does that say about the dwindling significance of the Wall Street Journal?


3121: The Social Network that’s Just For Congress

July 28, 2009

Last week the internets saw the launch of yet another new social networking site, but this one with a twist: it’s just for Congress. Great, you think, so now members of Congress have their own private place to write on walls and poke each other and write passive-aggressive status updates!

But 3121, named for the phone extension of the Capitol switchboard, focuses on creating a dynamic directory of the tens of thousands of staffers that work on Capitol Hill — and at home in District offices.

I should probably disclose that 3121 is a project of the company I work for, in conjunction with the National Journal group. But this is exactly the kind of innovation going on at the intersection of politics and new media that will change the way our government operates.

Some highlights from the NMS blog:

  • 3121 is a dynamic directory: this means that in addition to having the information that we can provide you at National Journal, community members are able to update their own profiles. This makes users constantly accessible, so you’ll know who moved from HELP to Foreign Relations right when it happens.
  • 3121 is also a tool for collaboration: through our recommendation engine and with flexible, easy to navigate group pages, 3121 acts as a tool to help people better connect with relevant staffers to get their job done.
  • 3121 puts you in control and allows for a customizable dashboard and customized news. The more you get to know the system and the more we get to know you, the more 3121 will rearrange and deliver you what you need, when and where you need it. From news on your issue and Member, to positioning your own profile and collaboration tools front and center, we give you what you need to make it your own.

By combining a social network + Hill directory + news aggregator, 3121 can solve two problems that Hill staffers and Washington insiders are constantly dealing with: too much email and too much news. Can 3121 reduce this information overload and…perhaps…make Congress more efficient? 🙂 We’ll have to see. 3121 is in private beta right now, but will fully launch in September, and I’m excited to see it grow.



Meet Nicole Antoinette: A blogger making real change

March 30, 2009

handsinA few weeks ago I wrote a post on 25 ideas for how to use your blog to create change. It has since become the most popular post I have ever written (mostly thanks to getting linked in Feministing, so thanks Ann). One of the ideas I had from that post was about profiling young people who are using blogs and social media to create change.

I would be a lame hypocrite if I didn’t take my own advice, so that’s exactly what I’m doing today. I was really excited recently when I stumbled upon a post about HandsIn, a new nonprofit idea created by fellow twenty-something blogger Nicole Antoinette.  Check out the following interview with Nicole to learn more about her and her new organization, HandsIn.


Tell us about yourself and your blog.
I’m a freelance writer, perpetual nomad, cheesecake connoisseur, children’s day camp Director, and overall person of intense passion.  My blog, More is Better, is a chronicle of my shenanigans where absolutely nothing is off limits.  It’s also a way for me to explore my Life List and keep myself accountable for everything I want to accomplish. 

If you had to describe your blog in five words what would they be?
Best blog in the universe.  Or, less narcissistic: Girl lives life out loud. 

What is HandsIn? What are your goals/ vision for HandsIn?
HandsIn is an organization that harnesses the unique energy and creative passion of 20-somethings, inspiring them to connect with each other through volunteerism and empowering them to change their world through dedicated service and a shared commitment to a sustainable lifestyle.

My goal is to break the stereotype of 20-something apathy, to prove that us Gen Y-ers do care about the world, and 

are taking it upon ourselves to help change it. 

What inspired you to start HandsIn?
HandsIn was born after a particularly stressful bout of how-can-I-make-my-world-a-better-place-itis.  So much of social media and social networking is about the individual, and I wanted to create a way for it to be bigger than that, for people who care to come together and take action.

Well said! I’ve written recently about how I worry not enough Gen Y bloggers are using social media to create change and make a difference. Do you think Gen Y/20something bloggers care enough about social and political issues?
I actually think they care more than a lot of other people, and are often more informed because of how plugged in they are to the internet.  20-somethings are passionate and fiery and when they believe in something, they believe in it pretty fiercely.  I think the challenge is that sometimes, they don’t know how to get more involved in those causes, or they get too bogged down in their “quarter life crisis” to stop and do something. 

What issues are you passionate about?
I’m most passionate about issues of human rights, and childhood poverty/malnutrition.  I think a lot more attention needs to be paid to the hungry, impoverished children of the United States.

How can people get involved with HandsIn?
There are lots of ways to get involved with HandsIn, and they’re all quick and easy, perfect for the 20-something lifestyle.  The first step is to join and subscribe to our RSS feed, and after that? Get involved in the projects that move 

you, write about the efforts you’re making to change your community, network with like-minded people etc.  Getting involved means making a commitment to change, because change won’t happen overnight, it’s going to happen one person, one small act at a time. 

How did you create 

HandsIn was created in a coffee shop, on about twenty sheets of scratch paper, after a serious caffeine overload and a major session of inspirational brainstorming.  The website itself came together pretty quickly, about a month from start to finish, thanks to lots of dedicated work by myself and Aram, the guy I turn to when the coding gets too complicated for me.  Now that the site is up, I’m constantly looking for writing submissions and creative ideas from readers.  My goal is for the site to grow organically, highlighting the work of dedicated 20-somethings, and inspiring new people to take action each and every day!

Twitter handle: @nicoleisbetter and @handsin

Check out today and sign up and participate — it definitely looks like a fantastic project.

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Why would you privatize your Twitter?

March 25, 2009

nisha-twitterI’ve noticed some of my friends lately protect / privatize their Twitter accounts. I suppose when you hear stories like “Twitter Gets You Fired in 140 characters or less” it’s the natural Gen Y / college student reaction to think “Oh shoot, I should privatize everything I post online so no one can read the silly things I say and get me in trouble!”

There are so many flaws in this logic. I’ll point out just a couple.

1. Nothing on the internet is private. Nothing. Ever. It can always be found, no matter how many privacy settings you try to use. Online privacy is DEAD.

2. If you think the things you post online could potentially get you in trouble, why post them online in the first place? And another question, if said things you are posting online are really troublesome, are you sure you’re making smart decisions in your personal life?

3. If you privatize your Twitter, you are essentially saying: “I am shutting myself off completely from making new connections. I do not want to make any new connections or network.” Twitter is not like Facebook. In a conversation with Ryan Healy the other day I heard the best description of the difference between FB and Twitter: Facebook was about taking your offline community and bringing it online. Twitter is about building community online and taking it offline. So if you’re not willing to meet new people, what’s the point?

My thoughts are this: this isn’t 2004, where you could privatize your Facebook and make your blog anonymous, and still post whatever crap you wanted online and have no one find it.

So instead of posting something with potentially disastrous consequences for your job or reputation and making a futile effort to keep it private, go the other route: embrace the fact that anyone can find you online with a simple search, and post things that you are proud of rather than ashamed. Use your inner common sense meter and don’t post things that would get you in trouble in the first place.

You can’t hide anything once it’s online, so don’t try. Just post things you would be proud of online instead.

Do you think privatizing Twitter is a dumb idea? Do you think online privacy is dead?

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Just in case you hadn’t heard enough about SXSW: some final thoughts

March 19, 2009

I feel like I’m a little late in the game to be doing the obligatory post-SX-wrapup blog post, but I’m going to do it anyways. And hopefully I can share some insight for those of you who might go to SXSW 2010. Especially the really young people, since I was easily one of the youngest there.

To answer the obvious first question: yes, it really was amazing. A lot of people will tell you: it’s about the people and connections, not about panels. This is generally true. However, panels are great too. And some of the best connections I made at SXSW were by going to panels and staying behind after they were over to talk to the panelists and get to know them more.

Was it weird hanging out with people you only knew online before: not at all, though I’m sure my friends are waiting with their “cyberfriends” cracks. But I think they’re missing out on a huge opportunity by NOT networking online. And finally getting to meet some of these people I’d been working with online for so long was really awesome. Sydney is so much fun. Elysa really loves her iPhone a lot 🙂 Ryan Paugh is just as really, really sweet as Penelope describes him, and we have a shared affinity for taking shots. Holly and Margie are tiny but make up for it with a whole lot of energy. Oh, and Penelope really is a tornado. In a good way though! I think. She also gave me dating advice: “Nisha, there’s a ton of single tech entrepreneurs with no social skills at this party and hardly any girls. Come on! You’re not leveraging your girlness enough!” Thanks, P.

I could go on forever about all the things I liked about SXSW, and the fantastic people I met and the great opportunities I got out of it (I’m attending 2 conferences I’m really excited about in the next two months because of people I met at SX!) but I can’t possibly get into all of it.

One thing I will say is that I went to SXSW because of Brazen Careerist. Those of you who have been around this blog since the beginning –which, okay, is not really that long ago — will know I wrote this crazy post on how blogging impacted my life in December for the Brazen blog contest, and by some miracle I actually won, and got to attend SXSW Interactive as a result. To be honest, I had no idea what SXSW even WAS before that contest but I entered because Ryan Paugh would not stop talking about this contest for two weeks straight so I figured, why not. I really just was hoping my post would be good enough to get on the front page of Brazen, since I didn’t know much about SXSW.

I wrote that post three months ago and my theme was about empowerment, and how blogging empowered me to quit being a “lurker” – both online and in my personal life. It was about how I started becoming an active participant in running my own life instead of letting my decisions be dictated by others. And it was all about how empowering and exciting that was to me.

Three months later I’m home from SXSW and I can’t believe what an amazing experience this conference was — and most importantly, it was empowering. It was so exciting to spend five days in the company of some of the most brilliant, creative, innovative minds in the field of new media and technology. Like Sydney said: this conference is for the innovators and early adopters — and it was amazing to be around like-minded people who shared the same interests I did. I know I’m not the only one who can honestly say I’m having SXSW withdrawal.

Because of SXSW and some of the people I’ve met there, I’ve found even more cool new opportunities in the next few months that I’m really excited about and I feel really empowered by all of it. I feel like SXSW was just the beginning of what is going to be a really exciting ride. But that definitely would never have happened if I hadn’t put myself out there, started a blog, joined Brazen, written that post at 4 am, and entered that contest that I didn’t even think I should have been entering in the first place.

So to sum up, I think the lesson I’ve learned from this whole experience is: don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Sometimes it sucks, I know. But you never know what kind of awesome opportunities could come out of it. So take a risk and do whatever it is you’re worried about…. you might be really pleasantly surprised.

(And next time Brazen has a contest: you better enter!)