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Archive for August, 2014

The Human Alphabet

Friday, August 29th, 2014

 antibes harbor

Is it a nomad, an alien or just a figment of our imagination ?

Shot on an iPhone by Clare Whitaker.

Entering the Paywall.

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

This week’s Emmy Awards shed light on the phenomenon of modern day television viewing – crowning this as the “Golden Age of Television.” But, unlike earlier periods of television where popular shows were seen by everyone and anyone, think, M*A*S*H, Roots, or All in the Family, the only ones invited to the 2014 viewing party are those that pay-up.

Cable network HBO took the most awards at this year’s celebration and the cable recognition didn’t end there. The majority of the top program award recipients were also cable networks series including: Breaking Bad, True Detective, Game of Thrones, Veep, and Fargo.  As the New York Times quotes: “It’s becoming obvious that the most rewarded series are also the ones that penalize audiences with costs that add up and count many viewers out.”

Although entertainment viewing might hold the luster of elite viewership, can the same be said of other media consumption habits? 

Where television programs on selective networks are gleaning more buzz and following, publications that operate in a similar fashion are crippling beneath the paywall.

Journalists and publications have been suffering in the transition to the digital world. Incorporating a paywall is one way The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, and others have been able to tread water.

Cincinnati based E.W. Scripps, took a paywall gamble by launching a paywall for a digital version of “exclusive content” from local Cincinnati television station, WCPO-TV. It’s hard to tell if consumers are willing to invest and, Scripps isn’t sharing numbers. But, is it a risk that might be the only hope for the future of news?

Europe is looking beyond paywalls entirely and considering a pay-per-use system, “if you make it easy enough to pay for journalism, people will pay,” says Alexandler Klöpping, co founder of the iTunes of the Netherlands publishing industry, blendle. From three-week free subscriptions to bill-later systems, there are many options – but whether or not they’ll find the balance to bring income is another story.

Harper’s publisher, John R. MacArthur, stands firm in his defense of print and paywall, with a simple and clear business plan: “If you deliver stuff that nobody else is doing, in a world where there is increasing mediocrity, or lack of standards, you’re providing something that’s very well edited, very enjoyable, very informative, very provocative, people will continue to pay for it.” Television seems to have discovered the formula to make elite viewership work; news outlets still have an uphill battle.

Where do you want to go?

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

Screen shot 2014-08-15 at 1.29.36 PM

How do you get there?

Shot on an iPhone by Jackie Danicki.

Ice, Ice Baby.

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

The Ice Bucket Challenge is the hottest thing on social media. From Mark Zuckerberg to Oprah Winfrey, Ethel Kennedy to Bill Gates, Tory Burch to Christian Ronaldo – people around the world are taking the dunk to raise awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The disease affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord, progressively degenerating the motor neurons, resulting in paralysis – and eventually leading to death. There is no cure for ALS – so what exactly is pouring a bucket of ice on your head doing to help?

Public relations and marketing professionals believe in the value of social media and the power of a hashtag. Traditionalists frequently attempt to undermine the influence of Facebook and Twitter, especially in a nonprofit setting. Some in leadership positions have difficulty determining the worth of social media and, even those who know it’s an activity that organizations should be participating in, still delegate the management to an intern rather than making it a line item on the annual budget. But #strikeoutALS is just another example of how much non-profits can gain by taking the plunge (ice or no ice) and investing in social media.

Former Boston College baseball player, Pete Frates, a patient of ALS inspired the Ice Bucket Challenge. By August 6 the challenge had taken Boston by storm and two weeks later it is still going strong – even generating international exposure. It’s a relatively simple initiative: Challenge three friends via social media to fill up a bucket of ice and dump it on their head or donate $100 to the ALS Foundation. All it takes to be trending in August 2014? A pitcher of ice cold water, a social media account, and a smart phone.

Some say the campaign is a purposeless social awareness initiative, where people click and post online for social causes without really caring about the beneficiary. Vice reporter described the Ice Bucket challenge as “narcissism masked as altruism.” Slate writer Will Oremus urged people to not take the challenge and donate money instead.

But, cynics should hold their fire. Narcissism is often part of philanthropy, “we give because we want to make the world a better place and be know as the person who helps the world become a better place.” And with as much ridicule as there might have been, there is no denying the effectiveness of the Ice Bucket Challenge. Last year, the ALS Association raised $1.7 million from July 29 – August 17. During the same period this year, the association has raised over $15 million contributed by over 300,000 new donors. And buckets are still being filled and spilled. What’s next on tap for charities to take over the newsfeed? Planking? “Let It Go” Sing Off? The options are endless.


Friday, August 15th, 2014

Screen shot 2014-05-05 at 9.07.52 AM

A giant blue rooster invaded Trafalgar Square, oh my !

Shot on an iPhone by Jackie Danicki.