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Headline News’ Social Media-Focused Reboot Is Beyond Ridiculous

misused

Source: xkcd

Oof. Cable news network HLN, originally a CNN off-shoot, has taken the page from the strategy of networks like TLC or AMC: abandoning the original concept for the station (Headline News, The Learning Channel, and American Movie Classics, respectively) but keeping the original acronym. The new, refurbished HLN is doing away with the endlessly repeated news cycle and the Nancy Grace-like “outrage news” segments, and replacing them with new material targeted to the millennial demographic.

Apparently the people at Turner Broadcasting don’t have a very high opinion of your demographic.

Here are the new show titles, ranked in increasing order of absurdity:

  • Keywords
  • Vacation Hunters
  • Videocracy
  • One.Click.Away
  • I Can Haz NewsToons
  • #What’sYourFomo

The idea behind the network reboot is to integrate social media with news in original ways that encourage greater levels of engagement. That’s nothing inherently wrong with this idea, but you’d think they could have found some people to come up with ideas that actually understand the advantages online and social news have over cable news, not somebody who browsed Urban Dictionary and KnowYourMeme for an hour.

I don’t understand what the network could possibly offer that couldn’t also be found online without 8 minutes of advertising per half hour. For example, from the description, I Can Haz NewsToons (just typing that makes me shudder) will apparently just show off politically minded e-cards and webcomics. How is that a show? Will the host just read them to us? Will they be crudely animated? I’m not sure which is worse. Why would anybody sit through 2 parts slideshow and 1 part ads for half an hour when they can just scroll through a Tumblr that gives them the exact same thing in two minutes?

Look, HLN, I understand you have a challenge to face trying to reach a younger audience. But if you want to engage with people, you don’t need gimmicks, you need better content. You’re not going to out-Internet the Internet. The fact that you’re trying to shows just how clueless you really are.

Millennials do engage with the news. Really. But almost never through cable. There’s no reason to. This generation is not used to passively consuming information. Young people want the ability to comment, to discuss, to share, and to control how much news to consume. It’s an active experience, as anyone who’s ever done a deep-dive through link after link knows. And no amount of misused hashtagging is going to make cable look more appealing.

(Quick aside, didn’t anyone point out that punctuation closes hashtags? That show can’t even use its own dumb name as a functional hashtag.)

The only way to get millennials to pay attention to cable as a news source is with a strong personality. If you want a model for that, look to Stewart and Colbert. No gimmicks other than entertaining commentary and spot-on satire. It doesn’t even have to be funny, just engaging and… read carefully, because this is the important part… NOT TALKING DOWN TO THE AUDIENCE.

The 5 Biggest Mistakes in Making Your New Year’s Resolutions

iStock_000011106099SmallThe good news is that people your age are over twice as likely to keep their new year’s resolutions than people your parents’ age. The bad news is that the majority of college students will still fall short. So what makes these resolutions seem so easy on January 1st and so hard on January 2nd?

Here are the five biggest mistakes you can make when setting a resolution:

1. You have a goal but not a plan.

“I want to lose weight.”

This might be the most frequent resolution, and I’m willing to bet it’s the most likely to fail as well. The problem is that losing weight is a great objective, but it’s not very meaningful as a resolution if you’re not focusing on how you can lose weight.

Weight loss isn’t something you do, it’s something that happens because of changes in exercise and diet. Instead of aiming for an ideal weight, set clear-cut objectives about eating and working out. BMI isn’t always the best way to measure health anyway, so it’s better to focus on the factors over which you have direct control.

2. The resolution is too general.

“I want to cut back on drinking.”

That’s great. But what does that mean? No more liquor? No more than two drinks in a night? Giving up alcohol entirely? (more…)

3 Massive Screw-Ups Blamed on Interns

A finger held disconcertingly close to Sideburns' faceIt’s no fun being an intern. If you’re lucky enough to get an internship that actually pays you, it’s probably chump change. It’s unlikely you’re doing the work you want to be doing. You’re almost entirely at the mercy of the company you’re working for, and they don’t have much reason to treat you as well as their normal employees.

Continually fighting the tedium of your position, avoid the temptation to editorialize, plagiarize, or to try too hard to be funny. Because if you do and it makes the company you work for look bad, you’re already in ready, aim, fire position.

Then again, saying “uh… the intern did it” is a pretty lame, cliched PR excuse. It’s entirely possible that none of these public screw-ups actually were the intern’s fault. We might want to consider the possibility that there wasn’t even an intern to begin with. But I’ll leave that to you to decide, depending on how much you trust politicians and government bureaucracies to own up to their responsibilities.

1. Plane crashes aren’t the best time for bad puns

KTVU, a local news channel in San Francisco, recently pulled a Ron Burgundy when reporting on the recent Asiana Airlines crash at the San Francisco airport. The network reported the names of the pilot and crew as a  string of cheesy, racist puns. Asiana Airlines threatened to sue. KTVU obviously needed an excuse fast. They apologized, saying they only read these names after confirming them with the National Transportation Safety Board. The NTSB followed up with their own excuse, saying this was all the work of a devious, rogue intern, who had been promptly fired. The airline ultimately decided to drop the lawsuit.

2. Politicians can’t keep track of what they have and haven’t said, that’s the intern’s job!

During the 2008 presidential election, a web page with a list of “McCain Family Recipes,” something that has no reason to exist apart from illustrating just how stupid our election process is, appeared on the McCain website. Under the section of recipes accredited to Cindy McCain were verbatim copies of Food Network recipes. Campaign spokesman: “The intern [responsible] has been dealt with.” In 2011, former senator from Massachusetts Scott Brown had a supposedly autobiographical section of his website lifted word-for-word from a speech written by former North Carolina senator Elizabeth Dole. Brown: “It was a summer intern that put together the site.”

3. The thousands upon thousands of tweets that come back to haunt their senders

If I had a dollar for every time something stupid was posted on Twitter… wait, let me back up… that’s far more money than I could ever spend in a thousand lifetimes. If I had a dollar for every time a company or politician followed up a stupid tweet with a “But I don’t even know how to Twitter!” type excuse, I’d be a rich, rich man. Listen, politicians, just because you don’t understand social media and your interns do, doesn’t mean your interns should be solely responsible for handling what’s said on Twitter, Facebook, etc. All that proves is that you don’t understand how powerful social media can be. Would you ask someone who was only getting paid with a handshake and recommendation to send out your press releases unapproved and unedited? Of course not. Twitter is the exact same thing, except the damage and bad press fallout occurs about 1,000 times faster.

10 Things College Students Should Never Share on Facebook

Facebook has always had a weird relationship with colleges. It was created by a college student and originally exclusively used by other college students.  And even though a billion people are on the network, there’s a general sense that it’s mostly young people who’re using social media.

Despite (or maybe because of) its origins, college is both the best and the worst possible time to use Facebook. A very large percentage of the things the network tempts you to share are the very last things you want to be seen doing right as you’re entering the work force. I dare you to find one person who hasn’t done something while in college that they would never share with an employer.

Just like our guide to things not to do during finals, we’re back with another reference list of bad ideas. If you’ve started your job search, here are some things you should purge from your wall (or probably just never put up there in the first place.)xed_out_solo_cup

  1. Under 21? No pictures with alcohol. This should be a no brainer. If this is the first time you’re hearing this, then please, please continue reading this list. You’ll need it more than the rest of us.
  2. Over 21? Only incredibly tasteful pictures with alcohol. Just because you’ve hit the legal drinking age doesn’t mean your future employer wants to see photographic evidence of that night you were undefeated in Flip Cup. Treat your pictures like they are beer commercials. Holding a beer is probably fine. Chugging from a bottle, lying in a pile of red Solo cups,  playing drinking games… they’re all probably not. (more…)

What Does the Freakout About Instagram’s Terms Say About Social Networks?

This article was originally published before Instagram responded to the outrage with this message. Instagram has removed the confusing clause and apologized for the misunderstanding. Therefore some of the content of this post is no longer timely, but I believe the over-arching point about what people will accept from a social network is still worth discussing.

instagrammy

Thank goodness there’s somebody out there pawing through massive license agreements and thank goodness the Internet allows for people to share the important parts.

Instagram just made everybody very, very unhappy by tweaking their terms of service. Here’s the changes Instagram highlighted, in my words, not theirs:

  • You still own your photos.
  • Instagram now syncs more effectively with Facebook.
  • The new rules help protect you.

You don’t need me to say that these three bullet points are meaninglessly vague. Here’s the actual meat of the changes, buried in the fine print. This is the stuff that’s got everyone up-in-arms (this time in their words, my highlights): (more…)

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