Syria Uprising, Royal Wedding, and Pink Toenail Polish . . .

In Uncategorized on April 25, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Over the past couple weeks ABC News has given in to the latest internet-crazed debate. This time, toenail polish – specifically pink toenail polish – has acted as the accelerant, spreading its flames across digital media landscape. 

The April 13th piece,  “J. Crew Ad With Boy’s Pink Toenails Creates Stir,” contributes to the latest “controversy” that’s “swirling around the internet,” where a recent J. Crew advertisement featured the company’s president painting her young son’s toe nails pink, supposedly his favorite color. However, this piece didn’t become a story until pundits at Fox News, the Media Research Center (MRC), and now ABC News, made it one. The MRC’s Erin Brown called it, “blatant propaganda celebrating transgendered children.”


First, the logic that must be used in order to go from a boy who likes pink to “blatant propaganda celebrating transgendered children” is innately and utterly paranoid and illogical. The fact that a largely heteronormative media is now trying to rein-in what it considers to be the transgender and queer communities stepping out of line is not only laughable but insulting. 

Second, why is this a story at all? This is an advertisement that was emailed to people on the J. Crew mailing list. It only developed wider attention because a couple of commentators decided to pass up more pertinent or newsworthy events such as the uprisings in Syria. Even the upcoming royal wedding would have been more relevant for a new site. Just because a topic can be discussed does not mean that it should be discussed. 

Although ABC News followed up this article with a somewhat thoughtful opinion piece by Larry Woodard, it fails to pose the million-dollar question of why everyone’s talking about this “issue” in the first place. This trend of nothing-new news that grabs hold of the popular imagination every month or so appears to be something uniquely fitted to the internet. The digital revolution has done amazing things to lower the threshold for people to become involved in media and a larger dialogue. But does that mean that the conversation should become undirected, paranoid, and obsession-driven? Should media giants like ABC and Fox News just be considered bigger, more organized bloggers?

I think that internet-based news has a responsibility to derail and not entice the distracting hysteria that so prevalent in today’s discourse. In the coming years, ensuring this will protect their integrity and give way for a more thoughtful and self-reflective conversation.


Painful Burns

In Uncategorized on April 10, 2011 at 9:08 pm

I was scanning this morning when I came across the following:

The combination of the section title, “Technology,” with the headline of “Kelly Osbourne Reveals Sunburn Pic on Twitter” genuinely intrigued me. I thought to myself, “Hm, maybe there’s something innovative about the way Kelly Osbourne informed the world about her sunburn, OR maybe the sunburn itself reveals a failure/success for sun protection technology.” So, I chose to open the slideshow and was somewhat dumbstruck by what I saw:

The enlarged image and attached caption did little to explain or explore the tweet beyond essentially retweeting it on the home page of ABC News.


Is this news agency’s staff being serious when they present (or rather represent) this online? Once I gave up trying to find some follow-up information associated with this, I began to think what mere contributions could have made this at least seem more important or newsworthy.

First, they could have not included this on the website because someone getting a regular sunburn, whether it’s the president or a farmer, is not need-to-know information.

Second, they could have simply kept this on Twitter. This is a tweet, and ABC News has an account, after all. Its readers might have been more prepared to be underwhelmed by this information in that forum.

Third, if ABC News’ web producers had been up for some hunting, they could have perhaps done a short piece or a slideshow featuring multiple celebrities using Twitter to show their boring sunburns to millions of fans. I’m sure that Kelly Osbourne isn’t the only one revealing her embarrassing epidermis. They could have connected it to a trend specific to the season and given it a mildly witty headline. Something like, “Celebrity sunburns remind us that spring is finally here,” comes to mind.

SOMETHING could have been done with this content other than just slapping it on ABC News’ site. Passing up re-tweets for news seems more painful and damaging than any sunburn.

Video Dis-Content

In Uncategorized on April 4, 2011 at 3:47 pm
During the past few weeks I’ve discussed ABC News’ video content and how it’s poorly re-syndicated for an online platform. Nearly all of this outlet’s content is first produced for television and then cut and tailored for its website.
But one thing in particular that I’ve grown to notice is the need for anchor-based, “professional” video news. ABC News’ video nearly always features a newscaster who acts as a guide and narrator for the audience. The majority of the shots are professionally crafted, presenting a visually manicured story.
But this convention feels old and worn compared to the growing genre of internet-oriented video news where relatively simple video, stills, and audio become weaved together to illustrate a short but compelling piece.
One of the leaders in this type of multimedia news is Global Post, a Boston-based, international news agency. Working through a worldwide network of multimedia correspondents, this outlet’s video content doesn’t contain many bells and whistles.
Many of its “On Location” pieces, such as this recent one on Liberia, are reported and produced by one or two correspondents. Although these videos aren’t as streamlined as the video content found on, they’re short, comprehensive, and well-oriented for an internet audience.
Although ABC News and other television-based news outlets have in the past set the standards for video journalism, Global Post’s seemingly less professional convention challenges their authority as they produced multimedia stories that do more with less.