Archive for August, 2007
Uh oh. After months of brain-racking and no doubt a gazillion dollars, you come up with a name for your service that everyone likes…and then, oops, turns out you overlooked a few languages when doing your due diligence into the name’s meaning. It’s an easy mistake to make when you have the combined resources of NBC and News Corp 😉
Yesterday, NBC and News Corp announced that the long-awaited name of their competitor to YouTube was…Hulu. Chosen because it would “embody our (admittedly ambitious) never-ending mission, which is to help you find and enjoy the world’s premier content when, where, and how you want it,” according to Jason Kilar, CEO.
Today, after a little Internet digging, TechCrunch revealed that not only did “hulu” mean “butt” in Indonesian and Malay, but – irony of ironies – it also means “cease” and/or “desist” in Swahili. Hmm, someone really should have caught that.
Yeah, I know, sorry. But the backlash against YouTube’s new in-video overlay ads has started. According to cnet’s online poll (of 988 readers at time of writing), 57% would rather quit YouTube than submit to ads, 19% were OK with a 10-second ad and 10% hardly even noticed it. Of course, given a choice, not many people would volunteer to be advertised to, but I suspect that we’ll pretty quickly accept it as a fact of life on YouTube. Perhaps the bigger issue is how/if YouTube will introduce ads on the real user-generated content as well as the sanitized stuff.
On Tuesday, Google announced that it was trialling a new feature that gives people in the news a right to reply to a particular story. Here’s an example. Unlike existing comments sections on many news sites, the identity of the commenter is verified by Google and that person must either be mentioned in the article or affiliated with an organization mentioned in the article. Many are welcoming it as an opportunity to have their say that has been denied by the evil mainstream media or to correct glaring inaccuracies. Of course I have no problem with the concept of right to reply, but in my experience as a PR professional, it’s far more common that companies just don’t like an article than it is that the facts are wrong or a person is actually misquoted. It strikes me that the service could be misused as another way to present an organization’s point of view to the world without submitting to any kind of critical filter.
Some people also see the move as the first step towards Google’s creating its own news content. And TechCrunch alleges hypocrisy because Google is not allowing other news organizations to crawl that content or republish it, even though that’s exactly how Google News gets its news. It means that not even the originator of a news article could display the responses to that article. And that doesn’t really seem fair, does it?
I hope that Google will change its policy in this regard, and that people and organizations will use the service responsibly as a right to reply, not a platform for propaganda.
Yes, the guessing is over. Revealed by the New York Times, Fake Steve, author of the mock diary of Steve Jobs, is none other than Dan Lyons, a Forbes reporter. Dan claims to have had no inside knowledge of Apple before starting the blog more than a year ago. Fans will be pleased to hear that Fake Steve will live on – but now under the Forbes banner.
News Corp’s acquisition of Dow Jones, publisher of the Wall Street Journal, is finally confirmed. The WSJ promises its readers that “the same standards of accuracy, fairness and authority will apply to this publication, regardless of ownership” and there are plans to set up a committee that will have power of veto over News Corp’s editorial decisions.
But will Murdoch really leave editorial alone? History suggests not. Andrew Neil, former editor of News Corp’s Sunday Times, tells how Murdoch would regularly send him clips from – ironically – the Wall Street Journal in a not-so-subtle attempt to influence editorial direction. In his highly entertaining book, The Insider, Piers Morgan (now of America’s Got Talent fame) reports that when he was editor of UK Sunday tabloid News of the World, Murdoch would call every week to check on the front page story and insist it be changed if he didn’t like it.
Murdoch is notorious for using his newspapers to further his own personal and political ends. Under his direction, The Sun changed its political allegiance from Conservative to Labour for Britain’s 1997 election, claimed to have “swung” the election for Tony Blair and then used the Sun’s huge public influence to put pressure on Blair. According to Piers Morgan, Blair was paranoid that the Sun would do to him what it did to former Labour leader Neil Kinnock.
Of course, we all hope it will be different this time and that the leopard will change its spots…