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Steve Safran

ABC News inks partnership with Yahoo News

The top news site on the web, Yahoo News has teamed up with ABC News in a strategic online alliance that will make ABC the premiere news provider on the portal (promo video). The most visible element of the partnership is the launch of a new site, GoodMorningAmerica.com (which resolves to gma.yahoo.com), an online experience dedicated to GMA but living under the Yahoo brand.

ABC will also produce three new “online-first” video series hosted by their talent for distribution on Yahoo News. “Newsmakers” features big-name interviews starting with George Stephanopoulos’ sitdown with President Barack Obama today. “Around the World with Christiane Amanpour” focuses on international news and “This Could Be Big,” anchored by Bill Weir, spotlights hot technology products.

On a larger scale, Yahoo News says the partnership will feature “original reporting produced first for the web. Groundbreaking, digital-first reporting” with an “instant reach of 100 million Americans.”

“This relationship will give ABC News an unrivaled ability to reach across the Web, combining Yahoo!’s vast distribution and cutting-edge technology with our award-winning journalism. For years, we’ve proudly proclaimed that more Americans get their news from ABC News than any other source,” said Ben Sherwood, president of ABC News. “Going forward, we will greatly expand this leadership by building a connection with a whole new online audience.”

What do you think, good move for ABC News (and Yahoo)?

East Coast earthquake social media resources

Update: Twitter reports it had 5,500 tweets per second at the height of today’s quake. It notes that this rate (which it calls TPS) is higher than when Bin Laden was killed and is on par with the number of tweets during the Japan quake.

Update: It’s certainly looking like the earthquake has only done minor damage and there are no reports of injuries. We are experiencing a lot of internet slowness, particularly for sites originating from DC.

We’re monitoring social media for stories and resources regarding the earthquake that struck Virgina this afternoon. Here are some; we will be updating as we find new information.

  • VIDEO: Quake hits as Virginia auto repair shop is shooting video.
  • VIDEO: Earthquake interrupts New York press conference regarding DSK.
  • VIDEO: Parkville, MD earthquake security camera footage.
  • The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang is liveblogging.
  • Foursquare earthquake checkins. (Really.)
  • Twitter hashtag is #earthquake.
  • USGS site asking “Did you feel it?”
  • I suppose it’s a good sign that there is already earthquake humor on Twitter.
  • Guest Post: Google Plus pulls TV station account

    UPDATE: +BreakingNews, one of the first brands to join Google Plus, has had its account pulled as well. It had 20,000 followers when it was shut down. +CoryBergman and +StephanieClary are posting the Breaking News updates on their personal accounts until Breaking News is re-established on Google Plus.

    This is a guest post from Kimberly Wilson, who founded SocialNewsDesk, a company that specializes in social media solutions for newsrooms. You’ll find her on Twitter @kimberly_wilson and G+ at +Kim Wilson.

    True to its word, Google has shut down the KOMU G+ account. The station had amassed a significant following and had made headlines as an early adopter of Google+. If you navigate to its profile, this is what you’ll see:

    KOMU Anchor, +Sarah Hill posted an obituary for her beloved station profile:

    +Jen Reeves is KOMU’s New Media Director. She points out that Google’s enforcement of the “no brand” policy is random and perhaps even unfair. In fact, one of KOMU’s direct competitors, +KRCG Mid-Missouri just started a G+ profile and has not been shut down. Neither have several dozen other media profiles.

    Google has been clear that it doesn’t want brands to participate in the G+ beta test. And it has promised that a business solution is coming soon. In the meantime, KOMU’s experience will likely give other stations second thoughts when it comes to devoting time and resources to G+ before brand profiles are ready.

    CNN streams its air live online, mobile

    CNN has rolled out a new video player this morning with the ability for authenticated TV viewers to watch the cable news network and HLN live online and on CNN’s iPad and iPhone apps. Here’s a screenshot of Anderson Cooper airing on an iPad:

    Before watching, users have to confirm they’re subscribers of a participating cable, IPTV or satellite service. Powered by the TV Anywhere initiative, CNN is working with Comcast (Xfinity), Cox, Dish, Verizon, AT&T and SuddenLink — but not Time Warner Cable, Cablevision and DirecTV, to name a few. CNN is the first TV news organization to stream its air live 24 hours a day.

    “The 10 million users who have downloaded CNN’s mobile apps and the tens of millions of people who get the latest news and information from CNN.com every day will soon be able to watch CNN TV on every device they have,” said KC Estenson, general manager of CNN Digital.

    At the same time, CNN.com rolled out a new, HD-capable video player. As you play a video, resolution may increase over time as the player “optimizes” the stream. The quality is crisp.

    And while you’re browsing video, the video you’re currently watching continues playing in the upper-left of the screen. Clips are shareable to Facebook, Twitter and email, but there’s no commenting or integrated social discussion, which would be interesting to add to CNN’s live broadcast.

    Guest Column: Early Google Plus media experiments

    This is a guest post from Kimberly Wilson, who founded SocialNewsDesk, a company that specializes in social media solutions for newsrooms. You’ll find her on Twitter @kimberly_wilson.

    Most people still haven’t gotten a Google+ invite. Even fewer companies are there. And Google+ has all but begged brands to hold off on creating profiles for their companies until the new kid on the social block can roll out support for businesses. But, as usual, many news folks aren’t interested in taking no for an answer. Why? We like to be first. It’s pretty much our goal in life. And so despite Google’s polite request to wait, there seems to be a split among newsies when it comes to the value of diving into the Plus pool…

    1. Jumping in with both feet: KOMU News

    This small station is making big waves with their commitment to experiment with social media. Led by +Jen Reeves, +KOMU News has more than 10 employees already on G+ including a few anchors. And they’re already in more than 850 circles. +KOMU News is making a mark as the first local news team to use the new platform by putting out newsworthy posts and hosting hangouts during their 5pm newscasts.

    2. Testing the Waters: ABC News Radio and Chicago Sun-Times

    ABC News Radio’s on-again, off-again approach to G+ seems to have concluded with on-again. Led by +Dan Patterson, ABC News Radio hit the ground running with G+ but then quickly took a detour when Google requested brands to hold off on utilizing the platform:

    But, after realizing that several other outlets had no problem ignoring Google’s request, +ABC News Radio jumped back in, citing +Mashable, +BreakingNews, +FreshAir, +NPR, and +AlJazeeraEnglish as reason enough to keep their own G+ experiment alive:

    Prompted at least in part by +ABCNewsRadio‘s initial decision to abandon G+, the +Chicago Sun-Times issued this farewell post on July 7th:

    But as more and more media outlets jump onto G+, the Sun-Times, Wednesday, decided to reinvigorate their page rather than sitting by while everyone else has all the fun.

    3. Wearing a Life-Jacket: WAVY

    WAVY is the Norfolk, VA NBC affiliate. Like several other media outlets, they’ve created a page, but haven’t made a single post. These newsrooms obviously see some value in securing G+ real estate now; but are waiting until later to devote resources to the platform.

    What does it all mean for you?

    Well, every newsroom will have to make its own decision. But here are a few things to consider:

    1. Many news organizations started out with a Personal Profile on Facebook and racked up thousands of “Friends” instead of “Fans”. Later, they had to deal with the headache of transitioning all those Friends to a Fan Page. Giving Plus some time to shake out the bugs might allow you to avoid a repeat situation.

    2. Google is promising that G+ for business is worth the wait. And there’s been so much interest that they’re speeding up the release. If you want to be part of the first few brands to test it, you have until 9pm Friday to sign up.

    3. There’s something pretty amazing happening with the early adopters of G+. There’s a strong sense of community, like we’re part of some important social experiment. And newsrooms that can harness this enthusiasm will gain huge early followings on Plus. But beware, Google has said they “will actively work with profile owners to shut down non-user profiles”. Translation: you could lose them as fast as you gain them! +NPR News has even warned their fans that the end may be near:

    4. For newsrooms already challenged to fit social media into the daily workflow, this is one more thing for the staff to manage. And until Google opens up an API for Plus, none of the management tools like Tweetdeck, Hootsuite and SocialNewsDesk can give you access to post from their platform. (Don’t worry: I have it on good authority that SocialNewsDesk will add the functionality as soon as it’s available.)

    Has your newsroom considered starting a G+ account? What did you decide and why?

    BeeTV integrates social TV into new apps

    Social TV company BeeTV is bringing together TV viewing, checkins and social conversation into a new iPhone app, and it also released an improvement to its existing iPad app. BeeTV HD integrates with Facebook and Twitter enabling users to see what their friends and other social webbies are saying about the show.

    The interface is pretty easy – there’s a big box that asks “what are you watching?” It matches the show and users can see what’s being tweeted (or Facebooked) about it:

    In addition, the site lists, in real time, which shows are trending:

    BeeTV also enables users to set up filters to see what specific people are saying. You can set your filter just to see your friends, or to include celebrity tweets and other accounts. Writes the press release: “The next time a user watches ‘How I Met Your Mother’ and wants to carry on a bromance with Neil Patrick Harris, BeeTV will make it easy.”

    (Thank goodness.)

    You can type status updates from within the app, sharing on both the Facebook and Twitter platforms at the same time. As with all of the emerging social television apps, we’ll see which ones shake out. Companies are competing to be the social TV app platform, and this is still very early in that race.

    The BeeTV app is free.

    Los Angeles, social media prepare for "Carmageddon"

    Los Angeles, home of notorious traffic jams, is preparing for a potential doozy. People are calling this weekend’s closure of 10 miles of the 405 “Carmageddon.” What’s happening is 10 miles of the very busy highway will be shut down to traffic as part of a reconstruction project. The big question is whether the work will result in massive traffic jams or if the impact won’t be that great because it’s a weekend project.

    We’re seeing some examples of social media in action in preparation for Carmageddon. KABC is teaming up with the traffic app company Waze to offer an app that is powered by the audience. It detects your speed as you drive and keep the app open. Utilizing that information, Waze generates a map showing traffic. After your ride you can report what you saw along the way (typing is disabled while you’re driving).

    The LAPD is asking some of Twitter’s top celebrities to help spread the word as well. It asked Lady Gaga, Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore and Kim Kardashian to tweet about the closing. Those four have a combined 30 million followers.

    Have you seen any examples of social media about Carmageddon in action? Let us know in the comments below.

    Roku brings Facebook pictures and videos to the TV

    Roku, the streaming video player, is adding the ability to see Facebook videos and pictures right on your TV. There are already several channels you can see on Roku, and Facebook Photos has been one of them. Now the channel is getting a big upgrade and it’s another example of internet video coming to the living room.

    Facebook Photos & Videos enables Roku users to watch most videos uploaded directly to Facebook. It also presents YouTube videos shared on Facebook. It’s the Facebook multimedia experience, and you don’t need a computer to participate.

    What does that mean? This is an early step toward what will almost certainly be expanded Facebook Channels on many internet TV services. The partnership with Roku is likely a first step in building more Facebook channels, and they don’t need a cable or satellite deal to make it happen. Choosing the Facebook Photos & Videos channel brings up a familiar-but-tweaked interface showing user choices:

    In its blog, Roku notes some of the new features: There will be support for multiple users (no more logging off and logging on for a different user. You can still see the comments on pictures and “Like” a photo, by using your remote. And it organizes your friends into a grid for easier scanning.

    On Roku, you can already watch channels such as Netflix, Amazon Video and Hulu Plus. Now, with Facebook Photos and Videos, users have a deeply personalized experience. Notes Roku. as more people upload to Facebook in HD, the video quality is going to be good quality. Roku is positioning itself not just as an adjunct to cable and satellite, but as a one-stop service. It has a way to go with its channel offerings, but by adding non-conventional channels it is going to tempt a lot of people who are “cutting the cable.”

    SocialGuide debuts daily social TV rankings

    There’s a new form of ratings in town, and it has nothing to do with the Nielsens. SocialGuide ranks shows based on their popularity in the social media sphere by day, week or month. Along with Trendrr and Bluefin Labs — two other companies offering social TV data — it’s a new way of looking at engagement with programming.

    The Social 100, ranking shows according to social media activity on Twitter and Facebook. SocialGuide CEO Sean Casey told Broadcasting & Cable the data can provide shows and advertisers with a new way of exploring their audience:

    “This will provide them with a very interesting metric that will provide them with a measurement of what level of social engagement is going on around their TV shows. It offers a cross-section of the activity around the Twitter user base and shows what younger people who are into social media are watching and talking about.”

    Looking at the Social 100 provides a different peek at media engagement. While network TV tends to rule the ratings, eight of the top ten social shows are on cable. (HBO’s “True Blood” is number one. The top network show is “Big Brother,” at number three.)

    SocialGuide is also out with a mobile app for iPhone and Android. The app enables viewers to monitor social interaction as their favorite programs air. Users can see comments from everyone or choose to see what their circle of friends are saying.

    There’s also a stream for sports fans – when you’re watching a sporting event you can see a cultivated stream the company has put together that features tweets from athletes and teams.

    The same goes for entertainment. You can see a stream of tweets from the actors on the show you’re watching. While an athlete can’t (or at least shouldn’t) Tweet during a game, but an actor can certainly do so while their pre-taped show is on.

    You can see how this would be appealing. Suppose actors from “Glee” tweeted during the show. They could provide real time running commentary. (Think DVD extra, only in Tweet form.) While this won’t be the only way shows are measured, it provides an important service that gives another side of how the audience consumes television.

    Detroit station taps #backchannel to make 'good news'

    Don’t just complain about sad news – do something about it! That’s what viewers of and staffers from WXYZ in Detroit did, using the power of social media in the community. Using the Twitter hashtag #backchannel and Facebook, a group of more than a hundred people gathered to help clean up Detroit. The group partnered withMotor City Blight Busters, a non-profit dedicated to cleaning up the city. On Saturday, June 25, in concert with Motor City Blight Busters, the #backchannel volunteers, according to WXYZ, helped “take down an old building, clear a vacant eyesore and clean up a playground.”

    And it all started with a question on Twitter. A viewer asked one of the WXYZ anchors why the station does so much “bad” news. The viewer suggested through the station’s already-established #backchannel that it organize and cover positive event. The group then used social media to report on the event as it happened:

    The brainchild of WXYZ Anchor Stephen Clark, #backchannel keeps going, too. Clark wrote to Lost Remote:

    “The #backchannel stays active pretty much 24/7… it’s become a community “water cooler” where people chat, share links, post breaking news that they run across. We get a lot of videos and pictures of breaking news posted on the #backchannel. I constantly check the stream- – our assignment desk keeps it open to look for breaking news.”

    It should be noted that Clark started the #backchannel on his own, without the station’s knowledge. But, he writes, the station immediately recognized the value of the project:

    “After the blight busters even last weekend–the station actually produced and began airing a “proof of performance” spot … really the first “official” recognition of the #backchannel. I believe that will help us grow and accomplish even more.”

    Here’s the ad:

    Many station managers won’t invest much time in social media because they don’t see an immediate ROI. Indeed, this event wasn’t a money maker. But stations are also supposed to do community outreach, and this “crowdsourced” event combined the power of the audience with the reach of the station.

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