Who Are You?

U.S. President Barack Obama (2nd L) greets Michaele Salahi (C) and her husband Tareq (R) during a state dinner for India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (L) at the White House in this official White House photo taken November 24, 2009 and released November 27, 2009. REUTERS/Samantha Appleton-The White House/Handout

Well, now we know the “publicity stunt” is back. First the balloon boy of Colorado, now the real housewife of D.C., Michaele Salahi.

They’ve asked the news folks to “get their bids in” for interviews, according to the AP:

The couple who crashed President Barack Obama’s first state dinner are peddling their story to broadcast networks for hundreds of thousands of dollars, a television executive says.

The executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the network does not publicly discuss bookings, told The Associated Press that representatives for Michaele and Tareq Salahi contacted networks to urge them to “get their bids in” for an interview. The executive said the Virginia couple was looking for a payment in the mid-six figures range.

Meanwhile, CNN confirmed that the Salahis had canceled an appearance they had scheduled for “Larry King Live” on Monday.

Network news divisions say they don’t pay for interviews. But for eagerly sought interviews in the past, they have offered to pay for access to exclusive material, such as pictures or videos from their subjects.

Representatives for the couple did not immediately return telephone and e-mail requests for comment.

Michaele Salahis is a reality TV hopeful trying to get on Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of D.C.” Her and her husband’s success in getting into the state dinner Tuesday without an invitation embarrassed the White House and Secret Service.

Scandal marketing and publicity stunts are one thing, but this kind of activity is dangerous and inconsiderate. Keep it clean and honest, please.

Not Safe for Tweets

Always think about where and how your tweets will appear. The above billboard for WPMI in Mobile, Alabama, is one such example, which got both the general manager and news director suspended:

Sources tell Florida News Center that the digital billboard “snafu” from earlier this week, has caused quite a stir at Mobile’s WPMI. Newport Television, the owners of WPMI, have suspeneded General Manager Shea Grandquest and News Director Wes Finley for one week, without pay. The picture below has circulated the Internet, after being posted on Twitter by a driver in the Mobile area.

Talk about a lesso

Thanks to the Banks

I’m thankful I’m not over-extended in my financial obligations. Well, sort of. Got plenty to pay back. I could use some oil money.

Maybe not. Dubai World is looking to the banks that lent them billions to hold off a little bit, according to yesterday’s New York Times:

The government of Dubai, in a blunt acknowledgment of the severity of its financial position, said on Wednesday that it had asked its banks for a six-month stay on its schedule of debt repayments.

The terse statement came in the middle of negotiations between creditors and Dubai World, the corporate arm of Dubai, which has led many of its most ambitious real estate projects, but is now struggling under the burden of $59 billion in liabilities.

For the banks that financed the debt-fueled ascent of Dubai — analysts’ estimates put its total debt at about $80 billion — the move by Dubai to obtain a standstill highlights a truth that many in the region had been trying to make clear to bankers. It is that Abu Dhabi, the oil-rich governing emirate of the United Arab Emirates, will not unconditionally bail out its more profligate neighbor. Instead, a genuine restructuring of Dubai’s debt, with pain being shared equally between Dubai and its bankers, needs to take place.

Try doing that with your credit cards. One by-product of this crazy borrow-and-spend oil economy is the world’s tallest building, the Burj Dubai. Check out this view from the top…

Happy Tweetsgiving

Great idea, for the second time around, via Mashable

Last year, the very first TweetsGiving was born and the social media effort raised close to $11,000 to build a classroom in Tanzania. This year the Thanksgiving Twitter-themed charity event is back in action and hopes to pull in more than $100,000 in a 48 hour International affair for charity.

If you’re not familiar with TweetsGiving, it’s a global, volunteer-organized social media charity drive starting today and extending through Thanksgiving, similar in purpose and practice to Twestival but built around the notion of celebrating gratitude. TweetsGiving gives back to the Epic Change charity in an effort to raise money to build additional classrooms, a library, cafeteria, and dormitory for a school in Tanzania.

Participating in TweetsGiving is as simple as sharing your gratitude on Twitter (Twitter), or any other social media site, with the hashtag #tweetsgiving and a link to TweetsGiving.org. You can view the tagged gratitude tweets, photos, videos, songs, and blog posts on the TweetsGiving site. You can also retweet to spread the word, donate to the cause, meet the TwitterKids of Tanzania (the kids tweet and blog), or select from the city/state dropdown menu to find and attend one of the local parties or events held across the world.

Launch Ringtone

The most thrilling part of being in the satcom business was definitely rocket launches.

Intelsat-14 launched at 1:55 a.m. this morning…

Like the countdown? We made it into a ringtone. Yeah, that was my idea.


If this doesn’t make the case for video review in soccer, I don’t know what does.

Thierry confessed it was a handball: “I will be honest, it was a handball. But I’m not the ref. I played it, the ref allowed it. That’s a question you should ask him.”

Ask the ref? “Parle à ma main” — the Fatal Bazooka video…


Just Shoot

“F8 and shoot.” That’s what photographers tell you to do when you want to get your work into one of the last great magazines for photography: National Geographic.

TV Crazy

Broadcast television networks are supposed to be experiencing some audience erosion, and VentureBeat is telling us YouTube will soon be offering 1080p video.

YouTube is going to roll out 1080p high-definition video later this week, as the video portal steps up its quality to compete with other sites. (That’s 1,080 lines of vertical resolution or horizontal scan lines, a notch above the current highest level at 720p.)

“For our content creators, we want it to look as good or better than the source’s quality,” said  Hunter Walk, a director of product management for YouTube, at GigaOm’s NewTeeVee conference in San Francisco today. High-definition video now makes up about 10 percent of uploads on the site.

So how is it that the average American watches 4 hours 49 minutes of TV daily? Wait a minute: nearly five hours every day?! I don’t think I can watch that much in week! What’s your TV habit like? Check out this PDF, with viewing habits going back to 1950.

Now, back to poking around YouTube for quality entertainment — whenever I want to (as long as I have a broadband connection). Here’s one…

iTablet: Saving Newspapers

A couple of weeks ago, the Sydney Morning Herald ran a story on Apple’s upcoming new product, the iTablet:

Apple has sent specifications of the device to Australian media companies in an effort to sound out whether they would be interested in delivering their content to the tablet. None would speak about the device on the record.

But New York Times executive editor Bill Keller seemed to let the cat out of the bag in comments during an off-the-record meeting with New York Times digital staff this month. Footage of his talk has been published online.

The device itself is expected to be another “game changer” for Apple, summed up nicely by John Abell in Wired last week:

The device will have to make readers forget — really forget — the printed page. E-readers, for all that they do, don’t do this yet. There are plenty of them, and plenty more on the way. Much hope is invested in Amazon’s Kindle DX, which hits the market for the holidays. But in the end e-readers are third devices, or at least two-and-a-half (carried sometimes).

Finally — and this is the “my gift to you” part — the unveiling of an Apple Tablet will have to be accompanied by a fundamental policy change. Apple will have to let publishers roll the dice on pricing and cede control of the customer relationship it has jealously guarded. There are precedents which could point to this trajectory; tiered pricing and album-only sales are allowed on iTunes now, and app developers can more or less charge whatever they want.

Having just cancelled my home-delivery subscription to the local daily newspaper, I started thinking what it’s like to rely solely on the online version. My conclusion? I don’t care. All I ever read in that paper was Dilbert. I never liked the way the paper was organized, but I did like flipping through the ads — especially the free-standing inserts. Their Web site is busy, with a dated portal approach. And they don’t have an iPhone app.

The New York Times on the other hand, has an excellent editorial product, with a neat approach in print, an excellent Web site, and I actually enjoy reading it via their free iPhone app. From an advertising perspective, I’ll take the NYT over The Star-Ledger any day. They invested substantial resources in building their own system for targeting ads to segments of their audience, and I hope media planners appreciate it.

Maybe the iTablet will do it for print media after all. Ken Segall saw it perfectly last month:

Just as iPod changed music and iPhone changed communications, iTablet will change the way we consume media. We’ll all say “of course” when we see a simple and elegant way to enjoy newspapers, magazines, books, music, movies and all of the Internet in one painfully cool device. We’ll marvel at the new vision of “the daily paper,” combining print with video and gorgeous graphics that bring stories to life (never mind that it’s all out there on the web already). And we’ll wonder how civilized people could ever have allowed all those trees to be slaughtered, only to be mashed into mega-tons of newsprint that get tossed at the end of the day.

The scope of this revolution requires Apple to recruit partners. Big ones. They’re lining up the major media companies, who will announce new forms of content designed to meet the new iTablet standard, just as they seduced the record companies and movie studios before. Newspapers and magazines, now a dying breed, will re-emerge with new vitality as an integral part of our mobile lives.

It’s not that others couldn’t see this coming. It’s that they didn’t have the will, the ingenuity and the leadership to make it happen. This is a revolution that needed a good hijacking.


Copyright Fight

Interesting opinions on News Corporation’s approach to paid content.

Sit back and watch Rupert Murdoch’s interview on Sky News. Although rather long at 37+ minutes, you’ll get something out of it…

He’s got a point: good content takes time and money to produce. It nobody pays for good content, it will go away. Then what?