A 2010 report that said most journalists used Twitter, Facebook or blogs as vital news sources didn’t receive much public attention, but it noted what has become a huge shift in how the mainstream media operates.

The survey – conducted by Cision, a public relations firm, and Don Bates of The George Washington University’s Master’s Degree Program in Strategic Public Relations – said journalists viewed social media as an essential tool for gathering news, but they were aware the information they found could be unreliable.

No kidding. Although social media hadn’t yet degenerated into the stinking dumpster fire it is today, reporters and editors eight years ago knew most of the tips they found online had to be independently verified before they could be reported. Based on the embarrassing number of “fake news” stories in the past year, that no longer seems the case.

I’ve always been particularly suspicious of Twitter as a news source. In days gone by, cranks and fanatics had to stand on a soapbox in a public park to spout their views. Thanks to the internet, these zealots don’t just have a megaphone but the equivalent of a cable TV network to spread their warped and often insane ideas around the globe.

Yes, online communities can be marvelous creations where like-minded folks can share concerns, offer each other support and pass on expertise to those who need it. But cyberspace also provides a place where lunatics and perverts, who would be powerless in the real world, can band together and become a force in pushing their agenda.

While their overall numbers may be small, crazies can make a splash when their tweet catches the eye of a reporter who decides to turn it into a news story. That’s especially likely to occur if the tweet wins support from others in the form of re-tweets and likes.

And that’s my problem with reporters using Twitter as a news source. In a country of more than 325 million people, is it truly newsworthy if several thousand fools like a tweet? And I’m being generous – I’ve seen tweets that drew the attention of only a few hundred people developed as news stories.

One of the websites I’ve found helpful in following Twitter’s influence on the media is twitchy.com, a conservative site founded by Michelle Malkin in 2012. Twitchy re-posts threads that develop after a leftist make a tweet that incites withering responses from right-wingers. It’s usually very amusing.

But Twitchy does more than that. It offers a path into Twitter itself that non-tweeters like me can use. I quickly discovered that tweets by celebrities and pundits often collect only a couple hundred combined re-tweets and likes. Even President Donald Trump, who has 45.6 million followers, sometimes gets fewer than 100,000 combined responses and re-tweets to his posts.

It bothers me when something that might interest so few people can result in news stories that get national or even international attention. It’s almost as if news coverage in the pre-internet age could be decided by what appeared in letters to the editor.

Indeed, Twitter, Facebook and other social media can generate real news, but journalists have to exercise discretion before they sit at their keyboards and tap out their stories. And while the internet has made the process much easier, nothing beats old-fashioned shoe-leather doggedness when it comes to accurately reporting the news.


Happy New Year! May you enjoy joy, prosperity and good health in 2018.

by baldilocks

The infamous Katrina. Cite.

Every day there’s a new online outrage. This probably started eons ago — Internet time scale — but since the onset of the Social Media Age a little more than ten years ago, outrage has become its own reward. Watching it is a guilty pleasure – voyeuristic, one might say – but when one is other-directed, it’s essential to pull one’s self away from it for a specified period of time. For some, that specified period is forever. (As I recall, the late and much-lamented Steven Den Beste opted out of the pre-Social Media blog game after his fame as an essayist had nearly reached legendary status. There was a huge amount of poo-flinging even back then. I know.)

Don’t worry, I’m not considering this, though I have many times in the past. I like Social Media but I also think it’s detrimental for those who never learned long-term, pattern-based thinking. But for those who feed on emotionalism, especially outrage…

Social Media can be compared to a tropical storm which is capable of ramping ramp up to a Category 5 hurricane within seconds. To state the obvious, Cat 5 hurricanes can leave massive physical destruction of lives and property in their wake.

What lies in the wake of Social Media storms? Too often, truth is the casualty. Seemingly insignificant nuances of a story – on which knowledge of the truth often hinges – can get left out in the rush to weigh in … and to condemn an “evil-doer,” especially if that “evil-doer” is the “wrong” color or of the “wrong” political party.

And, sometimes, for the necessity of the maintaining the storm’s power, nuances big and small are ignored or discounted on purpose.

Reason: because destruction is the goal.

I’ve intentionally left out examples here, because as I began to compare this phenomenon to a hurricane, I felt that each specific example would require its own post. I’m sure that someone else has already undertaken this task, but I want to give it the Baldilocks Treatment. Look for Part Two on Tuesday.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel tentatively titled Arlen’s Harem, will be done one day soon! Follow her on Twitter and on Gab.ai.

Attention: See Da Tech Guy’s pinned post!

As one of the biggest marketing tools we have, social media is being tapped by companies large and small. It is one of the most effective ways to ‘collect’ followers while building a brand. One US digital marketing company, Single Grain, regularly explores new and innovative ways to tap the power of social media, but what they keep coming back to is the example set by our Commander in Chief, Donald J. Trump. Perhaps, looking at his history of Tweeting might provide some insights into what the average consumer is looking for and how to make use of that when building a brand. Let’s take a look at POTUS.

He Is Our POTUS After All

Whether you love him, hate him, or simply don’t care much about him at all, the one thing you have to admit is that President Trump made the history books during this heated and often controversial campaign. What the masses saw was a man who, for lack of a better description, opened mouth and inserted foot. He’d be out on the campaign trail or watching the nightly news on the day’s events and suddenly he would be Tweeting his thoughts. This endeared him to some, but others were disgusted by his actions.

But the one thing that Single Grain wants to point out here is that he sure grabbed the media’s attention! The race is long over and he is now the President of the United States, our POTUS, and still, he’s tweeting away as if he were just another blue collar worker waiting for the weekend and a couple days to relax and enjoy. Unfortunately, that isn’t one of the luxuries our 45th President gets to enjoy. As President, his week is seven days long and he’s on duty 24 hours a day. So what can today’s business owner or administrator learn from all this? And, more importantly, how can today’s digital marketing company cash in on his example?

Consumers Want ‘For Real’

What most people respect, even if they don’t like our president is the fact that he is ‘real’. What you see is what you get and that is something today’s consumer wants. They want ‘for real.’ They don’t want a brand built on a Madison Avenue marketing campaign that is far from the reality of what that company is and what they have to offer. Today’s consumer wants a brand they can engage with and it is why so many people hit ‘like’ or ‘love’ on product pages.

Millennials are all about being in touch with their feelings and they want to deal with brands who have a social message. While you might not agree with President Trump’s politics, he has a message and he’s only too glad to share it. He will Tweet his heart away and that is something that just might set the stage for marketers going forward through the next four years. Want to get your message out there to a group of people you will find on social sites 90% of their free time? Learn to social market and you’ll have learned the real message behind those Tweets. Trump trumps social media and that’s a lesson well learned.

As a social media nerd (perhaps you know the type), I take note of the political ads in the sidebars and footers of the blogs and pages I follow. The unseen forces that affect ad-placing algorithms have figured out that I’m pro-life, and most of the political ads I see are for more-or-less pro-life candidates. A pro-Hillary ad like the one that crossed my social media feed today is jarring. (How did she find me?)

A pro-life physician whose blog I enjoy took Democratic VP candidate Tim Kaine to task recently for Kaine’s personally-opposed-but position on abortion. No surprises, until I got to the end of the post and saw a pro-Hillary ad at the bottom of the page.

The blogger sure didn’t place that one. The platform hosting his blog did. I took grim pleasure in thinking how few clicks the ad must have gotten from the blog’s usual audience.

This, I reminded myself, is why bloggers need to bite the bullet and pay for self-hosted sites. When we don’t, we’re at the mercy of the lovely and talented ad team at WordPress or Google or whatever. It’s just plain annoying to know that even in an ad rotation that’s largely non-political on a pro-life blog, something like the Clinton promo can slither in. Free social media isn’t altogether free, a fact I wish I could ignore. If we’re using space on someone else’s property, be it Facebook or Twitter or a blog that’s not self-hosted, the landlord gets to set terms.

This was a minor annoyance, but it was just pesky enough to annoy me. It was my lesson for the day, and I share it with you at no charge: blog your heart out, and own your platform if you can. Hillary is lurking for your readers.

A follow-up to my July 28 post, “Ethics and PP’s Campaign Cash”: A report in the New Hampshire Sunday News says that the New Hampshire Executive Branch Ethics Committee has dismissed the ethics complaint against Gov. Hassan and Councilor Van Ostern, who took Planned Parenthood campaign money and then supported state contracts with PP. Nothing to see here, folks.

Ellen Kolb writes about the life issues at http://leavenfortheloaf.com. When she's not writing, she's hiking in New Hampshire.
Ellen Kolb writes about the life issues at Leaven for the Loaf. When she’s not writing, she’s hiking in New Hampshire.

A note to readers: DaTechGuy has given me a chance to earn a regular gig here, and I hope I can earn your thumbs-up with this week’s post along with my earlier ones (here and here). He’ll be judging the entries in Da Magnificent tryouts by hits-per-post and hits to DaTipJar. If you hit DaTipJar after reading this, please mention my name so Da Boss knows I’m earning my keep. (Look for a tip jar link at the right side of the page if it’s not visible below.) Thank you!

FYI from DaTechGuy Ellen’s first piece was Ethics and PP cash her second was The portrait’s gotta go: Putting a Know-Nothing in his place.

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By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – I’m usually pretty slow to catch up to new social media and I’m sure this is no exception, but I’ve recently discovered Periscope, Twitter’s live-stream app.  I’m told it is similar to the Meerkat app, which I’ve never used. Via Periscope, I’ve spent the past ten days in Munich at Oktoberfest; this morning I caught a guard inspection at the palace in London, and I walked through Nottingham, saw the Robin Hood statue, and went to a beer festival. There’s an Irish fellow in Cork that likes to read Walt Whitman – he’s fun to watch because he talks to the people leaving comments on the stream.  And just a few minutes ago someone in the middle of the North Atlantic was ‘scoping whales.  A few weeks ago I was watching the protests in Ferguson.

As with any other social media, there is a lot of junk there, too: “Shaving my Legs in Miami,” for example or “Vaping in Omaha.”  You have to sift through the inane sometimes to find something interesting.  I have caught a couple of Ted Cruz speeches via Periscope and one Donald Trump event.  As the political season heats up, Periscope might be an interesting tool to catch those events you may not see otherwise.

This live-streaming video is something that can get sticky ethically, I think.  Obviously not everyone wants their faces broadcast to the world on the internet; privacy issues abound.  Some I’ve watched on the app are very careful, for example, when children are on scene and try to respect privacy by not showing them.  Others ‘scope with abandon.  CNN reports that the night of the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, millions of people used Periscope to watch the fight – illegally.  It’s a sticky wicket.

On the other hand, it’s a neat way to see the world from your couch and to watch events you don’t have access to.

You can find a basic tutorial for Periscope here; it’s very simple.  You can watch or you can broadcast.  You’ll want to be sure you’re on WiFi if you start catching videos unless you still have an unlimited data plan; the live streams will eat your data quickly.

Like I said, I’m usually the last to get on the train with social media, and if you’re using Periscope, I’d like to hear what you’re doing with it.


Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

but, is there a more sinister side to Facebook?

I’m not a huge fan of Facebook, and I still don’t get the point of Twitter.

When I first was on Facebook, I went crazy and started gathering friends as though my life depended on it.  I confess to having a feeling of some importance when I hit almost 2000 friends.

One day I was perusing my Facebook feed and noticed that I didn’t really “know” any of those 2000 people and couldn’t care less what they were doing.  I decided most of them had to go.  At that time it was much harder to delete friends, and it took me several weeks to wean the list down.  I figured if I couldn’t pronounce the name of the place they lived, and didn’t even know where it was, they probably weren’t my “friends.”

I know some people just have their family and closest friends on their feed and that’s perfectly acceptable; except when they announce their vacation plans and the dates they’ll be gone.  Do they not realize that a crafty thief, without too much effort, can probably access their address?

I never update my page anymore, and only leave an occasional “like” on my very best friends pages.  I don’t even link my blog posts anymore.


Glad you asked.

I’ve noticed the pervasive narcissistic tendency for people to post each and every little thing that happens to them, and it is invariably fraught with angst and drama.  No longer do people just have a headache.  Now they have the worst headache (insert your favorite malady) that ever befell a human being since the first time Eve told Adam, “Not tonight, dear. I have a headache.”

If they’re having a bad day, it becomes the “worst day ever.”  Stuck in traffic?  Horrible!  Every little trifle and piffle is blown up to the size of a dirigible.

Do I need to talk about “selfies and selfie sticks?”  I didn’t think so.

But, even more sinister is the fact that Facebook has become one of the major ways the government has to track you.  NSA, CIA, FBI are all watching you and yours.

Not only are they tracking you, but they’re feeding propaganda to the masses through social media.  People are being paid to troll you and tell you exactly what they want you to believe.

A study back in November of 2013 discovered that 47% of people get their news from Facebook.   Soon, every major network will be disseminating the “news” through a social media platform.  You will read only what they want you to read.  And trust me; it won’t be the truth.

I won’t get into the damage Facebook and mobile devices do to the thinking part of the brain.  That would be a whole post by itself.


Government Trolls are Using Psychology-Based Influence Techniques on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter

Nowhere to Hide: Facebook Goes Beyond Facial Recognition to Track You

Digital Data is a Mortal Risk



By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT — Probably nowhere in the world of social media can one find more of a cesspool of rumor, misinformation, immaturity, and drama than on Facebook.

There is maybe some merit for Twitter: I usually get breaking news faster on Twitter than anywhere else.  Tweets are, of course, thankfully limited to 140 characters, which helps minimize the damage one can do.

About the stupidest thing one can do is to get into an argument with somebody on Facebook.  I speak from experience.  In July, I jumped into an argument with “Miss Liberal” about the Hobby Lobby decision and whether or not it restricted personal rights to buy contraceptives.  In my defense, it was only because I was bored and hurtling down the interstate at 75 mph (as a passenger!) on vacation.  “Miss Liberal” insisted that women lost the right to contraceptives in the Supreme Court decision and I made the case that they did not.  “Miss Liberal” was never convinced and finally resorted to insults and personal attacks; I got bored with her and left the conversation.

I should have learned.

Last week I posted the “I’m NOT with Mary Landrieu” picture on my Facebook feed – I thought it was kind of funny.  “Miss Liberal” pops up again with a comment:  “I feel sorry for you.”  Again we get into a “discussion” about the merits of Landrieu.  “Miss Liberal” hurls more personal attacks and insults about my intelligence.  I am, she says, too ignorant to understand.

Again, I left the conversation.

Third strike:  “Miss Liberal” posts some gibberish on her own Facebook feed about how wonderful universal health care is and how the United States is the only country in the world not to provide this wonderful service to its people – and she tagged me in her post.  She called me out and said that I said that I didn’t believe everyone deserved health care.  (I never said that, of course).

This is just silly, right?  I don’t even know this person in real life and don’t know why we are even Facebook friends.  I’ve never met this person.

But she has called me out.  She tagged me.

So I defend my honor; the whole discussion devolves into a definition of the word entitlement.  “Miss Liberal” said that I get entitlements based on my government job.  When I explained to her that I am a school teacher for the state of Louisiana and I pay for every benefit I receive, she said I was ignorant and needed a dictionary.  The whole thing degenerated from there and she was back to insults and attacks which is how most liberals tend to debate, in my experience.

When my husband and another friend jumped in with me to try to explain to “Miss Liberal” the difference between entitlement and benefit, she started deleting our comments.  In this way, of course, it looked like she was winning the debate.

So – we simply went back in and deleted all our comments and I deleted the entire thread because she had tagged me.

It’s all a childish, silly bunch of middle school drama if you ask me.

I only bring it up to point out two things: Facebook is only a breeding ground for such drivel, and know that when you argue with a liberal you will never convince them.  Your argument can be rock solid and backed up with every academic source in the world, but a true liberal will never be convinced because they believe conservatives are cold blooded, unfeeling evil minions of the rich and elite and all of those people are bad.

That doesn’t mean we need to cave in to their ignorance, but just don’t debate them of Facebook.  I’ve sure learned my lesson.


Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

Gilbert Huph: Complaints I can handle. What I can’t handle is your customers’ inexplicable knowledge of Insuricare’s inner workings. They’re experts! Experts, Bob! Exploiting every loophole! Dodging every obstacle! They’re penetrating the bureaucracy!

The Incredibles 2004

You can’t miss the ads for Progressive insurance they are all over TV all the time, some are pretty good and some are eh. But throughout you have Flo (Stephanie Courtney) pitching insurance and saving money. Everyone knows the name of the company. Their Alexa Rank is 4162 nationally and in the US it is ranked #814.

Matt Fischer according to his web site is a comic in NY. He is not well known, I’ve certainly never heard of him until today. His site on Tumbler has no web rank and everything I know about him comes from a single blog post. The one thing I know for sure is his sister was killed in a car accident (my condolences to his family).

He however has access to the internet and that makes all the difference because when his sister (insured by Progressive) was killed in a car accident with an underinsured driver, Progressive didn’t pay on the claim and he used the internet to tell his story:

Now, because the other driver was underinsured, that payment didn’t amount to much, but my sister carried a policy with Progressive against the possibility of an accident with an underinsured driver. So Progressive was now on the hook for the difference between the other guy’s insurance and the value of Katie’s policy.

According to his account Instead of Flo & a clean white store, his family got Gilbert Hugh from the Incredibles

At which point we learned the first surprising thing about Progressive: Carrying Progressive insurance and getting into an accident does not entitle you to the value of your insurance policy. It just pisses off Progressive’s lawyers. Here I address you, Prospective Progressive Insurance Customer: someday when you have your accident, I promise that there will be enough wiggle room for Progressive’s bottomless stack of in-house attorneys to make a court case out of it and to hammer at that court case until you or your surviving loved ones run out of money.

Which is what Progressive decided to do to my family. In hopes that a jury would hang or decide that the accident was her fault, they refused to pay the policy to my sister’s estate.

Due to Maryland Law they could not sue progressive so they had to sue the fellow who ran the light in the accident. According to Mark Progressive offed to pay 1/3 of the claim, (I presume his sister paid 3/3 of the preimums regularly) when that was turned down it went to court and what did Mark see at the table of the fellow who drove the car that killed his sister….

At the trial, the guy who killed my sister was defended by Progressive’s legal team.

If you are insured by Progressive, and they owe you money, they will defend your killer in court in order to not pay you your policy.

Strangely enough Peter Lewis the Chairman of the Board, biggest stock holder and former CEO has no problem making big payouts to other causes such as $2.5 million to Move On.com and 3 Million to Americans Coming Together (both matched by George Soros) according to Snoops.com

You would think a guy that and a company running ads everywhere like Progressive could ignore some guy with a blog…

…you’d be wrong.

Blogs all over picked up the story, it was all over Twitter, progressive put out a statement denying defending the driver and Matt counted with a 2nd post.

Progressive released a statement saying that ”Progressive did not serve as the attorney for the defendant” in my sister’s case. I am not a lawyer, but this is what I observed in the courtroom during my sister’s trial:

At the beginning of the trial on Monday, August 6th, an attorney identified himself as Jeffrey R. Moffat and stated that he worked for Progressive Advanced Insurance Company. He then sat next to the defendant. During the trial, both in and out of the courtroom, he conferred with the defendant. He gave an opening statement to the jury, in which he proposed the idea that the defendant should not be found negligent in the case. He cross-examined the plaintiff’s witnesses. On direct examination, he questioned all of the defense’s witnesses. He made objections on behalf of the defendant, and he was a party to the argument of all of the objections heard in the case. After all of the witnesses had been called, he stood before the jury and gave a closing argument, in which he argued that my sister was responsible for the accident that killed her, and that the jury should not decide that the defendant was negligent.

I am comfortable characterizing this as a legal defense.

and today CNBC wrote this:

A blog post from comedian Matt Fisher entitled “My Sister Paid Progressive insurance to defend her killer in court” — has gone viral. There were nearly 16,000 negative tweets about Progressive just yesterday — that’s up nearly 50,000 percent from a week earlier, according to General Sentiment, a firm which tracks social media chatter.

And the sentiment, the company said, is decidedly negative, with people throwing around terms like “horrific, despicable, and evil” when talking about the insurance firm.

CNBC btw has an Alexa rank of #620 globally and 229 nationally.

Ya think paying off this policy might have been a better investment that 2 mil plus to Move On huh Mr. Lewis?

But they weren’t worried, they were Progressive Insurance and he was just some guy with access to the internet, what harm could he do? CNBC again.

But as people attacked Progressive on Twitter through Monday and Tuesday morning, Progressive simply tweeted out the same message to every inquiry, accompanied by a photo of its smiling spokeswoman: “This is a tragic case and our sympathies go out to Mr. Fisher and his family for the pain they’ve had to endure. We fully investigated this claim and relevant background, and feel we properly handled the claim within our contractual obligations.”

The problem: no matter what Progressive says now, those negative tweets are still out there, weighing on the company’s image. The fact that the company repeatedly tweeted out the same response seemed to draw even more frustration for what Gawker.com called a “robotic” approach.

Gawker. This was picked up by Gawker? Now THAT site has an Alexa Rank of 1409 globally and a US Rank of #412 and with almost 40,000 sites linking to it

All the Millions spent on new Flo ads and clean white sets are not going to undo the damage done to this company’s reputation by this story and their decision to contest this claim, particularly in a market where there are plenty of other choices for people to make.

All men may be equal before the eyes of God, but the power of the internet and social media gives any man with a keyboard or a smartphone a fighting chance against a company with assets over 22.7 Billion unwilling to keep the promise it made to his late sister and her family.

Sam Colt would be proud, I’m sure the Army of Davids is.

Update: DaTechGuy’s alexa rating is 231,702 as of today and 34,602, not too shabby for a one man blog, but this post has been Instalanched (thanks Glenn) and PJmedia has an Alexa rank of #5113 and #1198 in the US.

Still think Move on was a better investment than paying Ms. Fischer’s policy Mr. Lewis?