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Interpreting today’s news from a family perspective

January 30th, 2013 No Comments


On February 4th, HLN launches Raising America with Kyra Phillips, a show that takes on headline news and considers it from a parent’s perspective.  What a great idea!

In today’s world where our kids are facing issues we never did – guns in school, bullying in social media, online stalkers, extreme body image issues – this angle could be really helpful.  Right now there are online forums for these discussions, but I think it will be more effective when people can see the sources and hear the emotions.

Kyra is a mother herself who has said to be “fearless” in her reporting so she should approach these topics aggressively.  The show will air weekdays on HLN from 12pm to 2pm.

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“This app is the closest thing to a perfect magazine.”

January 9th, 2013 No Comments

This quote is in reference to Zite: probably the smartest mobile app newsreader on the market.   Do you have it on one of your devices?  You should!  It’s free.

See that little owl icon on my Playa del Carmen beach home screen?  Doesn’t it just look like it’s saying, “Hello. There’s news here.  Read me!”  I love it!

Zite for First Time Users

When you open the app for the first time, you’ll choose what areas of interest you have and then you only see that news. It’s like if you were to open the newspaper and not have to throw out any of the sections.  With 40,000 topics, you’ll also have your niche interests included in your stream (see part of my list above). The app goes a step further and aggregates content only from credible sources so you don’t have to deal with a bunch of junk.  Wait!  There’s more:  the more you thumbs-up or thumbs-down an article, the smarter the app gets to filter in only content from sources you like.

The New Zite

Over the holiday, CEO Mark Johnson (@philosophygeek) and his team released the 2.0 version that features a more sleek design and even smarter technology.  Here’s a list of what they’ve done from their website:

  • Zite now knows about 40,000 different topics –New topics allow you to drill even deeper into your interests and give Zite even more feedback about what you like and don’t like.
  • Facebook integration – now you can link Zite to your Facebook account to get topic suggestions based on your Facebook history.
  • Your Top Stories gives you more of what you love – we’ve expanded the number of articles in Your Top Stories and also brought in more articles from the topics you like.
  • Thumb articles up or down from a section –pull an article up to give it a thumbs-up or down to give it a thumbs-down.
  • The Explore Page – when you need inspiration check out Zite’s new explore page. Or, use the search function to dive into our catalog of over 40,000 topics.
  • Topic Tags on articles – many articles have suggested categories, which will help you to explore something that’s hot in the news, remind yourself of a topic you love, or introduce you to a new interest.
  • Headline news module (iPad only) – thanks to the technology we developed for CNN Trends, users can now browse the most important headline news directly from Your Top Stories.
  • Popular on Zite module (iPad only) – Zite users are pretty smart, so it’s interesting to see the stories that are most popular among them.

Zite on Your Desktop: CNN Trends

Pasting these new features reminds me that CNN, that bought Zite over a year ago, has integrated Zite technology  onto their platform.  The page is called CNN Trends.  There you can see the 10 most popular news topics with a CNN article written about it AND nine of the other most read articles online.  So, CNN is now featuring articles from Wall Street Journal, Fox News (can you believe it), BBC, Financial Times, USA Today, and thousands more.  It doesn’t matter who published the article, if it’s in the top 9 most read, it will be featured on CNN Trends page next to the appropriate topic. Just like Zite, it’s a one stop shop for headline news on your desktop or laptop.

The technology of it all blows my mind.  But knowing Mark personally, it would be hard for me to believe that anything is impossible online.  He’s just one of those brilliant people who keeps pushing the boundaries farther.  Can’t wait to see what he comes up with next!


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Hello? Michael Arrington? Fetch me a Non-Fat Latte.

February 7th, 2011 No Comments

This just in: AOL bought The Huffington Post for $315 million dollars.

Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Well, in the DOT COM world, it’s pennies. (Ask Mark Zuckerberg.)

You’re probably wondering why I’m writing about this….

I find it interesting that a HUGE content website was purchased for such a small amount.  And, as a result of the deal, Arianna Huffington gets to dominate the Not-So-Jolly Giant Mike Arrington.

Lost? Let me explain.

For those of you unfamiliar with The Huffington Post, it’s a news website that offers perspectives on current events as well as tawdry tabloid headlines (because that’s all anyone wants to know AND it generates traffic). HuffPo, as people endearingly call it, is fueled by Arianna’s personal Roledex of reputable journalists and writers who blog for free. Traffic is generated inorganically (meaning crazy SEO strategies) because they need the cash from advertisers. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t?

AOL’s CEO Tim Armstrong is quoted as saying, “[Arianna] is the best content-DJ on the web.” I’d agree that 24 million readers ain’t bad.

Without much info on hand, let me attempt to break down this purchase for you.

  1. $315 million seems like a bargain for HuffPo’s street cred. If that was all it took to buy it, the VC’s would have swooped it up a while ago.
  2. In the deal, according to Ad Age, they created the Huffington Post Media Group. In effect, Arianna will be the head of all of the AOL content properties, including Tech Crunch (run by ego-maniac Michael Arrington – you can bet he’s pissed) and Engadget, and Patch that are three of the largest tech sites online.
  3. Her position within AOL lead me to understand why she sold out for such a low figure.
  4. AOL is buying up everything cool and successful to save itself. (Please note this plan has failed for other multi-media brands in the past.)

Apparently they weren’t looking to join forces, but it seems to be a win win for everyone. Well, with the exception of the readers who will likely be bombarded with more ads and canned content.

Honestly, I look forward to see what they make of this merger. I don’t expect much. AOL bought Arianna to hang with the cool kids, and even though she now has more milk money, I think her 15 minutes are about up.

(Side note: I received this news FIRST from Anthony on Twitter, at least 10 minutes before Mashable posted it.)

This article was first published on my Houston Chronicle blog @HoustonSocial

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Oh no, not again…

December 13th, 2010 No Comments

An article in Newsweek quotes Fred Wilson, head of Union Square Ventures and one of the most notable VC’s, saying that we are heading for another “Dot Com Bubble” burst.


He says that as more people invest in startups, the companies’ valuations are rising too high.  Click through to read the short article.  It’s pretty interesting and you’ll recognize the names they are talking about.

Side note: I forget how much I love reading Newsweek.  The articles are informative and not daunting.  Unfortunately, you don’t always get the whole story like you would in The Economist, but at the same time, I don’t feel the weight of the world on my shoulders after reading it.  The pieces inspire me to research more online.

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“America’s Back”-Really?

April 21st, 2010 No Comments

Aside from Google reporting its earnings, the government bailouts are the hot topic right now.  The bold statement “America’s Back” was emblazed on the cover of Newsweek.  So is this propaganda or are we really making a comeback?

Usually I get most of my news from CNN, whether that be on tv, online, or via my mobile app.  But while in NYC I picked up a copy of The New York Times (my favorite newspaper), and remembered why I love it so much.  The writers give an informed, articulate perspective without the fluff (and incessant plugs to follow them on Twitter).

Check out “Imagine The Bailouts Are Working” written by Andrew Ross Sorkin who elaborates on why people are optimistic.  But he also offers the other circumstances that might make you think otherwise.  You can then draw your own conclusion on how you would define success in this scenario.

I really think you’ll enjoy the article.

Have you found any other interesting opinions on this topic?  What is your resource?

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CNN Rocks Out And Returns To Its Roots

January 20th, 2010 1 Comment

Read the Article Here

We always talk about pushing the envelope online, staying ahead of the game, and doing something different with purpose.

Anderson Cooper in the midst of the Haiti crisis is admirable, but CNN’s latest collaboration with the hipster reporters from Vice/VBS.tv is ballsy. Needless to say it’s unexpected, but absolutely necessary in a time when people no longer fully trust the nation’s leaders and media.

I see it as a move to break through any conceptions we have about mainstream news being propaganda. If you check out Vice’s coverage of Liberia, you’ll see they are dedicated to showing the real stories and the heart of the struggles around the world in a way our generation can absorb.

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Stunning, terrifying footage via Persian BBC of gun-firing militia arriving on motorbikes in Iran.

June 22nd, 2009 No Comments

Link: Stunning, terrifying footage via Persian BBC of gun-firing militia arriving on motorbikes in Iran.


Andrew Sullivan describes it as “almost movie-style evil.”

I think it’s important we blog all of the updates we find meaningful.  First of all, it’s helpful to act as a filter for each other as the news floods in from every direction.

Secondly, with each post, comment, or tweet, we are reminded of how fortunate we are to be Americans, and how thankful we should be to those who tirelessly protect our freedom.

June 22nd, 2009 No Comments

I can’t even imagine what it must feel like to be one of the women on the front line of the protests in Iran- full of fear that if you stay, you might be killed – brutally murdered.  If you go, you would continue to lead a life of misery.  I say misery, because these women are highly educated and yet forced into domesticated servitude and discriminated against.

The internet is teaming with first-hand accounts, photos, videos, tweets, and interpretations of the conflict.  For me, Jezebel has been a good resource because it breaks down the basics and incorporates quotes and stats from all of the major news outlets.

Read this article (via MeghanAsha) to hear accounts of the incredible passion and strength of the Iranian women.

(Photo via etehraz)