See this post at my Medium account here:
I recently wrote a post on Medium about how the news media can mislead readers and viewers about what happened at an event based on how they choose to report on it — both in terms of what they put in a story and what they leave out.
Another way news outlets can affect how news is reported is by altering the context of an article. This isn’t about the old cliche of a person’s quote “being taken out of context” either.
I had a situation the other day where a reporter covered an event and got all of the quotes right and put together what I would consider to be a relatively positive news story. And, yet, it still wasn’t quite right because the context of the entire story — the premise for why elected officials were at a location together — was misrepresented.
The story had to do with a bus tour of the city of Detroit that took place at the end of a three-day conference on Great Lakes issues. Among those on the bus were Michigan’s governor, the lieutenant governor from Pennsylvania, and the Premier from Ontario, Canada. That’s a pretty good representation of newsmakers, so we alerted media they would be making a stop during the tour and reporters could meet us there.
The interviews were all positive and all three dignitaries — particularly the two visitors to Michigan — had some great things to say about Detroit. The comeback they were seeing, the speed at which it was happening, and the lessons learned that they could take home with them were commented on by the two visiting officials.
I posted two tweets from the tour stop at @aribadler. I’m so glad I decided to put something on Twitter to share what was really happening because it ended up being the only record of the truth. The TV stations, from what I’ve been able to find — or not find in this case — didn’t report on the stop at all.
And none of the comments about Detroit’s comeback or the visitor’s impressions made it into the newspaper article. Instead, the article was about just the governor and the premier, not even mentioning that Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor was there. The premise of the story also completely altered the purpose of the tour the group was taking.Instead of talking about a look at the city and how it was being revitalized — which was the actual point — the reporter decided to tie the whole thing into Detroit’s bid for the new Amazon headquarters.
No one had even mentioned the Amazon bid until the end of the interview when the reporter brought it up as the last question.
Again, the quotes were accurate, the story was well written and the whole thing came across as positive. But since she made it seem like the governor and premier were on a tour to tout the Amazon bid, the whole article was inaccurately reporting what was happening.
In this era of #fakenews and the media’s credibility at an incredibly low point in history, it’s frustrating for me to see this sort of thing happening. Once again, I had firsthand knowledge of the whole story and saw the media manipulate it in a way that completely changed what the story was about. It is making me start to question every news story.
I have never been as skeptical of media reports as I am at this point in my life because I’ve seen too many inaccuracies and too many biased reports. And this is a prime example of how a story can be technically accurate and yet completely misleading.
I don’t think the reporter was doing anything deliberately malicious in the way she wrote her article. But seeing a piece that gets it wrong in a business where the facts and their context are vital to telling the whole story is deeply troubling.
So, once again, when you’re looking at a news report, always listen for that little voice in your head that should be whispering, “Is that really all there is to this…or what’s the rest of the story?”
Before you dismiss this post as political rhetoric just because of the first sentence in the next paragraph, let me point out that this is not a political post nor is it analyzing the media’s position on the political spectrum.
I had to attend the Michigan Republican Leadership Conference this past weekend, and looking at two articles produced by mainstream media outlets about the event made me realize there is something more inherently dangerous than fake news. The amount of filtered news that is arriving in our inboxes — and I suppose for some still on their doorstep — is a bigger threat to the public’s level of understanding on any given issue.
Fake news is, of course, a ridiculous blight on our society. But some of it is so over-the-top that most people who consider themselves independent or moderate in their politics and their thinking can see that right away.
But what about filtered news that is provided by what people might consider more mainstream and less-biased news outlets? It’s quite possible you’re only getting some of the story, because the whole story has been through the filtered lens of a journalist and their editor.
When I taught journalism at Michigan State University, I made sure my students understood that what they chose to put in an article was critically important — but that what they chose to leave out of an article was quite possibly just as vital.
To return to the example from this weekend, consider two articles that were produced to give people a take on whether there was a President Donald Trump vibe as statewide leaders in the Republican Party converged on Mackinac Island.
If you weren’t there and only read these two pieces, you might be confused on what really happened. Worse, if you only read one of the pieces, you would be misinformed because of the filtering that occurred.
In the first piece, posted at MLive, they ran, among other things, a photo and a cutline about Trump shirts being sold at the conference, noting that Trump support was alive and well.
Michigan News The Grand Hotel pictured Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. Lauren Gibbons | email@example.com Republican…www.mlive.com
Looking at one of the photos prominently featured, which I am sharing here, one would get the impression that there was not just a Trump vibe, but an angry one at that. What they left out were photos of the other shirts for sale on that same table — the ones with quotes from throughout history, including those from other presidents such as Thomas Jefferson and Ronald Reagan. And how many shirts, ties, and hats for sale were actually purchased? I didn’t see anyone lining up to buy anything the few times I wandered past the table.
In the second piece, posted at The Detroit News, two editors wrote a commentary discussing how surprised they were that there wasn’t much Trump talk on the island all weekend. They made it seem like no one was interested in talking about him and, apparently, based some of their conclusion on the lack of Make America Great Again hats on the island.
Mackinac Island — The elephant in the room was missing here as state Republicans gathered to discuss strategy ahead of…www.detroitnews.com
So, which is it? Was there a rabid pro-Trump undertow at the conference, or was it impossible to find any Trump loyalists? The thing is, both news reports are sort of right and sort of wrong.
It’s true there wasn’t a lot of chest-thumping about President Trump, but it’s also true that there were people who had Trump paraphernalia. The reality of what was going on lands somewhere squarely in the middle.
So the moral of this story? Make sure that, once you have dismissed the obvious fake news, you go one step further. Instead of just finding one report on an event from one news outlet, find at least one if not two or three more reports. By the time you’ve read three or four accounts of what happened, you might have about 80 percent of what occurred covered. Otherwise, you run the risk of proudly proclaiming how you can’t be duped by fake news only to be misled by filtered news.
The long-time radio host Paul Harvey had a regular segment called “The Rest of the Story.” While he’s long since left us, we should all channel a little Paul Harvey, wondering just what else might be going on that got left out of the news that day.
This post originally appeared at Roadtreking
We recently planned a trip from our home in Michigan to Point Pelee National Park in Ontario, Canada so that we could take advantage of free admission as part of Canada’s 150th anniversary. Along the way, we took a side trip off the beaten path to an historic fort we spotted on Google Maps while planning our trip.
Fort Malden is located in Amherstburg, Ontario, about 35 minutes south of the Ambassador Bridge where you enter Canada from the U.S. It was built in 1795 by Britain to protect against an invasion by those upstart Americans. Throughout its history, it is most known for its military use during the War of 1812 and also is the site of the longest occupation of any Canadian land by the United States. Over time, however, the main building that now serves as a museum has been everything from a private residence to a lumber mill to an insane asylum.
Visitors are able to see the wide array of Fort Malden’s history through the buildings that remain and the information provided in the museum. Local college and high school students get summer jobs serving as “soldiers” at the fort and help tell the history through period costumes and exhibitions of firing muskets and cannons.
The fort sits overlooking the Detroit River, so you can always take a stroll through the grounds to enjoy the view or sit and relax by the water to see if any boats happen to float by. Coming and going from the fort, you drive through the city of Amherstburg and the entrance is basically in a residential neighborhood now. I can only imagine what the soldiers from the 1800s would think of the area compared to what they saw!
Amherstburg is located along Highway 20 in the southwest corner of Ontario. It’s a pleasant drive and we think Fort Malden is a great stop to soak up some history and wander the well-manicured grounds. The staff was very friendly and welcomed questions, as they all seemed to enjoy talking about this historical treasure that is kind of tucked away. We recommend making it a stop if you’re going to be in the area.
Maybe some day soon we’ll run into you off the beaten path. Until then, happy travels everyone!
I have to admit that by the end of 2016 I had failed miserably and did something I told myself repeatedly not to do. I got sucked into a social media vacuum and started to believe what I was reading. Everywhere I looked, people were lamenting about how crappy 2016 was, how they couldn’t wait for it to be over, and how 2017 had to be better.
There were times when I even started to participate in the mob mentality on Facebook in which hating on 2016 became not only acceptable but encouraged.
But then I snapped out of it. I realized that 2016 had its challenges, but surely there had to be good things that happened, things that made me smile. And, thanks to a great search function on Google Photos, I was quickly and easily able to prove my hypothesis to be correct.
I typed in “smile” and “2016” in the search bar on Google Photos and, voila! There they were. Me and my family members smiling in pictures from throughout the year. I decided to put representative shots into an album to share here. If you click on the photos at that link, you’ll see captions that describe what they’re about. Or just look at all the smiles. I bet you can’t help smiling yourself eventually. (See revelation below about smiles being infectious.)
I thought that finding a couple of photos from each month would help make my point. There were many months where I had to be very discriminating and keep it to just two pictures for just two events, even though there were many to choose from.
This post is a reminder to myself, mostly, but I figured others might as well learn from my revelations.
First, take a look back each year at all the great things that happened. Look at your own smiles, because they are infectious.
Second, don’t get sucked into the mob mentality on Facebook and other social media sites. Just because “everyone is doing it,” doesn’t mean you have to. (I’m sure my mom, may she rest in peace, would appreciate that I am finally listening to her.)
Third, treasure what you have in terms of family, experiences and time. If you make the most of those, all the negative stuff gets put into perspective and you can simply let it drift away on a river of smiles.
So farewell, 2016. Maybe you weren’t that bad after all.
And 2017, let’s go. I am looking forward to the adventures and smiles you can offer. I can’t wait to take advantage of them!
I haven’t been on here to post anything since April 2015. But I’m “out and about” online everywhere if you want to find me.
Eventually, I may get back to regularly blogging. My wife and I recently bought a Roadtrek Class B RV and we’ve talked about sharing our experiences as new RV owners.
In the meantime, though, you can find me on Twitter at @aribadler, which is where a lot of my online interaction occurs. I’m also on Medium, which may be where I post the RV adventures. I really like the simplicity of that system.
It’s been too long without doing anything formal in terms of blogging, but life happens and sometimes I’m too busy living to write about life.
I hope 2015 treated you well and you have a fantastic 2016.
A couple of days ago, I noticed that the foil was bubbling again. This will be the third time I’ve been affected by this major design flaw with the beta Glass units. You can read about my first and second times in earlier blog posts.
Because I’ve written about the foil problem before, I won’t belabor the point. I will give a shout-out to Google Glass customer service — so far anyway — on being prompt and courteous. They reached out within hours of my filing the proper form to get all the details and review my case. The past two times, they replaced my Glass for free under the 1-year warranty. That’s still the case with this unit so, hopefully, and assuming they have inventory available, I will soon have a shiny new Glass headed my way.
In the meantime, I’m stuck doing a lot of things the old-fashioned way. And by “old-fashioned,” I mean maybe about 16 months ago. I’ve used glass since December 2013 and in that time I have become so accustomed to the convenience it provides that not having it around is a letdown.
Here are a few examples from the just the past two days:
- Traffic checks — I often check the card that shows me the current time to get home and traffic delays before leaving the office. Sure, I can do that on my phone with Google Maps or Waze, but that’s more complicated and takes longer. (Trust me, once you find a way to do something easier and faster than you can do even on your mobile phone, you won’t want to go back.)
- Weather checks — I often check the weather throughout the day, including before I leave for work, before taking a lunchtime walk and before heading home. Yes, I have apps on my phone that can do that. But I can just look up and swipe to the temperature card on Glass for a quick overview, or tell it “Show me the weather” and get a radar map of the area displayed within seconds.
- To-Do notes — I have found this to be something I’ve missed a lot because I never realized how often I do this. I keep a couple of apps on my phone for to-do lists, shopping lists, etc. (Wunderlist and Google Keep if you are wondering.) But being able to add something quickly just by tapping Glass and speaking to it — whether I’m walking, sitting in my car at a traffic light or otherwise preoccupied, is apparently something I have become quite accustomed to. The same thing goes for text messages and Google Hangouts. For short bursts, they are both easier on Glass than on my phone.
- Taking pictures — I’ve had the opportunity thanks to some nice spring weather (finally!) to go on a few lunchtime walks and enjoy the sites. Three times now, I have found myself reaching up to press the button on Glass and snap a picture. Of course, my regular sunglasses don’t take pictures. So in one instance I just the let the moment pass. The other two times, it was worth the extra hassle of pulling my phone out of my pocket, starting the camera app, waiting for it to focus, and snapping the picture. I’m glad I did that, but there are plenty of pictures in my digital scrapbook that wouldn’t exist without the speed and convenience of shooting photos with Glass.
- Listening to music — As I mentioned, I’ve been taking lunchtime walks lately and in addition to not taking pictures, my regular sunglasses also don’t play music. I actually tapped the temple on my sunglass frames before remembering they weren’t sunGlass frames. That meant having to dig out earbuds and using my mobile phone. Yes, it’s another #firstworldproblem to complain about, but it’s not just about the convenience of being able to tell Glass to play music and just have it happen. In my case, using Glass for music means I can actually hear it better. I have hearing loss in one ear. That means that earbuds give me unequal sound because I can’t adjust the volume separately between the left and right speakers. With Glass’ conductive speaker, however, the music just flows throughout your head rather than through the ear canal the way it does with earbuds. The first time I listened to music on Glass was the first time in a long time that I had heard it evenly, without the sound being diminished on my left side. I also find it easier to keep track of my surroundings when listening to music through Glass rather than through headphones jammed into my ears.
So, the beta program for Glass is over. Version 2, whether’s it’s for consumers or business or both, is supposedly being worked on. But in the meantime, those of us with beta units are guarding them carefully because we don’t want to think about what would happen if we lost them or damaged them and could no longer enjoy their convenience. I’m getting a taste of that now and so I wish that Google and the Glass Team can come through again for one of their biggest advocates.
I was recently asked to keynote and kickoff an upcoming public relations conference by talking about digital and political branding. As I was preparing my presentation, it occurred to me that transparency and authenticity are what should be at the heart of any such branding. We need to be more about personal interaction and less about brand promotion when we’re talking about a person, be that a politician or a CEO. Unfortunately, that’s not often the case.
That’s no surprise though, and I’m as guilty as the next guy. When doing presentations during the past few years, I have promoted the need to consider your “personal brand” when you are participating in social media activities. I made people think about how branding is no longer just a corporate reference. Each and every one of us, I would say, is our own brand and we are personally responsible for it.
I still believe that responsibility for our actions, online and off, is paramount to a strong character. But it is transparency and authenticity that make us human and more powerful in terms of branding than anything a corporation can muster.
The avatar at the top of this post is what I now use on Twitter. It’s not a picture of me, clearly, so is it contradictory to my argument that we need to keep things more personal? I don’t think so — I actually think it tells you more about me than a standard head shot would. Take another look at it and figure out what it tells you about me. Go ahead, I’ll wait for you…
Here’s what you can learn about me from that avatar:
- I prefer Android phones and I like ball caps — according to my wife I own more than any person needs.
- I am a Google Glass Explorer.
enjoy am addicted todesperately need coffee.
- My favorite outfits involve cargo pants and hooded sweatshirts.
- And you’ll see me walking around town on my lunch hour in bright white and black Chuck Taylors instead of dress shoes, which I gladly leave in my office.
There is an old saying about something being more valuable than simply the sum of its parts. That is especially true for businesses. Because businesses, no matter how small or large, are made up of people. And each of those individuals — from the CEO to the front-line worker — is what makes up a corporate brand. Each of their strengths and weaknesses, each of their valuable assets and their thorny flaws is a component.
But that goes for individuals, too. For years, public relations professionals have pushed to get business leaders and politicians involved in social media. But there is being involved, and then there is being involved. It’s high time PR pros kicked their clients and bosses in the rear and told them to either get with the program or stop trying. Yes, there may be missteps along the way, but if they are made by a person and not a “brand,” the public and media would – I believe – be more generally forgiving.
Besides, the world of social media and mainstream media attention is so fleeting and spastic that even if you screw up, someone else will end up screwing up at least as badly if not worse within a short amount of time. Social media is the electronic enabler of the attention deficit disorder the mainstream media has become seriously afflicted with during the past decade.
So get out there and take a chance on being yourself. Encourage your bosses to be a person first and a title second.
I used to work for former Michigan Speaker of the House Jase Bolger who understood the importance of being transparent on social media but didn’t always have the time to do the posts himself. At first, I posted on his behalf, noting that it was me and not the Speaker. But as time went on, when Jase saw how much more intense the interaction was when he posted directly, he started to do more of it. He made the time because it was important. By the way, “intense” didn’t always translate to “positive,” but that didn’t matter.
One of the best interactions I ever had on Twitter was with a person who contacted me because they hated what I said and what my boss at the time was doing. And yet, by sharing our opinions honestly with each other, the two of us end up parting ways still disagreeing but appreciating the dialogue. We often debated issues after that, and always civilly — albeit sometimes with snark, which was acceptable since we both did it. We were able to have those conversations because the first one wasn’t populated with me spouting off talking points like some machine. Instead, I talked like a human being.
One thing that has not changed over the years is my insistence on being real. When people who have interacted with me only via social media eventually meet me in person, there shouldn’t be any surprises. I am who I am whether I’m standing in the same room with you or tweeting at you from thousands of miles away.
One of my current bosses is the Lieutenant Governor of Michigan. He’s a powerful leader to say the least. But, especially in terms of his personal brand, he’s a husband, a father and a runner. Our official office Twitter account is somewhat reflective of his style but his personal account is where he really shines. Because on that account, he’s just a guy living his life, running marathons, doing what dads and husbands do — oh and he also happens to be a lieutenant governor.
We are all people. Yes, I have a personal brand that I care about, but I care more about the “personal” part of that. Which is why, for example, I never use an auto-reply for my Twitter account. If I follow someone and within seconds receive a “Thanks for following me! Please check out this YouTube video/website/great product!!” my first inclination is to just as quickly unfollow them. I am on social media to share information in a social way, not be shouted at by an automated bot.
So let’s put the social back in social media. And put the personal back in personal branding. By doing that, we just might put the human back into humanity.
Due to an apparently insatiable need to try new technology and a big incentive from Amazon for its Prime members, I decided months ago to sign up as an early adopter of the new Amazon Echo. It arrived Monday and it’s been a good experience overall so far.
Sure, not much time has passed, but as with any new device, I spent a lot of time focused on it the first couple of days to run it through its paces, much more than it will usually see out of me in a normal 24-hour period.
For those of you who don’t know, the Echo is…well, it’s tough to describe. I suppose you could call it a personal assistant of sorts. Although, since my wife asked it to do the dishes and it couldn’t, I guess she’s stuck with me for the manual household chores. (In a bit of Star Trek-nerd type fun from the programmers, when she asked it to make dinner, the device replied, “I’m not a replicator.”)
So, back to what Echo is. Maybe if Siri and Google Now got busy and had a kid, it would look and act like the Echo. It does a lot of what they do, albeit not always as well in some instances. Its search system relies on Bing instead of Google; one strike against it in my book. But it has features that make it handier than either of the iPhone and Android assistants. For example, the always-on microphones make for a much more real hands-free “hands-free experience” than you will get with most mobile phones. You can revel in the full Amazon sales pitch if you’re interested in more.
I found set up simple enough. The device requires a plug as it is not rechargeable. I’ve seen some reviewers complaining about that because it makes it less portable. But I see something like the Echo serving a family’s needs better in a kitchen or living room anyway, not being toted about as some sort of imaginary friend in a tube. Besides, having one less thing to worry about recharging in our house is a welcome relief.
Once plugged in, the Echo boots up and asks for a WiFi connection through an app you need to download to your Android or iOS device. The app then becomes your home away from home for Echo, for those times when it needs help to help you, or if you want to check on the history of what you and it have chatted about. (It’s also used to help train Echo to understand you — although that’s more about regional dialect than some sort of security.) You also access your shopping and to-do lists via the app, as well as give feedback to Amazon by answering the question, “This is what Echo heard you say…did it hear you correctly?”
Once it’s up and running, that’s it. It just sits there, waiting for your request. You can ask for the weather, or a news briefing, or to play some music from the Amazon Prime Music catalogue – to list just a few examples. I’ve seen some reviewers complain about the Echo as a terrible music speaker, but I actually thought it sounded pretty good. It’s certainly as good if not better than the small Bluetooth speakers we’ve used to amplify our mobile phones.
One other thing I saw a reviewer smack the Echo for was that, as he claims, sometimes the device just ignores you or doesn’t hear you. But if you read further into his review, it only happened to him when music was playing at a high volume. Well, imagine that, if there’s loud music in the room, you have to speak up to be heard! I’ve had no problem with the Echo ignoring me. It’s even heard me from the room next door if I raise my voice just a little, much as I would if I was talking to a person in the next room. My wife has had to learn to pause just a split second between saying the command word and then making her request. Stringing it all together into one quick sentence means the Echo may not hear the first word or two of the command and give you something you weren’t asking for.
As I noted, the Echo, which for us goes by the command name, “Alexa,” has been a guest in our home for less than a week, but so far it’s fitting in pretty well. By the way, you can change the assigned command word from Alexa to Amazon, but that sounds even weirder to me. Supposedly, Amazon plans to provide an option to change the name to something else eventually.
Below are some videos with notes shot during my first use. (These were some of the initial commands I said to the Echo, so that’s probably why I sound so stiff and formal. In the few days since I have learned to be more conversational with the device, as odd as that may sound.)
I’ll write again when some more time has passed. By then maybe I’ll know if Amazon has created the first generation of “Computer” from Star Trek or “HAL” from 2001: A Space Odyssey!
Here’s an example of checking the weather…
And the news…
And, of course, as a Monty Python fan, I always test new assistants with a vital scientific question… 🙂
It was officially announced today that the Google Glass Explorer program is shutting down as Google moves the project out of its X-labs phase and into, reportedly, a consumer division. News reports indicate it’s moving into the same division as the Nest thermostat group.
Seeing Glass move on from ultra beta to something more consumer focused is exciting, albeit a little disconcerting since it seems the current hardware that Explorers are wearing won’t be receiving any new software updates. Plus, it has been reported that Google is moving to a different chip and, possibly, a sleeker design.
I don’t mind that Google is shifting gears away from the Glass Explorer program. I do think they could have handled the public relations on the announcement better though. They could have, for example, sent the announcement directly to Explorers instead of letting many of us read about it in the news. (I did receive an email from Google Glass, but it arrived several hours after the news broke publicly.) I actually first caught wind of the report when a writer contacted me for my thoughts on the Explorer program shutting down. I and many other Explorers shared our thoughts with him and you can read that report here.
From day one, the public relations, marketing and government lobbying aspects of the Glass program have been questionable at best. I’m sure Google learned a ton about the technology behind Glass and have many ideas on how to improve it. I can only hope that they have learned as much about the humanity behind Glass, as well.
One of the questions I was asked for the report linked above was what I thought Google needed to do next to get the program into full consumer production mode. What I said was that they have to do three things to make this successful beyond a beta product. Those three things include a lower price, a less-intrusive design and a smaller battery that provides more time on a single charge. That’s a lot to ask for from any new technology so it wouldn’t surprise me if this takes a while to develop. It seems to me that they probably captured all they could from the Explorer program and are ready to move into the next phase, which is a good sign in many ways. Wearables are going to become commonplace someday, and we Explorers will look back and laugh at how we chose to walk around with the brick-style cell phones of wearable tech.
The Explorer Edition of Glass provided me with some amazing opportunities in the 13 months I have owned it. I have met people from many places and walks of life, some online and some in real life. I have been featured in news articles, resurrected my blog, and been drawn out of my introverted shell at public gatherings because of Glass.
I lost track a long time ago of the number of times people have stopped me to ask about Glass and the number of people who got excited when I explained what it can do. And seeing someone’s reaction when they try on Glass and experience firsthand what it’s capable of is always a treat.
Yes, it’s still clunky and it screams “nerd,” but it is the first step to the future of wearables and those first steps are always fraught with complications. It is unfortunate that negative media attention became a sure thing to raise click rates. There has been a lot of misinformation and downright hyperbole extolled by the media that should not have happened.
All-in-all though, I’d say being an Explorer has been great and I hope the device lasts me a good long while yet. It would be really difficult to get used to not having easy texting, turn-by-turn navigation and hands-free photos and videos available the way they are with Glass.
So, sorry, Steve Jobs, but as the Google Glass Explorer program comes to a close, I’m reminded of one Apple’s most inspiring quotes:
Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently.
And, I would add, the ones who don’t need a little “i” in front of a device to think it might stand a chance at changing the world.
It has been a fun ride being one of those crazy explorers. But eventually every explorer becomes a settler. Well, at least until the next great gadget comes along that we simply must try no matter how much of a crazy misfit it makes us appear to be.