Monday, September 29, 2008

Fighting Influenza

It's amazing what they expect you to find -- or even seek -- on YouTube.
On Sept. 24 the Centers for Disease Control posted an elegant and powerful documentary featuring the stories of parents who had suddenly lost their children to influenza.
I first heard that the video was put on YouTube from New England Cable News. I had always assumed that most of the stuff on YouTube was entertainment and cutting-edge stuff on politics -- the Saturday night sketch featuring Tina Fey as Sarah Palin, a video of John McCain losing his cool. I never guessed that a government agency would expect YouTube viewers to take time to watch a public service announcement.
As of this moment, the influenza piece has had 3,800 viewings.
I found a story on the video on USA Today on-line. The story mentioned an appearance, by a family named Lastinger, appearance on the video. Then I went onto YouTube, put ``lastinger families fighting flu'' in the search field. I found want I was looking for, but the keywords also brought up illegal dog fighting, fighting on ``Family Guy,'' a tape of a Punjabi family fighting, and a pretty funny sketch of a family fighting on an old comedy show.
Talk about free association.
In its story, published yesterday, USA Today reported that this is the first year that the Centers is using an all-out Internet-based awareness campaign on influenza vaccine.
USA Today reported:

``The CDC has hosted a Web seminar to encourage `mommy bloggers' to `spread
the word, not the flu. The agency has created flu e-cards that visitors to can send to friends, urging them to get vaccinated, flu badges for
members of social networks such as MySpace to post on their profiles, and `Get
Vaccinated' website buttons that allow visitors to go to the CDC's flu page.
`This is new territory for us,' says Kristine Sheedy, director of communications for the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.''
This is not the first time that the public health arm of the U.S. government has put out videos urging vaccinations for kids. Eight months ago, a YouTube member who goes by zektek5 who posted 7 videos promoting flu shots. The videos were produced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, of which the Centers is a ``family of agencies'' member.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Now There's No Reason to Blow Off the Debates

Now we know that John McCain will show up at the presidential debate scheduled for tonight in Oxford, Miss. A couple of days ago, he said he would not as part of his ``suspension'' of his campaign to concentrate on getting out the bailout.
It was hard to imagine McCain not participating. It would look like a round of Final Jeopardy with only one contestant because the other two ended the game with negative balances, no money to wager. Despite McCain's good intentions, it would still look like he had nothing to say -- even though this debate is scheduled to be about foreign policy, not domestic matters.
That's 'cause Barack Obama said he'll be there, McCain or no McCain, which would have presented us with a one-man debate.
If you won't be near a TV tonight -- it is Friday night, after all -- you can catch what transpires anyway, thanks to the Commission on Presidential Debates. The commission has established a partnership with Right after the debate, full-length video can been here.
MySpace and the commission, a non-profit and non-partisan corporation, ``will feature video streaming, on-demand playback, and archival material'' on MySpace.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Win-Win for Advertisers and Publishers Alike

As part of their struggle to survive in today’s wired world, newspapers must devise ingenious methods to generate advertising revenue.

To its story announcing that two tipsters will split a $275,000 Broward County (Florida) reward for providing information that led police to arrest a man accused of gunning down a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent, linked audio from five 911 calls made on the night of the killing.

“There is one man shot. I believe he is dead,” one caller said.

Another reported “there was a girl in the car with the person.” The girl turned out to be the daughter of the victim, Donald Pettit. Police said one James Wonder killed Pettit outside Pettit’s car in the parking lot of a U.S. Post Office in Pembroke Pines.

Readers may click on a link to one of each the 911 calls, prompting an audio window. Each is also a window of revenue — as of today, they displayed ads from Scan Design, the Miami Dolphins,, Chrysler, the Florida Lottery, the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Miami-Dade Public Library System (reminding borrowers that it’s Amnesty Month).

Two audio feeds broadcast callers telling the dispatcher their phone number.

Broward County Crime Stoppers maintains the anonymity of the reward recipients.