NORML Fights For CBS 's Billboard

Friday, February 12, 2010

The CBS Corporation has made their voice about not legalizing the use of marijuana loud and clear.

They recently denied NORML, the National Organization of Marijuana Laws, a spot on their digital billboard in New York City's Time Square.

The fifteen-second ad would argue that taxing and regulating the adult use and sale of marijuana would raise billions of dollars in national revenue. It was supposed to appear on Monday, February 1, 2010, but CBS, along with Neutron Media rejected the paid advertisement.

Representatives from Neutron Media had contacted NORML in January. The ad was supposed to air 18 times a day for two months. The NORML Foundation got a contractual agreement with Neutron Media to air two separate NORML advertisements, and made an initial ad exclusively for the CBS digital billboard. This advertisement was predicted to be seen by over 1.5 million people a day.

Not surprisingly, NORML was more than unhappy and set up a petition on their site to demand CBS to change their bias ruling.

To watch the ad, click here.
To sign the NORMAL petition, click here. So far there are 1,803 signatures. Their goal is 2,500.


Hyperlocal Site Builds on Olympic Games

As newspapers face an uncertain future, an emerging news platform, the hyperlocal Web site, may be opening exciting doors for citizens to follow and showcase their communities.

Although hyperlocal Web sites have been steadily growing through the past year, I would not be surprised if my readers are unfamiliar with the new platform. Described by Cain Miller and Brad Stone in their April 2009 article for the New York Times, hyperlocal websites provide extremely localized information. Often the Web sites operate without hired journalists, but instead with input from those within the community. The content of a typical hyperlocal Web site ranges from links to external articles and blogs, local government news, arrests, home sales, road construction, and restaurant and event reviews. Also, many of these sites have the capability to cover and deliver news faster than larger news organizations.

While smaller local newspapers (such as those in rural Iowa) can usually cover all the above information, hyperlocals prove beneficial in bigger metro areas, whose papers cannot always dedicate the manpower to covering individual neighborhoods or suburbs. Many are becoming even more innovative, following the examples of sites like, which has an iPhone app allowing users to locate news and events within a 1,000 foot radius of their location. Also, many supporters of hyperlocal Web sites praise its potential to bring local advertising dollars to the Web.

Clearly, hyperlocal Web sites serve a very defined audience. However, in a February 11, 2010 article at the Online Journalism Review, Dave Chase, owner and editor of the hyperlocal, presented several ways in which sites can boost their viewership to a larger, perhaps even national level. Currently, his site, which covers the Wood River Valley region of Idaho, is capitalizing on the 2010 Winter Olympics. A local of the Wood River Valley area, Curtis Bacca currently works for snowboarders Lindsey Jacobellis, Seth Wescott, and Shaun White and is with the team in Vancouver to prepare boards for competition. To help Chase and promote Sun Valley Online, Bacca shoots a video blog of his work with the team that is uploaded to the site. By doing this, Chase hopes to create a huge jump in short-term viewership as the games proceed that will lead to an increase in regular and steady viewers.

Examples of other national events or news that hyperlocals could connect to their own sites include natural disasters or local celebrity news. I certainly agree with Chase that hyperlocals provide an exciting new platform for news and I look forward to seeing them develop in the future. I do have one reservation however, and that is on the issue of quality. The downfall of the hyperlocal Web site will be when quality is ignored in an effort to produce fast content. As they develop, hyperlocals must be sure to adhere to high standards of quality and journalistic ethics.


Google Makes Necessary Changes to "Buzz"

Google has decided to make adjustments to privacy settings on Google Buzz after a bad perception in it's first week of service.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the new technology of Google Buzz, it's like Google's own, polished version of Facebook and Twitter. It is available to you as soon as you log into your Gmail account and allows you to share photos, videos, and more.
The big problem with Buzz, though, was that it automatically allowed anyone who accessed your page to view your list of followers and the list of people that you were following. Also, Google made it very difficult to access and change these privacy settings, leaving Buzz users distressed.

But changes have been made. Google has now added a feature to Buzz causing a window to pop up the first time Gmail users log on, asking them, "How do you want to be seen to others?" The default option will be to show the list of people you're following and the list of people following you as well on your public profile, but that box can be easily found and unchecked.

With these new adjustments being made, Google hopes to rid of it's initial bad reputation and have users recognize some of it's positive features. Buzz strives to offer convenience by automatically following the people you e-mail and chat with the most on your Gmail account, and by having new post pop up instantly with no refresh required.

Google has taken over the web as a search engine, a mail provider, and now possibly as an alternative to Facebook and Twitter. It seems we have to ask ourselves now: What will they come up with next?


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