Morgan Freeman IS ALIVE (proof via phone)

Morgan Freeman finally reacted to the CNN Twitter hoax! Mark Robertson (ReelSEO) and I caught him via my iPhone tonight.

Morgan Freeman Is ALIVE!


CNN will aggressively investigate this hoax (tee hee)

CNN will aggressively investigate this hoax.

CNN will aggressively investigate this hoax.

CNN will aggressively investigate this hoax.

CNN will aggressively investigate this hoax.

CNN will aggressively investigate this hoax.

Make Your Own CNN News: Nancy Grace Competition?

Looking for a DIY (do it yourself) news site to show TSA (transportation security administration) “pat downs” that are TMI (two much information)? Well put down your acronyms, and get out your cameras…

I’m not sure how long this has been around, but I find this consumer-generate “breaking news” site interesting. CNN has a consumer-generated news section.

fake cnn news girls box nancy grace
Move over, Nancy Grace. CNN has "make your own news" website. Live executions coming soon?

People are uploading photos of car wrecks, notes for missing children, and (most importantly) videos about the latest TSA agent who looked at them funny (Parenthetically I saw a guy snapping a photo of his mom getting a perfectly appropriate TSA pat-down, and he was politely told to put the camera away… there’s some saucy Nancy-Grace like news).

  • The bad news: the “most viewed” videos or photos have been seen only a dozen times or so. It’s not popular, and akin to setting up your own VHS camera and showing your homemade “news report” to your friends.
  • The good news: it has a high perceptual value of importance and credibility despite the “not vetted by CNN news” disclaimer. It’s on and listed as “breaking news.” So if it was produced well… it would be hard for someone to internalize the disclaimer.

How long before people start packaging up fake “product reviews” and using CNN to distribute them? I gather someone at CNN has the sad task of seeking and killing spam, but it seems like a spammer or infomercial’s playground… or at least a few Nancy Grace impersonators. I wonder if CNN would pull the content if someone took the “Nancy Grace model” just one step further and actually performed a live execution of the victim of the news report. Or at least a lynch mob.

Toll Taker Revenge

I posted this video called “Pennies for Tollbooth” nearly 4 years ago (at the suggestion of my friend Peter). It turned up on a recent CNN story about toll takers taking their revenge on people who annoy them.

Thanks to viewer Emily from Ohio who noticed it, and told me. I’d otherwise be oblivious. Well- in fairness, I still am.

I remember reading a lot of angry comments from people that thought I was bothering the guy. Truth is, I added the honks later. There was nobody behind me.

Did Falcon Heene “Out” His Parents on CNN?

Thanks, Stalkerofnalts for pointing out this video. I heard Falcon Heene answer CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, but couldn’t make it out. When you replay the clip, it’s clear... “you guys said we do this for a show” (or something close to that).

Did Falcon just out his parents? Will someone will be interviewing the kid off camera without his parents? I mean I don’t think you can fake the grief I saw on the parents face, but it was as if Richard Heene wanted to say something else.

I assumed he was about to breakdown and admit he was partially responsible. You know… for losing his temper, and having an unsupervised balloon he thought big enough to take his kid off into the sky. That kind of thing.

But mostly it was “the kid likes to hide,” or “he’s always lagging behind,” or “my silly wife doesn’t know how to teather…. I’ll teather her ass when the last of the CNN crew goes home.” You know- that kinda thing.

The CNN interview left me firmly convinced, by virtue of the authenticity of the parents emotions, that it was far from a hoax. But what does “fly Falcoln fly” say? It was a show? Could this simply be a flashback to Wifeswap? Camera crews and all… he’s 6, right?

Jessica McClure Made CNN. Falcon Heene Made Twitter.

Before I start my rant, let me point to a copy of the YouTube video featuring Falcon “Balloon Boy” Heene and family (as seen on Wifeswap). I suspect you may be seeking that.

In my opinion, today Twitter became CNN (in the same way CNN’s coverage of Jessica McClure put it on the map). In fairness, I became a bit obsessed with the “kid in weather balloon” story when I saw it live via CNN on a lobby television at the hotel where I was speaking… ironically speaking on the topic of real-time search, wisdom of crowds, and changes with search. Alas, the definitive case study for these three topics would surface just an hour after I spoke. I started tweeting with hash-tag #saveballoonboy, and it became one of the “hottest” Twitter trends.

Falcon Heene was thought to be flying inside his dad’s UFO-like weather balloon. CNN showed live helicopter footage of the balloon swirling 25-50 mph, which made this a remarkable news story — especially to those who learned about it before Falcon was recovered.

But CNN was slow with the seemingly obvious fact… As I should have known (from my helium experiments setting a FlipCam to the sky) the weather balloon could not have easily carried a 6-year-old child away… although the parents and authorities must have thought it a possibility. And when the child was MIA, rumors started that he’d fallen off to his death… that witnesses had seen something drop. His brother saw him sail away (in fact he had simply heard Falcon planning to climb into the basket/compartment.

CNN got Jessica McLure right, but left most of us frustrated and demanding more today. Others made it a top-trending keyword today, as we shared what news we had… like a post apocalypse scenario with CD-Radios.

This evening at 5:00 EST, I called my sister (who is a prodcuer at a major network) and asked her what she had… little more than already had been reported (although she had a lot of background already on the family). I begged her to call a neighbor of Heene, and see if she could circumvent the poor communication between rescuers (who clearly knew the balloon was empty) and the news media.

Want to know who broke the story for me? A stranger named Kelley Vinson (KelleySaidThis) using an iPhone police radio app (assuming she wasn’t kidding she wins $50 for the scoop… I promised). Moments later, I called my sister (who works at a major network) and she finally told me her network had announces the child was safe. A YouTube friend sent me a message via Twitter that confirmed CNN was confirming he was safe.

Frankly, the few hours felt exponentially longer than the 58 hours Jessica was in a well. And the coverage was slow, speculative and not fast enough for a just-in-time search-fueled audience.

Today’s lesson? Google, radio, television and other media are not serving us in a crisis or breaking news story. It’s just not fast enough. Clearly we want a credible medium, and I was hungry for sources (since there was plenty of hoax and rumors, or endless reverberations of the previous news).

Folks the field is wide open here. Citizen journalists now have Twitter, and we need ways to credential sources (maybe an earned badge based on previous reliability like eBay). We need real-time news. We need to find a way to help advance the story, like a way that local witnesses can provide input.

Like during the Michael Jackson trial, TMZ scooped the story, but Twitter propogated it.

As I type (and after I shot this video), CNN has excellent coverage… with an interview with the family that’s playing in the background. Wolf Blitzer gets “thumbs down” for asking children yes/no questions, but surprisingly was the first to tell Falcoln’s father that the balloon was recovered with the door shut… nobody had given him that amazingly encouraging piece of information. Still- when we were begging for new facts, the anchors were left with little more than the obvious… and Twitter had more.

Here’s an 8-minute reflective with my kids (5 and 7). About 7 minutes too long. Fly, Falcon, Fly.

Michael Buckley: Making a Living as YouTube Star

Michael Buckley was on CNN discussing the YouTube Partnership program, and how it has allowed him to follow his passion full-time. I’m hoping Buckley’s recent press can remind people of two things. First, this space has grown up. I predicted people would be earning 6-figure incomes in 2007 and I was too ambitious. But now folks like KipKay on Metacafe (who earned 6-figures last year, but has slowed down significantly) and Michael Buckley (WhattheBuckShow) are proving that it’s possible. Second, Buckley reminds us to be realistic. Buckley worked like crazy, has crowd-gathering talent, and promotes himself well. Buckley is on Inside Edition tonight, and the media seems rather interested in the notion that people can quit their jobs and live independently via YouTube.

Want to make a living on YouTube? Some tips

  1. Remember it won’t happen overnight.
  2. Find a niche. Buckley is appealing to celebrity-watchers that like a regular online digest.
  3. Read my free eBook: How to Become Popular on YouTube Without Any Talent
  4. Promote yourself, and ensure you use copyright-free content.
  5. RSS or read this blog often- it’s dedicated to helping creators make income (and show advertisers how to enhance their brands via known YouTube creators.
  6. Join the YouTube Partners program once you have a decent amount of videos and views
  7. Create a lot of content that people want- much of Buckley’s revenue is due to his constantly topical videos, and residual income he earns from his collection. For instance, the vast majority of my income comes from continuous views to the top videos I’ve created that continue to get views.

You’ll need to be a top YouTube creator to live from its advertising sharing, but many of us are supplementing our income. I maintain that the highest earning comes from “sponsored videos.” These aren’t easy to find, but they’re nice income. 

Buckley had a modest income before going full-time, and that helps. I’ve got four kids and a mortgage, so it will be a while before YouTube can match my day-job income. But it’s a fun way to make an additional income source, and my video revenue is certainly more than I made in my first job post MBA.

You Don’t Have to Be Tina Fey to Get on CNN as Sarah Palin

I’m just proving that you don’t have to be Tina Fey (or LisaNova) to appear on CNN impersonating Sarah Palin. Yeah that’s me in drag (see Sarah Palin Exposed, which is almost at a half-million views).

My parents are so proud.

I usually don’t know my clips are going to be used on television until after it happens, so thanks to those of you who let me know. I got a call from a former client who was in Germany and said he was pretty sure he saw me in drag on CNN. Mom says Biden has to be next.

WifeofShayCarl (Katilette) dominates Palin holding baby and gun, and it can be seen on SxePhil/ShayCarl combination channel: BamBamKaboosh. ShayCarl used to call me a lot, but then he started getting close with Sxephil and now I just sit by the phone and stare.

Viral Video Villain Got $1 Million as 750 Industries

Michael Ackerman Greenberg Viral Video CompanyThe Viral Video Villain ( just got a $1 million investment. Dan Ackerman Greenberg, who caused quite a stir with his “Secret Strategies Behind Viral Videos,” is now 750 Industries. Or as TechCrunch put it, “The Viral Video Guy Gets $1 Million.”

Greenberg explained 750 Industries to TechCrunch’s Michael Arington as, “a startup providing viral media distribution solutions that gives content owners and advertisers quick and effective access to millions of consumers.” And they say the company is already “very profitable.”

Then, with David Blaine agility, Greenberg took Arington’s watch off and pocked it. But not before hypnotizing him to write another promotional post for him. But if you don’t believe he’s profitable than click this thumbnail for a hot naked woman.

While I may not agree with Greenberg’s boasting of manipulative approaches to get video views, you have to give him three props:

  1. Greenberg has a killer logo. It’s modern, but very James Bond. It makes me want a martini.
  2. He snagged a million dollars. My guess is he’s already half way to Mexico with that money. And investor Ron Conway (Maples Investments and Baseline Ventures) is going to soon find some moldy boxes packed with counterfitted bail bonds in the empty office that was formerly Yelp’s. But he did it.
  3. He’s a pioneer in a burgeoning industry that could be likened to the early days of search-engine optimization. Just like firms approach Google placement with paid ads and organic strategies to rank high, companies will promote videos with a “paid” and “earned” approach. Eventually the market will transform from black hat to white hat tactics (or dare I say “from Wicked Witch to Glenda‘), and will be as reputable as the industry that focus on organic website optimization.

The original search-engine marketing (SEM) firms would promise top placements and use link farms and mirror sites to trick Google. But now many of them work ethically and responsibly to ensure that websites are built so Google search spiders can index the site appropriately, and that titles, metatags, copy and image tags are carefully chosen for relevance. The companies that try to trick Google and web searchers (like illegitimate online pharmacies and porn sites) are eventually pushed down on rankings or eliminated from Google’s results.

That’s where online video is going. Google’s technology and the wisdom of crowds will eventually render tricks (like fake headlines and autobots commenting) ineffective. And that’s when it gets interesting.

But want to know a little secret? The first companies to figure this out for clients won’t be the advertising agencies, and probably won’t even be digital agencies. It will be nimble firms that have an understanding of online video, technology and marketing. So while 750’s exit strategy may be selling to a digital agency, Greenberg does have a first-mover advantage.