TMZ has transformed itself from everyone’s favorite guilty pleasure to a powerhouse news reporting and entertainment brand. The multi-million dollar organization managed by Harvey Levin long ago shrugged off its image as a snarky Hollywood gossip site and by beating mainstream news organizations such as CNN at their own game. When Mel Gibson was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving and hurled shocking religious epithets at his arresting officers, TMZ broke the news first. When Michael Jackson died abruptly in 2009, TMZ scooped the world. As Harvey Levin explained at a recent appearance at the SXSW Interactive Festival, TMZ has succeeded by covering celebrity news with the rigor and professionalism of a serious newsroom — while still retaining much of the snarky voice that endears TMZ to some and infuriates others. And yet, something else beyond Harvey Levin’s control has helped legitimize TMZ: celebrity news itself. “Celebrity” is like a vertical market akin to retail: an industry with many inter-related stake holders such as from celebrities themselves to the media who cover them, the merchants to sell them, the products who rely on them for endorsement, and the media that spin content out of their lives. As I discuss in a new post for the iCrossing Content Lab, celebrity news sites have become diversified and specialized, ranging from Egotastic, which focuses on “the sexy side of celebrity gossip,” to Bossip, which covers black celebrity news. TMZ now rules as the Time Inc. of Fame Inc. Check out my post for more insight.
From Down Under comes a shimmering new song by Vanessa Elisha, “Home to Me.” The song layers Elisha’s lush R&B-inspired vocals on top of a sexy chill-out groove to capture what Elisha describes to me as “that yearning for first love, or that feeling that you have in the beginning of a relationship.” Vanessa Elisha took time out of her recording schedule to answer a few questions about the song and her career on the rise, including how Jermaine Dupri and his Global 14 community has helped her. As you can see from the following Q&A, she’s understands the art of social. Learn more about Vanessa Elisha on her website here, Global 14 community here, and Twitter here. Meantime, thank you Vanessa for your gift of song.
What’s the inspiration for “Home to Me”?
Definitely a long-term relationship – that yearning for first love, or that feeling that you have in the beginning of a relationship.
The song has a sensuous chill-out feel to it. Do you consider “Home to Me” a chill-out song?
It definitely has that smooth feel that you can listen to and vibe to at any time of the day.
Who has influence your singing style? I hear an R&B influence.
So many people! Lauryn Hill, Monica, Keke Wyatt, Jon B and so many others. That ’90s feel is really what gets to me the most – that was real R&B, and it’s making its comeback with a lot of current artists.
The video is simple yet complicated: a straight-head shot of you but overlayed with fireworks, flames, fields, and mountains. What’s the story being told in the video?
I think that the video is open to interpretation, which is what I love about it. For me the projections signify the range of emotions that are felt throughout the relationship — they run smoothly with the lyrics to really enhance the story.
How are you promoting the song and building your own brand?
I’m really just trying to get my music out there! Twitter, Facebook, blogs – the bloggers have been amazing. They hold a lot of power in the industry, and the reception of my music has been amazing and unexpected!
How does Jermaine Dupri’s Global 14 community help you?
Global 14 has been a great place to meet some amazing and talented people. The fact that Jermaine Dupri interacts with community members and has said he’s liked my music is an inspiration to just work that little bit harder. I love it, and the support I get on there is amazing.
Since it’s International Women’s Day today, I feel compelled to honor a business woman who changed the world: Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop. With her staunch support of fair trade and opposition to animal testing on cosmetics, Anita Roddick proved that a business could do good and make money at the same time. Roddick is an example of a market maker. I recently introduced the term market maker to describe business people who act like artists and change the world with their personal visions. Successful marketers sell things; but market makers inspire people to act, to believe, and to live their lives differently. Roddick is one of four market makers, including Ahmet Ertegun, Steve Jobs, and Guy Kawasaki, whom I profile in my recently published white paper, How to Be a Market Maker. Roddick really did change how we live and work. She helped inspired consumers to buy with a conscience and business to give back. And she did so by living a life filled with passion and diverse interests.
Roddick was born in a bomb shelter in England during World War II, and before founding the Body Shop lived a free-spirited life of social activism and world travel. She originally trained as a teacher at Bath College of Higher Education until she “hit the hippie trail” of world travel, where she got exposure to Third World economies and living conditions. She considered herself a social activist when she met and married Gordon Roddick, a Scottish poet, who became her business partner on ventures including the shaky operation of a restaurant. Her life changed dramatically in 1976 when her husband decided to take a few years off to ride a horse from Buenos Aires to New York.
She launched the Body Shop in London to help support her family while her husband was on his quixotic adventure. Her cosmetics store was launched on a shoestring budget with zero advertising. Her vision was to sell quality skin-care products made out of natural ingredients and packaged in refillable containers — without the condescending hype that characterized cosmetics (especially for women).
From the start, she embedded social responsibility into the Body Shop’s business charter. She refused to sell products that were tested on animals, going against a standard practice of animal testing in the 1970s. And here’s where she demonstrated a stroke of marketing genius: because she lacked a marketing budget, she used her anti-animal testing stance as a way to generate PR for her store. In doing so, she quickly developed a base of customers who agreed with her views. “Her cruelty-free cosmetics sold like hot cakes,” wrote journalist Michael McCarthy in The Independent. “She may have stumbled upon the notion of ethical consumerism, but she made two discoveries about it: it was great for business, and it could enable business to change society.”
As the Body Shop grew in popularity — expanding to 20 locations in Europe and Asia by 1984 — so did the scale of her social campaigning. In 1985, she used shop windows of her stores to promote the Greenpeace Save the Whales movement — “the first explicit tie-in between products and causes,” according to The Guardian. She and the Body Shop actively lobbied against animal testing in other businesses, which led to the banning of testing of cosmetics on animals in Britain in 1997 (and across Europe after her death).
Her adoption of fair trade practices was nothing short of revolutionary. Instead of buying her cosmetics ingredients at the lowest prices possible from the commodities markets, she sourced raw products from exporters from developing countries in order to promote their economic growth. For instance, after visiting local farms in Nicaragua in 1998, she started importing sesame seed oil from 130 farmers in Achupa, Nicaragua, which helped the town rebuild from Hurricane Mitch. After she learned about Amazonian tribes protesting against a hydroelectric project that would have flooded their lands, she agreed to buy Brazil nuts (used to make moisturizers and conditioners), which created revenue that the tribes needed to protect their lands.
Had Roddick been performing pure acts of charity in her trade practices, the Body Shop would have become a charming story about doing good but nothing more. The reason her fair trade practices spread to other businesses is that the Body Shop flourished because of them. Because Roddick cleverly and loudly drew attention to her practices, she attracted consumers who felt that buying her products contributed to a greater good. Owning Body Shop products meant helping to protect a rainforest in Brazil.
Eventually, so many businesses would become interested in fair trade practices that a Fairtrade International Organization would arise in order to secure better deals for farmers and workers and certify businesses that follow fair trade practices. What’s more, Roddick made it not just acceptable but desirable for companies ranging from Ben & Jerry’s to Starbucks to espouse practices of corporate social responsibility as part of their business growth models. Today her spirit lives on through the growth of the B Corps movement in the United States, through which corporations such as Patagonia are certified for adhering to best practices in corporate accountability. For instance, one of the reasons Ben & Jerry’s was certified as a B Corp member is that the company devotes nearly half of its cost of goods sold to helping smaller suppliers.
The Body Shop would eventually expand to more than 2,600 locations globally and generate about $1 billion in annual revenue, and Roddick remained a passionate activist to her last days. After being diagnosed with hepatitis C in 2004, she became an active lobbyist for public funding to stop the disease — which was just one of many causes she championed. When she died in 2007, Michael McCarthy of The Independent wrote, “She did, indeed, change profoundly the way we look at the world, by changing the way we looked at business, and seeing the scale of what that could do.
My research into the lives of market makers like Anita Roddick reveals that these extraordinary people are willing to take risks, surround themselves with talent, possess passion in abundance, and live full, eclectic lives. Certainly Roddick exemplifies a life brimming with passion. She was passionate about human rights, and, in particular, women’s rights. The entire premise behind the Body Shop was selling cosmetics without sexism and eschewing the cult of youth. But she also demonstrates the value of being an eclectic person with many interests outside one’s career. She was a world traveler, environmentalist, and activist long before the Body Shop came along, and she remained actively involved in many causes such as Children on the Edge, an organization she founded. In other words, her business reflected her life.
Similarly, another famous market maker, Steve Jobs, injected his Buddhist background into the clean and simple design of Apple’s legendary products, and iTunes was a direct reflection of his love of music. Another market maker I profile, Ahmet Ertegun, was one of the founders of the New York Cosmos soccer team when he wasn’t busy running Atlantic Records. The success of market makers in business reflects a natural curiosity to learn and experience the world around them.
Not everyone has time to found and run a business. I sure don’t. But we can certainly change the lives of people around us in our own way by doing what market makers like Anita Roddick do: act like artists and bring personal vision to our jobs.
Stay tuned: more blog posts will explore the lives of other famous market makers.
How about it — are you willing to try to be a market maker?
We remember Bruce Springsteen and Clarence Clemons as being both kindred spirits and successful band mates. And the album cover of Born to Run captures the essence of their story as we’ve learned it. Born to Run, profiled here for my series on memorable album covers, endures because the cover expresses the personality of an artist and his band.
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band famously developed a reputation for being a rollicking, adventurous band of brothers, especially during the group’s marathon concerts that exuded energy and joy. The E Street Band was never a democracy. It was the Boss’s group to run and, later in his career, to disband and regroup depending on his personal musical needs and vision. But especially in the early going, the E Street was essential to Springsteen’s identity — so much so that he wrote about his band mates in “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out.”
And no one in the seven-person band touched him like saxophonist Clemons. The story of their meeting has been told several times. As Clemons told a fan website:
A rainy, windy night it was, and when I opened the door the whole thing flew off its hinges and blew away down the street. The band was on-stage, but staring at me framed in the doorway. And maybe that did make Bruce a little nervous because I just said, “I want to play with your band,” and he said, “Sure, you do anything you want.” The first song we did was an early version of “Spirit in the Night“. Bruce and I looked at each other and didn’t say anything, we just knew. We knew we were the missing links in each other’s lives. He was what I’d been searching for. In one way he was just a scrawny little kid. But he was a visionary. He wanted to follow his dream. So from then on I was part of history.
As reported in Peter Ames Carlin’s recently published biography of Springsteen, Clemons became an integral part of the band’s sound and a musical soul mate, as well. When Clemons died of a stroke in 2011, Springsteen was at his side with a guitar. Later Springsteen said of Clemons, “He was my great friend, my partner, and with Clarence at my side, my band and I were able to tell a story far deeper than those simply contained in our music.
That relationship is perfectly expressed on the cover of Born to Run, which consists of a photo taken by Eric Meola (the image is one of 900 he took). The body English says it all: Springsteen, a Fender Esquire in one hand, leans on Clemons, smiling affectionately at his band mate instead of looking at you. Clemons gives the Boss a sideways glance, his expressive body leaning back comfortable into Springsteen’s as he plays his beloved saxophone. The clean design, consisting of a plain white background and simple lettering, keep your eyes focused on the two men Interestingly, Springsteen has set aside his guitar to admire his band made, whereas Clemons looks like he’s working on Take 37 of a saxophone solo for “Jungleland” — an observation that might be fairly true.
In fact, making the album was anything but a carefree experience. Carlin reports that the recording of the album was “slow, grim, and tortuous.” Clemons “spent 16 hours playing and replaying every not of his ‘Jungleland’ solo in order to satisfy Bruce’s bat-eared attention to sonic detail.” After stripping his songs down and rebuilding them to achieve different sounds he was looking for, and after pushing his band to the extreme, Springsteen was still unhappy with the finished product of “unplayable parts, unfixable mistakes, and unmixable recordings.”
Of course, history remembers Born to Run differently. Rolling Stone magazine ranks Born to Run as one of the Top 20 albums of all time — “timeless record about the labors and glories of aspiring to greatness.” The album is also listed the Library of Congress National Recording Registry of historic recordings.
The cover itself has become beloved, too, for expressing the passion and joy of Springsteen and his most famous of all E Street band members. (In a case of both art and life imitating art, Springsteen and Clemons were known to duplicate the album cover pose onstage during their concerts.) Here’s how Carlin describes it: “For in this picture, Bruce knew, resided the heart of the band: unity, brotherhood, a small fulfillment of the American ideals of strength, equality, and community.”
Simply watching major events like the Academy Awards and Grammys is a passé experience. These days you can go backstage and rub elbows with the stars thanks to second-screen capabilities offered by forward-thinking organizations like the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Of course, the Oscars are a notoriously hit-and-miss affair, with onstage entertainment reaching soaring highs and lows — sometimes in the same act. On February 24, the Oscars hit a home run by giving fans the kind of entertainment we crave: access to the stars. And a brush with fame is the perfect antidote for today’s celebrity-obsessed culture.
The Oscars Backstage Pass gave anyone with a computer screen a chance to tour the audience through the eyes of the camera operator, hang out with the news media and watch Anne Hathaway pose with her Oscar in the news room, and get a glimpse of George Clooney, Ben Affleck and Grant Heslov celebrating their Argo Best Picture award backstage. If you were patient, you could catch glimpses of stars having relatively unguarded moments — such as Jamie Foxx breaking into spontaneous dance while he awaited an official photo op.
One of my favorite backstage moments occurred when I noticed Quentin Tarantino, looking torn and frayed with his Best Original Screenplay Oscar, in obvious thrall of Jack Nicholson — then putting on his serious game face for his official photo op:
Meantime, in the audience, you could feel the tension on Anne Hathaway’s face before the Best Supporting Actress Award was named, and then the relief when she won:
The Backstage Pass offered five different screen choices, ranging from the audience shot to the host view. The clarity of the resolution was excellent, and even the somewhat muddy resolution of the backstage lounge added to the “you-are-there” charm (as was the case with the Grammy Awards behind-the-curtain access).
Music, sweet music. You’re the queen of my soul.
Those words come from a soaring Average White Band song, “Queen of My Soul.” I’ve been thinking a lot about that song during a week defined by my love of music. On Tuesday, a popular Pink Floyd news resource, Brain Damage, published an interview with me about how music has intersected with my professional and personal lives. (Befitting the focus of the website, the Q&A included lots of discussion about Pink Floyd.) The next day, I hosted a Social Media Week New York conversation onstage with musician Daria Musk and Google’s Caroline McCarthy regarding how Musk has relied on the Google Plus social media site to launch her career. Being interviewed and then being the interviewer was rewarding. Both experiences affirmed the role of music in shaping my life.
The Brain Damage interview was highly personal. I discussed how the music of Pink Floyd got me through hard times in life and bonded me with my brother one memorable summer. I fairly gushed about my love of Pink Floyd for aspiring to create art. My interviewer, Eduardo J. Lopez-Reyes, asked me why some people form a close bond with music, while others do not. I answered, “Listening to music is like dating: you can enjoy it at a casual and superficial level until someone comes along who changes your life. When you connect with someone else at a personal level, you form a relationship that matures as you experience whatever life throws at you.”
Do you know what I mean? If you don’t, I feel sorry for you.
Our conversation also veered into the territory of social media. I was asked whether album-oriented artists like Pink Floyd could make it today. I replied, “Digital gives emerging artists a chance to share album-length music through performance . . . For instance, musicians such as Daria Musk and Pomplamoose are using social media platforms and services like Google+ Hangouts and StageIt to perform global concerts on shoestring budgets. Social media also gives artists ways to connect with fans more personally.”
Musk told her own story of social media success on February 20. In the Hearst Tower, Musk, McCarthy, and I pulled off a first for Social Media Week: we held a panel discussion about how Google Plus has helped Musk find her audience, conducted a live Google+ Hangout with a global audience (projected on a giant screen behind us), and injected music through a performance by Musk and her bandmate RAM Rich.
Musk recounted how she began writing songs as a child, found her voice as a musician, and then found her audience through social media after banging her head against a wall playing dives. Google Plus, the 500-million-member network launched by Google in 2011, gave her a platform to play her songs through marathon concerts performed through the Google Hangout feature (the equivalent of Skype for people on Google Plus). Her concerts attracted a global audience of more than 2 million fans in countries ranging from Croatia to Sri Lanka. And as she explained during our conversation, she’s been monetizing social media through corporate sponsorships with brands such as Verizon.
Some artists have built brands on social. Others have launched new music. Musk has made a career.
But as interesting as the discussion about social media was, what struck me most about her was her obvious passion for music. That love for song was evident as we prepared for our appearance. Her sound check the night before was became something of a mini-concert, as she and RAM Rich played with energy and soul for an audience consisting of me and a few audio technicians who were fine-tuning the acoustics in the theater. You would have thought she was playing the audition of her life as she let her vocals soar and her guitar sing.
Her performance the next day was a natural extension of the song she sings every day. She could not even have a conversation with me without bursting into song occasionally, as the Livestream of our conversation shows.
Music is a way of life for Daria Musk. And music flows through me like blood.
What do you have on your Spotify playlist right now? Chances are that Ahmet Ertegun had a hand influencing the music you’ve chosen. As founder and president of Atlantic Records, Ertegun signed and nurtured musicians who shaped the sound of modern popular music, ranging from Ray Charles to Led Zeppelin. Ahmet Ertegun is an example of what I call a market maker. I recently introduced the term market maker to describe business people who act like artists and change the world with their personal visions. Successful marketers sell things; but market makers inspire people to act, to believe, and to live their lives differently. And Ahmet Ertegun changed lives. He is one of four market makers, including Steve Jobs, Anita Roddick, and Guy Kawasaki, whom I profile in my white paper, How to Be a Market Maker. Ertegun’s story shows how a willingness to take risks and a personal commitment to the success of other people can launch an industry and create sweet music that endures forever.
Ertegun is a fascination mix of catalyst (someone who inspires by sharing the ideas and talents of others) and product creator (who is directly involved in creation of an idea or content that changes others). He had enough musical talent to write one of the first hits recorded by Ray Charles, “Mess Around,” which was important to the development of modern soul, and he was in the studio singing and helping to produce the song “Shake, Rattle, and Roll,” an enormously important song that helped launch modern rock. But he himself understood that his real talent was not being a musician but finding and developing them.
The son of the Republic of Turkey’s first ambassador to the United States, Ertegun developed a passion for jazz early on, assembling a huge collection of jazz records and traveling to Harlem and New Orleans (something sons of ambassadors in the 1940s just did not do) to find musicians he discovered on wax. In 1947, he founded Atlantic Records with Herb Abramson. He had zero business experience but possessed passion and determination to uncover great music. Robert Greenfield’s eminently readable biography of Ertegun, The Last Sultan, recounts how in the early days of Atlantic Records, Ertegun and his business partner borrowed a car and crisscrossed the “crowded, smoke-filled juke joints and roadside honky-tonks in the Deep South where the smell of spilled whiskey and beer and the overwhelming funk of sweating bodies on the dance floor made it hard even to breathe.” They trudged through muddy fields to segregated sections of town to uncover musicians like Blind Willie McTell, Professor Longhair, and Ruth Brown. They developed a network of scouts in clubs and concert halls in major cities, too.
One of his artists was Ray Charles, who, under Ertegun’s tutelage in 1953, launched the genre of music we now know as soul through his song, “I Got a Woman.” During that pivotal year, Ertegun and Jerry Wexler helped an artist named Big Joe Turner cut a song, “Shake, Rattle, and Roll,” that is generally regarded as the precursor of rock.
Writes Greenfield, “In the short space of six months, Atlantic had released two songs that would define the future of the record business in America. ‘Shake, Rattle and Roll’ helped begin rock and roll. ‘I Got a Woman’ established soul.” Atlantic, under Ertegun’s leadership, played a phenomenal role in desegregating American popular music.
Throughout his career, Ertegun would have an active hand in developing and promoting the careers of musical giants across several genres. In the 1970s, Atlantic rescued the Rolling Stones from the brink of financial bankruptcy and elevated the band to mainstream cultural icons.
His personal commitment to Led Zeppelin — not only signing them to Atlantic but hanging out with the band all night amid post-concert backstage debauchery — helped propel a band that dominated and influenced modern hard rock.
When he died after tripping and hitting his head backstage at a Rolling Stones concert in 2006, his loss was so widely felt in the music world that Led Zeppelin eventually reunited after 25 years to play a concert in his honor.
Ahmet Ertegun’s greatest gift to music was his eye for talent and the will to mold that talent into wildly popular music that broke through different genres. He and legendary Atlantic Records producer Jerry Wexler “could hear the talent in its rawest form before even the talent knew what it wanted to do.” But he did more than find talent — he shaped it. He played the music of Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey for Ruth Brown to teach her blues and develop her singing style. He actively collaborated with Ray Charles in the studio in 1953 and pushed him until Charles found his break-through with “I Got a Woman.”
An important distinction needs to be made: he was not a tastemaker or molder of talent just because he loved music and he wanted to make a ton of money (although music and the creature comforts that come with wealth were important to him): he loved his artists. As Neil Young said at a tribute to Ertegun held in 2007: “Ahmet was our man. I just hope today’s musicians have someone like Ahmet taking care of them.”
Ahmet Ertegun was a market maker in the truest sense of the word. He was also a risk taker — and a willingness to take risks is a major attribute of market makers. Market makers are willing to try and fail. Founding a pop record company in the 1940s was in fact an enormous risk: there were no rules, no best practices, and no mentors from whom to learn. When Ertegun and his business partners attempted to get the business off the ground in its early days, Ertegun nearly went broke, and Atlantic nearly went out of business. And we all know about the risks that another market maker, Steve Jobs, took (not all of which worked, such as the NeXT). The Body Shop had no reason to succeed: Anita Roddick had zero business experience and was taking on a well-entrenched industry. Guy Kawasaki left the comforts of Apple to essentially create his own brand. Their willingness to risk reflects their ability to dream.
You don’t need to introduce the next Led Zeppelin or launch another iPod to be a market maker. You just need to have the willingness to instill your personal imprint on your everyday job and emulate the characteristics of market makers, such as risk taking. In future blog posts, my profiles of other market makers will illustrate more of those characteristics.
Are you a market maker?
I met hip-hop artist Signs (aka Sunny Ade) on a cold Chicago sidewalk, when he handed me his album All I Need and told my wife how beautiful she looks (which is an effective way to get my attention if you want me to listen to your music). The album consists mostly of life-affirming songs that veer into holy hip-hop territory — but with a dose of gritty realism, too. One such example that has grown on me is “Game Light,” which tells the story of “trying to survive the streets just to be a success.” In “Game Light,” Signs addresses pain. The lyrics alternate between asking for God to transcend obstacles and just giving up and maybe checking out permanently — a real struggle with no promise of making it but a resolve to deal with life. And the music just adds to the mood, especially the samples, which combine Isley Brothers style funky keyboards and a killer horn riff a la Isaac Hayes.
According to Signs, the song “Is about inspiration and faith,” but he does not consider the song to be about religion, either.
“This is not a Christian song,” he said to me in an interview conducted over Facebook. “It is simply a song about struggles in life and how we are to constantly maintain ourselves within those struggles by believing because the just shall live by faith and not by the problems they see. ”
“Game Light” is what happens when you catch someone’s ear with music and a story. In this case, the story happens to be spiritual in nature. You can usually tell when an artist sets out to make a statement, whether spiritual, political, or social: too often, you get cringe-worthy crap. Why? Because the artist who focuses on the statement foremost forgets that you have to make compelling art, too.
That’s why it makes total sense for Signs to sing about his spiritual inspirations but also claim that he’s not creating a “Christian song.” And because he puts the songwriting first, “Game Light” succeeds.
Musician Daria Musk has famously built a career through Google+. She’s part of the emerging generation of artists whose success hinges on social media. Instead of simply building brand awareness with social media (which is standard operating procedure for savvy artists now), she’s cannily relied on Google+ to perform concerts, generate a global following of fans, find ideas for songs, and build relationships with brands. If you caught her February 14 Valentine’s Day Hangout Concert, you know what I’m talking about. Days before the performance, she adroitly used her Google Plus page to promote the concert and then during showtime, she charmed a global audience with her warmth and her gift of song — essentially lighting up the digital world for one evening, as shown in this rebroadcast:
Her use of Google+ has also been a godsend for Google, helping to legitimize the fledgling social media community during Google Plus’s first critical months of existence and leading to improvements in Google+. On February 20, at Social Media Week New York, I will interview Musk and Caroline McCarthy of Google at the Hearst Tower in order to uncover lessons learned from their collaboration, including how brands can build closer relationships with their audiences. The session occurs at 2:30 p.m. EST at the Hearst Tower. If you are at Social Media Week New York, please register here. Meantime, to give you a sense of the ground we will cover, I posted a brief Q&A with McCarthy on the iCrossing Great Finds blog, available here. Check it out for Google’s perspective on the Daria Musk story, and come see us in New York.
File this one under “Only in America”: on February 4, a Florida teen named Penelope Soto flips off a judge at a hearing for a Xanax possession charge, which earns her a 30-day contempt of court sentence. The moment is captured via courtroom video. The video goes viral and becomes a story on CNN and CBS. Soto generates another cycle of news by issuing a tearful apology on February 8, which creates the perfect story arc and more mainstream media attention, including coverage from The Huffington Post. And, wouldn’t you know: she gains attention on social media, too, with a Facebook Fan page and Twitter feed making her out to be a victim of the U.S. “war on drugs and the poor.”