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Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, MN

Live From Saint Paul

The Republican national convention, referred to as RNC08 is being held just a few blocks from my home. I live in St. Paul, Minnesota. I point out the location of the convention because it is one of the many facts that seems to be escaping the attention of the national media.

It has been an interesting experience, and the convention doesn’t start until Monday. We locals started spotting the FBI agents in early August. Next came the media brining huge trailers, satellite dishes and miles, and miles of cable with them. Then the semi’s started rolling in with all the food and beer.

Where to Find News

Late last week local news organizations started reaching out to people like me asking for any news or photos we might be getting so that they could include a kind of man on the street perspective on their web sites. I have been contributing photos and commentary via Twitter and Flickr.

Local news outlets are scrambling to be noticed by national media, and the non-traditional media outlets are scrambling to beat the main stream media.

Where are the Protesters?

The war protesters are out in full force. The local and non-traditional media are picking it up and reporting on the arrests and raids. The protesters, the local media, the national media, and the republicans all seem to be using the same hash tags on the internet #RNC08.

It didn’t take me long to discover something that I have known for a long time. The best source of news seems to be the internet. Last night I discovered that by using twitter I could keep track of various news organizations and the protesters. I also discovered that I could pass information back and forth between news organizations by re-tweeting some of the remarks, and the national news media re-tweeted some of my observations.

Twitter, blogs and mobile blogs are having a huge impact on news coverage. They have also become the great equalizer in that anyone can publish and get news. I can say for sure that the protesters are not getting much national news coverage. I guess there is nothing for the national news media to cover if protesters and demonstrators are in jail and can not assemble or speak. If I got all of my news through mainstream media channels I would be missing out on almost all of the pre-convention action.

A local radio station is asking the general public to watch the national media and report errors in coverage. So far there have been plenty because in spite of all the fancy equipment organizations like CNN brought into town they don’t seem to have maps or a GPS. They sit in the heart of the city of St. Paul and report news live from Minneapolis. Can the general public really rely on reporters who don’t even know where they are?

. . and the national news media covers local real estate?

It is the same with the national coverage of the Real Estate market by the national media. They don’t know what is really going on in a given town or neighborhood. Consumers may be better off reading our blogs and getting that street level view of reality from people who are engaged in the business every day.

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Full time REALTOR and licensed broker with Saint Paul Home Realty Realty in St. Paul, Minnesota. Author of, Columnist for Inman News and an avid photographer.

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  1. Missy Caulk

    August 31, 2008 at 7:55 am

    This is an interesting year, huh? Yesterday I followed the MI game on a live blog, the comments throughout were coming in fast and furious.
    It is a whole new era for the conventions too. I think Twitter, blogs etc have become the great equalizer too. HAVE FUN!!

  2. Mack in Atlanta

    September 1, 2008 at 4:53 am

    If John McCain wanted to improve his exposure on the internet he should have selected Teresa Boardman as his running mate!

  3. Glenn fm Naples

    September 1, 2008 at 6:25 am

    National media do in fact read our blogs with real estate market conditions, but they are looking for facts and not spin. Unfortunately, too many real estate agents put a spin on their reporting, which greatly depreciates the value of the individual post.

  4. Teresa Boardman

    September 1, 2008 at 7:13 am

    The national media does not put a spin on the news? wow they have you fooled. They spin it by what they report, what they don’t report and how they report it. I have dealt with a few. They call looking for drama. They have the story all planned out and call Realtors until they find one or two who back it up. They need to sell papers, magazines and ads on television. Yes they are biased.

  5. Bob

    September 1, 2008 at 8:33 am

    Everybody puts a spin on stuff based on their own vested interests.

  6. Louis Cammarosano

    September 1, 2008 at 9:28 am

    Thanks for the coverage

    Paid journalism is inherently suspect as they write for their media owners who need stories that create interest in their product so they can gain readers/views and sell newspapers and ads

    Blogging news is also inherently suspect, while it may not have a direct profit motive, often it has something more suspect – an interest in pursuing its own brand of the truth.

    Having both bloggers and journalists out there gives us many points of view from which some semblance of the truth can be formed. This is certainly better than having just paid journalists covering out news.

  7. Glenn fm Naples

    September 1, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    Of course the national media spins stories to generate revenues. But how many real estate agents previously had the experience of taking a course on dealing with the press?

  8. Steve Simon

    September 2, 2008 at 5:52 am

    Until you have spent some time as an elected official you really have no idea at what depths the News Media will sink to…
    Read my profile.
    I have seen misquotes (known to be a misquote in advance of distribution) used as headlines.
    I have seen the with-holding of information that changes the entire context of a an event.
    I have seen thousands and thousands of dollars spent in one sided opposition research while major blunders of the other side are not even mentioned.
    Depending on the organization this one sided harang’s predisposed tilt is also usually predictable…

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Social Media

Deepfakes can destroy any reputation, company, or country

(MEDIA) Deepfakes have been around for a few years now, but they’re being crafted for nefarious purposes beyond the original porn and humor uses.




Deepfakes — a technology originally used by Reddit perverts who wanted to superimpose their favorite actresses’ faces onto the bodies of porn stars – have come a long way since the original Reddit group was banned.

Deepfakes use artificial intelligence (AI) to create bogus videos by analyzing facial expressions to replace one person’s face and/or voice with another’s.

Using computer technology to synthesize videos isn’t exactly new.

Remember in Forrest Gump, how Tom Hanks kept popping up in the background of footage of important historical events, and got a laugh from President Kennedy? It wasn’t created using AI, but the end result is the same. In other cases, such technology has been used to complete a film when an actor dies during production.

The difference between these examples and that latest deepfake technology is a question of ease and access.

Historically, these altered videos have required a lot of money, patience, and skill. But as computer intelligence has advanced, so too has deepfake technology.

Now the computer does the work instead of the human, making it relatively fast and easy to create a deepfake video. In fact, Stanford created a technology using a standard PC and web cam, as I reported in 2016.

Nowadays, your average Joe can access open source deepfake apps for free. All you need is some images or video of your victim.

While the technology has mostly been used for fun – such as superimposing Nicolas Cage into classic films – deepfakes could and have been used for nefarious purposes.

There is growing concern that deepfakes could be used for political disruption, for example, to smear a politician’s reputation or influence elections.

Legislators in the House and Senate have requested that intelligence agencies report on the issue. The Department of Defense has already commissioned researchers to teach computers to detect deepfakes.

One promising technology developed at the University of Albany analyzes blinking to detect deep fakes, as subjects in the faked videos usually do not blink as often as real humans do. Ironically, in order to teach computers how to detect them, researchers must first create many deepfake videos. It seems that deepfake creators and detectors are locked in a sort of technological arms race.

The falsified videos have the potential to exacerbate the information wars, either by producing false videos, or by calling into question real ones. People are already all too eager to believe conspiracy theories and fake news as it is, and the insurgence of these faked videos could be created to back up these bogus theories.

Others worry that the existence of deepfake videos could cast doubt on actual, factual videos. Thomas Rid, a professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins University says that deepfakes could lead to “deep denials” – in other words, “the ability to dispute previously uncontested evidence.”

While there have not yet been any publicly documented cases of attempts to influence politics with deepfake videos, people have already been harmed by the faked videos.

Women have been specifically targeted. Celebrities and civilians alike have reported that their likeness has been used to create fake sex videos.

Deepfakes prove that just because you can achieve an impressive technological feat doesn’t always mean you should.

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Social Media

Red flags to look for when hiring a social media pro

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Social Media is a growing field with everyone and their moms trying to become social media managers. Here are a few experts’ tips on seeing and avoiding the red flags of social media professionals.



facebook digital marketing buffer managers

If you’re thinking about hiring a social media professional – or are one yourself – take some tips from the experts.

We asked a number of entrepreneurs specializing in marketing and social media how they separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to social media managers, and they gave us some hints about how to spot whose social media game is all bark and no bite.

According to our experts, the first thing you should do if you’re hiring a social media professional is to check out their personal and/or professional social media pages.

Candidates with underwhelming, non-existent, out-of-date, or just plain bad social media pages should obviously get the chop.

“If they have no professional social presence themselves, that’s a big red flag,” says Chelle Honiker, CEO at Athenia Creative.

Another entrepreneur, Paul O’Brien of Media Tech Ventures, explains that “the only way to excel is to practice…. If you excel, why would you not be doing so on behalf of your personal brand?”

In other words, if someone can’t make their own social media appealing, how can they be expected to do so for a client?

These pros especially hated seeing outdated icons, infrequent posts, and automatic posts. Worse than outdated social media pages were bad social media pages. Marc Nathan of Miller Egan Molter & Nelson provided a laundry list of negative characteristics that he uses to rule out candidates, including “snarky,” “complaining, unprofessional” “too personal” “inauthentic,” and “argumentative.”

Besides eliminating candidates with poor social media presence, several of these pros also really hated gimmicky job titles such as “guru,” “whiz,” “ninja,” “superhero,” or “magician.”

They were especially turned off by candidates who called themselves “experts” without any proof of their success.

Jeff Fryer of ARM dislikes pros who call themselves experts because, he says “The top leaders in this field will be the first to tell you that they’re always learning– I know I am!” Steer clear of candidates who talk themselves up with ridiculous titles and who can’t provide solid evidence of their expertise.

According to our experts, some of them don’t even try. To candidates who say “’Social media can’t be measured,’” Fryer answer “yes it can[. L]earn how to be a marketer.”

Beth Carpenter, CEO of Violet Hour Social Marketing, complains that many candidates “Can’t talk about ROI (return on investment),” arguing that a good social media pro should be able to show “how social contributes to overall business success.” Good social media pros should show their value in both quantitative and qualitative terms.

While our experts wanted to see numerical evidence of social media success, they were also unimpressed with “vanity metrics” such as numbers of followers.

Many poo-pooed the use of followers alone as an indicator of success, with Tinu Abayomi-Paul of Leveraged Promotion joking that “a trained monkey or spambot” can gather 1,000 followers.

Claims of expertise or success should also be backed up by references and experience in relevant fields.

Several entrepreneurs said that they had come across social media managers without “any experience in critical fields: marketing, advertising, strategic planning and/or writing,” to quote Nancy Schirm of Austin Visuals. She explains that it’s not enough to know how to “handle the technology.” Real social media experts must cultivate “instinct borne from actual experience in persuasive communication.”

So, if you’re an aspiring social media manager, go clean up those pages, get some references, and figure out solid metrics for demonstrating your success.

And if you’re hiring a social media manager, watch out for these red flags to cull your candidate pool.

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Social Media

Pinterest fights anti-vaxx info, urges Facebook to follow suit

(SOCIAL MEDIA) With misinformation continuing to spread online, Pinterest is putting their foot down and urging other networks to do the same.



pinteres anti-vaxx

The World Health Organization calls anti-vaxxers one of the top 10 health threats in the world.

Pinterest decided to do something about misinformation being spread by anti-vaxxers. You can no longer search for vaccines on Pinterest and get any information, pro or con about vaccines.

You’ll get a message, “People have reported Pins from this search. Let us know if you see something that goes against our policies.” And “Sorry, we couldn’t find any Pins for this search.”

Pinterest’s policy prohibits “This includes promotion of false cures for terminal or chronic illnesses and anti-vaccination advice.”

Pinterest is disabling search for vaccines while it finds a better solution to allow material that is appropriate. Users should report pins that are against Pinterest’s policy.

There are ways to get around the general search terms. Type in measles. Fortunately, many of the pins are helpful and promote ways to avoid the measles, namely vaccines. With tons of search variations, there’s almost no way to prevent all misinformation.

The company has publicly urged other social networks to join them in this effort to combat anti-vaxx misinformation. But will they follow suit?

Search Google for the measles vaccine and the search engine provides good information for the most part. The first 10 results when I searched were from legitimate sites, the CDC, WebMD, and the Mayo Clinic. On Facebook, it’s far less clear if the results from a search are coming from authentic, legitimate sites or anti-vaxxers.

CNBC reports that Pinterest’s ban on vaccines and its determination to stop the spread of misinformation pertaining to public health could put pressure on other companies to do the same. Bloomberg reported that Facebook is “exploring additional measures to best combat the problem.”

Tech companies do have an obligation to provide quality information. But given the problems with fake news on Facebook, I think it’s safe to say that no matter what these companies do, people are going to try and continue to find ways to share bad information.

It’s easy to be deceptive on Facebook and other social media sites. Many people continue to be fooled by fake news posts and phishing emails.

Does Pinterest’s move constitute responsibility or is it censorship that could be a slippery slope? Time will tell.

For now, question everything. Use your critical thinking skills to verify information. Maybe someone will come up with a solution to stop online hoaxes, but then the hoaxers will just find new ways to bend the rules.

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