(VIDEO) Yahoo Expands Programmatic Video Ad Offering with Brightroll Integration, Andrew Snyder Explains

April 20, 2015 by  
Filed under Videos

Yahoo’s acquisition late last year of programmatic video adtech company Brightroll means that the giant publisher will use data and analytics to target consumers with highly relevant video advertising, explains Yahoo’s Andrew Snyder, VP for Video Sales in this interview with Beet.TV

The ability to both sell advertising direct to marketers —  and via programmatic — will be one of the themes presented at Yahoo’s upcoming NewFront event on April 27 at New York’s Lincoln Center.

In his interview, Snyder speaks about the growing value of original, digital video in relation to television.

Disclaimer:  Yahoo is sponsoring Beet.TV’s coverage of the April 27 event and this post is part of the sponsorship.

You can find this post on Beet.TV.

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Social Security Trust — Or, Never Lend Money to a Conservative

April 19, 2015 by  
Filed under Videos

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Never lend money to a conservative. That’s one conclusion to be drawn from recent attacks on Social Security by Bloomberg View columnists Megan McArdle and Ramesh Ponnuru. Apparently promises, even legally executed ones, don’t mean much to their crowd.

McArdle recently expended 1249 words attempting to evade the government’s debt to the Social Security Trust Fund, never really getting much beyond the five-word assertion that “the trust fund isn’t real.” Ponnuru tried to argue that a cut isn’t really a cut.

It’s an odd spectacle to watch rightwingers, with their avowed hostility toward “big government,” arguing that the federal government should break its commitments and stiff middle-class retirees. Luckily they’re not very good at it.

What Is “Reality”, Man?

“The trust fund isn’t real.” This claim is evergreen on the right — and it’s wrong. Social Security’s trust funds, which currently hold more than $2.8 trillion in surplus, are very much real, creatures of both law and public trust. Social Security is required by law to keep its funds separate from the general budget, because all of its benefits must be financed solely by the payroll tax.

The federal government borrowed from Social Security, using legally-executed instruments (both bonds and certificates of indebtedness). This obligation is as real as any other government debt, including those owed to Goldman Sachs or any other wealthy holder of Treasury bonds.

But McArdle, like others of her political persuasion, is eager to sever the binds of legal and moral obligation surrounding this debt. Why? One suspects an inmate hostility to government programs of any kind, especially successful ones like Social Security, combined with the desire to take the seniors’ money and run — to the next tax break for the wealthy.

Poor things. They try so hard.

Seriously: Who, outside of stoned sophomores in a college dorm room, would question the “reality” of the trust fund? What does that question even mean? Is a parent’s trust fund for their child “real”? What about a corporate pension trust?

For that matter, are corporations real? Hey, is money real? I mean, it’s just a symbol, man. Right?

Trust Funds Are People, My Friend. They’re People.

Fortunately there are answers to those questions. All the things we just mentioned — trust funds, pensions, corporations, currencies — are legal constructs. The economy functions on such devices. And, as it turns out, the legal construct of a trust is even older than that of a corporation.

A trust is a legal entity with divided legal and beneficial ownership – that is, with trustees and beneficiaries. Like other trusts, Social Security’s two trust funds (not one, as McArdle writes) are controlled by trustees with fiduciary responsibilities. American working people and their families — future and potential recipients of retirement or disability benefits — are the beneficial owners, and Social Security’s trustees are legally obligated to act in their — our — best interests.

In fact, the trustees were sued in 1985 for violating their fiduciary responsibilities, after Treasury Secretary James Baker failed to make interest payments to Social Security on time. The case was brought on by none other than Eliot Richardson, the hero of Watergate who had been fired as Attorney General by Richard Nixon. (Baker paid up before the case could be decided.)

Disorder in the Court

McArdle also cites a Supreme Court case called Flemming v. Nestor, dredging up an oft-repeated right-wing interpretation of that case which argues that seniors have no inherent right to Social Security benefits. That’s another misreading of the facts. The plaintiff in that case, Ephraim Nestor, was an alien who’d been deported — and who had lost his Social Security benefits — for belonging to the Communist Party. The court allowed that on the grounds that Social Security was not a contractual relationship between the government and an individual.

Many legal experts believe that this Cold-War era decision was primarily driven by the anti-Communist fervor of the times. Today it might be decided very differently. In any case, the Court only addressed the issue of an individual contract. The Court did not say that seniors as a group have no right to Social Security benefits.

Here’s some language from the Court’s ruling which conservatives always leave out, which comes after they held against Nestor’s specific claim: “This is not to say … that Congress may exercise its power to modify the statutory scheme free of all constitutional restraint.

A Political and Moral Bond

The intent behind Social Security’s financial structure was, in fact, to create a binding obligation. Roosevelt said as much at the time, telling an advisor:

We put those payroll contributions there so as to give the contributors a legal, moral, and political right to collect their pensions and their unemployment benefits. With those taxes in there, no damn politician can ever scrap my social security program.

The Flemming v. Nestor decision did nothing to reduce that those “legal, moral, and political rights.” But that’s not the only straw grasped by McArdle. Early in her commentary she says this:

If you want to spend a hilarious and illuminating 15 minutes, try to convince a financial analyst that the Social Security trust fund exists and is important. This is what they will tell you: “It’s a consolidated entity. The treasury bonds in the trust fund are an asset of one part of the government and a liability of the other part. Net effect on the balance sheet: zero.”

McArdle and I clearly have very different conceptions of what’s “hilarious.” That aside, here’s a tip for McArdle’s unnamed “financial analyst”: If the Treasury Secretary can be sued over something, it exists.

McArdle also dismisses the “reality” of the trust funds because Congress has the power to change the law and keep the money. But Congress could effectively revoke all those Treasury bonds held by Goldman Sachs, too, simply by taxing the proceeds at 100 percent.

Try telling a conservative that Lloyd Blankfein’s bonds aren’t real.

Cut? What cut?

As for Ponnuru, he challenged a statement from Social Security Works1 which said that “If Senator Marco Rubio had his way, Social Security’s very modest benefits, averaging just $1,330 a month for retired workers, would be cut.”

“That’s not true,” insists Ponnuru.

Is he right? Rubio talked about two things: raising the Social Security retirement age and lowering the formula for cost-of-living adjustments. The former would reduce the total amount received during a person’s lifetime. The latter would reduce the amount beneficiaries receive in inflation-adjusted dollars, which is how such things are always measured.

When someone is scheduled to receive X dollars and someone suggests giving them less than X instead, that’s a cut. That wouldn’t be open to debate in an honest discussion. But that’s not what we’re having here.

An Honest Conservative

To be sure, not all conservatives are dishonest. I had a refreshing on-air conversation about Social Security’s trust funds with a conservative radio host out of St. Louis once. “Aren’t they just IOUs?” he said, echoing the stock right-wing line.

“Don’t you pay your IOUs?” I asked him. There was a long pause.

“You know,” he said, “that’s a pretty good question. I never thought about it that way.”

“Do you want to live in a country that doesn’t pay its IOUs?”

“No,” he said, “I don’t.” He promised to reconsider his views on Social Security — and I believed him.

That’s the kind of conservative I respect. He and I may disagree on any number of economic and foreign policy issues, but at the deepest level I suspect he wants what I want: a country which is as good as its bond — in both meanings of that word.

Wrong by a Landon-Slide

As for McArdle and Ponnuru and their ilk, none of their misguided arguments are new. In fact, Alf Landon deployed many of the same arguments in 1936 when he ran against Franklin D. Roosevelt. (His campaign slogan was “Let’s make it a Landon-slide,” and he did – for Roosevelt.) Here’s a campaign news item from Time magazine, published on November 9, 1936:

“Said Republicans … when you are very old, you will have an I.O.U. which the U.S. Government will make good if it is still solvent.”

Nearly eighty years have passed, and this threat of default has remained untrue for generation after generation.

These fear-mongering arguments were also dismissed by a 1950′s-era Advisory Council on Social Security, convened by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Its report, “Misunderstandings of Social Security Financing,” should be required reading for every pundit and politician currently gunning for Social Security. If you find a hard-copy version, feel free to lend it to a right-winger like McArdle or Ponnuru.

Just don’t expect to get it back.


1In the spirit of full disclosure: Social Security Works sponsors my radio program, The Zero Hour.

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BuzzFeed Deleted 3 Posts Under Pressure From Its Business Department

April 18, 2015 by  
Filed under Videos

Earlier this week, BuzzFeed launched an internal review of any posts that its editors or writers had deleted from the site since editor-in-chief Ben Smith was hired in January 2012. In an interview on Friday, and a memo sent to staff on Saturday, Smith revealed that the review has already uncovered three instances where complaints from the site’s business and advertising departments led Smith to delete posts.

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Texas Veterinarian Kristen Lindsey Brags About Killing Local Cat With Bow And Arrow (GRAPHIC PHOTO)

April 18, 2015 by  
Filed under Videos

A Texas veterinarian was fired after a Facebook photo showing her with her “first bow kill” — a local cat — went viral.

Dr. Kristen Lindsey bragged online that she killed a “feral” cat in her neighborhood in Brenham. She posted a photo on Wednesday, which shows her holding up the dead cat by an arrow protruding from its head, according to KBTX.

The caption reads:

“My first bow kill, lol. The only good feral tomcat is one with an arrow through it’s head! Vet of the year award … Gladly accepted.”

Warning: The graphic photo Lindsey posted is below.

kristen lindsey

Lindsey apparently didn’t know that the “feral tomcat” she bagged was actually Tiger, a 6-year-old orange Tabby who went missing earlier on Wednesday. A Facebook page titled “Justice For Tiger” was quickly set up and called for Lindsey to be charged with a crime. The page has photos of Tiger as well as a video that the kitty’s owner posted to YouTube in November:

Lindsey also wasn’t aware that she’d be fired on Friday. After the photo went viral, she reportedly posted to Facebook, “No I did not lose my job. Lol. Psshh. Like someone would get rid of me. I’m awesome!”

Though she was eventually canned, it wasn’t immediately clear whether she’d face criminal charges. Austin County Sheriff Jack Brandes told KBTX that he’d forward the case to the district attorney for review.

Tiger’s supporters have been lambasting the scorned vet since the news broke. That said, Lindsey does have supporters of her own. Some of her clients visited her clinic to leave flowers, saying she was good at her job.

The Texas Veterinary Medical Associated issued a press release condemning the post:

We are saddened and disturbed by the unfortunate actions of this individual, and we remind Texas residents that this conduct is not reflective of the veterinary profession or of the veterinarians who strive to embody the words of the veterinarian’s oath every day.

Upon learning of the troubling misconduct, the Brenham clinic where the veterinarian was practicing immediately condemned her actions and terminated her employment.

Lindsey later removed the post and took down her Facebook page.

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Google To Favor ‘Mobile-Friendly’ Sites In Search

April 17, 2015 by  
Filed under Videos

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google is about to change the way its influential search engine recommends websites on smartphones and tablets in a shift that’s expected to sway where millions of people shop, eat and find information.

The revised formula, scheduled to be released Tuesday, will favor websites that Google defines as “mobile-friendly.” Websites that don’t fit the description will be demoted in Google’s search results on smartphones and tablets while those meeting the criteria will be more likely to appear at the top of the rankings — a prized position that can translate into more visitors and money. Although Google’s new formula won’t affect searches on desktop and laptop computers, it will have a huge influence on how and where people spend their money, given that more people are relying on their smartphones to compare products in stores and look for restaurants. That’s why Google’s new rating system is being billed by some search experts as “Mobile-geddon.”

“Some sites are going to be in for a big surprise when they find a drastic change in the amount of people visiting them from mobile devices,” said Itai Sadan, CEO of website-building service Duda.

It’s probably the most significant change that Google Inc. has ever made to its mobile search rankings, according to Matt McGee, editor-in-chief for Search Engine Land, a trade publication that follows every tweak that the company makes to its closely guarded algorithms.

Here are a few things to know about what’s happening and why Google is doing it.



To stay in Google’s good graces, websites must be designed so they load quickly on mobile devices. Content must also be easily accessible by scrolling up and down — without having to also swipe to the left or right. It also helps if all buttons for making purchases or taking other actions on the website can be easily seen and touched on smaller screens.

If a website has been designed only with PC users in mind, the graphics take longer to load on mobile devices and the columns of text don’t all fit on the smaller screens, to the aggravation of someone trying to read it.

Google has been urging websites to cater to mobile device for years, mainly because that is where people are increasingly searching for information.

The number of mobile searches in the U.S. is rising by about 5 percent while inquiries on PCs are dipping slightly, according to research firm comScore Inc. In the final three months of last year, 29 percent of all U.S. search requests — about 18.5 billion — were made on mobile devices, comScore estimated. Google processes the bulk of searches — two-thirds in the U.S. and even more in many other countries.



To minimize complaints, the company disclosed its plans nearly two months ago. It also created a step-by-step guide (http://bit.ly/1GyC0Id ) and a tool to test compliance with the new standards (http://bit.ly/1EVi9R3 ).

Google has faced uproar over past changes to its search formula. Two of the bigger revisions, done in 2011 and 2012, focused on an attempt to weed out misleading websites and other digital rubbish. Although that goal sounds reasonable, many websites still complained that Google’s changes unfairly demoted them in the rankings, making their content more difficult to find.



While most major merchants and big companies already have websites likely to meet Google’s mobile standard, the new formula threatens to hurt millions of small businesses that haven’t had the money or incentive to adapt their sites for smartphones.

“A lot of small sites haven’t really had a reason to be mobile friendly until now, and it’s not going to be easy for them to make the changes,” McGee said.



Google’s search formula weighs a variety of factors to determine the rankings of its results. One of the most important considerations has always been whether a site contains the most pertinent information sought by a search request.

But new pecking order in Google’s mobile search may relegate some sites to the back pages of the search results, even if their content is more relevant to a search request than other sites that happen to be easier to access on smartphones.

That will be an unfortunate consequence, but also justifiable because a person might not even bother to look at sites that take a long time to open or difficult to read on mobile devices, Gartner analyst Whit Andrews said.

“Availability is part of relevancy,” Andrews said. “A lot of people aren’t going to think something is relevant if they can’t get it to appear on their iPhone.”

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Time’s Most Influential Celebrities Of 2015 Include Kanye West, Kim Kardashian And Laverne Cox

April 16, 2015 by  
Filed under Videos

Time magazine released its 12th annual list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World on Thursday, an expansive round-up that includes Kanye West, Emma Watson, Taylor Swift and Laverne Cox, who finally made the list after last year’s snub. West is also featured on one of the five Time 100 covers and in a video where he talks about breaking the Internet.

Here’s the full list of all the celebs named 2015′s top influencers:

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Sixty Years in Journalism: Advice to the Class of 2015 — and 2019

April 15, 2015 by  
Filed under Videos

The news business seems to have gone back to the future.

In the early days of the American Republic, news media, meaning newspapers and pamphlets, proliferated. They were highly partisan, often nasty, and not necessarily wedded to the truth.

After enjoying an era when respected newspapers and news networks, well written by knowledgeable reporting and editing professionals had audiences and readerships that gave them ample resources for success, many Americans have come to prefer radio and cable commentaries and internet screeds that are highly partisan, often nasty, and not necessarily wedded to the truth.

I had a career that would be hard for a graduate of the class of 2015 to replicate, even if he or she wanted to. I roamed the halls of Capitol Hill, where there are now half as many reporters than there were when news media were flush with profits and regional newspapers and station groups had Washington correspondents. I was a network bureau chief in Tokyo and Moscow, with competitors down the street from the two other national networks. Today they mostly cover foreign news by flying in staff from London or narrating video from the networks of other nations.

One of my current colleagues started his career at an Ohio newspaper, where old hands advised him to get out of the news business while he was young enough to change his life for the better. He persevered and beat the odds. He is now a political reporter in Washington.

You, too, 2015 journalism graduate, might beat the odds. Good luck.

I’m assuming you have the skills of the digital age, which ought to include interviewing, asking knowledgeable followup questions and writing grammatically, stylishly and accurately. The salable skills now equally in demand seem to include a vocabulary of catch phrases that draw clicks, shooting video in six-second clips, and being steeped in pop culture, to appeal to a universe where each web-surfer is his/her own editor.

Fortunately, the new digital news media, as they make money or attract venture capital, are adding experienced editors and hiring journalists with admirable track records. I said recently to the expert hired by a major media company to expand its internet reach that executives I had worked for in broadcasting over the years made many panicky decisions to hold on to the vanishing audience. He reminded me that the audience is not vanishing, it’s bigger than ever, as is the wide choice of media. So the challenge has become getting web surfers to click on the serious coverage that is assuredly on offer.

And if it weren’t for the inspired creation of the Huffington Post, you might have to be reading these musings in the annual letter that goes with my Christmas cards.

Then there’s the matter of money. For increasing numbers of young journalists, it’s a free-lane world–minimal payment by the piece uploaded, no insurance, no retirement plan. Radio and TV stations hire journalism/communications grads for a fraction of what consutancies offer newly-minted MBAs, according to the Radio Television Digital News Association’s annual survey.

I haven’t in recent years attended the annual Radio and Television Congressional Correspondents’ Dinner, mainly because most of the journalists I knew have had to leave the business. But I did go this year. The program listed the association’s chairs since it started in 1939. There were network correspondents I grew up listening to: Fulton Lewis Jr., Eric Sevareid, Elmer Davis, Martin Agronsky, David Brinkley, Roger Mudd. There were bureau chiefs from the major networks.

In the past few years, the chairs have been staff producers. It is they who do much of the day-to-day coverage for their news organizations, which a thinner coterie of correspondents puts on the air. In my time, the correspondent was also the field producer. And the now-obsolete skills I perfected included knowing when to signal the film cameraman to roll, because a particular Senator might throw a probing question, while the next one was a dullard. A 1000-foot roll of film ran 33 minutes, and took 33 minutes to develop. If I could cram all the highlights into 33 minutes of film without missing anything that made headlines, I was a hero.

Today, digital video records everything, playing back highlights at the touch of a button. The technology, like so much else that’s come out of the world’s Silicon Valleys, is a boon to us all. However, all the executive producer or correspondent needs now is someone taking notes with a timer at hand, not much editorial experience required. And not much salary.

So to the class of 2019, if you’re thinking about journalism: Are you a news junkie? Can you identify Greece or Iraq or Japan on the map? Did you learn in high school the steps it takes to get a bill introduced and passed in Congress? Were you on the school paper? Can you name the Chief Justice of the United States? Or in the digital era, are those the wrong questions?

In any event, are you able to sustain unpaid internships? And can you think in terms of a fallback position, an alternative career, if the news business is unkind to you? Don’t misunderstand: we need good people reporting the news. I believe the motto that used to grace the cover of Newsweek Magazine is still valid: “A well-informed public is America’s greatest security.”

Whatever became of Newsweek magazine?

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Shonda Rhimes, Ava DuVernay And Other Badass Women Grace The Cover Of Essence’s May Issue

April 14, 2015 by  
Filed under Videos


Essence magazine is marking a big milestone in May — and to honor the event, they’ve dedicated the cover of their upcoming issue to five well-deserving badass women.

The publication aimed at uplifting the voices of African-American women will soon hit their 45th anniversary and in celebrating their legacy, the magazine is featuring five female trailblazers who carry on their same mission.

Shonda Rhimes, Mara Brock Akil, Issa Rae, Debbie Allen and Ava DuVernay grace the cover of the upcoming May issue, which pays tribute to these iconic women and their contributions to television, film and the web.

Each of these women has created powerful narratives that have helped to boost the representation of black women in media — and because of this, Essence is rightfully recognizing, and validating, their amazing work.

The May issue of Essence is expected to hit newsstands on Friday, April 17.

essence magazine

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Listen To The First Episode Of ‘Undisclosed,’ The New Adnan Syed Podcast

April 13, 2015 by  
Filed under Videos

Serial” fans still itching for more investigation into Adnan Syed’s case are in luck. The first episode of the new podcast “Undisclosed: The State v. Adnan Syed,” which delves deeper into Syed’s case from “an investigatory perspective instead of a narrative one”, is now available to stream.

The podcast, which has no affiliation with Sarah Koenig or “Serial,” comes from a group of attorneys behind the defense for Syed, including Rabia Chaudry, who initially brought the case to Koenig’s attention, as well as Susan Simpson and Colin Miller. The Adnan Syed Legal Trust, which funded the podcast, has raised nearly $94,000.

“We want our listeners to know that this podcast will not give you purely pro-Adnan information or intentionally slant it in his favor,” reads the official website for “Undisclosed.” “We will present a smart, nuanced legal argument based on the totality of the facts in the case. As attorneys, we pride ourselves on looking dispassionately at facts, analyzing those facts, and applying the appropriate law in our analysis.”

Syed, 33, became famous last year when “Serial” investigated the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, for which Syed received a life sentence at age 17. The first episode of “Undisclosed,” a bi-weekly podcast, is now available online.

listen to ‘Episode 1 – Adnan’s Day’ on audioBoom

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MTV Movie Awards 2015 Winners List: ‘The Fault In Our Stars’ & Shailene Woodley Take Home Top Honors

April 12, 2015 by  
Filed under Videos

What could we need more than yet another award show? How about an award show featuring nominated performances and moments from movies that have a 23 percent (“The Other Woman”), 29 percent (“Annabelle”) and 35 percent (“Horrible Bosses 2″) rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

But this is the 2015 MTV Movie Awards, which is not to be confused with those other award shows where the average voter is a 63-year-old white man. Nope, these are cool, hip and so very edgy awards. Just ask MTV.

Comedian Amy Schumer hosted the 24th annual celebration of box office hits and YA adaptations, and anticipated that people would be “mad” when it’s all said and done — so we knew things were off to a great start.

While prestige award-winners “Boyhood” and “Birdman” were thrown a bone with a couple nominations, “The Fault In Our Stars” won Movie of the Year, and Shailene Woodley won Best Female Performance and MTV’s Trailblazer Award.

Below, a full list of MTV Movie Awards winners for 2015:

Movie of the Year: “The Fault In Our Stars”

Best Female Performance: Shailene Woodley, “The Fault In Our Stars”

Best Scared-As-Sh*t Performance: Jennifer Lopez, “The Boy Next Door”

Best Comedic Performance: Channing Tatum, “22 Jump Street”

Best Duo: Zac Efron & Dave Franco, “Neighbors”

Best Kiss: Ansel Elgort & Shailene Woodley, “The Fault In Our Stars”

Best Male Performance: Bradley Cooper, “American Sniper”

Breakthrough Performance: Dylan O’Brien, “The Maze Runner”

Best Shirtless Performance: Zac Efron, “Neighbors”

Best Fight: Dylan O’Brien vs. Will Poulter, “The Maze Runner”

Best WTF Moment: Seth Rogen & Rose Byrne, “Neighbors”

Best Villain: Meryl Streep, “Into the Woods”

Best Musical Moment: Jennifer Lawrence, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1?

Best On-Screen Transformation: Elizabeth Banks, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1?

Trailblazer Award: Shailene Woodley

Generation Award: Robert Downey Jr.

Comedic Genius Award: Kevin Hart

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