Website review: HelloGiggles.com provides entertainment for women

Capture

A screen shot taken of HelloGiggles.com. Captured on Nov. 30, 2012.

Independent females looking for beauty and fashion tips, the freshest treats, entertainment news and a good giggle will love the website HelloGiggles.com.

The newest articles are displayed on the main page of HelloGiggles.com. Visitors to the site also have the option to have the “most loved” articles displayed on this page instead.

At the top of the page, the content is divided into 13 different groups: entertainment, treats, beauty, fresh giggles, cuteness, home, social studies, rants, raves, how to’s, moms, he haw and the daily’s. The entertainment, treats, beauty, social studies, rants, raves, how to’s and the daily’s groups are self explanatory, but the fresh giggles, cuteness, moms and he haw categories are more specific. The fresh giggles category includes stories that are newer to the site.  The cuteness group pulls together all things “cute.” Pictures and stories about cute animals, babies, recipes and finger nail art are all included in the cuteness group. The moms tab consists of stories and advice columns about moms. The he haw category is more or less a random compilation of stories that don’t fit anywhere else.Stories in all categories were initially posted into the main page and then categorized into the proper group.

Under each category, readers can choose to see the newest or most loved stories. Readers can also access other media through categories titled new, videos, articles, shop, authors, write us, contribute, BFFs, forum and Youtube.

HelloGiggles.com is not a breaking news site. The contributors write feature stories and advice pieces. This site is designated for entertainment purposes only. It aims to get readers in a good mood and engaged in a topic of their interest.

The producers issued a mission statement stating that HelloGiggles.com is “the ultimate entertainment destination for smart, independent and creative females. Everything hosted on the site will be lady-friendly, so visitors need not worry about finding the standard Boys Club content that makes many entertainment sites unappealing to so many of us.”

If for some reason the site did include breaking news, it would be found on the main page and under the fresh giggles category.

The mobile site looks exactly like the site displayed on a laptop. Readers have access to the same tabs, categories and social media connections. The only downfall to the mobile site is the fact that each story on the main page appears very small and jammed together. You can hardly read the headlines. Other than that, the mobile site is just as enjoyable.

HelloGiggles.com allows readers to follow the site on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and StumbleUpon. Frequent visitors can also subscribe to the site’s RSS feed. Under the authors category, readers can find bios for each contributor, producer and co-founder. Almost everyone has links to personal social media accounts.

The co-founders, Zooey Deschanel, Sophia Rossi and Molly McAleer, list their personal social media accounts. Deschanel, Rossi and McAleer also include and promote several links listed under their names that direct readers to other things they are involved in. For instance, Zooey Deschanel has a link to the official website for “She & Him,” the indie folk band she is in.

There are a total of 2,976 members of Hellogiggles.com. To become a member, a reader must simply plug in a username and password. Fans of the site refer to themselves as “gigglers.” The site’s 713 separate topics can be categorized as head term and long tail topics. Head term topics include celebrity gossip and recipes, the long tail topics range from advice columns to satirical memoirs.

 Means of revenue aren’t really required for this site. The producers, Deschanel, Rossi and McAleer, all have separate occupations aside from the website. Hellogiggles.com serves as a side project for all three. Deschanel is a musician and actress, on the show “New Girl,” Rossi is a producer and McAleer writes on her own blog titled “MollsSheWrote!” All contributors to the site do so by volunteer and do not receive imbursements.

The site does not block content behind a paywall.

There is no corresponding media outlet for this site. However, they do have a Facebook page, Twitter, Tumblr and StumbleUpon account to generate readers. The three co-founders will also frequently advertise the site on their own social media accounts.

The homepage of HelloGiggles.com shows all the latest news. This can be a video, or articles that are newly popular that the site’s team thinks will be good hits for users. Every article has a corresponding picture that helps promote the article. Sometimes the article will have more than one picture and it will show on the top right corner that there is a slideshow when you click the article.

There is also a videos section to the website that will have tutorials, cartoons, videos, interviews and a lot more. What’s interesting about this site is that they have YouTube section on their site because they have a YouTube account that they post videos on. So not only can you go to HelloGiggles.com to find their newest video, but you can go on YouTube as well. However, if someone only uses to YouTube and not the actual site, they will not get all the information and new trending articles that the site has.

There haven’t been a lot of reviews of the site, seeing as it is only a year old,  but everything said so far is all positive. Meghan Casserl from Forbes.com said the site is “something like a squeaky-clean HuffPo for ‘smart, independent and creative females’”. Annemarie Dooling of Huffingtonpost.com said she loved how colorful the site is because it gives it that something extra that people (mostly females) want in a news site.

HelloGiggles.com has its own contribute part of the site where users can upload their pictures, videos and texts. Before their work can be published,  authors must agree to the site’s terms and email the staff. The staff has to approve of the upload before actually making it live on the site.

If a user does not want to post something to the website but would instead like to talk about something, there’s a forum page. This is for users of the site to discuss different topics, articles, suggestions for the site and pretty much anything. Within each theme there are different topics discussed. The site does not really have hyperlocal content. It’s more content that can be geared towards anyone anywhere. This way, users can get the more out of the site and have fun.

HelloGiggles.com does have a disclaimer at the bottom of their homepage that, when clicked on, tells users the content is “opinion-based information.” They claim to fact-check it the best they can but there could be errors within the text.

Users are allowed to share, like or re-tweet content on the site. They can also post general comments.. When a user clicks to comment on something, there is another disclaimer that states the producers have the right to remove any comment if it does not meet their guidelines. They state they would like to keep it a positive place and to refrain from posting spam, advertisements and links to other blogs. If the site posts something from another site, they also put the original URL for people to go to for more information.

The site is only a year old and is already doing great. They are attached to several social media sites and have a good amount of members. A person does not have to be a member to use the site either so there is a lot of traffic on the site. To generate income, the site has put up banner ads, which can be annoying at times.

My only criticism is the fact that sometimes the ad gets in the way of the site covering up recently posted news and most loved. Overall, I love HelloGiggles.com.

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Anderson Cooper responds to critical tweets while covering the Israel-Palestine conflict

CNN reporter Anderson Cooper recently lashed back at critics on Twitter.
Picture taken from NYDailyNews.com and captured on Nov. 27, 2012.

The centuries old conflict between Israel and Palestine has reared its ugly head in the main stream media again.

The conflict began in the late 1800s when a group from Europe, known as the “Zionists,” decided to colonize a section of Palestinian land. This group represented a small minority of the Jewish population, approximately 4 percent, in a country where 86 percent of people were Muslim and 10 percent were Christian.

Through the years, the Zionists have formed a small army, with help from Israel, and have taken over almost 80 percent of Palestine.

The current problem stems from issues that are  hundreds of years old. Israelis and Palestinians are fighting for the same land. The current crisis has led to terrorist attacks, limited food and water supplies, beatings and murders.

This crisis fits the mold for the “motives of the user” because it satisfies the “uses and gratification approach.” Such an approach suggests readers consume the media to fulfill a particular purpose. With this story, a reader may feel more educated about worldly happenings, and in turn, enhance “the water cooler effect” and talk about it to peers and colleagues.

With the explosion of journalism on the internet, it isn’t surprising that the story has been closely followed by social media sites. When a journalist goes on assignment, they will often post live updates via Twitter and Facebook. This rapid-fire news delivery establishes a personal relationship between the writer and reader.

Anderson Cooper, a well-known CNN reporter, has been covering the current uprising of the Israel-Palestine conflict. While reporting in Gaza, Cooper posted several tweets describing action as it happened.

For example, he tweeted, “Outgoing rockets from #Gaza City moments ago,” with an attached picture of the rockets emerging into the sky.

Journalists who cover such stories can only expect to receive criticism when it comes to their reporting or delivery styles.

Recently, Cooper got himself into a bit of trouble when he fired back at Twitter followers who made such criticisms.

A woman, @Pamela_Weiss, asked Cooper to “Report a fair story. Report facts. Why not talk about the rockets being fired FROM Gaza?!?” To this, Cooper replied, “ummmm…. I just did that and have been doing that repeatedly on twitter and on tv. Do you actually think before you tweet?” and “@Pamela_Weiss perhaps spend less time tweeting about coconut flan and more time actually following the news.”

In a separate instance, @Rabbi_Sykes tweeted, “May just stop watching #CNN. Now @andersoncooper almost apologized for #Hamas dragging a dead ‘Spy’ for #Israel & yelling God is great! Oy!” Cooper again responded inappropriately and said, “@Rabbi_Sykes excuse me, but how am I apologizing for Hamas by reporting them dragging a body through the streets? That is deeply offensive.”

Then a third time, a critic named @RetireLeo attacked Cooper’s sexual orientation and posted, “Didn’t Cooper admit he was gay, if so let’s let the Paelstians know and see what happens.” Cooper retaliated, “wow, tough words from an anon Internet troll. why not use your name and photo, coward? Have some more fritos and keep typing.”

After the whole ordeal, Cooper tried to justify his crusades and said, “Last night I was up for many hours so I think I maybe got a little mean.”

Although Cooper’s defensive remark after being slammed for his sexual orientation is understandable, the other two were just plain unprofessional. When a journalist finds him or herself under the light of fame, criticism has to be expected. There is no possible way for everyone to like your writing.

It is arguably unprofessional to even respond to critiques on Twitter or other social media sites. A journalist has a job to inform the general public about news stories, and the emergence of social media has made this job faster and easier. This new technology does not erase a journalists duty to remain professional.

How The New York Times’ Facebook is staying current in age of social media

The New York Times facebook page has over 2,514,411 fans and 51,372 people who are talking about it.

The page is arranged in a timeline format ranging from the 1800s to the present. The first post was changed to the date of Sept. 18, 1851, when The New York Times, called The New-York Daily Times at the time, was founded.

The first post says, “‘We publish today the first issue of the New-York Daily Times, and we intend to issue it every morning (Sundays excepted) for an indefinite number of years to come,’ wrote The Times’s founders, Henry Jarvis Raymond, speaker of the New York State Assembly, and George Jones, an Albany banker, in the inaugural edition. It cost one cent per copy.”

The next few posts discuss the paper’s name change from The New-York Daily Times to The New-York Times in 1857, the first edition of the Sunday edition in 1861 and Lincoln’s assassination in 1865.

Posts from there on range from 1896 to 2012. More current posts link to articles about breaking news stories, feature stories and advice columns. An average of three to four posts are added every day.

A recent link with over 550 likes and 269 comments is an opinion piece titled “How to Live without Irony” by Christy Wampole. Wampole suggests adults should ask themselves, “Do I communicate primarily through inside jokes and pop culture references? What percentage of my speech is meaningful?”

Many of the 269 comments are actually negative and critical. Neither the writer or anyone else from The New York Times responded or defended the criticism.The company boasts the caption, “Welcome to The New York Times on Facebook- a hub for conversation about news and our page. Like our page and connect with Times journalists and readers,” but this is kind of a lie.  The reader never really gets to engage with the journalists if they don’t respond to comments made on posts.

Arguably, the lack of response doesn’t mean the company doesn’t know what people are saying, however. It is assumed writers post questions like this to engage with readers and spark their attention. No attention is bad attention, right?

The Facebook page also includes several photos and videos that have accompanied major news stories. Sadly, none of the pictures or videos have drawn extensive attention from fans of the page.

It is hard to know if the Times’ Facebook page does encourage revenue for the news company, but it certainly can’t hurt business-especially when it’s trying to get readers to pay for access inside a 10-story pay wall.

Paywalls and journalists, sinking or swimming?

Image taken from runawaytrader.com

The future of traditional news outlets has been a topic of controversy for several years. Until recently, news companies, especially newspapers, have watched the internet suck up content for free.

However, these companies are now fighting back by introducing paywalls, which require readers to pay for articles and stories.

The Times of London was one of the first publications to block content behind a paywall in July 2010. The entirety of the site is restricted for readers who pay to see it. This is known as a “hard” paywall.

Since 2010, American publications have followed suit with The Times of London, but many sites do not completely block off readers.

The New York Times for instance, allows readers to view 10 stories before the paywall will go into effect. This is known as a “threshold” paywall.

Writer Clay Shirky discusses the benefits and downfalls of a paywall in his piece titled “Newspapers, paywalls, and core users.” He argues that 2012 may be the year newspapers drop the idea of treating all news as a product and all readers as customers.

Paywalls have introduced a feud between the newspaper and the reader that no one could have ever predicted. Writers are struggling to keep food on their tables, while readers insist they shouldn’t have to pay for something that has been free in the past.

An activist group, called Anonymous, has openly expressed anger over paywalls, specifically the one put onto WikiLeaks. The group, that had once coincided with WikiLeaks, has claimed  paywalls are unethical.

Anonymous released the statement:

“Regardless of any workarounds, the fact remains that a meretricious page is placed for the majority of visitors that cannot be closed. The obvious intention is to force donations in exchange for access. This is a filthy and rotten, wholly un-ethical action – and Anonymous is enraged.”

Shirky more or less agrees with Anonymous and argues only a select group of devote readers will pay for content. He said those who pay for access on a news site see the source as a vital part of society. These people are willing to read anything produced by the site’s writers.

Due to the fact that these committed readers make up such a small percentage of general population, many news sites have seen severe dips in readership rates.

Going back to the Times of London, it experienced a reported loss of 4 million readers after the paywall was implemented. That’s a conversion of only 14 percent of readers who were made into subscribers.

Paywalls have also taken a hit with advertisers. Advertisers want their content to be seen, and a paywall significantly cuts out the number of eye balls affected by an ad.

It has been argued that the combination of paywalls and advertisements simply doesn’t work. Ads need to be conveniently placed in front of consumers, not blocked behind stone walls where only a small number of subscribers can access it.

Mike Masnick, of techdirt.com, stated that putting on a paywall is “suicide” for a news site. He said the only reason the New York Times has gotten away with it is because it is one of the biggest newspapers in the country. It is also extremely “leaky,” he added.

When the Times first introduced the paywall, it allowed readers access to 2o stories a month before they were required to pay. To the average reader, this is a large number of articles that will rarely be exceeded.

If they do happen to overstep the threshold of allotted stories, readers can access an unlimited amount of stories via search engines or social network sites. So the question remains, why would someone pay for something they can easily get for free?

However, as with everything, there are positives incorporated with paywalls.

The New York Times Media Group has reported approximately 454,000 paid subscribers to its digital products. These dedicated readers are providing funds for writers and editors that were never there before the paywall’s appearance.

There are many speculations that the Time‘s revenue will only keep growing. Fredric Filloux, of the guardian, even said traders who sold their NYT stocks after the paywall were mistaken in doing so.

There are even optimistic points of view when it comes to advertising. By requiring readers to register to pay, the news site will have access to information about the reader, which positions it to target the individual subscriber more effectively.

Paywalls, whether hard or threshold, and the news outlets that implement them, still have many unanswered questions to account for. No one can predict the future of the news media, but it can be said something needs to be done if journalists’ incomes hope to stay afloat in a sea of free news content.

Romney becomes next in line for political Google bombings

A screenshot taken from FoxNews.com of an article that describes Romney’s Google bomb scandal

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has found himself in a “Google bomb”  scandal.

A Google bomb is a manipulation of the search engine’s algorithm to make a word or person link to unexpected websites.

This trick was first made possible in 2001 by Weblogger Adam Mathes, who linked the phrase ‘talentless hack’ to a friend’s site.

Historic Google bombings involved politicians Rick Santorum and George W. Bush.

In the case of Santorum, a sex columnist named Dan Savage decided to protest anti-gay comments the former senator made. In part of the “anti-Santorum” drive, Savage  created an alternative meaning to his last name, which involves having anal sex.

Santorum responded by contacting Google in order to erase the new definition of his name. This action only made the issue bigger in the media.

Former president George W. Bush has faced similar issues with Google’s search engine.

Members of the online community chose to link websites involving Bush to the words, “miserable failure.”

Now, during the 2012 presidential election, Mitt Romney is facing issues with Google bombing, or is he?

When typing “completely wrong” into a Google images search, countless images of Romney will appear. Google, however, has refused this is the product of a bomb. The company instead has issued a statement saying this search is a natural effect of the algorithm.

After a secret video of Romney talking about the “47 percent” of Obama supporters who don’t want to pay income tax was revealed on Mother Jones.com, he was interviewed by Sean Hannity, Fox News host.

“Clearly in a campaign, with hundreds if not thousands of speeches and question-and-answer sessions, now and then you’re going to say something that doesn’t come out right,” Romney said. “In this case, I said something that’s just completely wrong.”

This statement was quoted by several news outlets, and this is what Google is attributing the search result to.

In hindsight, Romney, instead of the general online community, may have Google bombed himself.