Natali's Most Recent Work
Social Network with Natali
Follow Natali On Twitter
Speaking Requests

Still Figuring It Out

My Webcast on Friday was a little rough. I am mostly happy with how it is shaping up but it was stressful, mostly due to technical difficulties.

First, the broadcast was delayed because of my need to upgrade my hardware. I used a MacBook during the first pilot a month ago. On Friday I decided to use a 13" MacBook Pro but the hardware is slightly different. The VGA adapter is not the same. Since the newsroom only had the Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter, we had to think outside the box. We took a camera and literally filmed the laptop instead of pulling a video feed directly from it. That was embarrassing. And my bad.

Then our Ustream chat went down.

Then I conducted half of an interview with music writer Rashaun Hall when we were not broadcasting. Again, my bad.

We will get this eventually! If you showed up and participated, thank you! I don't mind letting viewers watch this project in its awkward phase. I am happy to crowdsource the idea, even if it means you see me in several deer-in-headlights moments. You've seen it before. Meanwhile, keep your feedback coming. Even if I haven't responded to you personally, I am digesting everything you have to say.

We are planning another pilot on Tuesday, June 30 at 5:30 p.m. Eastern. I hope you can watch, participate, and provide feedback. And if it is rough again, so be it. I read a book today called "Ignore Everybody" that made me feel a little better about it all. Here is one of my favorite quotes:

Meeting a person who wrote a masterpiece on the back of a deli menu would not surprise me. Meeting a person who wrote a masterpiece with a silver Cartier fountain pen on an antique writing table in an airy SoHo loft would seriously surprise me.

I am lucky to be working with the proverbial Cartier fountain pen in the way of But this is Web and resources are tight and the broadcast is a brand new idea that I am still developing, which makes it more like my own proverbial deli menu. So in the immortal words of Michael Jackson from the Bad video, "That's the way it goes down."

What Are You Doing Tomorrow Night? 

I am still thinking macro. Still working on the newscast I mentioned in my last post. Still feeling slightly overwhelmed. But it is an optimistic overwhelmed and the optimism comes from you!

I received SO many emails, blog comments, Tweets, and Facebook messages about my last post. I am encouraged that the news delivery model is changing and that viewers/readers/listeners want to be a part of it. Your comments were insightful, well thought-out, and helpful. If I haven't thanked you personally, I really meant to. So thank you!

For the next few weeks, I am going to be testing a news pilot on We ran one a few weeks ago but I have been traveling like a crazy person lately so I have not been able to do many more. We are going to do it tomorrow and hopefully again a few times next week. Last time I asked viewers to join me on Google Video Chat. I will do the same tomorrow, Friday, June 26 at 5:30 p.m. EST. I will Twitter a link to the pilot and I hope you can join in.

The basic principle of the show will be as follows: I will read and discuss the day's news. The show will include reports and opinions from CBS News reporters and correspondents from all over the world. They will not only discuss their reporting, they will also interact live with viewers over Google Video Chat. We will also incorporate a live chat room, a live UStream feed, and Twitter conversations. Remember this is a test pilot. It will be choppy and rough. Think of it as pre-alpha.

The challenge is aggregating social media in a meaningful way. I want viewers' voices to be heard without boring other viewers. I want the topics to be relevant, without being redundant. I don't want to be limited by commercial breaks and other broadcast constraints that keep great reporting off the air because of the parameters of time. I want viewers to feel engaged, without feeling captured and here is why: People don't pick one news medium and give it their undivided attention anymore. We read an article, watch a bit of TV, click a video, read a Tweet, and all of that contributes to our general knowledge of the world. Meanwhile, we are emailing, text messaging, checking our Facebook pages, chatting over instant message, and perhaps even talking to someone in person. That is a-ok with me. I want to figure out how to be a meaningful part of all of that. Not a disruption. A suppliment. I don't want my viewer's undivided attention. I want a fraction of the attention that you already spread around the Web and I want YOU to decide how much you engage and when. I want you to watch, leave it running, and then go off and do all 543 things that you are doing simultaneously online, the way you are right now.

Of course this means that a broadcast at a pre-determined time will be a challenge. It would be better if you had a 24/7 live stream of this format of news but that is not possible due to resources. YET!

Stay with me on this! This is a fluid broadcast and you can help decide how it shapes up. Keep emailing/commenting/Twittering. I am listening. Even if I don't respond personally, I have read your comments and given them serious reflection. I think about this all the time. Obsessively so!

Thinking Macro

"Old media" and "new media" are such throw away buzz terms. What do they even mean? "Old media" seems to refer to video tape, talking heads, stuffy, stodgy, one-way news dissemination, while "new media" is Flip Cams, live streams, Twitter and social networks. But so what? Has the information evolved just because I can live stream myself blow drying my hair? Is social media a gimmick that gives the viewer the illusion of interaction with the news?

I've been thinking about this a lot lately as I take on new projects. I've heard several "old media" reporters mull this over and say things like "brand recognition" and "network loyalty" and "viewer interaction." Okay. So how do we evolve our broadcasts beyond simply reading Twitter? I think you'll agree with me that so much of that seems forced. For instance, the YouTube questions that CNN used during the presidential debates were questions they most certainly could have come up with themselves. And when a news network uses Twitter, they read responses that they most certainly could have received over email. How is this groundbreaking?

I have been writing a pilot for a new Webcast on We will be running tests of this broadcast for the next few weeks until we figure out a working format. I am struggling with these questions:

  1. How much does the viewer want to interact with their broadcast and how much do they fall victim to the spiral of silence?

  2. How much does the viewer have to say about the days' news?

  3. What does the viewer want from a broadcast that they are not getting?

  4. What are the things that make a Web-savvy news junkie dismiss a broadcast as "old media?"

  5. Does the viewer care about "new media" gimmicks in their news broadcast?

I want my new broadcast to be something you watch while you are sitting at home with your laptop in your lap at night, either answering emails, playing games, surfing Facebook, or sitting with your spouse while they watch some embarrassing reality show. I want you to watch it, absorb the days' news, engage with it, learn from it, and talk back to to it. Live, of course. I want you to hear and be heard. But I am so deathly afraid of the gimmick trap. I don't want to use YouTube videos just because it sounds cool. I'm not going to rely on Twitter just because it is the new black. But I do want to incorporate all of that. So I ask you, dear reader, what do you think? What do YOU want? I know you don't want a talking head just spitting the news out to you as he/she reads a TelePrompTer. I know you don't want to watch me read Twitter and tell you "This is what you think!" I know you don't want extreme political opinions. And I know that adding 6-8 pundits to a broadcast does not make it 6-8 times more interesting. But what does make it more interesting?

Incidentally, the broadcast I am working on is not a technology newscast. It is a general newscast. I am not moving out of technology news. I am just attempting to expand my horizons beyond my regular beat. In a high-tech way of course!

Earlier this afternoon I Tweeted that I was feeling overwhelmed. Maybe it was because I was hurting my brain in thinking so macro. (Or maybe it was because I was hungry.) I said that I might ask for your help and now I am. I am crowdsourcing the questions above. Please have a two-page double-spaced synthesis paper on my desk by morning. Or a simple blog comment will do.

Thank you!

Twittervention Time. Arrivederci! 

I am launching a self-imposed digital quarantine. I've been working way too much without a break since August, which was the last time I took time off for my birthday. All evidence in recent months points to delirium: stomach flu, glass in foot, forgetting ATM pin, breaking wine glasses, and allowing myself to be way too easily provoked.

I am off to meet my mom and sister for an Italian vacation. I will be back in 10 days and I am going to try not to Twitter or Facebook or do any other digital posting. Or at least keep it to a minimum. I can't really expect that I am capable of going cold turkey. And of course I'll share Flip videos and photos when I return. Or at least a select few.


Okay Twitter, lets do this!

I was talking to a friend recently about being single in New York City. I half joked that it was easy because I have Twitter to talk to at the end of the day. Obviously, that is not preferable but sadly Twitter has become the relationship that I use to communicate the minutiae of my life. That sounds tragic, I know. What can you do?

Lately this Twitter boyfriend of mine has started to feel very high-maintenance. Not all the time, but regularly. I would say that I get some kind of unsolicited nastiness over Twitter at least once a day and it seems to be linear: the more people that join Twitter, the more hurtful @ comments come my way. I have a few points-in-case below.

I know this post may sound like a petulant pigtailed school girl crying because the boys are pulling her hair. But in a way, isn't that what is happening? It isn't that I can't take it, but I certainly don't have to like it. So since this is my personal forum, I'm going to vent.

Ever since I took over for Molly Wood on Buzz Out Loud I have felt like a veritable bullseye for nastiness. I haven't seen this kind of unsolicited mean spiritedness since I wrote for TechCrunch in 2006. I gave an example on Buzz Out Loud, episode 942. I could copy and paste examples like this all night. Admittedly, most of the emails and Twitters I receive are positive, encouraging, humorous, and fun interactions about my work and technology news. I appreciate those so much! It is the unrelenting two percent that sling mud with whom I have had it up to here with! (I just raised my hand WAY above my 5' 2.5" body!)

The basic point of this post is this: BACK OFF! If you don't appreciate my Twitters or any of my broadcasts, don't follow, read, listen or watch! Go away and you and I will never have to exchange digital words again. But don't throw stones from the safety of your browser.

Feel free to stop reading now if you're tired of this rant. My point has mostly been made. But here is some background, in case you are interested.

Before Christmas, I got a call from my BOL cohost Tom Merritt. He said that Molly wanted to move on and do other things and give up BOL in the New Year.

Natali: "Sure I'll help out a few more days a week."
Tom: "No, actually I meant, would you consider cohosting permanently?"
Natali thinks: HECK NO!
Natali says: "Oh, wow, that is a nice offer. I'll think about it."

I wanted to decline BOL for all the obvious reasons: 1. I already work long enough hours; 2. BOL's audience is vast, loyal, and particular; 3. Molly and Veronica Belmont were great hosts and I didn't want to be compared to them for the sole fact that we all have two X chromosomes. I confided in a friend about this and he said, "Say yes before you say no." I now question whether or not that person was ever really my friend but I took his advice and said yes. And I am still saying yes. And I am waiting for the day when I can enjoy myself on the show and know that if I say something stupid like Tom, Molly, and Jason Howell regularly do, I will not get a nasty email or Twitter attributing my foible to my looks, gender, age, race, or something else unfair and ignorant.

I am not writing this post so that the people who do follow and support me can ring in and sing my praises. I don't need that. In fact, I have closed the comments on this post for that very reason. I don't want this to seem like a solicitation for compliments and support. I am writing so that anyone who wants to be ugly knows that they are being ugly to someone who is doing the very best she can and then just maybe they can have a little empathy.

I don't come home at night and cry on someone's shoulder. I work long hours. I live on the opposite side of the country from my family. No one pats me on the head and says, "It's okay, they're just out to get you." At the end of the day, I take these bullets alone and resolve to keep giving this career of mine 110%. I'm not saying I'm brave - a lot of women go it alone for much more noble causes. I'm just saying that I cannot do any better than the job I do now. I go to sleep at night exhausted knowing that I gave it all I had. If that isn't enough, please kindly remove me from your peripheral Web vision.

I know its easy to ask the naysayers to go away and that they probably won't. I know that as my career grows, I will deal with this more and more. I also know that the people whom I am referring to are what my friends and I call a Lame Barnacle: someone so committed to their own misery that their lameness is calcified. Not only are they indefinitely lame, they stick to you like a barnacle and are hard to pry off. I believe the Lame Barnacle imagery is so powerful that I even bought the URL I don't know if I'll ever do anything with it but the women in my life find the moniker highly relatable. But I digress.

In conclusion, Twitter Lame Barnacles, I know I should ignore you. After all, as one viewer wrote me today, "for every douche, there are 20 non-douches." In real life, my track record for distinguishing the douches from the non-douches is bad. That's why I don't date. But on Twitter, the douches have their peacock feathers clearly fanned. I know who you are. I do not appreciate you. I would love an invitation to sit and have tea in your glass house someday. Meanwhile, stop pulling my hair!

[gallery link="file" columns="4"]