How viral sites work

Recently I was checking what news from Germany is going viral (it’s part of my job) and I noticed that one of the top ten stories involved an elderly man who had found his long-lost wedding ring wrapped around a carrot grown in his garden.

The story appeared on a site called Buzz Flare.

Buzz Flare credits another viral site, UNILAD Tech for the story and the photos.

In fact, UNILAD Tech posted a photo seven months ago on its Facebook site, with only a short text.

It credited the photo to a Reddit user.

Was he the source of all this? No.

What actually happened is that the Reddit user and the viral sites stole an AP story from early November, removed any attribution to AP (because they don’t pay for our service) and tried to pass the image and information off as their own or some third party’s.

Here’s the original story:

Yes, it’s just a story about a ring on a carrot. But this kind of sneaky lifting of stories earns ripoff viral sites like Buzz Flare a few dollars that deserve to go to journalists who actually wrote the story in the first place.

The Chancellor speaks

Ten years ago Angela Merkel discovered podcasts. Not ‘In our Time’ or ‘This American Life.’ No, no, not the joy of listening to podcasts. She discovered podcasts as a means of communicating to the public. You might say, broadcasting.

Now the German government isn’t meant to broadcast. There are independent private and publicly-funded radio and TV stations for that. But video podcasts and YouTube clips are a grey area. Do they technically constitute broadcasting?

Every week Merkel records a short question-and-answer session with a young person. They’re usually likable, often students, who pose fairly soft-ball questions to the chancellor. She is obviously prepared, because she’s never flustered and always provides a neat 20-30 second answer.

I asked her office a few questions about these podcasts recently and I’d like to share the answers:

Q: How many viewers did the podcasts get in 2016?

A: The 42 video podcasts in 2016 was accessed 13.5 million. On average, each episode was accessed about 320,000 times. In addition, previous years’ podcasts were accessed 2.3 million times last year.

Q: How many hours work went into each podcasts.

A: The production of the podcasts is tendered anew each year and the amount of work hours doesn’t influence the price. As such, they aren’t recorded.

Q: How much did Merkel’s weekly podcasts cost in 2016?

A: The costs for each episode were €2,350.25 (incl. VAT)