Posts tagged with "USA Today"

Twitter acquires Scroll, an ad-free news reader

May 5, 2021

Twitter  has announced the acquisition of Scroll, an ad-free news product—and word is that the social media giant expects to pull the service into a new subscription offering being planned, Ad Age reports.

To date, the app, which launched in January 2020, has offered subscribers the opportunity to get ad-free access to hundreds of websites, for $5 per month.

Scroll works with a handful of publishers—among them, Vox Media, BuzzFeed News, Business Insider, The Atlantic, and USA Today—and offers stories from those publishers to paying customers. It does not block ads; rather, it works with its expanding group of publishers to take the ads down in exchange for a slice of the subscription fee.

Scroll keeps 30% of the subscription fee and distributes the other 70% to the participating sites, based on which articles users view.

Scroll will temporarily halt new subscribers while its 13-person team joins the social media company, Twitter said on May 4 in a blog post. Deal terms weren’t disclosed. Scroll, which has offices in New York City and Portland, is backed by investors including Union Square Ventures.

Twitter has spoken publicly about its interest in selling a subscription product, and is considering a number of options. The San Francisco-based company also recently acquired Revue, a newsletter startup, with plans to make money from subscriptions. Twitter envisions the two products working together, and says users may one day pay to read newsletters or stories from certain publishers directly on Twitter without any ads.

“For every other platform, journalism is dispensable,” wrote Scroll CEO Tony Haile in a blog post. “If journalism were to disappear tomorrow their business would carry on much as before. Twitter is the only large platform whose success is deeply intertwined with a sustainable journalism ecosystem.”

The social media company is looking for ways to expand business outside of digital advertising, which makes up the bulk of revenue. Advertising can be inconsistent and Twitter said last week that ad sales got off to a slow start in 2021 thanks in part to civil unrest in the United States and delayed public events, like Hollywood’s Academy Awards presentation. A subscription business would offer a more steady and predictable revenue stream. Scroll is Twitter’s sixth deal in the past six months.

Research contact: @adage

Terror is ‘still with us’: AG Garland warns of domestic terrorism at Oklahoma City bombing memorial

April 20, 2021

The terrorism that led to the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City almost three decades ago has morphed into a heightened threat from domestic violent extremists, Attorney General Merrick Garland said on Monday, April 19, in his first major public address, Bloomberg reports.

Garland, who oversaw the prosecution of bomber Timothy McVeigh and accomplice Terry Nichols, marked the 26th anniversary of the of the most deadly domestic assault in U.S. history—offering a stark reminder that the brand of terror unleashed by the bombers is “still with us, ” USA Today noted.

“It was night, but you would not have known it,” Garland told survivors and officials gathered on the grounds of the downtown memorial. “Bright lights lit the site up as if it were midday. The front of the (Alfred P.) Murrah Building was gone. The parking lot across the street still held cars that had been flattened by the blast.”

Garland’s remarks came just over three months since the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol—a stunning assault that has highlighted a reinvigorated domestic extremist movement. As in Oklahoma City more than two decades ago, Garland now oversees a far-reaching investigation into the siege that has so far resulted in charges against more than 400 people, USA Today said

The attorney general did not directly refer to the Capitol attack, but he cited a recent FBI warning in its aftermath of the “ongoing and heightened threat posed by domestic violent extremists.”

“Those of us who were in Oklahoma City in April 1995 do not need any warning; the  hatred expressed by domestic violent extremists is the opposite of the Oklahoma Standard,” Garland said, recalling the city’s response to the bombing and its continuing campaign against hate. “This memorial is a monument to a community that will not allow hate and division to win.”

Garland, who arrived in Oklahoma City just two days after the attack, has often described his association with the case and a deeply wounded community as “the most important thing I have ever done in my life.”

Indeed, USA Today noted, throughout the investigation and beyond, Garland was known to carry a list of the victims in his briefcase.

That connection was on display throughout his remarks Monday, when his voice quavered at times and paused to collect his emotions, the news outlet reported.

“Oklahoma City, you are always in my heart,” he said.

Research contact: USATODAY

Watt a concept: Volkswagen preps to change name to ‘Voltswagen’ in U.S.A.

March 30, 2021

The iconic Volkswagen brand is preparing to change its name to “Voltswagen” in the United States, in order to highlight its massive investment in electric vehicles.

The German automaker’s announcement about the name change appeared briefly on its media website on March 29 before it was yanked; it was apparently released too soon, reported USA Today. Officials were mum about the premature announcement; but a source confirmed to that newspaper, CNBC and other media including the HuffPost, that the statement was accurate.

“More than a name change, ‘Voltswagen’ is a public declaration of the company’s future-forward investment in e-mobility,” said the statement before it was pulled.

The name change was supposed to happen in May.

“The new name and branding symbolize the highly-charged forward momentum Voltswagen has put in motion, pursuing a goal of moving all people point-to-point with EVs,” the release said.

Electric models will reportedly carry the name, “Voltswagen,” while gas-powered vehicles will retain the standard “VW” identification. To preserve elements of Volkswagen’s heritage, the company plans to retain the dark blue color of the VW logo for gas vehicles and will use light blue for the new “EV-centric branding.”

The company is about to debut the ID.4, its first long-range electric SUV, in the United States. It’s part of a new lineup of Volkswagen’s ID electric vehicles, including the ID Buzz, a rerun of its microbus. That’s expected to roll out next year in Europe and in America the following year, CNET noted.

The automaker expects that more than 70% of its brand’s European sales and 50% of sales in the U.S.A. will be electric vehicles by 2030, reported CNBC.

Research contact: USATODAY

A tree frog named Betty has been named the 2021 Cadbury ‘bunny’

March 30, 2021

When you think about it, frogs and bunnies aren’t that different. They both hop and they are both Easter icons—at least this year, USA Today reports.

Hershey announced this week that Betty—an Australian White’s Tree Froghas won the Easter brand’s third-annual Cadbury Bunny Tryouts.

Betty is set to star in the Cadbury Clucking Bunny nationwide TV commercial this spring, the company said in its news release.

“Betty’s been a great addition to our home and we are so glad we get to share her with the rest of the world!” said Kaitlyn Vidal, Betty’s owner, of Suart, Florida. “She has been a wonderful companion at college and thanks to the support of my friends, family, and the amphibian community, I know she’ll make Cadbury proud as she inherits the bunny ears.”

The frog beat over 12,000 entries nationwide—including a donkey, a miniature horse and a goat. Betty takes over the mantle from last year’s winner: Lieutenant Dan, a two-legged coonhound.

And Hershey isn’t the only company that’s in the Easter spirit. Oreo cookies brought back the Oreo Easter Cookies to U.S. Target stores for a limited time;and Pepsi recently announced its partnership with the marshmallow brand Peep to launch the limited-edition PEPSI x PEEPS beverage.

Research contact: @USATODAY

‘Among the stars’: Ashes of Scotty from ‘Star Trek’ hidden on International Space Station

December 29, 2020

“Beam me up, Scotty,” the characters on the wildly popular TV series, Star Trek (196601969) used to say—and now the favor has been returned: Actor James Doohan’s family is celebrating after keeping a major secret for the past 12 years, USA Today reports.

Doohan, who famously portrayed Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott on the series, always had dreamed of resting among the stars.

After he died in 2005 at the age of 85, his ashes were smuggled aboard the International Space Station—where they fittingly float in space to this very day. To date, the Starship Enterprise engineer’s cremains has travelled nearly 1.7 billion miles through space—orbiting Earth more than 70,000 times.

“I have been keeping a secret for over 12 years,” Chris Doohan, one of the actor’s sons, wrote on Twitter—adding a link to a December 25 article from the Times of London that revealed the secret.

“My dad had three passions: space, science and trains. He always wanted to go into space,” Chris Doohan told the Times.

What’s more, now the mystery has been solved: Richard Garriott, an entrepreneur and one of the first private citizens in space, says he smuggled James Doohan’s ashes onto the ISS in 2008 during a 12-day mission as a private astronaut in a plot concocted by Chris Doohan.

The caper entailed printing three cards with a Doohan photograph and laminating each with a sprinkling of ashes sealed inside hidden inside his flight data file. 

“Everything that officially goes on board is logged, inspected and bagged —there’s a process, but there was no time to put it through that process,” Garriott told the Times.

One of the three cards is framed on a wall in Doohan’s California home, which Doohan tweeted Saturday. Garriott floated another into space. The third is under the cladding on the floor of the space station’s Columbus module, where he hid it in 2008.

“As far as I know, no one has ever seen it there and no one has moved it,” Garriott said. “James Doohan got his resting place among the stars.”

Chris Doohan said he was told to “keep this hush-hush for a little while” and here we are 12 years later. What he did was touching — it meant so much to me, so much to my family and it would have meant so much to my dad.”

Research contact: @USATODAY

After 24 days, resolute Milwaukee marchers arrive in DC—some with bleeding feet

August 31, 2020

After enduring blistered feet, arrests, harassment, and a spray of gunfire over the course of weeks, a group of dedicated people completed a 750-mile march from Milwaukee to the nation’s capital on  Friday, August 28—the 57th anniversary of Reverand Martin Luther King, Jr.’s  March on Washington, USA Today reported.

Sixty people (plus cats and dogs)—some with bleeding feet and pulled calf muscles—crossed into D.C. around 7:30 a.m. (EDT) Friday morning.

Frank “Nitty” Sensabaugh stood on the National Mall at 9 a.m., exhausted, sore, hungry and in disbelief.  “It’s indescribable,” said Sensabaugh, a Milwaukee-based activist who organized the march. “I was crying for a while. I was tired because I haven’t slept in three days. Then I was crying again.”

Sensabaugh and about 20 other men and women expected to converge with thousands of other protesters—demanding law enforcement reform and voting rights as America reels from the police killings of Black people this year.

At about 1 p.m., participants were planning to march from the Lincoln Memorial to the Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial for what they are calling the Get Your Knee Off Our Necks Commitment March on Washington.

Now, their demonstration has become even more necessary, Tory Lowe, a Milwaukee-based victims advocate who co-organized the march from Milwaukee, told the national news outlet.

Just miles from Milwaukee last weekend, police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, shot 29-year-old Jacob Blake in the back seven times, leaving the father of three paralyzed from the waist down, according to lawyers for his family. The shooting ignited several nights of looting, violence and protests in Kenosha and other cities across the country—the most recent incidents of unrest this summer amid a nationwide movement for racial justice.

“This march was meant to happen because look what’s happening in the state of Wisconsin,” Lowe said. “This is why we’re marching. It brings validation to the fact of why we ever started this march in the first place.”

The first few days of the journey went smoothly, organizers said, as police escorted the march to and through Chicago. People began to turn out on sidewalks to offer support as the marchers passed by, and others monitoring their progress on social media began to donate food and pay for hotel rooms.

“Once we got into Indiana and Ohio, it got really intense because the areas with less diversity became our biggest issues,” Lowe told USA Today.. “Some people were saying {we should] go home. People would write things on the ground. They were pissed.”

On the ninth day, Indiana State Police arrested and held Sensabaugh and Lowe for several hours near Warsaw because, police said, the group was blocking traffic.

“We’ve been arrested for walking, and we’ve been shot at,” Lowe said. “A white male just came out of nowhere, and our security was shot.”

As the march moved through western Pennsylvania on Monday night, the group of about 30 stopped in the parking lot of a private business and gunfire broke out, according to state police. “The property owners confronted the activists. The confrontation escalated, and gunshots were exchanged between the property owners and the activists,” Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Brett Miller said Tuesday.

The Bedford County District Attorney was investigating the incident, and no charges had been filed, Miller said.

As the marchers left Pennsylvania on Wednesday night, a group of residents – some armed – lined the streets and yelled slurs, Lowe said. At the same time, other residents came out to protect the marchers, he said.

“It’s been a spiritual journey, and it’s an eye-opening journey for many of us because we’re seeing outright racism as we walk,” Lowe said. “It’s been 24 days, and every day is something. Not one day have we been out here and someone hasn’t thrown racial slurs.”

Sensabaugh and Lowe said they’ve also been heartened by the outpouring of support for the march. At one point in Indiana, a group of diverse group of residents brought the marchers two week’s worth of supplies, water and shoes. Some nurses volunteered to look at their feet.

“It was amazing, and the spirit of humanity was alive,” Lowe said. “There are some people working to change things in these communities as well.”

“There’s a lot of joy, happiness, and relief,” Sensabaugh said. “Between being tired and overwhelmed with emotions, I’m at a loss for words for the first time in my life. I’m trying to soak it all in.”

Sensabaugh said he and other marchers were expected to speak on the Mall and participate in events throughout the day.

Research contact: @USATODAY

‘Got milk?’ A popular ad campaign returns, with some changes

August 20, 2020

Consumers across the country are once again being asked a very important question: “Got milk?” Yes, the iconic advertising tagline is back, but not in the same way.

On August 3, the dairy industry, led by MilkPEP, relaunched the iconic advertising campaign. This revamped spots are targeted toward a new generation of viewers—with content that is optimistic and filled with energy, designed to connect with families and kids and is driven by real people and behaviors.

Specifically, the American Dairy Association says, “The refreshed ‘got milk?’ campaign has been adapted to reflect how families—and, more specifically, kids—consume media. Social media influencers are highlighted instead of celebrities to drive awareness of the campaign.”

To kick off the challenge, six-time Olympic Gold Medalist Katie Ledecky posted a video of herself swimming a lap in a pool with a glass of milk on her head without spilling it. The incredible video went viral and now consumers and other past and present winning swimmers—including Mark Spitz, who took seven golds home from the 1972 Munich Games— are showing off their “something amazing” while not spilling their milk. Ledecky’s video also went viral in the media, with already 1,600 media placements (and counting!), including mentions on ESPNYahoo!USA Today and many other national and local media outlets.

Indeed, during the first week, which started August 7, all the videos with #gotmilkchallenge have been viewed more than 2.3 billion (yes, billion) times! 

On social media platforms, including ADA North East’s, consumers are encouraged to follow Ladecky’s lead by recording a short video pouring a glass of milk and then “doing something amazing” without spilling the milk. Consumers are then encouraged to post the video to social media at #gotmilkchallenge.

The ADA North East marketing team is working closely with MilkPEP to amplify the new “got milk?” campaign. The team at ADA has launched a contest for consumers in the Northeast to post their #gotmilkchallenge video to social media where users add a second hashtag – #milkmovesme. Each post will be entered for a chance to win fun prizes. 

Research contact: @AmericanDairyNE

Elon Musk says goat-mimicking horn sounds are ‘definitely coming’ to Tesla fleet

August 18, 2020

If you happen to hear the sound of a bleating goat while you are out on the road, it might just be a Tesla electric vehicle, reports USA Today.

In 2019, the automaker’s outrageous and brilliant CEO Elon Musk tweeted that new horn features were in the works such as goat noises and fart sounds. (Without such features, electric vehicles are largely silent, unlike internal combustion engines,)

 “And that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” he said last October. However, the company hadn’t mentioned the update since then. 

However, on Friday, August 14, a follower on Twitter asked Musk if the horn development was still underway, and Musk confirmed that newer versions of the electric cars will make bleating noises to alert the car up ahead, USA Today says.

“Will only be on relatively recent cars, as we didn’t have an outside speaker until about a year ago. Can change inside sound easily,” Musk said.

USA Today reached out to Tesla for more information. The reason? It’s unclear what type of timeline Musk has in mind. Tesla electric vehicles receive new features periodically via over-the-air updates, similar to smartphones. What’s more, the news outlet notes, It’s important to also remember that the CEO has previously made unconfirmed promises on Twitter that have landed him in hot water. 

In 2018, Musk tweeted that he lined up the financing necessary to take Tesla private in a buyout. The buyout never happened and the Securities and Exchange Commission accused Musk of misleading investors.

Musk and Tesla eventually reached a $40 million settlement and the CEO stepped down as chairman for at least three years. There was also a stipulation that his tweets be prescreened by the company for accuracy.

Posting on social media got Musk into trouble again in 2019 after he tweeted about Tesla’s projected production numbers. The SEC alleged the tweet was another misleading statement, and the situation resulted in another settlement.

Research contact: @USATODAY

For the discerning snacker: Cheez-Its packaged with a rosé wine

July 22, 2020

Battle Creek, Michigan-based Kelloggs and House Wine of Walla Walla, Washington, have a little something special for those of us (maybe, all of us?) who admit to snacking more while under lockdown, reports USA Today..

They have teamed up for the second year running to offer a $29.99 box containing both a three-liter box of rosé House Wine and about 20 servings of Cheez-It White Cheddar crackers. This combo-pack goes on sale 2 p.m. (ET) this Thursday, ahead of National Wine and Cheese Day on Saturday, July 25, at OriginalHouseWine.com.

And if you want a box, you had better move fast, the companies say; because last year, the pairing sold out in minutes.

“White Cheddar is a long-standing favorite of Cheez-It fans and what better match than light, refreshing rosé?” Cheez-It Senior Marketing Director Jeff Delonis said in a statement. “Not only does it perfectly complement the cheesy goodness, it’s also the unofficial wine of summer!”

“We’ve seen rosé skyrocket in popularity over the past few years, especially during the warm summer season,” said Hal Landvoigt, winemaker for House Wine, in a statement. “For the second year of this partnership, we knew the pairing had to feature rosé as the perfect complement to the real-cheese flavor in Cheez-It White Cheddar.”

For those who miss out on the special offer–—Kellogg’s has some suggestions:

  • Extra Cheesy Cheez-Its with pinot grigio,
  • Cheddar Jack Cheez-Its with cabernet sauvignon, and
  • Cheez-It Duoz Sharp Cheddar/Parmesan with chardonnay.

Those recommendations may come in handy, too, if you want to experiment with Cheez-Its and wine for National Wine and Cheese Day, USA Today notes. That’s because your Cheez-It and House Wine package isn’t guaranteed for delivery by Saturday.

Research contact: @USATODAY

Court sides with publisher; Simon & Schuster to release Mary Trump’s tell-all book on July 14

July 7, 2020

Mary Trump’s revelatory book on the Trump family—announced on Monday, July 6 that it would move up its publication date to July 14 due to “high demand and extraordinary interest.”

The president’s niece, who has been embroiled in a legal battle over the book with her uncles, including the president’s brother Robert Trump, issued an email statement to USA Today through her spokesperson, Chris Bastardi.

“The act by a sitting president to muzzle a private citizen is just the latest in a series of disturbing behaviors which have already destabilized a fractured nation in the face of a global pandemic,” the statement said. “If Mary cannot comment, one can only help but wonder: what is Donald Trump so afraid of?”

The book, “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” originally was scheduled to be published by Simon & Schuster on July 28.

A New York appellate court last week ruled the publication could go ahead over the Trump brothers’ attempts to block it.

But a temporary restraining order remains on Mary herself. A lower court judge in New York is due to consider whether to continue or drop that order later this week, USA Today said.

Mary, 55, a psychologist, is the daughter of Trump’s elder brother, the late Fred Trump Jr.

Her book is described by the publisher as  an “authoritative portrait of Donald J. Trump and the toxic family that made him.” She shines a light on the “dark history of their family in order to explain how her uncle became the man who now threatens the world’s health, economic security, and social fabric,” according to the publisher’s description.

Bastardi said Mary will have no further comment at this time. But her statement suggests that the legal furor surrounding her book is further evidence of the problematic behavior in her family she alleges and seeks to illuminate in her book, which left the Trump brothers outraged.

Research contact: @USATODAY