Shira Lazar On Her New Live Interactive Show ‘What’s Trending’

Social media and the real time web have become so ingrained in our culture that viral trends are just as much a part of what some of us talk about as politics, natural disasters and other big news stories.  TV and Web personality Shira Lazar and CBSNews.com are tapping into this connected market with a new live interactive web show—What’s Trending.  What’s Trending is a new kind of news show that is based on the hottest online trends that are shaping and shifting conversation in the offline world.  I had the chance to chat with Shira about the new project.  Read on to find out what she had to say.

Before we get to my interview with Shira, let’s take a quick look at how she and CBS are describing the show.  On the What’s Trending blog on the CBS News website, the show is described as follows:

“What’s Trending is a new kind of news show connecting you to the top stories and people heating up the conversation online around the world.  Get connected and join the conversation around trending topics from global revolutions to entertainment and viral memes.  It’s what you need to know to be in the now.”

What’s Trending lives as a blog on the CBS News website, as well as on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, where fans are invited to join in the conversation around the hottest trends.  The show will be streamed live once a week, on Tuesday mornings, from the CBS News site, as well as on Livestream, UStream and YouTube.  The first episode streams live this Tuesday, May 17, from 10 to 10:30AM PST.  Now that we’ve got the basics down, check out the following teaser and then read on to find out what Shira had to say about the project.

How did ‘What’s Trending’ come about?

The first thing that I asked Shira was how the idea for ‘What’s Trending’ came about and how it was brought to life.  She told me that the idea came to her after she had been working as a video blogger at CBS News for some time and was really getting into the way that news, the Web and social media intersect.  She told me, “Blogging is important, but I wanted to create a show.”

Surprisingly, the first outline of the show, along with the name ‘What’s Trending’, was put together over two years ago, all the way back in October of 2009.  In the last two years, the idea of videos, topics, and events “trending” online has become more and more popular and mainstream and, two years later, AT&T has jumped on board as a sponsor and Shira’s idea is finally coming to life.  She thinks that the interactive nature of the online show is perfect for “the next generation of viewers and readers.”

In a press release about the show, Shira says, “More and more people now rely on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and others to discover, share and consume their news.  It’s an important change that is happening today and one that empowers and connects people around the stories they want to hear more about.  I’m very excited to be part of a new news show that embraces the way we live online.”

What can we expect from the live show?

I asked Shira to tell me a little bit about the format of the show, which she told me will be shot in a 3-camera live HD studio.  Live studio reporting and panel discussions will be mixed with preproduced segments, all examining the hottest in recent online trends.  Shira told me that the live show will mirror the blog—the blog has a number of verticals like ‘Trending Now’ and ‘On The Rise’, which will also be featured in the live show.  A typical show outline might look something like this:

  • The show will start off with ‘Trending Now’, as panelists and live Tweets add input to the conversation about the latest viral trends.
  • The show will then move into a real time conversation, delving deeper into one of the hottest trends of the week, complete with panel discussion.
  • There will also be a preproduced segment on each show that will rotate.  It might be a video version of the Webbys’ Netted newsletter, or a segment about social good called ‘People Are Awesome’, a partnership with Good Magazine.
  • They will then break into an influencer segment—a one-on-one interview with someone who influences trends.  Shira tells me this could include anyone from Will.i.am to Tony Hawk, Ariana Huffington, or any newsmaker of sorts.
  • Column Five Media will also be providing a weekly infographic visualization.
  • The show will close with a discussion of trends that are ‘On The Rise’, followed by a fun Like/Dislike segment.

How do you determine what’s trending?

Shira Lazar and the ‘What’s Trending’ team, made up of Executive Producer Damon Berger, Managing Editor Michelle Castillo, Director and Producer Brett Register, and others who you can read about here, are using some of the most innovative tools that social media has to offer to determine which trends are big enough to be discussed on the show and the What’s Trending blog.

Shira tells me that they have partnered with some great companies and services to help them scour the web to find the most popular stories, videos, events and more.  They’ve got partnerships with Sulia, an interest network that creates Twitter lists and figure out what’s popular on Twitter right now; and Buzzfeed and What The Trend, who are constantly on top of what’s big right now.

They’ve also got contributers that are creating data around different verticals.  These partners include Parnassus Group, BigChampagne, and Boxoffice.com.

The show goes live next Tuesday at 10AM PST.  Will you be watching?  I know I can’t wait! :-)

Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times.  Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.

 

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