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The "Lake Shore" Experiment


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My final project for my New Media Business class at Syracuse University which focused on the impact of my petition against the "Lake Shore" reality project as an experiment to observe how quickly my …

My final project for my New Media Business class at Syracuse University which focused on the impact of my petition against the "Lake Shore" reality project as an experiment to observe how quickly my petition could proliferate online via Facebook, Twitter, news websites, e-mail, and word of mouth, in addition to the Facebook feedback and analytic data I collected, the subsequent correspondence I received, and the overall experience of my experiment.

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  • 1. New Media Business – Final Project
    The Lake Shore Experiment
    Matt Orenstein
    S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications
    December 20, 2010
  • 2. Introduction
    On November 10, 2011, during the break in my New Media Business class (ICC 625), I came across a promotional video for a potential reality series entitled “Lake Shore” on the website, a movie and entertainment blog:
    “Lake Shore,” created in the mold of the extremely successful MTV series “Jersey Shore,” is set in Toronto and is described on the show’s website as: “ exclusive peek into the erratic and intoxicating lives of eight sexy twenty something year olds as they move into a trendy house in downtown Toronto. Their indulgent party lifestyle and reckless behavior tests the strength of their friendships and relationships. Every dawn will give rise to another night of cocktails, party frolic and explosive situations. Every following sunrise will be dedicated to patching up the broken pieces of their young adult life. There's no skirt too short, abs too tight or dare too audacious for this crew. Stay tuned and watch out!”
  • 3. Introduction (continued)
    The promotional “sizzle reel” video for the show is no longer available online, however, it highlighted the show’s cast (featuring characters named “The Jew,” “The Turk,” and “The Vietnamese,” among others) and the casting process by which the producers sifted through auditions.
    Lake Shore Audition: “The Jew”
  • 4. Introduction (continued)
    Initially, I found the promotional video to be amusing, albeit offensive, but immediately decided to share it with one of my friends in class by posting it on his Facebook page.
  • 5. Introduction (continued)
    After class, I promptly BBM’d (BlackBerry messaged) a select few of my friends from Toronto to inquire if they had seen, heard of/read about the “Lake Shore” promotional materials. Only a handful of them had heard about it – mostly my female friends who had come across the video on sites such as and other tabloid entertainment blogs.
  • 6. Introduction (continued)
    So, on the evening of November 10, 2010, as I was video-chatting with a friend of mine from Toronto, discussing the “Lake Shore” promotional video and its offensive and questionable content…
    (In addition to the overt squalid nature of the characters portrayed in the promotional materials for the show, 23-year-old Sibel Atlug, told the audience, “I’m not racist because I hate everybody equally, especially Jewish people”)
    I wondered why no one had launched a formal petition yet to stop the show from airing – the show was clearly offensive toward a variety of nationalities, religious groups, and citizens of Toronto.
  • 7. Introduction (continued)
    My friend and I scoured Google and Facebook to see if we could find any anti “Lake Shore” user-created pages or groups – usually if I think I’ve got a great idea, at least 50 people have thought of it before I have.
    However, neither of us could find any user-created petitions, sites, pages, or groups related to “Lake Shore,” only more promotional videos and news sites reporting on the story.
    It was at this point (at approximately 12:30 AM on November 11, 2010) that I decided to create a petition to protest the show from airing and as an experiment to observe how quickly my petition could proliferate online via Facebook, Twitter, news websites, e-mail, and word of mouth.
    The results of this informalexperiment were astonishing. Throughout the course of the story’s media cycle and its ultimate decline into veritable insignificance, I was quoted in nine newspapers, on ten blogs, and in one magazine. I received e-mails of applause and commendation from family members and friends as well as Facebook messages expressing approval and praise from people I’ve never met (as well as a few disapproving, anti-Semitic comments from critics). Additionally, I significantly expanded my online presence in Google searches and increased the number of times my name appeared in searches on LinkedIn.
    This presentation will attempt to document the timeline during which I created my petition, Facebook Community Page, the subsequent correspondence I received from journalists, family members, friends, professors, supporters, critics, and the ensuing effects of my actions.
  • 8. Thursday, November 11th, 2010
    At 3:00 AM I registered an account on – the site from which I would publish my petition.
  • 9. Thursday (continued)
    An hour later, I had finished creating my petition…
  • 10. Thursday (continued)
    The petition…
    Thursday, November 11, 2010This is a petition against the potential airing of the new reality show entitled “Lake Shore.”This morning, while in my New Media Business class at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, I came across an online promotional video ( for the new Toronto-based reality show, “Lake Shore.” Almost instantly, I was offended as a television audience member. Then, I was embarrassed as a Torontonian and a Canadian. A few seconds later, I was deeply insulted as a Jew. Finally, I was humiliated and mortified as a human being.
    Every day, I am proud to call myself a Canadian and even prouder to call Toronto my home. The footage I watched today nearly provoked my gag reflex. I’ve come to an understanding that in popular culture and modern society there are few things sacred. The ability to poke fun at oneself can be endearing and appreciated. Additionally, I’m sure that the multicultural cast of “Lake Shore” takes pride in their respective national identities and heritages. However, I am compelled, mostly as a Torontonian, to plead with and beg the citizens of Toronto to stand up against this show, which will surely prove to be both a local and national indignity. It is offensive to all Torontonians as it highlights the most racist, xenophobic, philistine, and unearthly residents that our great city has to offer.
    Although it’s difficult to judge the merits of a television show based on an eight-minute clip, I am quite confident that “Lake Shore” will not impart any social, cultural, political, or artistic wisdoms and revelations upon its potential viewers.
    We are residents of an alpha world city that boasts culture as its calling card, home to the National Ballet of Canada, the Canadian Opera Company, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Canadian Stage Company, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Roy Thomson Hall, the Princess of Wales Theatre, the Royal Alexandra Theatre, Massey Hall, the Toronto Centre for the Arts, the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatres, the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, Caribana, Pride Week, The Toronto International Film Festival, and according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the most multicultural population among any city in the world.
    Please sign this petition to save Toronto from the potential embarrassment and disgrace.
    Matt Orenstein
  • 11. Thursday (continued)
    Within minutes, people started to sign the petition (at 4:00 AM)…
  • 12. Thursday (continued)
    Immediately after publishing the petition, I created a Community Page on Facebook ( from which I would share a link to the petition – it also would prove to be a forum for people to post their comments and share articles about “Lake Shore.”
  • 13. Thursday (continued)
    At 4:21 AM, I sent the above e-mail to members of the press urging them to “sign the petition and also spread awareness to other Torontonians through their respective news outlets.”
  • 14. Thursday (continued)
    I also tweeted at the National Post, the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, David Frum (a Canadian American journalist), and Pride Toronto (a non-profit LGBT organization in Toronto).
  • 15. Thursday (continued)
    Before 6:00 AM, eight people had signed the petition.
  • 16. Thursday (continued)
    When users proceeded to sign the petition, they would be prompted by Facebook Connect to comply with sharing permissions so that could share the above post on your wall (informing your friends you had signed the petition).
  • 17. Thursday (continued)
    At 10:03 AM the next morning, I received an e-mail from Chloe Fedio– a reporter from the Toronto Star.
    This was just the beginning…
  • 18. Thursday (continued)
    I had to tell my mom.
    My correspondence with Chloe Fedio would continue…
  • 19. Thursday (continued)
  • 20. Thursday (continued)
    At 11:30 AM, I received the following Facebook message from my friend Alex:
  • 21. Thursday (continued)
    At 3:57 PM, the following comment was posted in the discussion forum on my petition site (the first negative feedback):
  • 22. Thursday (continued)
    Thursday evening, I decided to forward the petition to the following groups, via e-mail, in hope they would sign the petition and spread word of the “Lake Shore” controversy:
    The Association of Italian Canadian Writers
    The Albanian-Canadian Community Association
    The Canadian Turkish Friendship Community
    The Vietnamese Canadian Federation
    The Canadian Czech Republic Chamber of Commerce
    Canadian Lebanese Human Rights Federation
    Polish Canadian Cultural Centre
    The Canadian Jewish Congress
  • 23. Thursday (continued)
    Additionally, I “liked” the following groups on Facebook in order to share my petition on their pages:
    CASS: Canadian Asian Student Society
    Pride Toronto (a not-for-profit organization that celebrates diverse sexual and gender identities, histories, cultures, creativities, families, friends and lives in Toronto)
  • 24. Thursday (continued)
    I also began to receive some more feedback from friends on my own Facebook page:
  • 25. Thursday (continued)
    At 8:19 PM, I received the following Facebook message from Aeriol Fitzgerald (a complete stranger):
    Apparently there was an issue with the petition website – it required signatories to comply with Facebook’s data sharing permissions. Understandably, some people were reluctant to sign the petition as they did not want to share their private information.
  • 26. Thursday (continued)
    I replied to Aeriol’s message:
  • 27. Thursday (continued)
    Aeriol’s response to my message.
  • 28. Thursday (continued)
    Accordingly, I posted on my “Lake Shore” Facebook Page and later in the discussion forum on my petition site how to best avoid complying with Facebook permissions when signing the petition.
  • 29. Friday, November 12th, 2010
    On Friday afternoon, things started to really heat up… At 1:20 PM, the following article was posted on Toronto Life Magazine's website (, mentioning my petition:
  • 30. Friday, November 12th, 2010
    At 2:01 PM, I received the following Facebook message from Kenyon Wallace, a reporter for the National Post:
    I called Kenyon for a brief interview…
  • 31. Friday, November 12th, 2010
    At 2:39 PM, I received more feedback on Facebook from my friend, Nicholas...
    (Bobby Cox was the former manager of the Atlanta Braves – Nicholas knows I’m a big Braves fan)
  • 32. Friday (continued)
    At 4:22 PM, I received a Facebook message from VonnySweetland,an ex-cast memberfrom “Lake Shore”:
  • 33. Friday (continued)
    Then, at 4:39 PM, I received a Facebook message from André Bovee-Begun, a writer for (“a website about Toronto and everything that happens in it”):
  • 34. Friday (continued)
    My responses to André and Vonny.
  • 35. Friday (continued)
    I made sure to keep my page followers informed of my contact with the press:
  • 36. Friday (continued)
    At 6:54 PM, I was quoted in the National Post (
  • 37. Friday (continued)
    At 7:00 PM, I was mentioned in the Toronto Star ( in an article written by Chloe Fedio, the reporter I hadcorresponded with the daybefore:
  • 38. Friday (continued)
    After calling a few family members and friends to inform them of the articles in the National Post and Toronto Star, I shared the articles on my Facebook Community Page:
  • 39. Friday (continued)
    I also shared the article on my personal Facebook page and received the following feedback:
  • 40. Friday (continued)
    Shortly after the first two articles were published, the Montreal Gazette, the Ottawa Citizen, the Edmonton Journal,the Vancouver Sun, the Calgary Herald, the StarPhoenix (Saskatoon’s local newspaper),,, the Italian American One Voice Coalition, a personal blog (, and a dating website ( picked up the story from the National Post. Each site published the story online.
  • 41. Friday (continued)
    I continued to share the links on my personal Facebook page as well as the Community Page I had created. Here’s some of the feedback I received:
  • 42. Saturday, November 13th, 2010
    By the end of Friday, 110 people had signed the online petition. As the online and print articles would likely gain greater circulation after a day or so, I suspected the number of signatures to increase.
    There was still more to come…
  • 43. Saturday (continued)
    On Saturday morning, a few people expressed their frustration with the online petition, citing their reluctance to comply with Facebook’s permissions (they even suggested I consider a different petition format). Accordingly, I directed these individuals to Facebook’s privacy settings:
  • 44. Saturday (continued)
    At 2:01 PM, a website called the Daily Health Reviews (a site that publishes health-related articles) picked up the story published in the Toronto Star. The posting displayed the following tags: “Atlug, cast, cultural stereotypes, Rahimi, reality tv show, trailer, trailer lake, youtube.” Why the article was re-posted on this site, I do not know…
  • 45. Saturday (continued)
    The article from the Toronto Star was also re-posted by the Canadian Jewish Congress on their website.
  • 46. Saturday (continued)
    Late Saturday afternoon, I was also mentioned in an article on
  • 47. Saturday (continued)
    According to Facebook’s analytics, by the end of Saturday, 38 people had “liked” my Community Page.
    Additionally, by the end Saturday, 194 people had signed the online petition.
    Even my 90 year old grandfatherhad caught wind of the controversy and sent me an e-mail:
    He meant to sign it “Pappa.”
  • 48. Sunday, November 14th, 2010
    At 4:36 PM on Sunday, I received the following correspondence on Facebook from Barb Whitnell:
    What Barb wrote next was unprecedented…
  • 49. Sunday (continued)
    Barb was essentially asking me, given my recent clout in the public domain, to promote her reality show “The Boys of Paradise.”
  • 50. Sunday (continued)
    My subsequent correspondence with Barb and the promotional video for
    “The Boys of Paradise.”
  • 51. Sunday (continued)
    I also thought my recent activities and quotations in the press might benefit my academics, so I decided to e-mail my professors:
  • 52. Sunday (continued)
    According to the above data from PetitionSpot on November 14th, the disparity between signatures and pageviews on my petition site suggests that if users were not required to comply with Facebook’s permissions, a few thousand more people may have signed the online petition.
  • 53. Sunday (continued)
    This pageview breakdown from PetitionSpot on November 14th (indicating that 3275 people had viewed the page in 3 days) also supports the notion that if it were not for Facebook’s permissions, more people would have signed the online petition.
  • 54. Monday, November 15th, 2010
    On Monday afternoon, the following article was published to (an online news website that mainly covers stories which are relevant to peer-to-peer file sharing).
    p2pnet's founder and editor is Jon Newton. He is an internationally published writer with many years of experience in different journalistic fields.
  • 55. Monday (continued)
    Due to the fact my entire petition was published within Newton’s article on, I considered myself to be officially published and subsequently featured the article on my LinkedIn profile as a publication. LinkedIn searches for my name have increased by 15% within the last month.
  • 56. Monday (continued)
    At 11:54 AM on Monday, Persia Kush (who had originally auditioned to be on “Lake Shore,” but had not made the final cast) posted the following YouTube video on the Facebook Community page, speaking out against the show.
    Persia had also signed the petition and was quoted in the National Post.
  • 57. Tuesday, November 16th, 2010
    As I began to receive an increasing number of complaints regarding people’s reluctance and unwillingness to comply with Facebook’s permissions, I decided to create a second petition on Petition Site (
  • 58. Tuesday (continued)
    I did my best to inform people about the new petition by posting on the Facebook Community Page and in the discussion forum of the original petition.
  • 59. Tuesday (continued)
    Within a few hours, people began to sign the new petition…
  • 60. Tuesday (continued)
    Unfortunately, as of December 18th, only 20 people have signed the new petition.
    It was far too late to have created a second petition.
  • 61. Fast Forward 2 Days…
  • 62. 2 Days Later (a week after it all started)…
    According to the above data from PetitionSpot on November 18th, the disparity between signatures and pageviews on my petition site further proves that if users were not required to comply with Facebook permissions, signatures may have been in the thousands.
  • 63. 1 Week Later…
    As of November 18th, 4316 people had viewed the petition and of those visitors, 256 people had signed.
  • 64. 1 Week Later… (Facebook Analytics)
    The above charts displays user interactivity and the number of people who “liked” my Community Page within one week of its creation. After one week, 58 people had “liked” the page.
  • 65. Additional Positive Feedback
  • 66. Additional Positive Feedback
  • 67. Additional Negative Feedback
    Negative feedback posted in the discussion forum of the first petition.
  • 68. Conclusion
    The informal experiment I conducted proved to be extremely insightful and catalyzing with regard to the viral proliferation of the “Lake Shore” reality project and the ramifications of my actions across myriad platforms and mediums (print, e-mail, Facebook, PetitionSpot, LinkedIn, and Google Search).
    Although I was sufficiently offended by the “Lake Shore” reality project as a Torontonian, a Canadian, and as a Jewish person, my primary objective was to observe and document the effects of my actions.
    It should be noted that it was never my sole intention to promote censorship of any kind,only to chronicle the impact of my petitions, the Facebook feedback I collected, the subsequent correspondence I received, and the overall experience of my experiment.
  • 69. As of now, “Lake Shore” has not been picked up by a network.