Small TV

One last plug for tonight’s 20/20 about small TV on ABC at 9p ET. I hope it’s going to be good and that I don’t embarrass myself (I sat in the interview chair for two and a half hours and so I’m bound to have said stupid things; here’s hoping those were two hours , 28 minutes, and 30 seconds that were cut).

Part of my mantra in those interviews is that big media pays too much attention to the silly flaming farts that end up on the home page of YouTube and too little to the gems that are buried within: the new voices that we couldn’t hear in mass media. So I went hunting for those gems. It’s not easy, I’ll admit. But I’m finding them — and I’d like you to help me find more. Please do leave comments with links to small tv that you think is good — not just cool, but good.

Here’s one I found last night trolling Mary C. Matthews makes interesting small TV, including this series about disastrous dates:

See also this nicely reported and edited piece on a Christmas-tree salesman.
Her pieces are simply and well-made and begin to give shape to this new form of TV. I argue that broadcast television invented one new form: the sitcom, a perfect product for the medium — life and laughs in 22 minutes. Now many people are trying to figure out the right forms for two-minute TV. Rocketboom, Ze Frank, and others are experimenting with comment. Others are working on quit-hit serial drama. Matthews is experimenting with storytelling.

Please share the good things you find.

  • This one’s worth a watch New media lawyer Colette Vogele interviewed on American Microphone.

    The folks at are crowdsourcing video discovery.

    The pre-launch startup I now work at ( ) will be assembling a network of topic editors to put together channels of the best media content. They’ll be displayed in our multi-file embeddable player with updates by RSS.

    All that said though, you’re right that it really is a challenge to find the needles in the haystacks – even if there are a lot of needles. I’m working on a post right now comparing the major automated and social video meme trackers. Hopefully that will help.

    Excited to see what videos other people will post!

  • JC

    ha. got a good one for you –

    it’s called lunchbox; it’s a satirical vlog about politics, mostly new york. here’s a recent episode about the trans fat ban in nyc:

  • Taking you up on your offer to submit a gem that might help define the appropriate form for small TV. This is a personal, private (but to be shared) moment between a father and daughter. What I like about it is its authenticity of human contact and that it is not imitating a “show” or the style of “big TV”. It’s by Michael Verdi, found at

    But it is not just “Big Media” that is obscuring the gems. It is the “vlogging” community itself. A lot of oxygen of small TV is getting sucked up by auditions for mainstream media. And aggregating videos into derivative “shows”.

    I endorse your trying to find the appropriate form for this format.

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  • Jeff,
    Everything you say is true. That ABC interviewed you for 2 and a half hours and may, on all its platforms, someday, if you’re lucky, use something like 3 minutes of it, is indicative of how they operate. Of course, maybe they were essentially getting you as a free story consultant. Maybe the info you imparted will weave its way into the show script.

    But what I’m REALLY writing about is: What methods did you use to find the good stuff? Whether on YouTube or Revver or elsewhere, it’s easy to find breasts and exploding Menthos and goofy shit. But where is the way to, say, find the real long tail stuff? For the people, say, interested today in what Saddam’s death means to Middle Eastern Arabs, or some interesting thoughts on the baseball/steroids info … and what if you want “humor” but only certain types, not whatever happens to bubble to the top of the lists, because you want stuff that may not be the most mass appeal….Got any tips?

    Not, but based.

  • Thanks Duffer – and yes Jeff – check out

  • this is precisely what we are doing with . We’re looking to help people find video that is relevant and interesting to them and not just what is most popular. This is not a big issue today, but as th universe of web video grows exponentially over the next few years, the current crop of ‘top 100’ aggregators will fail to deliver on the personalized promise of the web.

  • Kate

    She’s not experitmenting with story-telling: she’s making a sit-com. These pieces are great, but they’re not fact-based reporting–they’re humor pieces, and I’d guess they’re her calling card for work on the Daily Show, etc.

  • Kate,
    Her videos cover a range of techniques. And, yes, they should be her calling card.

  • Hi, Kate. 39 Second Single is a completely factual series in that Liza is reporting her first hand dating experiences. Sadly, her stories are all true and her perspective very real, humor and all. You want a calling card? Check out this doc. series that has the video blogging community abuzz.

  • Ken Robertson

    So you’re looking for fresh video content?

    A good friend of mine has been wandering around the backroads of Colorado, weilding his camera like a digital fishing net, and pulling up some great pieces of local, sub-cultural color. Reminds me of some of the best episodes of that great TV nugget, Northern Exposure.

    Check out the Burro Race.
    And the Kinetics Festival.

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  • Like to watch Stargate Atlantis episodes and also Lost. I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

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