Posts about smalltv

A million C-SPANs

I say we need to create a million C-SPANs made by us, the citizens, using video to open up government to inspection by all.

C-SPAN itself is, oddly, one of the most jealous protectors of copyright anywhere. That’s why they demanded that Stephen Colbert’s speech before the press corps of Washington be pulled down from online. That is why The Times writes today about confusion in Congress about what representatives can and cannot put on their blogs. The short answer is: government feeds belong to us all, C-SPAN feeds belong to them. So Nancy Pelosi was in her rights to put up speeches from the floor on her blog; that came from the taxpayers’ cameras. Yet as The Times points out:

But last week, as it happens, C-Span did contact the speaker’s office to have it take down a different clip from her blog — one shot by C-Span’s cameras at a House Science and Technology Committee hearing on global warming where Ms. Pelosi testified, Mr. Daly said. . . .

“We are structurally burdened, in terms of people’s perception, because we are the only network that has such a big chunk of public domain material,” said Bruce Collins, the corporate vice president and general counsel of C-Span. He estimated that 5 to 15 percent of C-Span’s programming is from the House and Senate floor, and thus publicly available.

“It is perfectly understandable to me that people would be confused,” he said. “They say, ‘When a congressman says something on the floor it is public domain, but he walks down the street to a committee hearing or give a speech and it is not public domain?’ “

Thus the work of our government is being trapped by C-SPAN’s cameras and business models. That may be their right but it doesn’t serve our rights. So we need to blow this up.

If Firedoglake could go and liveblog the hell out of the Libby trial, so can more of us go and tape meetings of our government and distribute that online, around C-SPAN.

We can do this not just at a national but also at a state and local level. I suggested that this is a role for local public radio (here and here) and also for local newspapers: Unleash an army of us with audio and video recorders to capture public meetings and then host what we come up with and give us the tools to edit these recordings down to their essence.

The next time you go to your school board meeting, take along a video camera and put it up on YouTube. And watch how your elected representatives behave then.

60 Seconds

Don Hewitt is ready for his second act: an online-only show filled with the commentary of the YouTube generation. Very impressive.

“I know that this is an age group that does not watch television,” Hewitt said. “They are not interested. I figure that’s because they are bent over a computer all the time. I figure, maybe the way to reach them is the Internet.” . . .

And although the technical requirements for submission are low-budget–even cell phone camera footage is OK, so long as the sound is clean–the storytelling vision is pure Hewitt.

“If you’re interviewing others, make sure they are interesting,” reads the email. “Strong characters can save a weak story. Weak characters can sink the strongest of stories. Cast your story with people whose personas make you pay attention. . . . people who are forceful, animated, quirky, whatever . . . you’ll know it when you see it.”

Waiting for the pencil

Michael Rosenblum, a leader in transforming TV news, writes on his new blog about newspapers vs. TV stations adapting to online video:

The magazines and newspapers have far less problem adapting to video; at least in the VJ model – that is where the reporter carries their own small camera and laptop, and produces their own stories. The magazines and newspapers ‘get it’ right away because this is they way they have always worked. Newspaper journalists have never worked with a crew. They have never had to wait in a reporting situation for ‘the pencil to arrive’.

In most local newsrooms in this country, we field an average of 8 camera crews in any given day. That means 8 cameras to cover a city like Tampa or Houston or Nashville. Can you imagine what would happen if a newspaper were suddenly reduced to covering Tampa with 8 pencils?

A reporter might arrive on a location to do an interview. The subject would sit there, waiting anxiously. “Can we start?” the subject says.

“Not yet” says the reporter. There is a pause. “I have to wait for the pencil to arrive”.

Finally, after a seemingly interminable wait, a blue van pulls up. The name of the newspaper is emblazoned on the exterior of the van, and from inside emerge two men carrying a large metal case. Inside the case, is the pencil.

They come into the office and very professionally start to set up their gear. Tom has been a pencilman for the past 20 years. He’s very good at what he does. Joe is the paperman. He feeds Tom sheets of paper. Its a tough job, (and dangerous. Papercuts can kill if you don’t know what you are doing). There used to be a third person on the crew – the eraserlady, but a round of cutbacks have now only served to dimish the quality.

As soon as Tom and Joe get set up, they indicate to the reporter they are ready.

“We have lead” they say, and the reporting can begin. . . .

For conventional TV news, the shift is far more traumatic. They have to adapt to a whole new model of journalism; one that newspapers and magazines have been using for years.

Read the rest and see three earlier stories about newspapers actually having an advantage in the video future.

See ya

Well, one way to look at the networks playing hardball and leaving YouTube is that there’s that much attention left for the rest of us who are making small TV.

Getting their act together

When the UK’s online political talk show, 18 Doughty St., started, I lamented the technology, for it kept me from watching. Well, they have their technical act together and they have a very impressive rundown of shows on news, politics, culture, blogs, and more. The BBC’s Richard Sambrook stopped by for a visit today and I hope to when I’m in London in early March.