Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My First Gig as a Reporter (pt1)

I signed up to be a PJTV Citizen Reporter. I did so for many reasons, but one of the most compelling is that our constitutionally guaranteed press freedom is increasingly an individual right. That individual right has largely been realized on the Internet in the form of blogs; however, audio (e.g.: radio) and video are also protected by that right. I want to explore that freedom to discover its current technological limits. I was thinking along these lines for the February 27th Tea Party (see: here, here, here, and sorta here).

This post is about my experience reporting on the Saint Louis Tax Day Tea Party. I've already written several posts about it (Bill Hennessy Interview, my Video Odyssy getting that interview posted, a brief post about the Tea Party, and the Finally post). This is a summary of my audio reporting.

First, I'm pretty sympathetic to what PJTV was trying to do with Citizen Reporters. They attempted to crowdsource their coverage of an event that occurred over the course of a day in five hundred plus locations. They got a lot of still photos, but I'm not sure how much video they got. I know Saint Louis did not have a live feed. I hope I can help change that for the 4th of July.

I've looked around the PJTV's state level coverage a little. There was only one video in all the coverage of NJ. I didn't see any videos in MA—not even a grainy cellphone video from Boston, nothin'. Perhaps there's something on YouTube that someone could link.

Cellecast.com tells a similar story, but first let me tell you what it is. The basic idea behind Cellecast is that everyone with a cellphone is a journalist. You dial a number and leave a voice message. You get unlimitted redos on the message and I very nearly used them all up ;-) You push a couple buttons and your voicemail is available as an MP3 on the web. They'll even push out a tweet on your behalf about it. Others can listen to your cellecast on their cellphone, so the tweet helps notify them when you submit a new report.

The night before the Tea Parties, I saw that PJTV was excitedly claiming "over a dozen cellphone reporters signed up!" Realizing we would be seeing the audio equivalent of tumble weed blow by, I emailed a half dozen friends in Beantown to ask them to help out... All I can say: slackers. Here are all of my audio reports (warning: audio plays on all of these after the jump):
That's six reports. There were a total of thirty-five cellecasts. There were, according to current PJTV estimates, over 700,000 attendees at tea parties across the country. Success? You make the call. No, scratch that. Make the call on Independence Day.

What I think this underscores is the overwhelming need to train tea partiers in these new technologies. I'm not sure what form that training will take. Perhaps it should be integrated into the 4th of July events.

Look for part 2 (video) on Thursday.

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