Thursday, July 23, 2009

Carnahan Healthcare Forum Report #4: How We Did It

Interim President Forest Park Community College Zerrie Campbell and Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO)

Last Friday my vacation in Chicago was coming to an end when I saw a tweet from Michelle at She had sent a picture of the protest at Senator McCaskill's office. My immediate thought was: why didn't she live stream it? She's carved out a niche in the Tea Party movement by live streaming both the July 4th and Tax Day Tea Parties, so that seemed obvious to me. Turns out, it seemed obvious to her, too.

As I was driving back to Saint Louis, I began thinking about how you'd pull off a live video stream from a protest held in the median of a major road. You'd need other people to help. I was thinking it would be doable with two people—one to run the hardware and one to conduct interviews. I've changed my mind and now think three would be a better team size. I'll explain why in a minute.

Full Coverage of the Healthcare Forum

I saw a tweet very late Friday night about Russ Carnahan's Monday morning healthcare forum and direct messaged Michelle:
Need a reason to look forward to Monday morning? How 'bout a livecast of this: What do you think?
She was in. Nick, our high school "intern", was in. I outlined our on-air schedule in a post Sunday evening and contacted TheBlackSphere (Kevin—he asked The Question), StLUrbanSpice (Stephanie—she took the mic), and Carl Bearden to line up interviewees for 7:30 to 8:00AM. All interviewees were iffy, so I didn't mention that.

Our "intern" Nick

The reality of Monday morning changed the schedule. The venue, Forest Park Community College, is located near Rt 64/40 which is currently closed, so people traveling from the west were going to have trouble getting there. I spent a couple minutes on the phone trying to give Kevin directions. I asked the Carnahan staffers if we could interview them, but they weren't interested. And I didn't know Stephanie had made it until I saw her at the mic towards the end of the program.

We needed a third person, a producer, to handle the phone calls, round up people to interview, and swap out with the interviewer if need be. I don't think Nick is ready to tackle those tasks, but how would I know? This was only the second time I'd met him. He did help secure and reserve prime seating. And he helped with the camera work. The bottom line is that we had a late start for our live stream (about 7:55AM) and only one guest. (Thanks Lynne!) Michelle had trouble recording the stream, so I don't think we have video of that.

Carnahan's Staffer (Suzanne, I think)

There were three or four high school interns with Carnahan. They all wore name tags like: Margy Carnahan Staff. I asked if they were really all "Carnahans". None of them were. That's just how they did the name tags: [firstname] Carnahan Staff. My nightmare vision of a future rife with nepotism passed.

Crowd of 150. Those seats were filled.

There was a good size crowd. The event organizer said that they had planned for 100 to 150. It was standing room only by the time it got underway. Kevin told me that he thought the crowd was 60/40 against. From where I was sitting (the seat with the water bottle in the picture above), I'm not so sure. The people next to me didn't laugh at the punch lines and they clapped at all the wrong moments.

What I found fascinating about this experience, is that we were able to assemble a reporting crew on fairly short notice using,, email, and a few phone calls. I really wish we had hit that 7:30 live stream. I regret the late start. We will get better. Michelle will figure out the record option on live streams. Nick will take on more and varied responsibilities. Hopefully, Lynne and her friends will buy a couple of video cameras for the next event. And I'll get become a better interviewer and videographer.

Speaking of which, I got an interview with Kevin Jackson of Look for it Friday!


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