Tuesday night I had the pleasure of attending Public Media Camp at OPB studios. The organization rolled out the red carpet with helpful volunteers and an excellent buffet dinner spread that prompted my first, official event tweet:
Although there were some key folks missing who have been participating in online media that I wished would have attended, the crowd was a good mix of tech folks, journos and those with a community interest. Several I spoke with knew me and I knew them by way of Twitter and blogs, even though we had never met in person. I always find it awkward to meet people in person who I’ve followed for a significant time online. I feel like I already know you and don’t feel obliged by customary introductions.
Once everyone had a chance to get fed we sat down in the main television studio, heard the ground rules for an unconference, and then passed the microphone for introductions. OPB’s volunteers for the event did an excellent job of getting everyone situated and the unconference planning board updated. I decided to attend the Content and Online Communities in the North side of a large conference room called Appy. Since this was one large room, the conversation competed with the Tech for Reporting/Reporting on Local Tech (their notes here). Our discussion seemed to overlap another that was happening in the studio called Community Engagement. They posted their notes here.
My take-away from this conversation is that we all still have a long way to go building healthy online communities within the context of major media sites. It seems like it’s a feast or famine proposition: hot topics that lead to negative comments, flame war and moderation, or no comments on a show topic at all. My friend Nate DiNiro made a few good points about Community Managers and implementing a good CMS (Content Management System), but I felt that the problem was less about technology and more about building relationships within your online community. I kept coming back to the many live, in-person events that the Portland web tech community has created and the ongoing Beer and Blog, the Friday night mixer at the Green Dragon that finds a diverse mix of folks that may have already established ties online. Eva Schweber, formerly of tech community hub Cubespace, has written her thoughts on community here. I believe OPB’s effort to reach out in person and host this Public Media Camp is a good start in this direction. It also prompted me to post this tweet:
During the break I mixed, mingled and said “Hi” to a few folks. I stumbled around, not finding anything of interest to me in the Appy conference room until I saw this tweet:
Now, I don’t know about you, but if someone is throwing $3.3M or even sniffing around it well, I want to be in that session. So I crammed into the small Radio conference room with some familiar faces. The conversation seemed to focus on the topic of Bridging Old and New Media which was posted on the wiki. No talk of the $3.3M though, I must have missed it. If someone comes across this funding, shoot me a DM or email, OK? 🙂
As I got caught up on my Gmail/Twitter/Facebooks sitting in the back corner, I was startled into the discussion by a question directed to me and the room looking my way. Ooops! Pay attention in class, Mike! My contribution to this conversation revolved around the community niche content that I produce and the ability to readily produce it on the fly with the amazing production tools and capabilities we now have at our disposal on the web. Add to this recipe of technology a highly participatory community and you can do amazing things on the web in media. An interesting side-note to this, is the two discussions I had that night with broadcasters who are now starting to adopt some of these technologies to broaden their production capabilities.
So it was in this cramped conference room that I gave the example of a live remote we produced at the food cart pod on Hawthorne. It was Foursquare Day and we celebrated with a live show at Whiffies, talking about food carts, listening to live music and assisting KPTV with their 10 O’Clock news remote. It’s one of the best examples I can think of- dropping into a community event and delivering it live to an online and broadcast audience. As an independent web media producer, I posed two questions to this group: How do I partner with a traditional media outlet, providing them faster and nimble production capabilities? What communities aren’t being represented or are underserved in the media and how can I help them? To the first question, my friend Aaron Weiss of KGW talked about broadcast video quality standards but was also quick to point out that after some experimentation, they have embraced Skype for remote interviews. He also said that a news organization will use any quality level of content that would be identified as newsworthy at the time. An example of this would be CNN airing cell phone videos of a terrorist bombing.
As our session was coming to a close and we were getting kicked out of the room to make our way downstairs to the wrap-up session, I did get a chance to express my thoughts on funding media on the web directly through in-house, corporate production facilities- the deeper pockets where money does exist. We didn’t have time to explore the pros and cons of such a model, because of the time constraints.
In the wrap-up session I think one message was shared, that OPB should do this again. The closing thoughts are posted here from Morgan Holm.
–How does OPB build a stronger online community?
–How do web media producers and bloggers fit in with community and broadcast journalism?
–How do we provide a voice to underserved communities?
–Where does the money come from to support these efforts?
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