Featured, journalism, Media, social media, Technology, Uncategorized, video

Journalism In Ferguson or Just One Big Selfie?


The movie camera has always been the boogeyman of authority. In Vietnam, color movie cameras were used – the film was shot, shipped, processed and telecined for broadcast on nightly news programs. This first television war with action shot by photojournalists in the field, specifically in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, was a strong influence on the American public’s perspective of the conflict. When cable TV in the home was popularized in the 1980’s, video broadcast technology was ready with 24-hour news channels that relentlessly covered conflict around the globe via satellite. This CNN effect became the new normal for how we expect to watch war, conflict and unrest.

Technology of the new century has given us in miniature a movie camera and a world wide publishing network not of broadcast journalists, but of individuals. This movie platform is so quick it’s viral. Anyone with modest means can live stream (broadcast) what is happening in front of them to the rest of the world. It sounds earth shattering and it very much is. Beginning in 2010 during the Arab Spring we saw the impact of this through the lens of people closest to the conflict. But now I feel a new twist to citizen journalism since the Arab Spring that we may have seen take shape during the Occupy Movement of 2011. The camera has turned back to look at us. This selfie generation is really only a few years old and it’s network effect is seen worldwide. If broadcast photojournalism was selfless, is internet journalism the news selfie?

Monday night (8/18/2014) I watched a two live streams from Ferguson by KARG Argus Radio and the other by Tim Pool (@Timcast) of Vice News. Most of what I remember from KARG’s “I am Mike Brown Live from Ferguson, MO” was two guys driving around for hours trying to get directions on how to get to the designated media area. Perhaps I missed the important parts that took place outside the car. The latter from @Timcast was representative of what I believe is selfie journalism. This is not a direct critique of Tim and his work, but more a reflection on what I’m seeing as the journalist becomes the subject of the story. It’s not a brand new thing – Geraldo Rivera’s work from the 1970’s is an example – but the trend appears to be amplified by the immediacy of the platform.

If the tendency in each of us is to turn the camera inward to capture the mundane and important events of our lives, if that’s now in our DNA, then it stands to reason that both professional and citizen journalists are adopting this reporting style. Like getting a phone call from a friend on vacation who wants to tell you about the amusement park ride she just enjoyed, the movie camera is now just a subset of the communication device which conveys the storytelling of the person who is there. Camera’s are no longer the important cold lens of truth that they once were.

Since Monday, some journalists have been arrested and the police in Ferguson have suggested that they are part of the problem because protesters would tend to “act out” for the camera. If journalists seem eager to insert themselves and become part of the story, does this change the narrative of what’s happening on the ground? Would a focus on editorial, aggregating footage from cameras of the subjects of the story be a better alternative? What is the value and role of the journalist?

Here are some time coded samples with notes from @Timcast for you to consider:

http://youtu.be/CmqHVKNZkhM?t=2h30m Good place to start @Timcast on camera

http://youtu.be/CmqHVKNZkhM?t=2h40m Shots fired and police fire teargas

http://youtu.be/CmqHVKNZkhM?t=2h46m Shots are fired over the heads of the journalists

http://youtu.be/CmqHVKNZkhM?t=2h48m22s Journalists are down on the ground

http://youtu.be/CmqHVKNZkhM?t=2h52m @Timcast back on camera, talks about what just happened

http://youtu.be/CmqHVKNZkhM?t=2h54m40s He finally interviews someone! This woman lives in the area of the riots and talks about what has been happening between residents and the police. I think this was the most important part of the video and we get a valuable perspective.

http://youtu.be/CmqHVKNZkhM?t=3h30m Later @Timcast has an infamous run-in with the police about press credentials. It looks like a tense situation and seems that the cops wanted media out of the line of fire.

advertising, Featured, gaming, Media, social media, Uncategorized, video, XOXO Festival

The Pull of Minecraft

I’ve always been involved in some form of media making since I was in grade school picking apart/repairing cassette tape recorders, so get off my lawn. Specifically, outliers and mainstreamers that insist on coming up with newfangled media taxonomy every few years, primarily to define digital media and the Internet. One of my ‘favorites’ has been Transmedia which I’ve felt has been over-hyped and inconsistently defined. I’ve heard people stammer when I’ve asked them to tell me exactly what it is. Even Wikipedia and one of the key proponents of transmedia Henry Jenkins, appear to differ on the definition. It seems to me it has never adequately defined anything really new as Disney could be seen as a transmedia storyteller par excellence before the internet even existed. The problem these folks have is defining the unique little flower that transmedia is, and not to confuse it with cross-platform storytelling. Transmedia is a push the story and audience to the media platform exercise with either positive or negative results (Jenkins: “… are dispersed systematically across multiple media platforms…”). And let’s face it, it’s a marketing strategy to get paid more for telling a story in multiple places. There’s nothing wrong with that if you’re successful. If you create characters, back stories and story arcs that are compelling enough to bring an audience to additional media platforms then good for you, but there’s nothing new here. Marvel, Lucas, DC, Dark Horse, Roddenberry have been doing this for years, well before the 1991 invention of the term transmedia. It’s just cross-platform storytelling.

Why am I bringing this all up now? Partly because the transmedia folks will mention interactivity among the storytellers and audience, though this seems lacking in the formal definition. Marketing proponents push to the platforms and have even fought their audiences from time to time, sometimes by declaring full creative ownership or even copyright infringement control over their fans. I think that violates the original intent of transmedia. I think transmedia should be wholly redefined from what it currently is: pushing a story to multiple media platforms, to the better definition of pulling fans to media platforms for the purpose of sharing the storytelling experience.


Enter Minecraft. This amazingly popular indie game released in 2011 after 2 years of alpha/beta development that I became aware of during a presentation at the XOXO festival last year by Portland’s 2 Player Productions who created a beautiful documentary about it: “Minecraft: The Story of Mojang”. And then around the holidays my tween daughter began to enthusiastically play the mobile version, watch YouTube videos and talk to her friends about it. What did I discover?

Minecraft is different. It’s a game with an audience. It’s an open ended game- you can do what you want, which is a key to it’s popularity. Participants create worlds, characters, stories and challenges to their heart’s content. They create elaborate scenarios- dare to call them stories on their own. This personal walled garden of storytelling between the participant and their device of choice (PC, game console or mobile) is by default not a shared experience. The shared experience comes when Minecrafters make videos (mini movies if you will) exploring their creation to share with an audience on YouTube. There’s no push to YouTube as a platform, rather it’s a natural choice to share what was created in the Minecraft game world. Like evolution taught us, pick the best tool for the job and the job at hand is to share my creation in Minecraft, and the best tool is a YouTube video. Because this is a purely creative endeavor, the YouTube video is the perfect platform to share the experience of your creation without actually being there. Think about composing and performing music. Because space and time won’t allow me to sit and listen to Bird perform his music for me live, I can purchase a recording that I’ll enjoy without actually being there. Or perhaps it’s the artist who shares a photograph of her painting on Facebook. A large part of the history of recorded media is about encouraging new fans to an alternate creation of the work.


Minecraft videos are very popular on YouTube. They spark interest in people who don’t even play Minecraft because these presentations tell a story of creation, survival, exploration and discovery. They can be engrossing if you take the time to watch a few choice videos. They even have their own creative style: typically hosted by one or two presenters either showing off an original creation or exploring a world created by someone else and downloaded as maps or mods. This is a feedback loop in it’s purest sense of creating game play and passively viewing that story. That’s a natural call-to-action that inspires to create and share more in Minecraft. The sharp growth in new videos posted and purchases of the game should be a marketers dream…

And this all takes place on the media platforms that transmedia pundits have been babbling about for years: digital video and games. Advertisers should be salivating as creative agencies have been striving for years to crack this duopoly of mediums in the hopes of getting twice the audience and theoretically, twice the payout. But the natural tendencies of this symbiotic relationship between interactive game and passive viewing experience were baked into this product from the start. Minecraft itself was created as a space to build. More options, fewer rules, open to modification- this starts to look less like a game as we’ve come to know them and a little more like those silly virtual worlds like Second Life that we would all be immersed in by now. We’re not of course because those worlds are just as advertised, a second life not really well integrated into our first life, the one we already barely have time for. A game field with open play, come as you can, build as you can, share when you can, integrates very well into our day to day first life just like building a project in Legos (an obvious Minecraft inspiration).

So how do we monetize it? That’s the question everybody want’s to answer, right? Well let me tell you something right now, you can’t. Period. Move along. You may think you can: hey, how about targeted in game ads? Nope! Lower thirds? Nope! Pre and Post rolls? Nope! You may see these in videos and game play and whether they’ll be effective or not for the ad platforms that use them, they won’t be for you. Game over. Why? because they interrupt the open feedback loop. They put unwanted graffiti on a special place created by someone who wanted to share it. It’s within our nature to be creative but we also must be able to trust ourselves and the audience in order to have the confidence to share what we’ve made. Invasive advertising breaks that trust by cheapening the platform.

So begin with the idea that you can’t monetize this at all, at least not in the ways you’re familiar with. Then look at the success of it, the millions of viewers and almost 10 million paid downloads of the game. What does that tell us about successful campaigns or content? Are you the one to shoehorn a story across media platforms in order to push your audience there, or would you rather ride the natural pull and symbiotic feedback loop between platforms? The key I think is allowing your fans to build the world, the message, the campaign, the story, in an unrestricted and natural way using the media tools they’re familiar with.

Simply put: Don’t push. Let them pull.

CrazyTalk, journalism, Media, Oregon, Podcast, Portland

Podcast: Criticizing The Armchair Media Critics


This week I took a little time out on my DJ show at House of Sound to talk about an observation I made Sunday night while watching the Mars Curiosity rover landing and reading the flood of tweets coming from those I follow. As with anything, there was the typical 140 funnies, the best from Curiosity itself when it tweeted:

I’m safely on the surface of Mars. GALE CRATER I AM IN YOU!!! #MSL  Continue reading

Film, Media

Mike Vogel, Did You Kiss Anyone?

At the end of October last year, I attended my daughter’s piano class recital in the living room of a beautiful house nestled in a rather exclusive neighborhood on the outskirts of inner SE Portland. Naturally I brought a video camera. To be more specific for all you videography enthusiasts out there, I brought my Canon DSLR to shoot the video because I knew I could get a decent run-and-gun shoot of her recital using a relatively small kit. As the kids ate sweets and played after the program, adults socialized over beer and wine. One dad started a conversation in the kitchen, asking about my setup and we started to talk video tech. As the conversation wound down, we exchanged names and job titles. Wait? What’s your name again?

Mike Vogel.

You’re Mike Vogel?

Now I had a rare smile on my face, because I had been had. I was talking filmmaking tech with an accomplished local filmmaker.

I know you! I follow you on Twitter, you’re @FrontAve. It’s good to meet you! And now it was my turn to get this guy… because I’m not that well know on social media by my real name.

I’m @drnormal.

I think Mike broke out in a smile too, mentioned something about a podcast and as we packed up our kids to leave we agreed to follow-up and meet over beers sometime soon. Which we still must do, by the way…

But I don’t think he kissed anyone that night and he certainly didn’t kiss me, but he must of at least kissed a few people Tuesday night at the Bagdad Theater where he premeired his latest independent work, “Did You Kiss Anyone?” a comedy about marriage, sex, and shi**ing with the door open. When I saw his tweet about the screening and saw that my calendar was open, I had to go check it out. Luckily I didn’t end up going alone and was able to convince a friend of mine earlier in the day over lunch to come with me.

It was a very Portland night. The screen played submissions to the website of “anonymous anti-Valentine’s messages”. My friend clued me in on these and I was sad I hadn’t sent mine in… 🙂 Then Mike introduced 2 bloggers who spoke about their awkward romantic interludes. Heather of Mile73 and wife of Dave Knows Portland spoke about meeting Mr. Knows Portland online and IRL, which was a story arc of stalker bloggers, romantic bliss, marriage, moving from Portland to Astoria, unemployment and pregnant with twins. It was a very entertaining story, worthy of Back Fence PDX. Mike got back up onstage, thanked everyone for coming (it was great to see it well attended) and then it was on with the show!

We were first treated to a special promotional short, “Did You Cast Anyone?” a humorous piece where the actors take out their frustrations about the casting, followed up by the feature. Now I’m not a film reviewer and I won’t attempt it here for the fear of creating something that sounds like a school book report. I will say that I enjoyed “Did You Kiss Anyone” for it’s humor, performances, camera work and editing. Essentially, Mike takes us on a journey where a bad idea unfolds into a very, very bad idea- at least when you end up in Estacada in the middle of the night, you know something has terribly gone wrong. Based on the audience reaction, I think the night came off well.

For more on “Did You Kiss Anyone” and Mike Vogel’s filmmaking and commentary on marketing nano-budget films, check out the links below:



journalism, Media, Tech Community

Media: Somebody Actually Made Money in Podcasting – Congratulations!

Just when I thought November would quietly putter along, it’s been quite a news month. Avoiding the obvious, in the local media market the financial woes and mismanagement of Portland Community Media, the community access cable studio and network caught my eye a few weeks ago. Over the years, community access television and PCM specifically has provided the deep technical resources and broadcast network to small-time producers of political, cultural, religious, educational, alternative, vile, artistic and just plain weird shows whose only common thread was a legal requirement of local cable franchises to support the communities they do business in by providing the resource to citizen producers without prejudice over content. They were the real free speech factories. Yes, I said were.

Several years ago I was looking for an outlet for my video production side projects and PCM was the leading option at the time until a co-worker showed me his first generation iPod and introduced me to the word podcast. “Why the hell would I produce anything for such a limited audience? Content for a very privileged few who carried around a little white music player? No thank you!” Well I soon got religion and started to consume podcasts that were the primer for what the medium, and the new social media were all about. I was hooked. Not only because the social web was a new hack on old broadcast ideas, but simply that the production-cost barriers to entry were minute. Anyone can podcast!

And so we did.


And he did too, and the world changed a little bit. Well, at least the world of Portland, Oregon beginning in 2009. Robert Wagner began his no-holds-barred Portland Sucks daily podcast as a labor of love, birthed as many shows had from the loins of his blog of the same name. And it was good. Instantly better with dependable co-host Sabrina Miller. Better than any censored morning radio show in the market that plays too many mattress ads and payola music. It turned out that he was so good at this podcast thing, he launched his own live streaming internet radio podcast network with multiple daily and weekly shows as pdx.fm and later rebranded as cascadia.fm. The network was so good that he attracted top notch radio talent like Cort and Fatboy to continue their popular show post KUFO. For three years my mornings were filled with live cascadia.fm programming, often streaming to my iPhone during my morning commute- just like listening to “real” radio that magically didn’t suck. To think that Robert was the technologist behind the station, its executive producer, webmaster and designer, CEO, audio engineer and the star talent is a little mind boggling because he somehow was able to do all those things exceedingly well and survive it. I can’t think of anyone in media that has done all that by themselves at his level of quality. No one.

But now it’s all come to an end. It’s a bittersweet end for sure, and even if I can continue to download new podcast episodes I’ll still miss the shows live stream every morning. I’ll miss the chatbox derailing, or often in the case of Cort and Fatboy guiding the stream of consciousness humor through to the coda of the show. What’s the good news, then? Cascadia is going out on a high note. Robert sold the internet network as an encore to the final bow of one of the coolest media experiments Portland has seen. He made money podcasting!

Like he said he would.

And in a way it proves a point that this scalability of current media models can and will thrive and you don’t need to justify your multi-million dollars of bad fiscal management on a poor economy with the excuse of serving the public interest. The public interest is being served quite well over here without you: http://www.livestream.com/occupyptown and the many fine programs on cascadia.fm have been serving us thoughtful entertainment for the last three years without donations or pledge drives. It all just sort of works. That is, if you’re smart, hard working and have confidence in what you are good at. That’s Robert’s formula.

So congratulations to you Robert Wagner and thanks for having made cascadia.fm a destination of quality programming. I’ll miss it, but I’m also happy knowing you were rewarded for all your hard work. You deserve it, man!



More with Robert about media:

Panel at Digital Journalism Camp

Webvisions Panel on Future of Podcasting

Strange Love Live 2009

Film, journalism, Media, Tech Community

Media: Listening to the DJ – DJ Wilson of KGW Media Group

Last week I attended Broadercasting an event hosted this year at KGW studios by Elemental Technologies and Rentrak, two leading media technology companies in Portland, Oregon. The event was primarily a mixer for Northwest Video Professionals and among the attendees were folks from OMPA, Elemental employees showing off their video compression technologies, and Vince Porter, Executive Director of the Oregon Film Office. There was however a 30 minute panel discussion on media, with Rentrak, Elemental and KGW panelists.

DJ Wilson, President and General Manager of KGW Media Group is a television executive that “got” the social web early on. She gave the green light to reporters and producers to engage their viewers on Twitter back in fall 2008 and even included content and viewer comments on Live @ 7 (also known as The Square). Needless to say, I’m a big fan of this particular DJ. 🙂

Take a listen to what she has to say about the current state of her business, consumers and how technology continues to change how media is consumed.


My friend Brian M. Westbrook also shot this video at KGW’s Studio on the Square Tweetup back in 2009. Take a look back to see a TV station taking some informed, forward-thinking risks during a major change in their industry.



journalism, PublicMediaCamp

Digital Journalism Camp 2011: Spending The Day With People Who Are Changing Journalism (UPDATE)

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of taking part in the second annual Digital Journalism Camp in Downtown Portland Oregon. Webtrends graciously agreed to donate the space and Justin Kistner his time, to support this conference founded in 2009 by someone I’d describe as a journalist iconoclast Abraham Hyatt. In the last two years the landscape has changed among newspapers and blogs- quite frankly from an early distain and mistrust- now finding ourselves in 2011 with examples of collaborative efforts underway between traditional news organizations supporting smaller and more nimble web and mobile media. As an example “Blogging” and “Traditional Print Media” aren’t dirty words anymore and the two groups can get into a room together and share insight into producing good journalism using their platforms of choice. Everyone is learning.

It’s that spirit that was alive on Saturday, described best by the conference itself:

Digital Journalism Camp is about spending the day with the people who are actively changing journalism. You’re going to learn from — and share with — the people who have found solutions to the challenges you face, whether you’re a beat reporter, a blogger or a publisher.

As a self-described journalism groupie I wanted to lend support to this event, so I brought a couple cameras. Special thanks to Jeff Bunch and Eitan Tsur who handled recording in each room. Because of them, we were able to capture all the conference presentations.

Business for Bloggers: Revenue and management strategies for niche sites

Web Today, Print Next Week: Best online practices from non-daily journalists

Goodbye day job: Lessons from three startup founders

Unheard Voices: Can digital tools give marginalized communities a voice?

Mark S. Luckie Keynote: How to out-innovate the innovators

Abraham Hyatt: Welcome

Ethics, Rights and Responsibilities

Audio Editing and Recording for Journalists

Video Storytelling

Backgrounding Sources