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INdTV DAY OF RECKONING

"We believe in fearless truth-telling, which takes courage. We believe in accountability. We believe diverse points of view are important and should be heard. And to accomplish what we believe, we will share the power of television with our audience."

Joel Hyatt, INdTV Co-founder and CEO
November 12, 2004

This has been one crazy roller coaster ride. In May of this year, Al Gore and Joel Hyatt acquired a satellite network aiming to "provide a fresh and independent voice, serving as an alternative to a media industry run by large conglomerates." Like, how badly do we need that? So badly my pants hurt. Finally, someone gets the bottom-up media revolution and has the resources to amplify it.

I was even more thrilled when I heard, almost too late, they were accepting applications for 50 Digital Correspondents. The DC's, we were told, would be INdTV's independent and youthful content-acquisition army, roaming the globe and following their passion – with benefits. Delivering the straight dope with humor and sincerity via laptop and PD-170. The new wave of media nomads. Although I was scrambling to finish Blogumentary, I managed to whip off my application video, complete with secondhand Al Gore impersonation.

October 15, the waiting game began.

Impressively, INdTV started a vlog, the walk behind their transparency talk. Our host was the affable and charismatic Gotham Chopra: Author, journalist, Red Sox fan, son of Deepak. And increasingly, Applier of Psychological Anodyne as the DC masses grew restless.

As days and weeks passed, vlog commenters became rowdy and numerous. The election loomed ominous, heads were hotly charged and INdTV was behind schedule. They received 2,000 DC applications, far more than they anticipated. What was the selection process? Are you being politically correct? What about talking heads, do talking heads have a chance? What the hell is going on?!????

Two things were going on. One, they were going through every DC application, debating their merits and ranking them. But perhaps more importantly, INdTV hired two senior executives: David Neuman (NBC, Fox, Disney, Channel One, CNN) and Anne Zehren (Teen People, Glamour).

Conspiracy theories were born overnight. How can these old media moguls start the new revolution? Was this all an elaborate ruse to steal our ideas for free? Is this whole thing screwed before it ever gets off the ground? Why do they hate us? The vlog became nearly impossible to follow. Many of us moved over to the Unofficial INdTV Forum to meet our fellow angsty DC revolutionaries, post our videos, and generally goof around. But INdTV shut down the official vlog, fueling conspiracy and speculation in the forum that's burning hot right at this very moment.

Today, December 1, is the deadline. Many people have received rejection letters. Many others, myself included, are in limbo. DC's are swarming around each other going mad with anticipation.

Things got really interesting when "SOMEONE IN THE KNOW" posted this comment, saying that there were serious internal struggles once Neuman was brought aboard, and that the entire Digital Correspondent concept has been scrapped. Who's going to believe some anonymous prankster? I replied with this funny spoof. Still, it planted seeds of doubt in many people's minds.

As for me... nothing excites me more than my newfound impending independence. I have lots of ideas and creative projects to explore. If I am one of the lucky few offered a job at INdTV, I'll be in a real pancake sandwich.

Stay tuned.

December 1, 2004 at 03:45 AM in Media | Permalink

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Comments

   From: recruiting@indtv.tv
   Subject: Re: DC app status
   Date: December 1, 2004 2:33:06 AM CST

Chuck,

Thanks for checking in. You should here from us sometime in the AM...wait it is the AM....maybe mid morning to be safe.

Best,

Ezra

Posted by: Chuck at Dec 1, 2004 3:51:50 AM

If I am one of the lucky few offered a job at INdTV, I'll be in a real pancake sandwich.

And buddy, I'll be the first in line to eat that sandwich.

Posted by: Jonathan at Dec 1, 2004 10:00:34 AM

Chuckumentary
Another Day In Limbo
Should Eat Some Crackers

Posted by: Juliah at Dec 1, 2004 10:29:16 AM

Chuck,
You're funny man. Nice synopsis.
I love pancake sandwiches.
--limbo lady d

Posted by: Daffodil at Dec 1, 2004 11:24:30 AM

CHUCK = DUMPED!

Finally, I join my esteemed DC colleagues. On the boards, several others got reject letters today and we have yet to hear from a SINGLE person who was hired. It seems the rumors may be true - they decided against hiring any DCs but they were too far into the process to admit that's what they were doing.

Did they misunderestimate the power of the network (which they helped create) to see through such a ruse?

---------
Dear Chuck,


We are so impressed with the hard work, passion, and creative talent demonstrated by the 2000 Digital Correspondent applicants who have reached out to us. Thank you for being one of the pioneering participants in our effort to transform television. This recruiting process has been instrumental in the shaping of our programming vision.


After a review of your application, we regret that we are unable to offer you a position as a full-time Digital Correspondent.


But, we want you to stay involved.  And we have a new framework for supporting your involvement.


While we can't possibly hire all of you in staff positions, the size and talent of our applicant pool has inspired us to do something bolder and with more impact. We are going to open our doors wide and invite all of our Digital Correspondent applicants, and anyone else who shares our aspirations and our values, to participate as a freelance producer who can submit content on-line and be rewarded for contributions that are broadcast on our television network.


The best path forward for a network that seeks to share a diversity of perspectives and to broaden the substance of televised content is not to rely just on a small elite to represent the thousands or millions beyond. No; to truly democratize television, we need to give all of you the opportunity to air your stories on our network.


We began to form this idea a few weeks ago, and it has since been reinforced by your online feedback and activity. With great interest, we've watched you organize yourselves and collaborate. We've watched as solicited and unsolicited concepts and material have flowed in. We have been overwhelmed, but also emboldened. And what we have come to believe is that there is a more effective path to making innovative television for and with our audience.


We know that waiting to hear from us has been frustrating. We apologize for our delay in communication. We were taking extra time and care as we crafted an expanded vision of our production model, and we are confident that the resulting open contribution platform will ultimately drive a stronger TV network and enable more participation.


So, we are now turning ourselves to the task of developing that platform: the tools, in the form of on-line training, editorial guidelines, and production templates; the context, an innovative programming strategy; and, of course, the incentives, monetary or otherwise.


We hope that your relationship with INdTV isn't over, but that it is just beginning. To succeed, we will need your continued passion and creativity.


But please realize that an idea this big will take us time to organize. We will be back in touch when we are ready to empower you with new tools in the right context with the right rewards.


This will be better than what we first imagined. Thanks to you, INdTV will be more open, more democratic, and have more potential to transform television.


INdTV


P.S. In the meantime, there will be other employment opportunities at INdTV. Keep an eye on our website for new postings.

Posted by: Chuck at Dec 1, 2004 1:57:12 PM

That sucks they're not going with any correspondents! You were a definite shoo in for that position.

Did you see what Merriam-Webster picked as their Word of the Year?

Posted by: Brian at Dec 1, 2004 2:53:12 PM

Blog, the little word that could.

I prefer "defenestration" myself.

Posted by: Chuck at Dec 1, 2004 3:14:43 PM

Ouch. At least you aren't alone, I guess.

Posted by: Sharyn at Dec 1, 2004 4:56:27 PM

Those hosers. Somehow the fact that they're not hiring *anyone* seems like more of a disappointment than the fact alone that you weren't chosen.

I still think you did the right thing vis-a-vis TPT. I have enormous faith in your abilities.

Posted by: spacewaitress at Dec 1, 2004 10:36:12 PM

That's too bad. Your application video was great.

I think in the ad/design world, the "framework" they've set up is more commonly referred to as spec work. It's brilliant, but a little devious on their part. Sounds like they assume no risk for the costs of producing content, but they pick and choose from completed projects to broadcast. Unfortunately, these days it's probably the only way something like this can get off the ground. Good luck. I hope something works out.

Posted by: clumsy at Dec 1, 2004 10:43:20 PM

thanks gang. y'alls my peeps.
*pounds chest in solidarity*

INdTV can make everything right by paying me handsomely for U.S. broadcast rights to Blogumentary.

Posted by: Chuck at Dec 1, 2004 10:46:22 PM

Know what Chuck? Knowing that they'd reject someone like you makes me feel a little better about getting the boot. In two years, they may be begging you to work for them, or to buy one of your projects. You totally rock.

Posted by: Juliah at Dec 2, 2004 12:12:26 AM

You are too, too kind.
People have been saying so many nice things about me lately... it's creepy. :-) Actually it's a karmic shower, washing away any doubt and worry about flying solo.

Oh, and in two years? I'll probably be begging Denny's for a job. But it will have been a good two years.

P.S. - CONGRATULATIONS JULIAH, YOU'VE LEFT THE 2000th COMMENT!

*cheers*

(seriously, you left comment #2000. neat.)

Posted by: Chuck at Dec 2, 2004 12:19:42 AM


I'm sure there are many places that will be able to pay your much more handsomely for the tv rights to Blogumentary.

They just should have gotten George Soros to kick in so they could hire all 2000 of you.

Posted by: Steve Rhodes at Dec 2, 2004 1:38:17 PM

Hello Chuck, I read your postings. In theory, I am one of the "lucky" ones, as I got a call from INDTV that congratulated me. Instead of being told when I was flying out to start my three weeks of boot camp, however, I was told that they wanted to move forward with me and they would contact me to tell me how in January. As much if not more of a letdown as your rejection letter I think. Certainly the initial vision no longer exists at the main house unless there is an internal struggle to keep some DC' and people are fighting about it as I type this.

Posted by: Melissa at Jan 7, 2005 10:53:35 AM

chuck: don't give up on INdTV just yet. as the "convergent revolution" that was supposed to happen in 1994,5,6,7,8,9,2000+++, it finally happened this year as broadband penetration allows for your video to be seen larger than a postage stamp. INdTV has the resources and the vision to take this to the next level, the first level, then it will be up to people like you to create the content that validates the premise. but until someone like these guys step up to the plate and at least attempt to start it, it is still a pipe dream. dont kill the first messenger, then the route will be closed, be a little bit more patient, after all they ponied up the 70 million for NWi, not you, so at least give them a minute to figure it out before you critiize..

short film makers looking for a venue..check out http://roadance.com...the truck leaves in 12 days...be on it.

Posted by: kosmos at Jan 8, 2005 2:53:54 AM

Melissa - wow, more limbo. They're not even making the people they hire feel good. Well I hope everything shakes out - whichever way - and you end up with a job you feel good and excited about. Keep us posted!

Kosmos: I hear what you're saying. Naturally I reserve the right to criticize them (or anybody) - especially after getting our hopes way up and then yanking the rug out from under us.

But of course *because* of broadband penetration, and DV/webcam penetration, and the tools being built now by the videoblogging group and others -- we simply don't need INdTV anymore. There are a whole lotta smart media people excited to build such a decentralized network online - including many of the people INdTV unceremoniously rejected.

*We* are the messenger.

(But I haven't given up on INdTV. Indeed I am looking forward to seeing it take shape, and suspect they'll want to tap into people like me and other videobloggers, filmmakers, etc. making media on our own.)

Posted by: Chuck at Jan 8, 2005 3:43:11 AM

Isn't it amazing how compelled we all are by IndTV and this idea they had about democratizing television. I keep coming back to your blog to see if they've asked to buy Blogumentary yet, it's kinda crazy. I'm really hoping that Melissa and the others who haven't been rejected will continue to post here, or at Interject, or on Tim Lang's blog (What space am I missing?) because I wanna know what happens, damnit! Are they really going to ask those 90 left in the running to do a reality show?! Oh lordy, what an icky piece of let down that would be. And then there's Kosmo who I can't fault for wanting to give IndTV a chance, but don't understand why he suggests that they not be criticized. Who in pop-art world of television, in a nation that supposedly cherishes free speech deserves such a crazy privilege or would even want it? -Liane

Posted by: Liane at Jan 8, 2005 8:15:44 AM

Hey Liane, I'm always glad to see you here.
What's Tim Lang's blog URL?

I keep meaning to post this here, it's the "new" forum, sorta:
http://interject.org/news.php

Posted by: Chuck at Jan 8, 2005 9:42:04 AM

It's tlrs.blogspot.com I think. If that's not quite right search for Tim Lang's Revolutionary Stupidity. If anybody is still hung up on this IndTV drama they really ought to check out his blog for the latest plot twists.

Posted by: Liane at Jan 8, 2005 10:27:39 AM

INdTV is a scam. Ask the hundreds of poor idiots who took the time and trouble to apply for the pretentious "DC" jobs. Unlike me, they'd never been told that "if it's too good to be true, it probably is".

The likes of Al Gore will not bring about the new media revolution. People like you just might though...

Posted by: Jonny English at Jan 11, 2005 10:37:53 AM

Dear Johnny English,
If you are talking about me bringing about a new media revolution, that is the most faith anyone has ever placed in me. Thank you, but I do not have that kind of power. We on the other hand, we as in the community of folk who might seriously interested in such a thing, might be able to make a dent. And it might not be all that difficult. -Liane

Posted by: Liane at Jan 15, 2005 8:40:17 AM

Does anybody know where the unofficail message board for indtv that was on WWW.geekrolling.com went? I know it was moving but never found out where.

Thanks

Felix

Posted by: felix at Jan 25, 2005 6:20:23 PM

Feliz - read up a couple comments for that new forum.
Although it's different now. This is the place to be. :-)

Posted by: Chuck at Jan 25, 2005 6:59:10 PM

(I meant Felix, although Feliz sounds nice.)

HEY! Tim Lang has a blog now too!

http://tlrs.blogspot.com/

Posted by: Chuck at Jan 26, 2005 3:18:21 AM