The UpTake roadtrip: Watch me live
And... I'm off!
OK dudes, I'm hitting the road. Hopefully all my gear is together. I've got a bigass Toyota Highlander which purely frightens me. I'm going to try some live videocasting action from the road. Tune in here or on this very blog around 11am-ish CST and see what's going on. RARRRRRR! Zzzzzzz
Thank you John Edwards
I just saw Edwards at the St. Paul rally. He was inspiring even though I'd seen his speech many times. I realized nobody else in the race was talking about ExxonMobil making $40 billion in profits, contrasted with how much hunger and homelessness we have around us. That same night, Joe Trippi twittered this:
Sure enough, that didn't bode well. I talked to several people after the Edwards rally who were drawn to his willingness to go after giant corporations and stand up for working class folk. Here's hoping Edwards continues his good work on poverty issues. His presence will be sorely missed in this campaign.
JUST REALIZED: I was on the road with Edwards on the first day of his campaign, and saw him here on the last day of his campaign. Bookends.
Heading to The Farm
In Nashville, I'm going to interview my client friend and her dad, both down home conservatives participating in the Republican primary on Feb 5. From what I hear, the dad wishes Newt would run. That evening, I'm heading 60 miles south of Nashville – but many more philosophical miles – to a legendary hippie commune called The Farm.
Get a taste of The Farm's fascinating history in this Vanity Fair article: Sex, Drugs, and Soybeans. Just soybeans for me, I think. If I'm lucky, I'll get an interview with the founder Stephen Gaskin, the founder and one-time spiritual leader of the place, and hopefully webcast it live.
I can't tell you how excited I am for this crazy journey to begin.
Footnote: Strangely enough, my first not-quite-girlfriend was born on this commune. She went to college in Santa Cruz, was known to drop acid, and loved Cat Stevens. I know, hippie alert, right? Our relationship existed almost entirely in IRC chats and email. This was pre-WWW days. Strange days indeed.
Footnote 2: My activist friend Alex and her daughter Ella stayed at The Farm en route to protesting at Camp Casey in Crawford, Texas. Some of that is documented on their blog Ella Goes.
Announcing: The UpTake Southern Fried Tour
In case you've been living under a wet blanket – or are lucky enough to be apathetic – you know February 5, 2008 is "Super Duper Tuesday," or "Tsunami Tuesday" and let's don't forget "Clusterfuck Tuesday." Twenty-four states are scheduled to hold caucus or primary elections for one or both parties on this date.
The UpTake is going to try to cover at least half of them, entirely powered by volunteer citizen journalists (can you help?). One of those will be me, reporting live and filing stories on the road. I've got the van, the camera, the EVDO card and a metal-fueled urge to unearth good stories.
It's The UpTake Southern Fried Tour. IT'S GOING TO RAWK YOUR PANTS OFF.
I'll be live quite a lot of the time. If you know anybody down south that would make a good story, drop me a line. This is about getting away from the horse race, getting away from the headlines, and finding out what real people are thinking. This is the real state of the union - a little slice of it, anyway.
Stay tuned for more details.
Please help pay for this unprecedented citizen journalism effort by making a donation to The UpTake today.
And check out the t-shirt below the jump!
Hans Johnson caught in Kenya violence
Duluth-native and Dance Band drummer Hans Johnson has devoted much of his life to helping the Maasai people of Southern Kenya. Here's a video I made with Hans about the school he helped build there using funds from Music of the Maasai CDs, with a little help from Low's Alan Sparkhawk.
On a recent trip to visit the Maasai village, he got caught in some gunfire. Here's the video.
Hans writes: On my way back from the Maasai Mara I had to duck into a small shop in Narok Town while police and protesters clashed in the street. The following video was taken at the tail end of the shooting. You can hear gun shots and screams and me asking if the walls are stone.
I'll be interviewing Hans for The UpTake next week, and I believe there will be a Star Tribune article shortly. I'm glad he made it home safe and sound to share what's going on there. See also, Rocketboom's two videos from Ruud Elmendorp on the Kenya crisis.
The UpTake LIVE: Vegas Snippets
For the 99.999999% of the video grokking population who missed The UpTake's occasionally entertaining and incisive live coverage of the Nevada caucus, here are a few moments I hold near and dear. The whole team did a bangup job. Definitely check out The UpTake's YouTube channel for on-the-ground coverage from our citizen journalists in Nevada, like Corrine McDermid's Politics and the Strip video.
THE UPTAKE, DERAILING THE NARRATIVE: Chuck Tomlinson and Stacker Manfield comment on the exchange between Mitt Romney and Associated Press reporter Glen Johnson - and how it relates to our brand of citizen journalism.
THE MORMON QUEEN: Well, you just have to watch this one... College favorite!
BARACK OBAMA CAUCUS CAROL: Just a real lovely gem of a song, this guy and his ukulele. One of many YouTube clips I dug up relating to Nevada politics.
THE UPTAKE VEGAS PROMO: Check out my 0:30 spot, with the bigtime newsy musics and a little 3D action courtesy of After Effects.
If at first you fail...
Oh baby, lordy lord. The UpTake's live show covering the Michigan show was pretty disasterous. We had a lot of stuff, so naturally lots of stuff went wrong. I think the highlight was the legendary missing-in-action videoblogger Chris Weagel of Human Dog. He couldn't hear me, but he just riffed and it was brilliant. Something about Ron Paul and Kucinich - my mind is mush.
Our New Hampshire live coverage was awesome. I was worried about all the tech for this Michigan show but thought it would go better. Of course tonight I chose to email a lot of peeps (including my old bosses and colleagues at Twin Cities Public Television, where they actually know how to pull off live fucking television.) Don't worry, I won't be asking for my TV job back any time soon. I'll be over here reinventing the wheel. Eventually it'll be shinier and faster.
So yes - clusterfuck to the whitehouse! We learned a lot. Come back Saturday night for live coverage of the Nevada caucus. Guaranteed to be occasionally informative and entertaining, with master CJ Corrine
on the ground in VEGAS, baby. I should have dirty gin martinis at the ready instead of our usual Bushmill's.
For the last week, The UpTake team has been kicking ass creating original, video-based citizen journalism. We think it's unprecedented to cover political events like the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primaries by sending citizen reporters out to film stories, publish them within a few hours, and even do live reports like we did last night. As much work as it was (A FUCKING LOT) it's also a lot of fun.
Still, when the dust settles I wonder - is it making a difference? And, is anyone watching or noticing or caring? People might get sick of my pounding the virtual pavement about what we're doing, but I have to to rise above the fray, and because I think what we're doing deserves some attention. That's why it's so gratifying to get supportive tweets and emails. They're little beacons that say, "Keep going." They shine just a little brighter than all those other beacons that say, "Shut up." Or, "Jerk face assjerk."
Today the floodgates really opened. (Too much information?) My favorite story from Iowa was featured on Rocketboom and a few people left very very kind comments. Now, Jackson West writes a fan-fucking-tastic article, Online Political Video a Winner in 2008. So yes, I am a "pimp daddy for The UpTake" as Joanne Colan says, and rightly proud of it. Yessir, I will have another sarsparilla and friendly slapping-about!
Along with all this publicity comes, well, some uncomfortable fan attention. Behold - whatever this is:
In closing, I apologize for this blog being almost entirely self-promotional which is not very interesting. the pendulum swings slowly between art and politics, and these days it's politics rising. Art will have its day.
Full interview transcript with Jackson West below the hop.
> The UpTake has managed to have great reach in terms of correspondents in the
> field in the last two primaries. Who's on the team, how are you parsing out
Thanks, Jackson. It's great to be here. Mind if I smoke? I don't smoke, just wanted to ask.
The UpTake has been really fortunate to find people passionate about what we're
doing, and willing to invest their time and energy into citizen journalism. We started
in Minnesota where our core team includes Jason Barnett, Mike McIntee, Chris Dysktra,
Noah Kunin and me. Noah and I drove to Iowa with two other UpTake recruits
where we were joined by our Colorado director, Corrine McDermid. We rounded out the
team with video from Rodger Routh, an native Iowan who took us inside the caucus process.
The day after the Iowa caucuses, we decided to send Corrine and Noah onward to
New Hampshire to build on our success covering Iowa. We were lucky to have Mary
and Anthony from Debate Porridge on the ground there filing stories for us, with a little
help from Steve Garfield as well.
As we look ahead to the upcoming primaries in Nevada, South Carolina, and beyond
we're hoping to find more locals with video cameras to cover those events. We might even
hop in the van and try to get our team ton the ground in a few of those states.
> You've been using Mogulus to great effect, both with live commentary from
> your St. Paul "studio" and field correspondents, also by mixing in
> pre-recorded reports. What do you like about Mogulus in particular and live
> broadcasting in general? Do you think the live format is helping to drive
> better coverage online than previous elections?
Live broadcasting has been a really exciting, mind-boggling experiment. When
we first looked at the Mogulus Studio and saw the power of a television station
in front of us, our heads were spinning with possibilities. We're really pushing
it to the limit by switching to live reports in different states, mixed with standalone
videos, promos, lower-thirds, etc. - it's essentially a citizen journalism-based news
It's really challenging doing live video, very different from the edited story world
I'm used to. Mogulus is really good but I'm looking forward to improvements, such
as widescreen video, testing live feeds and more robust chat capability. I
had a blast reporting live in our studio during the New Hampshire primary. We brought
in some knowledgeable folks to chat with, I put my phone number out there and got
a few callers, all while a team researched interesting angles on the results. We
have a lot to learn but this will be a powerful venue. We can inform people
without limits or any taboo subjects, while making it a conversation and having fun.
> Traditional news organizations setup up what could only be describe as
> redundant apparatus (multiple news trucks, camera teams, etc. for each
> network/publication) and trade on proprietary "scoops." The UpTake,
> Veracifier and independent vloggers and bloggers are instead cooperating and
> sharing their stories across sites. Do you think this new, lighter and more
> open news model has legs?
I honestly think we're giving traditional news organizations a run for the money.
Which we have very little of, by the way. If we had more funding we'd really be
competitive for this type of coverage. At the same time we're not really
setting out to compete or replace what they do - it's complimentary. We have more
coverage of outsider candidates like Kucinich and Paul, we seek out real people
on the ground. It's an opportunity to find stories that fall through the cracks of
traditional broadcast media. Back to your question, this "networked journalism"
model absolutely has legs and we're working hard to refine it.
> New Hampshire station WMUR dispatched a 22-year old college student with
> some interview experience to post YouTube reports and appeal to a younger
> generation. You've had broadcast and online news reporter experience. What
> do you think is optimal in terms of background for a "citizen journalist" to
> effectively gather news, or is enthusiasm enough?
Enthusiasm is almost enough, because we can't train people to be enthusiastic.
We can train them to use a camera and edit, necessary skills for a citizen
journalist, which is why training is part of The UpTake's mission.
> Speaking of enthusiasm, I know that the revenue potential for all this is
> minimal, if one exists at all. I'm curious about what kind of overhead The
> UpTake has (like, say, bottled water for Fox News staffers)? Is it mostly
> just sunk cost in terms of time that you could be working on other projects,
> along with gas, food and lodging? Is the fun of participating in the
> process and the knowledge that you're serving the public interest make it
Every donation to The UpTake helps us pay for gas money
and tapes to get these stories published: http://theuptake.org/?page_id=271
For Iowa and New Hampshire, we stayed
in friends' basements and helped cover gas and food. Time is the major investment.
We'd love to raise enough money to buy some decent cameras, microphones,
tripods, etc. for our citizen journalists. Working with Veracifier has been a big help
for us in terms of exposure, which will help us raise money to keep doing this.
We absolutely love what we're doing, and there's a growing audience for it.
This is where media and news coverage is headed. It's a smart investment
and we plan to be around awhile.
> Finally, what can we expect in terms of future primary coverage leading up
> to the February 5th "super-primary" and beyond?
Once we get a little sleep, we're jumping back into the fray. First, we're looking
for volunteers to get out their video cameras and shoot some video in these
primary states. Second, we'll probably hop in the van again and send some of our
crew to cover a few key states. Finally, we'll be doing more live reports from our studio
and checking in (via video, phone, Fax machine...) with people on the ground. Of
course, the more people donate to the cause, the more coverage we can offer.
Support citizen journalism. :-)
Steve Garfield, Mobile Video Journalist
My friend Steve Garfield is always on the cutting edge of posting video online. I first discovered Steve when I was making Blogumentary and saw him post video of a Howard Dean blogger breakfast. He declared 2004 "Year of the Videoblog" because he's always ahead of the curve like that. Now, he just beat CNN to a scoop about Duncan Hunter in New Hampshire. That's just one of many stories Steve is finding while streaming live video from his Nokia phone using a service called Qik. The UpTake's Noah Kunin caught up with him in New Hampshire, uploaded the footage to me last night, and now here it is for you, dear viewer.