The UpTake's "Gook" video has garnered a lot of good response. Thanks to everyone who has emailed, commented, and Twittered. There's a ton of (often crazy) near-conversation on the Veracifier version, and it's been posted on AlterNet, Huffington Post, Brave New Films, and several other blogs, including most prominently Minnesota Public Radio's NewsCut with Bob Collins.
Bob started out talking about the thorny issue of racism, especially accusations of racism in an election year, which I agree merits healthy skepticism. But then he set his sights on the way I covered the story. We've gone round and round, and near as I can tell, Bob is unhappy with a video only about Irwin Tang's book, though the basic facts of the story are sourced.
For example, in the video Tang talked about McCain wanting to kill the Iranians with cigarettes, and sang "Bomb bomb Iran" in response to a question about Iran. Tang argues that this sort of dehumanizing is a preparation for war upon those people. Considering McCain has warned of Iran 'Armageddon', and promised "I'm sorry to tell you, there's going to be other wars. We will never surrender but there will be other wars," I don't think that assertion it unreasonable. Perhaps more links or quotes by McCain in the video would have underscored the validity of Tang's assertion.
More information, more research, and a deeper story are certainly there for the making. I don't claim this video is the be-all end-all, or the most comprehensive video on the subject of McCain's alleged racism. But it is a story, and a good one I think, presenting Tang's case, a history of the word "gook" and it's connection to U.S. wars and invasions, and Tang's own experience with the word "gook" as a Chinese-American.
Bob Collins seems to want me to go find someone trying to prove John McCain is not a racist, or wants a documented conversation between Tang and McCain.
This is not that story. That story would be good, too - not better, necessarily, but different and informative. I welcome Bob Collins, or anyone else, to make that story. The more the merrier. I stand by my work, and I'm damn proud of it.
Collins says he likes non-political stories about people. I like making stories about people, too – in fact that's what I love, and why I'm a documentarian. But, I will not shy away from people with controversial stories. I find Irwin Tang's story, and the case he makes, compelling. I hope people know more about the term "gook" and John McCain's use of that word after watching it – I sure do.
Journalism Braindump, and Other Oddities
Tonight, there was a gathering of great journalistic minds at an event called New Media, New Standards? Ethics in Online Journalism. There were old white guys, young white guys, in-between white guys, young women holding microphones, super old crazy white guys, and my friend Erica from Metroblogging.
Okay, that's not really fair. White guys often dominate discussion at these sorts of events. Indeed, The UpTake is full of white guys and we're trying to change that. The real issue is perhaps this: If you let the chattering classes in the door, the bastards will chat about you!
That's the vibe I get from the moderator of this event, Minnesota Public Radio's Bob Collins. And he's right, in a way - bloggers of all stripes will get catty in the backchannel when they sure could speak up at the event. But honestly, a lot of the air was sucked out of the room in the first 30 minutes, and the format heavily favored the two gentlemen on stage. A representative from the Society of Professional Journalists admitted (on camera) that this was the first time they'd ever attempted an event like this. So, hats off to them for trying. There was some good discussion. Get these growing pains out of the way now, and get some thick skin for those stinging blogger barbs.
The consensus is that this event should've been more of a roundtable. We honestly don't need Dan Gillmor to have these conversations. I tell you who we do need: Jason DeRusha and Mary Lahammer. Did you know? I helped TPT's Mary Lahammer start her blog way back in 2003. Almanac and Lahammer are pillars of local journalism and exemplify what a fair, ethical news operation should be. Meanwhile DeRusha has quickly become our generation's Dave Moore. He effortlessly blends his traditional news background with a personable delivery. He's in touch with what's going on and what people are saying because he uses every new media tool imaginable. DeRusha is fresh, authentic and accessible like few on-air talents.
MPR's Bob Collins is absolutely the right guy to moderate some of these discussions. Bob rightly laments the lack of passion in professional journalism. He's passionate and puts his personality into his news coverage, both on his blog and chatting with Mary Lucia on 89.3 The Current. I think Bob was unfairly maligned in the "thanks, no. bob" incident. Perhaps we need to make a "Is Bob Collins a prick?" wiki. JUST KIDDING! The guy beat me in arm wrestling, I'm nursing a sore arm/ego over here.
ANYWAY, BACK TO ME. The Rake (RIP) has an informal, i.e. inaccurate, survey of where people get their news locally. For some reason, this here blog is on the list, and in fact ranks higher than WCCO. Clearly, these people are retarded. I just bought some journalism books, so maybe there will be awesome news-making here someday. We actually do kinda make news over at The UpTake, so please go there instead and for fuck's sake turn on your television on watch WCCO once in awhile. They're getting paid!
RANDOM NAME-DROPPING: I talked to Steve Perry about his new gig running the Minnesota Monitor. What was the word he used... oh yes, clusterfuck. But I get the feeling he relishes the challenge of sheparding MinMon's operation into it's next evolution. There were many other familiar favorite faces: Melody Gilbert, Nikki Tundel, Bob Moffit, Garrick Van Buren, the Metroblogging kids. Finally, due to a St. Paul parking ramp closing at 8pm and related calamities, Noah Kunin and I got a ride home from David Brauer. I can't say enough nice things about this guy. He's definitely one reason I'll stay hooked into MinnPost, along with some interesting arts coverage over there lately.
ONE LAST PLUG: Julio Ojeda-Zapata, a Puerto Rico-native and all-around Journalist 2.0, wrote a great article about The UpTake's use of new technology. Technology A to Z: With easy, affordable tools, anyone can be a video journalist. I'm especially grateful Julio appreciates not just the tools, but the tone. I'd say the issue I most struggle with in creating citizen journalism videos is the tone.
Olsen's brand of reporting doesn't hew to traditional journalistic standards (network correspondents would never speed up a national politician's speech, for instance). You'll see him pretend to disrobe in one video, swear in another segment, and flit aside a Red Bull can strewn alongside a seemingly unconscious fellow UpTake member. Don't hold your breath waiting for Diane Sawyer to do anything like that.
The UpTake partners with Veracifier
Big news! The UpTake now has a new outlet for the video it produces. We just launched a strategic partnership with Veracifier.com to recruit, train, and showcase independent video journalists from around the country during the 2008 election year. That means our citizen journalists have the opportunity to have their work featured alongside video from Talking Points Memo. Needless to say, we're very excited by this partnership.
Mike McIntee posted the Press Release. Mike, by the way, is executive producer for The UpTake who used to run television news rooms. He's really been running the citizen journalism operation - everything from organizing citizen journalists to training, editorial, and helping setup our new UpTake Headquarters right across the street from the Xcel Center. We'll have a front row seat to the Republican National Convention in 2008, and we hope citizen journalists from around the country and beyond will join us.
Where does YOUR news come from?
They are the (old skool) Media
Jason DeRusha and Don Shelby, with their big time fancy Emmys. You guys rock.
"How do you know a professional journalist versus a citizen journalist? Neckwear."
Please note: I didn't start the fire
The Uptake is hot hot hot this week, folks. So hot, I finally created a blog category - I know, right?
Please note, I did not start The Upake. I know, I plaster my name and face all over it to drill the association into your pretty heads. But it was conceived by one Jason Barnett. You can read all about him and the rest of our team over here.
If you're really looking for a spunky time, join in the MNspeak thread about The Uptake and citizen journalism.
MNspeak, where "much of the posting is insider snark and unreflective." Heh.
The Uptake on the TV
Look ma, I'm on the teevee again! It all started, strangely enough, with a whiny Twitter message: I have to say, The Uptake is at the cutting edge of networked citizen journalism. Not many doing this. Hello Big Media - do a story on us!
Big Media, in the form of beloved-by-bloggers reporter Jason DeRusha, heard my pathetic call.
The Uptake team suddenly found ourselves on WCCO bringing citizen journalism to the masses.
Watch it here. I love it. (Here's a silly behind-the-scenes video, too.)
MORE THOUGHTS ON CITIZEN JOURNALISM:
One big advantage of a team of citizen journalists, we hope, is that
we'll be covering things not covered by traditional media. We've
already published several exclusive stories. Or, in the case of
critical mass and other political events, we'll cover certain stories
with more breadth and depth.
The Uptake is both networked citizen journalism, and part of a growing movement of "am-pro" journalism, meaning a mix of amateir and professional. We're hoping to fill the gap between random clips of raw video and professionally produced network news.
Original citizen journalism is already huge in the blogging world -- I'm sure you're all familiar with that one guy... Dan Rather. We're bringing it to video. Of course reputation is important. The blogosphere is, to some extent, a reputation economy and an attention economy. I think we have to work harder to earn a reputation than legacy media -- not that they can coast, given declining audience.
You tend to hear about citizen journalism when there's a disaster. Myanmar, tsunamis, school shootings... that's when a regular joe or jane is likely to commit and act of journalism. We're trying to elevate that and find people that want to be proactive - tell us what you think should be covered, and we'll help show you how to go out and cover it, and distribute it.
It's pretty cool. :-)
Old Journalists, New Tricks
I'm really digging Eric Black Ink. It's a nicely designed bloggy online newspaper-type-thing from the former Star-Tribune reporter and current Minnesota Monitor contributor. Check out Bachmann's Mean Streak to get a feel for his free-reign reporting style.
Eric Black's Ink is a surprise entry in the local newsytown web races. Former Strib editor and publisher Joel Kramer is making the most waves with MinnPost.com. Former City Pages editor Steve Perry is cooking up a daily something. Who is going to win the race? It's not a zero-sum game, but it's an awful lot of media action for our twin towns. Let's break it down.
PRO: Big money, big names, serious news with some blog-like experimentation
CON: Bad design, old names, they don't pay much
CHUCK SEZ: Kramer's stable of experienced journalists and hefty funding make MinnPost the one to watch, especially if they're open to new ideas and smart audience interaction. Corey Anderson is key to that last part.
Disclaimer: I met with Joel Kramer before the site was announced to talk about video. He's a really interesting guy and I actually like that he's emphasizing quality over quantity. He's interested in video and knows they should be experimenting with it, and apparently have a documentary filmmaker videoblogging for them. There could be some Chuck video action on MinnPost if the stars align and it's worthwhile.
STEVE PERRY'S DAILY SOMETHING
PRO: Frequent posting, diverse content, writing talent, CIty Pages kinda sucks
CON: Existing competition (MNspeak, Metroblogging, Mediation, etc.), financially viable?
CHUCK SEZ: I'm very excited to see this. I'm imagining bite-size chunks on a lot of topics relevant to me in the realms of arts and politics. Good writers, good discussion, a little video - could be a winning combination. I wonder if Rob Nelson might end up here?
Disclaimer: Steve Perry said I was a "trailblazer" so he gets secret bonus points.
ERIC BLACK INK
PRO: Up and running now, clean design, Eric Black's experience and talent
CON: Just one dude, Regurgitated Minnesota Monitor content
CHUCK SEZ: I really like the Strib-free Eric Black. "Permission to speak freely, SIR!" It seems there are no ads on his site, so maybe he's just taking the opportunity to assemble his Minnesota Monitor writing into an online newspaper/blog format. This might not compete with the bigger offerings coming down the pipe, but it is what it is: One good journalist with fresh perspectives. Bravo.
Now I'll throw in the standard issue question: What do you think?
I started a joke
Where do I start with this minidrama? Nobody outside the tech world even cares - if that's you, I encourage you to watch the Bee Gees video at the bottom of this post.
There's a loudmouthed prankster named Loren Feldman of 1938 Media, an often funny guy, who made a fairly racist video. "TechNigga" caused a huge uproar and some vloggers called for the company that pays him for videos - PodTech - to condemn that video or get rid of Feldman.
PodTech is already in muddy hot water with vloggers for many reasons - see here and here. Add to that reports like this one saying "PodTech is literally falling apart" (nice misuse of "literally" there) and you have the best recipe for a cauldron of drama and intrigue this side of the Iron Curtain.
Where do I, your favorite-ish struggling Midwest vlogger, fit into this? I'm the court jester, the cynical prankster. I noticed some of Feldman's post-"TechNigga" videos were not presented in the PodTech video player. He was also completely schizo as to his intentions, lashing out at the videoblogger community, half-apologizing while insinuating it was all a social experiment we'd fallen for. Whatever. The world of PodTech/Feldman was ripe for some tomfoolery. I Twittered a couple of things, wondering if anyone would notice. A few people did, and it ended up posted on the Yahoo videoblogging list:
I've got Furrier on the phone now -- shit's gonna hit the fan
An hour later: Feldman's out
I was laughing maniacally. Why on earth would *I* be on the phone with John Furrier, the president of PodTech? Did I somehow get Feldman fired? I don't know, but I suppose it's remotely possible. I've been known to come to the defense of vloggers and mediate various situations. Anyway, I got IMs immediately from people like NewTeeVee's Jackson West. I told anyone who contacted me that it was just a late night Twitter joke, pay no attention. The next day I Twittered: never believe anything I Twitter after 1am CST. :-D
Just got off the phone with Furrier -- it's a shitbag salad over there... Scoble's out
I really cracked my drunk ass up at that one. First... "it's a shitbag salad over there" - that's just self-evidently funny. Second, that I would be on the phone with John Furrier again and that I, of all people in the world, would somehow be the first to know A-list tech blogger Robert Scoble had been ousted from PodTech. I mean c'mon... it's just ridiculous.
But - I don't expect anyone to follow the subtle nuances of my Twitter narratives. It's entirely possible that someone, in this case my man Andrew Baron, would see my Twitter out of context and post about it. That's exactly what happened, and it spread to other blogs briefly before everyone realized the source of this information was my dubious Twitter, and in fact a joke. Andrew has a legitimate critique of PodTech regardless of my Twitter joke - it simply gave him a spark.
The small fires and sparks should've been contained rather quickly. But no. Nick Douglas had to make a huge post about it on Valleywag, continuing his longstanding deathwish against PodTech, even though the truth of this rumor was plainly evident. Rex set him straight in the comments quickly, and eventually he got around to updating the post. This is shoddy even for a gossip rag like Valleywag. My comment there: A late-night Twitter joke becomes a huge post on Valleywag? That's fucking lame dude.
So that's how I started a joke, which started the whole world crying. My apologies to The Scoble.
What's it all mean?
• Be careful what you Twitter!
• It sure is easy to fuck with people!
• Our interconnected gossip-thirsty selves can spread bad info just as quickly as good info
• How To Be Used By Your Social Network
I'm sorta like, on Future Tense
Videoblogger Chuck Olsen was abouot the leave
for Chicago when he learned about the bridge. An advocate of citizen
journalism, Olsen rushed to the scene, shot some video and posted it to his "Minnesota Stories" site. "I don't think we got anything that was all that different from
what you would see on television, although it does feel different, I
think the footage that I captured, because it is more first person,
it's more raw, and it doesn't have anyone talking over it or sort of
like commenting on what might have happened. Just sort of just the raw
footage of what I saw when I got down there."
Videoblogger Chuck Olsen was abouot the leave for Chicago when he learned about the bridge. An advocate of citizen journalism, Olsen rushed to the scene, shot some video and posted it to his "Minnesota Stories" site.
"I don't think we got anything that was all that different from what you would see on television, although it does feel different, I think the footage that I captured, because it is more first person, it's more raw, and it doesn't have anyone talking over it or sort of like commenting on what might have happened. Just sort of just the raw footage of what I saw when I got down there."
Another viewpoint from blogger emlarson:
But when a bridge falls down in Minneapolis, I'm not going to fire up Chuck Olsen's blog to find out what happened. It's time for WCCO, KSTP, KMSP or KARE -- all of which had choppers in the air and reporters on the ground within a few minutes.