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Pimp Daddy

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!

Rocketboom_uptake   Newteevee_uptake

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
> "assignments?"

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
network online.

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
> worthwhile?

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. :-)

January 10, 2008 at 12:54 AM in The Uptake | Permalink


Thanks for publishing the transcript. I always feel guilty when somebody spends half an hour on the phone or answering questions and I just cull the juiciest quotes.

Posted by: Jackson West at Jan 10, 2008 9:54:45 PM

I, for one, am a big fan of The UpTake! News on!

Posted by: missb at Jan 11, 2008 2:49:33 PM

And EPIC-FU loves you guys, too! Check the first story we cover in the news part of the show:


Posted by: Steve Woolf at Jan 11, 2008 7:24:39 PM

Wow, thanks guys! not to mention our pimp-daddy Chuck! I looooove Epic-Fu, and it was a blast getting our newz on there!

Epic-Fu, NewTeeVee, Rocketboom, pass'n the luv back at ya!

Posted by: Jason Barnett at Jan 11, 2008 8:53:24 PM

Epic Fu on top of NewTeeVee, Rocketboom, and MissB?

Simply put, that makes yesterday the best day of my life.
Except for the 12 hours I spent traveling.

Posted by: Chuck Olsen at Jan 11, 2008 9:51:25 PM

WOW, Viagra spam... The love keeps coming!!!

Posted by: Jason Barnett at Jan 13, 2008 9:59:17 PM