Thursday, February 22, 2007

IMA's Public Media - Camera, Laptop, and a Vision

Unconventional media veteran Michael Rosenblum delivered the keynote this morning at the IMA's Public Media 2007 conference. Michael’s tenet is that today’s digital video cameras are the modern equivalent of Gutenberg’s printing press – media is democratized. So what is PBS and NPR going to do about it?

Following a brief talk from new PBS SVP, Interactive Jason Seiken (who has been on the job for a month and doesn’t have strong answers yet), Michael challenged the 800 PBS, NPR, and public broadcasting professionals in the room to reconsider their business. And not to be afraid of change. He said that you’re not in the television and radio business, you’re in the media business with the mission to get out in the community, cover stories, package them, and get them online.

Michael has a colorful career in traditional television with WNET in New York, KRON in San Francisco, and the BBC. He helped launch Al Gore’s CurrentTV and has been a tremendous proponent of citizen or video journalism. He now has training institutes around the world, bootcamps for aspiring video journalists.

I was reminded of the early DIY videoblogging pioneers such as Steve Garfield, Andrew Baron (Rocketboom), and former San Jose Mercury News reporter Dan Gillmor who left the Merc last year for do-it-yourself local news.

How will formal public broadcasting incorporate these ‘radical’ thoughts? There is an increasing sense of urgency amongst the community to get engaged with online media, social network, and community building. But as Michael reminded the audience, the window to get engaged is closing and there’s a video journalism steamroller bearing down which could put PBS and NPR in the same camp as the railroads.

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