I recently completed a 4-month long project during the course of the Georgia General Assembly’s 2010 session; from opening day to Sine Die (last day)… give or take a week or two off here and there when the legislators had to excuse themselves to, like, go figure stuff out.
CBS-Atlanta had no designated political reporter at the onset of the project, that began in January of 2010. They needed to supplement their broadcast product with targeted, specialized online media. Not more “Tough Questions” ambush-style product (Saltzman is perfectly capable of THAT gig all by her scowling self), but with more feature-type of media offerings from a seasoned reporter who understands Georgia politics.
Baxter delivered the goods. At times it seemed as if there wasn’t a single person, of the daily hordes walking up the gorgeous marble staircases of the State Capitol, that he didn’t have a full bio on… stored in his usually-in-need-of-combing head. In four months of activity, I saw only one politician refuse an interview request with Baxter, and that was a pol who had just been demoted by the House Majority (or Senate, I forget) leadership, so the pol had to go off and lick his wounds, thus brushing-off Mr. B. in his haste to process all that new-bad karma.
So well regarded was Mr. B in the long history of work he’s done in southern political (print) journalism that powerful people seek him out to have a moment with him. Hell, the dude could just stand in the hall with a mic turned on (as I rolled media card) and every single person in the Capitol would come by to say their piece – and be delighted to be doing so. It makes ‘em feel special.
Baxter doesn’t deal in rumor and innuendo. Nor commando-style microphone shoving into faces whilst yelling ridiculous questions. All you’re ever going to get from a bizarre method like that is decades of resentment. You’re certainly not going to forge relationships. More like you’re just banishing yourself into the political wilderness, for no apparent reason, where you’ll be left alone with no one to go on the record for you when you might need them, say ten years down the road of your mutual careers in politics and/or journalism.
That or either you’re in it for your personal careerism, perhaps thinking you are getting yourself off to that mythical place that no longer exists called “the networks.” Like anyone wants to go THERE nowadays. It’d would be the journalistic equivalent of being shipped to Siberia if you ask me, which of course no one did.
Politics is local. Anything you do at the national level is just pack mentality pointlessness of rote meme recitation to mass media consuming drones. For a bigger paycheck and a whopping mortgage in Arlington, VA, with Ivy League to pay out the ass for bratty kids who should be sent to community college anyway.
For the most part, other than a wild flame-out or two here and there, politics is a long haul endeavor. And if you don’t cover it with that in mind you’ll get nothing. Nada. (Just ask Dale Russell.) If you don’t ask nicely, you’ve just made yourself a career-long enemy… if you are young, unwise, and think that is how news must be churned – with impolite, disrespectful behaviors as a motivator. And you can go back to your newsroom and call it news if you wish. Or a report. But trust me, it will not be journalism.
Baxter is a genuine journalist. The news he writes and the stories he tells come from the people in power and elsewhere who are willing to go on the record and talk openly and with transparency about the political process. And there are never just two sides of a story. Rather, especially in politics, it’s more like there are 10-15 sides of a story. Baxter lets ‘em all whisper their various POVs in his ear, weighs all the chatter with his years of experience in the game, and then he writes. Or in our multimedia case, talks out perfectly crafted sentences off the top of his head – no script, no rehearsal. Dude was a born TV broadcaster and never knew it!
Anyway… getting to the point of this blog post, which was supposed to be about money and budgets, but if you’re going to entertain a thought towards southern politics Baxter will get your attentions. So, on to the point… here’s the gear list and pricing (retail) for what amounted to a series, an archive really, of about 30 videos. 30 videos, most in the 3-minute range, that incorporate what will be Georgia’s 2010 political history. And yes, I wish news orgs would see themselves more as archivists and librarians who also exist to serve the greater historical good, but that’s a whole other discussion, eh?
- Camera, Kodak Zi8: $170. on sale at Target
- Tripod, some cheap crap off of eBay – $30. (will not last longer than a few weeks without breaking, but if you’re going cheap you work with what you got, right?)
- 8-gig memory card – about $40.
- Adobe Premier editing software package – about $100.
- Audio-Technica Pro 24 external mic – $100.
So there. For under $500. you too can get yourself a multimedia broadcast production facility. Moreorless. Of course that’s just the gear. You must then determine just how much time and cost you are going to invest in your multimedia online endeavor. What is worth the multimedia online treatment in your shop? And what is it worth to you in this social media, online world we’re all creating and growing day by day?
You tell me. Or better yet… let WaySouth Media tell you.
Whew! I made it through.
Some have gone before me. Bloggers venturing forth to blog the Georgia General Assembly (don’t ever call it The Legislature) session at the State Capitol. And gotten themselves in a bit of a sticky wicket for their nondisclosure efforts in the process. (Atlanta political blogger Andre Walker of course comes to mind.) No one has ever gone video blogging down Georgia State Capitol ways. Until now.
I spent last week getting the lay of the land at the Gold Dome. Tagging alongside (trying to keep up is more like it) with veteran political newsman, Tom Baxter. Baxter and I are video blogging for CBSAtlanta, Channel 46, WGCL, a Meredith property.
The special web page they’ve created to house our multimedia materials is Covering The Capitol. (I do photos too.) And yeah, it’s not real pretty. Not yet. There is the proverbial ways to go. The video player won’t do right in some browsers. (Although it works fine if you select the videos via the “Videos” tab up top.)
Our videos are sure not real pretty either. Not yet. We’re all on a steep learning curve right now. Like Chloe, I’ve got new software and new gear issues. And also like Chloe, no one is the least bit sympathetic. Maybe if I wish hard enough my Jack Bauer will emerge from the mist, but I ain’t holding my breath on that ever happening. Sometime around the end of the session, mid March or so, I expect we MAY begin to level off of the steep ride up. I hope you bear with us though as we’re offering up loads of unique Georgia political media you simply will not find anywhere else.
My hat’s off, way off, to CBSAtlanta (on Twitter as @CBSAtlanta) for trying new online media things… and for having an open mind with their willingness to let me and Baxter have a go at in-depth political coverage during the course of the 2010 General Assembly session. As I like to say, “be the media you want to see.” That’s CBSAtlanta all over – a true community news outlet.
This is an amazing opportunity for me. To tag along into the Celestine Sibley press gallery, to march along the floors of the stunningly gorgeous State Capitol, meeting and greeting as we go, is infinitely thrilling and fascinating. For instance, after one week I know where the “good” lobbyists hang and where the “bad” ones perch. I know a few new faces and names by now, good and bad and in between ones. I don’t yet know where all the bodies are buried, but rest assured Mr. Baxter does! (The remains to your left live in the Governor’s Capitol press office, BTW.)
I feel like a cub news producer again. A trainee. The new girl. And that’s ok. I am nothing if not adaptable, and our system of government in Georgia, as we face a fiscal crisis such as we’ve never experienced, is having to adapt… like it or not. These are exciting political times for Georgia. Out with the old and in with something new. (At least in theory, right?)
I’m delighted to have a front row seat for the 2010 session to share with you. Tom and I will be using every mobile social media tool we have (before our batteries need re-charging at least) to bring you word and media from our State Capitol. Heck, before the session’s over I hope to have done some live streams and broken at least one very juicy story.
Follow me as SpaceyG on Twitter (I’ll be tagging material as #GALeg there) and follow Tom Baxter as twombax. CBSAtlanta is just that on Twitter, and their special General Assembly page is here. Friend Baxter and me on Facebook. CBSAtlanta is on Facebook here. Watch CBSAtlanta broadcasts in the mornings, at 4pm, 6pm and 11pm for special broadcasting appearances too by Baxter.
And of course, if you’ve got a great tidbit you’d like me to turn my under-$200 HD camera on be sure to tell all. You know how to get in touch. Hope I see you on the floating marble staircases. Can I get a quick interview if so?!
Tom Baxter of Southern Political Report post-morts the post-election southern landscape today. Most interesting analysis:
Adding further complexity to the picture is the ribbon of blue counties which begin in Charleston, S.C., and thread through the heart of last week’s red states all the way to Chickasaw County, Miss. These counties, which encompass most of the Black Belt, gave Obama some of his biggest majorities anywhere: He garnered 87 percent, the highest county total I could find for either candidate, in Macon County, Ala., and Jefferson County, Miss. They’ve voted solidly Democratic in the past, but never simultaneously with Democratic majorities the size of those in Atlanta, Miami, Dallas, Charlotte and other big cities across the South.
All this suggests a South with some familiar landmarks, but also one primed to change very dramatically over the coming decade. It’s easy to imagine, given the herculean challenges facing him, Obama losing the states he won last week in 2012. Given the age of McCain’s core supporters, it’s not inconceivable either that Obama could win states he lost this year.
But the South has shown that in one of the cricitical elections of our history, it was not all of one mind. And it’s unlikely ever to be again.
Obama has also made broader Internet access a goal and insisted that broadcasters focus more on public service. In a statement to the FCC last year, he called for `new rules promoting greater coverage of local issues and greater responsiveness of broadcasters to the communities they operate in.’
The above article in-full here.
After consuming ludicrously large, possibly unhealthy, amounts of post-Democratic National Convention-Obama-acceptance-speech spin, lipflap, analysis, blog posts, whipping posts, live streams, generic coverage, video, columns, old media, new media, medium media, HDTV, jerks and twitches, post-morts, Twits, Tweets, Monday morning quarterbacking, bickering and rapturizing from every possible media source on the planet except maybe Al Jazeera, I finally tossed-in the towel and looked homeward, Spacey. Where I found Tom Baxter, writing for Southern Political Report, with your moment-in-time from last night’s stadium stands over Denver:
After every national convention I’ve ever been to (16, if you count one Libertarian convention in Atlanta and Ross Perot’s 2000 convention in Long Beach) the streets outside the hall have been littered with discarded signs and placards. Here there were practically none. The Democrats left clutching whatever souvenirs they had, as if they wanted to hold to the memory of this night forever.
Full article here.