We’ve got a lot of, er, *transitioning* ahead of us in Atlanta. We can read between the lines, here in this greatest of Southern cities, and understand what the underlying code is there. And yeah, if we weren’t so darn cowardly about those matters we could have an open conversation about the City of Atlanta *transitioning*, but I don’t think we’re quite ready for that yet.
Anyways… that’s off-topic, as what I’d like to point-out today is the great effort by 11AliveNews, or what we used to just call WXIA, to live-stream the critical Atlanta Public Schools (APS) board meeting for the community yesterday, January 24, 2011. The meeting whereby board members were first chastised by an outside accreditation group, not for the elephant that remains in the room (CRCT cheating), but for *infighting* issues among board members.
Whatever. The board was soundly scolded, given a deadline and loads of impenetrable rules to waste a lot of meeting time trying to follow. Then some local politicians got up to say their, rather futile, piece. Get their crucial face-time in.
And then the board did what we all knew they were going to have to do to move their game piece forward – voted to adopt the SACS recommendations to fend-off loss of accreditation.
Chris Sweigart, the all-things-online dude at WXIA, a Gannett station, grabbed his laptop and treated the Atlanta (and beyond) online community to open air and sunshine – via a live-stream of the APS board meeting. So the stream suffered from low audio and a dubious 3G connection. Nonetheless it let us play along at home. Kinda like we were the first village to have a scratchy broadcast from a new, magical device. And everyone gathered around to listen carefully to an important live event.
The thing about Internet live-streaming is that pretty much anyone can do it. You need an Internet connection and a smart phone with the right (free) app. That’s it. And you’re off and running. Politicians could do it. PTA moms could do it. Third graders could do it. Community agitators could do it. Facebook Group enthusiasts could do it. But people don’t do it as much as we should.
And of course our various interest groups and stakeholders are so laughably hell-bent on public lip-flapping and having their turn at a podium and getting their egos stroked that they rarely, if ever, take time to understand that technology has enabled a world of blazingly bright sunshine on our public and governmental and community proceedings and processes.
Reporters are so deep in not missing a word as they type or write down the proceedings they seem blissfully unaware, in a press box, of technological advances that most third graders could set-up and distribute on a playground social network. Who knows where their media bosses are in all these new technologies. (I don’t want to even get an answer to that, given that I still hear horror stories of executives who require an entire secretarial pool simply to print out their own damn emails.)
The fact of the matter is that the community can watch and listen live, to whatever, and come to their own understandings and conclusions. When we do, we hardly need to have what we’ve already been subjected to parroted back to us in all the usual, traditional media ways. For instance, in that increasingly obsolete TUNE-IN WAY LATER IN THE DAY!, tease-oriented TV/radio media environment. Been there; done that. Why tune-in later?!
It’s not that it’s not well parroted back later at some other point in time. It’s just that waking-up to, for example, an excellent WABE report on an APS board meeting you paid careful attention to as it played-out, comprehensively in real time, becomes untimely and somewhat redundant.
Again, I can’t stress enough how what I point out is hardly a condemnation of quality journalism capability. WABE has that in spades when it comes to covering APS matters. Yet to ignore and not even begin to put one’s quality journalistic efforts and deep experience more to the matter of real time, live eventing, and how technology is evolving there, is ignoring the media elephant in the room – the real time, technological capability of the citizen. Or let’s call it *the audience* – that elusive entity always being chased after, especially in memos from suits in Dunwoody-based offices.
Perhaps it is there (live-streams, not Dunwoody) where more of our very capable journalism efforts should be directed. For example, Chris Sweigart had a hard time keeping his live-stream going and answering the many questions his audience (me) had regarding the who, what, why and where of what was playing-out on our laptops back at the coffee shop or airport or Dubai for that matter.
Live-streaming always has some techno glitch that needs attention. All the while, editorial attentions must be paid too. That’s where good journalism comes into play. Citizens may have a smart phone, a Ustream.tv app and a wi-fi connection, but they may not have the journalism experience to go along with their gee-wiz techno toys. It thus becomes a matter of improved multitasking.
The Atlanta media outlet that finds a way to combine more local, community-based, comprehensive live-streams with some ace journalism is the one that can give that precious, all-important, techno-advanced *audience* what they really really want. And that news outlet will take a great leap forward for Atlanta pan-media in the process. I know who I’m keeping my eye on.