More competition for local video news

Michael Rosenblum, the father of the Video Journalist (VJ) movement, is launching a futuristic video news project with Verizon that ought to give the “trusted brand” crowd a shudder or three. He’s assembling news gathering units (what he terms “nodes”) in various cities that will make their content available via cellphone, web and cable, and he’s knee-deep in recruiting for the first node in Washington, D.C. The second node will be here in Dallas, and I’ll look forward to watching it up close.

A little background. When Al Gore first began researching the idea of Current TV, he sought the counsel of Rosenblum. Michael spent a year touring the U.S. on behalf of Current and encouraging young VJs to submit content to the project. His idea was to establish nodes in various markets that would feed the beast in addition to the on-going solicitation of user-submitted content. Current went in a different direction, but Michael’s vision lingered and in Verizon, he’s found a partner willing to test its viability.

I don’t know if this will sink or swim, but I’ve learned not to underestimate Michael or his vision. This will be news by and for young people, I’m sure, and it by-passes all the traditional routes. And the threat to the status quo is significant, for this is yet another option for eyeballs. Moreover, it adds to the redefinition of what is considered “news” and how that news is gathered and vetted.

His most pressing need now is for an Executive Producer for D.C. Here’s the ad:

Radical, experimental, cutting edge new hyperlocal news service pilot seeks EP for one year contract to run and manage local news ‘node’ in DC. Small bureau as ‘test of concept’. Cable/web/videophone. Partner with blue chip player. Must think way outside of box. Unique opportunity to get in on ground floor of revolutionary new approach to hyperlocal news/web casting. Must be video literate. High risk profile. Help create the future. This job is not for everyone. But for the right person, a once in a lifetime opportunity.
The pay isn’t much, especially for the market sizes where the test is being conducted, but that’s seldom the point for a start-up.

I will add that I’ve heard from a couple of other groups over the past two years who are investigating similar opportunities, but Rosenblum’s is the first to actually get started. What that tells me is that this concept is going to eventually expand, because there’s money to be made in video news, regardless of how one goes about gathering or presenting it. These other groups have had journalism backgrounds but, like Michael, they see the handwriting on the wall and the low barriers to entry. Units like these will be lightweight and flexible and not bound by the systems and institutional “weight” of mainstream players.

One final note. I told you so, three years ago.

Email Michael if you’re interested in the job.

Comments

  1. never met the man, but can only hope the ideal candidate winds up being about 16–20 years old.

    these kids have little experience in the industry which should be a huge plus!

  2. The part that gets me is the “pay isn’t much” part.

    Why isn’t the pay much? It seems to me that if you want to make a splash to make a difference you would be wanting to hire someone with the experience and qualifications that merit higher pay.

    Until the Video Revolution realises this, I’m afraid that many of us will look askance at it. Right now the substandard pay scale makes it look to me like the twenty-first century’s equivalent to a piecework sweatshop. “Just be grateful you have a job, ladies.”

  3. “This job is not for everyone. But for the right person, a once in a lifetime opportunity”

    That says it all.

    Because after this “opportunity” the “right person” will be looking for a new career in some other field of endeavor.

    Low pay with inexperienced people never results in a quality product. Those are the only ones Rosenblum can afford to hire. Once again, failure is on his horizon but he should be used to that by now.

  4. Telling It Like It Is says

    This isn’t rocket science.

    The only reason Mike’s interested in “low pay, low experience” is so he can cut himself a nice, fat check out of Verizon’s funding.

    He disappeared from KRON and WKRN soon after they began his VJ concept. Why should he care they began floundering with his “vision?”

    I think Steve Miller wrote a song about such a situation…

  5. pardon me, i believe i was the one who said i thought the ideal candidate would have little experience in the industry not rosenblum.

    you 2 guys simply proved my point.

  6. Telling It Like It Is says

    Thewashingtonchannel: your lacking knowledge about Rosenblum is only matched by your lacking punctuation skills.

    You’re FAR from the first person to point out the well-established fact that Rosenblum’s targets are often those with little to no experience.

    Way to re-invent the wheel.

  7. funny how my lack of “punctuation skills” has never hindered my ability to turn a comfortable living.

    contrast that with the tone and tenor of your remarks here and one might conclude your pristine punctuation was not enough to keep you from being replaced by a vj.

    either way, best of luck.

  8. When it says ‘not for everyone’ that is an understatment. Is the ‘low pay’ a drag? sure. Would I rather be able to pay more. You bet. But Verizon will only risk so much on a radical experiment and my hat is off to them for taking the risk. For those who would rather sit back and wait for the fat paycheck to appear, you have little place in creating the future. Jobs and Wozniak were not paid for their work in the garage. Tim Berners Lee didn’t wait until he was properly compensated for www. The guys who made Youtube didn’t wait for the employment contract to be offered to them. Like I said, not for everyone. You need a very high risk profile to do this, and a willingness to take chances. But the opportunity to try and reinvent (or in my opinion invent) television/webcast journalism is vast. And if it works the rewards will be there.

  9. it will be interesting to see who “you guys” finally settle on.

    i figure it will be someone who has already made a good forutne doing something else and the pay off will be when the one year contract is renewed.

    i really have a hard time thinking of verizon as some benevolent corporation having been a corp. customer of theirs in years past.

    for them to put their money (and their name) behind something like this says something.

    it will also be interesting to see what the other cellular providers do in this area as rarely do they not match the features each other offers.

    again, i would rather see a young buck (or doe) take the helm. but what do i know.

  10. I wonder if people who underestimate the web ever get tired of being wrong.

  11. Telling It Like It Is says

    Detroitchannel: I never said anything about what kind of life you’ve made for yourself. I was, however, implying that your lacking skill in writing has probably portrayed you as an imbecile to others.

    You may as well show up to business meetings in a Pabst Blue Ribbon t‑shirt, sweat pants, and sandals. You’re right, though. As long as you’re living comfortably, who cares how you represent yourself?

    Rosenblum: please keep us updated as to the status of this current train wreck.

    Oh, and the “enter” key is your friend.

    Safran: as soon as we’re wrong, we’ll let you know. Better still, go read some articles on the dot com bust.

    Until then, go ask CNN.com why they suddenly went from making video feeds subscription-based to free-for-all and stop wasting peoples’ time with stupid comments you can’t back up.

  12. Punctuation Police says

    Telling, the apostrophe should have gone between the e and s in “peoples,” not after the s.

    Also, in saying that he “may as well,” you were giving him permission. As you were speaking in the subjunctive mood, you should have said “might as well.”

    Have a lovely day.

  13. what the hell is wrong with wearing sweat pants to a business meeting?

  14. Telling It Like It Is says

    Punctuation Police: do you hear that? That awful, metal-on-wood noise, I mean? That’s the noise of someone scraping the bottom of the barrel.

    Have fun defending the jackasses of the internet! You’ve got a long, impossible road ahead of you.

    Though, you could be a little more productive with your life. Speaking of, your parents want to know when you’re finally moving out of their basement.

    Detroitchannel: point-and-case. That was very useful.

    Thanks for proving me correct, guys. Now, do yourselves a favor: step away from your respective keyboards.

  15. Punctuation Police says

    ROFLMAO.

    I read Terry’s blog for his commentary on postmodernism; I couldn’t possibly care less about anything related to the television industry. I just couldn’t resist correcting the errors of someone who spent his morning attempting to win an argument by mocking the writing ability of others. (Talk about scraping the bottom of the barrel.…)

    You would do well to take your own advice, Telling. Step away from your keyboard and try to have a better day. 😉

  16. he was “mocking my writing abilities”???

    heck, i thought he spent his morning critiquing my wardrobe.

    i was fixin’ to tell him i rarely wear underwear to business meetings too.

    have a nice day everyone!

  17. Telling It Like It Is says

    Punctuation Police: and yet, you continue to respond? I’d be yawning if I wasn’t so busy laughing at you.

    Hilarious!

  18. I’m just curious as to what the EP will be doing, exactly… will they take in the submissions and edit them down as they please to be sent out (probably on-demand per story), or will they simply act as a human middleman to weed out the really useless/obscene stuff in what could be a youtube-like video distribution project? Do they want the people submitting to write something to go along with the video as well, or is this just raw video we don’t know anything about? Sadly, not all average Joes know how to capture video for mass media purposes, so if they want it to be of any use or quality, everything will need to be screened, edited, put into context, etc. So it’ll be just like regular local broadcast news, without the TV, news readers, and this time the VJ’s aren’t getting paid for their tape like they do now (and apparently neither is the EP when it comes down to it).

  19. Many years ago, when I first approached the BBC with this concept, I was invited to present it to the Beeb’s Board of Governors. They are the folks who run the BBC and believe me they are not dumb.

    After I gave a fairly long explanation of what I wanted to do and where technology was taking the industry, I asked for questions

    Gavin Davies, the Chairman of the Board, and also the Chairman of Goldman Sachs UK (no dope), raised his hand and said, ‘if I understand what you are saying, in 20 years the BBC will not longer produce TV programs”.

    “Excactly”, I replied. “It will publish them”

    As we move from the era of expensive television/video into the era of the ‘free press’ in video, one of the signal changes is going to be that traditional networks, (at least those that survive) will go from being producers to publisher. Publisher is not a bad business- note Bertelsman or Random House. But it is a different business.

    The job of the EP is more of a publisher than producer. Maybe more of a managing editor/publisher than producer, as in a small town newspaper.

    This is a change. Free presses are messy. But that is what makes them so very interesting.

  20. michael and terry,

    it’s a shame that a post with such promise broke down into a flame war in the comments.

    whatever part i played in that i regret.

    now if you’ll excuse me, i have some sweat pants to iron for an upcoming business meeting.

  21. Punctuation Police says

    Mr. Rosenblum, for what it’s worth, I honestly do not remember the last time I watched TV news. I get all of my news online and have for close to a decade now. Your project as described on this blog intrigues me, though, and I’d be willing to give TV news another try if you ever bring such a project to my part of the country. I have never worked in any facet of the TV industries, so I can’t speak to the other issues, but I hope your project succeeds brilliantly, and I’d like to see it hit my part of the country soon.

  22. Omigod,

    Fo Michael to infer that he somehow resembles Jobs, Wozniak and Berners-Lee is borderline obscene. He’s been peddling the self-image of “the pioneer,” “the originator,” “the founding father” etc. for well over a decade, without a single successful, sustainable business model to show for it in all that time.

    Many consulting clients buy the hype of learning from the master, but unfortunately, none has achieved a ROI that anyone is willing to publish or even lay claim to.

    Fundamentally, like many self-appointed “high-concept” consultants, Rosenblum takes no responsibility, fiscal or otherwise, for the results of his advice; he can move from client to client so long as he sells “the vision thing.”

    Besides, the basic idea: inexpensive, portable equipment married to low-cost, interchangeable personnel isn’t exactly a breakthrough (or even unusual) concept in 2006. Making big nes media more inexpensive and nimble IS a good idea, but it’s hardly unique to Michael or unique, period.

  23. I did not compare myself to Jobs, Wozniak or Lee. If you read the above you will see the reference is to the kind of person I am looking to hire. That is what “not for everyone” refers to. I have no problem with hiring aspiring Jobses, Wozniaks or Ted Turners for that matter. I am looking for people willing to take risks. Our industry however is filled with people cowed by fear.

    As for the rest of your argument, it is inherently flawed. On the one hand I am selling a concept that has never achieved an “ROI that anyone is willing to publish or even lay claim to”. (that business course really paid off.. ROI..). You obviously know very little of the work that I have done around the world over the past 20 years? Know who Roger Schawinski is? He was a real risk taker. He built the very first commercial local tv station in Switzerland based entirely on my model in 1992. Telezuri. It becasme TV 24, which became the national network, which he sold to largest newspaper group in Switzerland at a very substantial profit (ROI…). Ever hear of Jan Stenbeck (look him up). He and I started a small local tv station in Bergen Norwary in 1991 called TVB. I was in Norway yesterday with guess whom? CurrentTV.. seems to be doing OK. NY Times TV (not exactly a tragedy). Like anyone else I have had my fair share of successes and failures, but I don’t consider any of the station in the US a failure. DV Dojo, that was a failure… but that’s what happens when you take risks. And no one got hurt in that one but me.

    After trashing my ideas as unworkable you then go on to state that ‘besides, the point, its no idea anyway and we all know it works’. Does that make sense to you?

    I have invested my money in many projects. Some have succeeded, some have not. But I have never taken ‘no responsibility’ for my ideas. On the contrary. My ass (and my name) are out in public and on the line every day…

    Omigod indeed.

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