Posted tagged ‘politics’

A New Era of Journalism..

July 13, 2009

It's Time for a New Journalism

It's Time for a New Journalism

It’s interesting how two very recognizable people can meet death in the same week. Take Mother Teresa and Princess Diana, for example, both were very influential people, and yet Mother Teresa’s story took the back seat in the mainstream news channels. A courageous and self-giving women, Mother Teresa certainly broke the glass ceiling, though she was no princess, rock star, politician, or fashion icon, and she definitely didn’t invent the moonwalk. She continues, however, to have enduring influence and live on in the hearts of millions of people, Christians and non-Christians alike, and her plethora of quotes will always remain popular and inspiring year after year.

How did she manage this phenomena? How did this tiny, weathered, Albanian women win the Noble Peace Prize and the respect and hearts of world diplomats, American presidents, Popes, Kings, Queens, and many other heads of state? No books about her fashionable clothes lie on Barnes and Nobles book shelves and no shocking news articles about her lovers and scandals grab eyes in the grocery line. Clearly, Mother Teresa is not a “money-making” product that can be milked by the news. Some may call Princess Diana classic and always fresh, or Michael Jackson a “King of Pop,” and Obama the “change” we need.

Her words delivered hope for those undergoing trial and despair; her daily example of caring for the dying were fraught with transcendent truths. She was a women of integrity, a women of courage, and a women fighting for human rights. She had neither long legs, diamonds, or Louis Vuitton purses, but her life, wisdom, and service will continue through history and serve as an example to millions. A news channel which could communicate the classic life of Mother Teresa and the change she brought to humanity would have truly been a remarkable channel. Isn’t it time that Americans started taking charge of the stories they want to hear and tell? Last week, 60% of the news channels covered Michael Jackson’s death and revered him as a king and idol — a child molester!? Yes, he was talented, but that is no reason to cover up his perverted lifestyle. In fact, when Jackson died, the major news stations practically forgot about the nuclear missiles in Korea, unrest in Iran, and the outlandish Cap and Trade policy introduced by Obama. We are being manipulated like puppets by a few in the mainstream news, and it’s time that we shed our strings and stop putting up with what they have deemed as “important” and “newsworthy.”

Well, good news! John Paul the Great Catholic University is starting an Video Journalism program this fall. The time has come for the truly amazing stories to be told, like Mother Teresa’s. Journalism and news has radically changed with the internet, and John Paul the Great Catholic University is at the cutting-edge, telling stories that will impact the culture for Christ through new media. If you feel compelled to launch into the news industry, journalism, or the political arena then consider this new and exciting program beginning this October!


New Media Advocacy: Lessons Learned (4 of 4) (October 2008

February 4, 2009

Lesson 4: D-grade Celebrities and Viral Video

Maggie Gallagher is the person the White House calls whenever they need advice on public policy about families. Jim Holman owns 4 major newspapers in San Diego, and has been a pro-life activist for years. Bishop Salvatore Cordileone is, well… a bishop! These are all people that we got to meet face-to-face, and work side-by-side with, on these activism videos. They’re not “famous,” but they do have more clout than the average person. Maggie calls herself a D-grade celebrity.

Towards the end of the election season, we developed a real hard hitting script about the conflict between religious liberty and sexual liberty. The plan was to leverage our connections with “D-grade celebrities” to give it even more punch. In selecting ‘actors’ to deliver the lines, we picked friends of the university who already had a following of some kind: the Culture of Life Family Clinic, Bishop Cordileone, and our own Professor Barber. People aren’t googling their names on a regular basis, like Eduardo Verastegui, but they are well known in a specific community. Our theory was: by tapping into those communities, we could help our video spread more quickly.

The lesson learned here came from failure. The video we put out got just over a thousand views by election day. Timing worked against us, because it was put out just a few days before November 4, and while it was good (in production value, in script…) it just wasn’t unique enough to compel large numbers of people to tell their friends. Not with all the other election videos out there…

There is a happy ending, though! The script inspired our very own Matt Connors when he made his famous “Catholics Appalled at Anti-Mormon Slur” video. Our let-down in one area spawned another video that gathered more than 115k views. Aside from Matt’s downright inspiring choice of music and images, he (and Professor Barber) tapped directly into a sentiment that the entire Mormon community shared, and he released his video immediately after it hit the most heated point. Final lesson learned? Appeal to people’s hearts, and never delay when you’ve got something no one else is saying.

Status Check: We’re making an impact! (October 2008)

February 4, 2009

As I was waiting for one of the TV stations to finish copying our tape (see last post), I picked up a copy of the Union Tribune. The front page article was about how much money had gone into the ballot issues this year:

Both of our ‘customers’ were specifically mentioned! Sarah’s Law has raised $7.6 M (the total money spent on both sides), and Prop 8 has become the most expensive social issue in the country, with a total of $48 M. It was really cool to see the news coverage on it, and know that we’re a part of making something happen in such a high-profile arena.

Right under it was a ‘human interest’ article about how a huge number of ‘regular joes’ were donating $20, $50, or $100 to Prop 8:

These are people who had never been involved in anything political before, but felt strongly enough about the issue that they wanted to do something. That’s what we’re doing too! And the coolest thing is, it’s working. Our “4 Men in Black” video has been viewed by 20,000 people. Our Sarah’s Law videos have been seen on broadcast TV 13 times, and they’re looking at putting us in the LA market at the end of next week! To top it all off, if you look at the polls, we’re ahead!

Sarah’s Law has 49% in favor, 41% opposed (it’s narrow, but we’re ahead):

Prop 8 just jumped in support (we’re now 47% to 42%), due to a new ad they put out:

Our video is on the same youtube channel as that ad!

Archive: New Media Advocacy: Lessons Learned (3 of 4) (October 2008)

January 31, 2009

Lesson 3: Minimize human elements

Notice anything interesting about this video?

This commercial has no live footage. It’s picture cutouts, text, and graphics. That means it required no scheduling of actors, no managing locations, no lights or camera equipment, no hassle getting people to the set… It cut out a huge chunk of logistics and headaches in the creation process. The message is still communicated in a clear and compelling way (compelling enough that McCain would pay for it), but after the class we take on Flash and CS3, a JP student could make this video in an afternoon!

We thought that was a pretty cool efficiency and applied it to two of our videos. To make 4 “Men in Black”, we pulled some pictures off the net and threw together a flash animation of popping peoples. Voiceover and editing, and voila! 36,000 views by election day. The Bubble ad was the same way, except that we used a single still image for the background, and brought in Matt Connors to do some visual effects.

NOTE: this post only discusses production efficiencies (how to transform an existing script to video). How to actually write a good script for these videos is another issue entirely. Working with Prop 8, we discovered how useful market research is in the process. The majority of Schubert Flint’s time was spent collecting data on exactly who needs to hear the message and what they’re worried about. It allowed them to target their advertising, and make the most impact with the commercials they produce.