Friday, October 31, 2008

Steve Garfield!

On October, 22, video blogger Steve Garfield came to our Reinventing the News class to share with us a form of citizen journalism that I found absolutely fascinating. Garfield, who runs, is journalist who, with the help of a few cameras (including the nifty Nokia N95 cell phone) files video stories for services like his website, the BBC, CNN iReport, and RocketBoom.

His reports consist of everything from his reaction to ongoing debates to the scene of Hurricane Kyle to life at home with his wife, Carol. In addition to this, he also offers his services to Councilman John Tobin, for whom Garfield produces vlogs for.

While he showed us some of the various reports he has compiled, the thing that Garfield did that impressed me (and seemingly everyone else) the most was the demonstration he showed us by using his Nokia phone to stream live video to Qik, an internet video site. He even demonstrated how the service allowed him to break the news that a presidential candidate was dropping from the race.

I found this to be a helpful form or journalism when it comes to providing the public with a service, as made evident by things such as his Rocketboom piece on the electric car and his setting the scene of the Maine beach shortly before the arrival of Kyle. He's innovative, energetic, and seemingly full of passion, and that is evident in the following three pieces:

The Boston Typewriter Orchestra from RocketBoom:

This is a clever video Garfield put together demonstrating how a group of Bostonians get together and make rhythms with the sound of a typewriter. Garfield does a good job getting the viewer interested in this quirky story, as his interviews focus on everything from the formation to the orchestra to the direction the orchestra wants to go in to the members pleas to be taken seriously.

VP Debate Reaction from Qik:

I enjoy this video because it's a unique example of the user generated reaction trend that is gripping journalism today. Garfield streamed the reactions of he and his wife to the internet as a way to give other debate viewers an instant feel for what others were thinking. I certainly would have enjoyed hearing his commentary as the debate progressed, and his wife served as a nice complement to the piece.

Paving Over the Trolley Tracks from

As previously mentioned, Garfield produces Tobin's videos, and videos such as this one serve as an example of how Garfield's work has the ability to provide a public service. Viewers of this video got a nice update on the track situation, and those in Jamaica Plain will certainly find this of interest.

All three of those videos were entertaining and informative, thus meaning Garfield is doing his job in my book. However, this form of citizen journalism just isn't very appealing to me. I can't see Garfield receiving much notoriety for his work, nor much pay (he is a professor at BU, so I would imagine this serves as more of a supplement to his income).

If this is what makes him happy, and it appears to, then good for him. I selfishly want more notoriety for the work I do, and I can't see an independent video blogger getting much recognition for their work.

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