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Friday, December 11th, 2009


by Amani Channel

As reported throughout the Webosphere, you can now be a live iPhone mobile broadcaster thanks to the recently released Ustream Live Broadcaster application. Ustream’s app is the first to officially allow iPhones to live stream.

I’ve been waiting not so patiently for capability to broadcast live from my iPhone ever since I got a 3gs for my birthday. Here’s my history making first livecast:

To give you some background, cell phone live streaming isn’t all that new.

Video blog pioneer Steve Garfield has been at it for a while, and even has claims of scooping mainstream media using Qik.

Nokia cell phones have been the live streaming phones of choice, and if you jail broke your iPhone you could also share live videos. Other than that official iPhone mobile video apps (Kyte, Qik, TwitVid) allow you to record, then upload a video (unless you were one of the Ustream live Beta testers like my friend James Andrews).

My favorite mobile video app up until now has been Kyte for several reasons. Kyte iPhone videos are easy to produce; the video uploads and transcodes quickly; the embed widget is cool, and the video quality is excellent.

I’ve only used Qik a couple of times, but not extensively. It works, but it’s not my favorite.

TwitVid is easy to use and video uploads are fairly fast, but for some reason TwitVid doesn’t provide an RSS feed for its individual accounts (I couldn’t find it at least).

So how do I like Ustream? Overall the app is easy to use. It will tweet your followers when you start streaming , and once you stop recording, it will save and publish the video to YouTube and Facebook. The other big plus is that the Ustream app works on iPhone 3g phones as well.

The one drawback is the video quality. I’m sure that will improve in the future, but it definitely leaves something to be desired.

Overall, the ease of use, and social distribution features will surely make Ustream a favorite live mobile video app.

Qik will most likely be the next live video app for the iPhone.

from ITVT

Qik, announced that it has submitted a version of its application for App Store approval. Like Ustream, the company has previously launched an iPhone app for capturing and sharing video.

As great as it sounds posting live videos is a novely more than a necessity. There are certainly times when live video can be compelling and informative like during breaking news, a conference presentation, and important speech.

In most cases though, recording a video and sharing later will work just fine. As I think back to my news days, there were plenty of days when we went live just because the technology enabled it.

Either way, once it’s online, it’s usually there to stay.

If you have any thoughts to share, please do so.

Thursday, December 10th, 2009


by Amani Channel


It looks like a tiny voodoo doll with a gunshot wound in the middle of its forehead. It’s a little larger than a flash drive, and it lights up when around others of its kind. Meet the Poken. Poken? It may sound like some kind of frisky behavior, but no, this is the future of social media according to some.

I now have one of my very own. While socializing at an Atlanta Tweetup (#ypcity) for PR professionals, my name was announced during a drawing for three lucky recipients.

Here’s a video of the event courtesy @bsteve76. I didn’t bother to roll any tape, but thanks to Atlanta’s corps of social media video producers, no worries… The event was covered.

So what is a Poken exactly? It just so happens that yours truly and Grayson Daughters caught up with someone who knows what to do with it.

HARO’s Peter Shankman @skydiver shared his enthusiasm for the little usb device during a visit to the A not so long ago.

I met a bunch of new folks, and look forward to the Tweets and Poken around.

Monday, December 7th, 2009


by Amani Channel
Response to Jeremy Porter

I made the video above three years ago after I moved to Atlanta Georgia from Tampa Florida. In a past life I worked as a reporter for Fox 13… Still the debate rages. What is citizen journalism? How do citizen journalists and traditional journalists interact, compete, or collaborate to create content?

The term citizen journalism has certainly become a buzzword in media circles. It generally refers to individuals who are non-professional journalists who capture and share newsworthy content.

One of the most noted examples was the Virginia Tech student who captured the only sounds of the massacre with his Nokia cell phone, and shared it with CNN. He happened to be at the right place at the right moment.

The Web has certainly played an instrumental role in the public’s ability to gather and share content, but is citizen journalism really that new?

Think back to the Rodney King beat down. It was a citizen who captured the vicious incident. Back then the news referred to it as “home video.”

During the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks, numerous individuals captured the events from just about every angle. Initially, the media feasted on the pictures of the planes swooping down and crashing into the edifices. Eventually, the station that I worked for (and I assume that many others) was ordered from the suits to stop airing the footage. Even shots of the collapsing buildings were banned from being aired.

The media shift was already in full swing. Internet users were taking the media into their own hands. The Drudge Report scooped mainstream media with the Monica Lewinsky/Clinton scandal. It wasn’t because reporters and networks weren’t aware of the controversy, it’s that news outlets were being pressured politically to stay mute.

Everyone should know that he information game called news isn’t always about informing people about real issues and problems. It’s also about money and image. But fewer people are tuning in, and the image that traditional news outlets can provide the sole source of credible information is crumbling.

Journalistics provides an interesting analysis of the reason why traditional journalists don’t care for citizen produced information. I would argue that it is part fear, part jealousy, and part a lack of control of coveted information.

Journalists in general are good, hardworking people who are seeking the truth while trying to make deadline. Media companies though have profited from controlling information, and setting the agenda for something that has always belonged to the public, free information. In many cases fear, materialism, and the reinforcement of stereotypes is the only thing you will find on “Channel Zero.”

It is no secret that mass media is evolving to reflect the natural peer-to-peer way we communicate with a viral twist. The communications model has always included: a sender > channel > noise > receiver > feedback. The sender and channel now includes anyone who can use technology to share information, and drive clicks. It can be through a blog, email message, or online video. The receiver is anyone who can click on a link that interests them. The feedback comes from comments, tweets, and conversations that are generated from the information.

CNN has one of the most progressive mainstream models for integrating citizen media though it’s iReport community. In conversations with staffers, they don’t refer to the content as “citizen journalism,” though it can be argued that it is. They call it a more generic term, “user-generated content.”

I believe that calling information journalism implies that a certain amount of research, fact-finding, and vetting, has occurred. To argue about terms however, is a waste of time.

The fact remains; journalism jobs will continue to go away until information on the Internet is monetizable. Bloggers, on the other hand will continue to write, people will tweet, and guys like me will keep making media. The public will continue to consume content like there’s no tomorrow.

Journalists who will survive, are those who are able to embrace technology, learn the online language of communications, and appreciate others who are trying in their own way to take responsibility for sharing information.

Sure, all bloggers aren’t journalists, but neither is every “personality” you see on the news.

If you were to ask me (a veteran broadcast reporter by trade) what the real value of social media is, I would say: “It’s the ability to not only capture and share information, it’s also the ability to meet diverse people, build new relationships, share knowledge, and personal branding.”

Journalists have many skills that they can use to generate income, but until they stop criticizing “we media”, and start embracing it, they will be blinded by their own ignorance about the true power of the people.

As I wrote these thoughts, I thought of this video I recently captured of former BET anchor Ed Gordon who spoke to a group of Atlanta journalists.

What are your thoughts?

Update: The irony of this debate is that traditional journalists might frown up at “citizen journalists” but as soon as a citizen captures some exclusive pictures or video, believe that the mainstream will publish the images all the same. Make sure you do your due diligence to get paid.

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009


by Amani Channel

If you’ve been following my tweets today, you’ve been getting an inside glimpse at the future of public media (I hope this is the future at least).

When I worked as a reporter, one of my biggest issues was the constant battle to cover community stories and issues.

This is the daily routine: Every morning, station’s have editorial meetings where news ideas of the day are discussed. A reporter has little chance to cover a story if management and producers don’t think the pitch has news value. It’s a very subjective process to say the least.

CNN’s anchor/reporter TJ Holmes summed up the situation in this popular MyUrbanReport interview (Google TJ Holmes and see the results). Since management and the powers that be usually don’t come from diverse backgrounds, they usually “don’t get” stories about diverse communities. If it doesn’t involve blood, crime, or flashing lights… good luck.

It could be argued that mainstream outlets aren’t generally trying to serve diverse communities anyway. The fact remains that this nation is rapidly changing, and soon the minority will be the majority. I digress.

Similar diversity issues exist in digital media ventures as well, as former NABJ President Bryan Monroe points out.

There are, however examples of bloggers and traditional journalists who have worked collaboratively to raise awareness of issues like the Jena 6, and Shaquanda Cotton stories.

What happens when traditional journalists, social justice, and investigative reporters don’t have a mainstream outlet to work for?

Open discussion #pubcorps on Twitpic

Public Media Corps, Atlanta, GA

These are just some of the issues being discussed in Atlanta as public media advocates share ideas and possible solutions.

This is the second workshop that Public Media Corps had organized to develop strategies to engage, and help diverse communities participate in the information conversation.

This group is discussing everything from user-generated content, gaming, to creating a fellowship program to help train community storytellers.

It’s a very inspiring discussion.

Monday, November 30th, 2009


by Amani Channel
from Visual Eye Media

I’m stepping up my efforts to engage in conversations via social media, and have decided to start producing video podcasts to help people create better DIY podcasts and vlogs.

While I want people to use my video production services, not everyone can hire a professional crew. The fact remains, however that the equipment is more affordable than ever.

What you can’t buy is experience and expertise, which is where I can help. This video is an anwer to Twitter friend/follower musicfan214 who wanted to know: What camera is best for YouTube/iTunes?

Here is a list of inexpensive cameras you may want to consider.  You may want to shop around. I found some alternative prices online.
1. Flip Camera Ultra – Standard Definition, no mic terminal, internal memory $149.00
2. Flip Camera HD Mino,Hi-Def, no mic terminal, internal memory $199.00
3. Canon ZR960 Standard Definition, Mic terminal/Mini DV (tape format) $250.00
4. Canon HD Camcorder FS/Vixia Series Hi-Def, flash memory mic terminal starting at $299.00

If you have a question for me, leave a comment, or tweet me @urbanreporter or @visualeyemedia.

Thursday, November 26th, 2009


Monday, November 23rd, 2009


by Amani Channel
from Visual Eye Media

Cell phone video has forever changed the way video is captured in shared. I own several cell phones that shoot video, a Treo 755, a Nokia N70 and now I primally use an iPhone 3GS. I like cell phones because they are small, inconspicuous and portable.

The drawback generally is with the video and audio quality. That being said, I’ve been impressed with how my iPhone handles video. The video camera quality fairly decent, and I’ve been experimenting with different sites that allow quick upload and sharing like Qik, Kyte, and Twit Vid. I must say that Kyte is one of my favorite communities.

I wrote a short article, and posted a tutorial on Visual Eye Media to demonstrate how to share video from your cell phone, and how to transfer video from your iPhone to Final Cut pro.


Monday, October 19th, 2009


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