Reuters Editors

Our editors & readers talk

The revolution may not be televised… but it will be uploaded

March 4, 2008

We Media logoThe most memorable line from last week’s WeMedia conference in Miami came from Reverend Lennox Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus who works with ‘digital natives’ — young people who have grown up with wikipedia and YouTube and whose changing media consumption was at the root of all that was discussed.

WeMedia is the kind of event where bloggers, academics, social activists, technologists and the occasional VC poke mild fun at the slow-moving ‘suits’ from old media, and where the ‘suits’ complain that the newcomers don’t understand the realities of the media business while desperately working out whether they’re missing any tricks.

Two years ago in London the vibe was all about how mainstream media needed to get up to speed with blogging. And last year, despite the best efforts of the organisers, the meeting was peppered with bloggers versus journalists spats. But this year it did seem that, finally, both sides had decided it was time to establish how best to work together.

The substance of many of the exchanges was that media companies let their hierarchy and brand consciousness stop them from being bold enough to use social media effectively while activist groups can’t quite believe their luck that all these free tools have suddenly been given to them; tools which make it much easier for them to get things done without needing Big Media’s help.

Ushahidi homepage

There was much talk of — the remarkable Kenyan site collating post-election conflict and peace-making reports and creating a google maps mashup. And The Hub — the social media site run by human rights group Witness which brings together filmed reports of human rights abuses around the world — offered a model of how YouTube-style content and facebook-style groups might be harnessed for a specific purpose.

Michael Smolens, CEO of Dotsub, demonstrated how his group is attracting volunteers to caption films and videos in multiple languages. Hitherto, he says, Hollywood has assumed that the costs of local language production would be prohibitive and has largely limited itself to English. But now technology offers the potential homepage extend all video to all languages. The best example to date is of an Indian NGO subtitling training material to help unemployed women to become ‘mothers’ for orphans.

But there was at least one Big Media firm with a good story to tell and one which seemed to draw together all the threads of the conference. Jennifer Carroll, VP of New Media Content at Gannet summed up the challenge facing groups like hers as, “how do you get to the heart and soul of a community?” and highlighted the group’s user-generated site as one possible answer. This is a site in which user-generated content, community activism and commercial advertising all meet head on under the auspices of a major media group.


there are so many video sites spawning everywhere….


I know this comment won’t be heard,but here goes anyway.I’m sick and tried of hearing about the race issue,the last time I checked Barack Obama was as much white as he is African American.Maybe he should consider it racist becuase he’s always referred to as African American.

Thank you Ed

Posted by Ed | Report as abusive

Why do all the Main news organizations only let readers comment on a selected few articles? Mostly inane fluff that really don’t affect us much.

Posted by David Crosby | Report as abusive

TV is dead. In England they can send you to JAIL for owning a TV set. To avopid jail you must pay the government nearly £200 so they can pay the BBC to tell you what to think. You cannot go to JAIL for simply owning a computer, so they are safer for your mind and freedom.

Posted by Juan Kerr | Report as abusive

T.V. Dead? Hardly. It has simply shifted from being an informational source to pure mindless entertainment. People no longer think at all when they watch television. Even the so-called news is pure entertainment. When people want information, they go to news websites and hand-pick the information that they want, and read in-depth stories on that. Why wade through the 6 o’clock news for the 30 seconds of relevant information that they may or may not provide? No, T.V. has become a totally passive experience. It is not even interactive to the degree of analyzing the information being presented. People who watch T.V. simply turn off their brains and take in everything on the screen without any filters. From body images to baby formula, we believe the glowing box in all of its laissez faire free market wisdom. To discount television would be to ignore the most powerful social influence in the culture.

Posted by Trey Grenfell | Report as abusive

I was literally stunned to read the article, Obesity contributes to global warming: study.

Let’s not leave out hillbillies!
Pregnant women!
Sports fans!
Black people!
The Japanese!
Tall people!
Football players!
…and I’m sure there are more this study and your fine editors have left out.

Posted by Tanya Victor | Report as abusive

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see