Innovation In Covering The Republican National Convention

Nokia N95 Cell Phone

Hackers Helped Us Do Live Video with Cell Phones in 2008

Raw, unedited, live reporting from cameras controlled not by the TV networks, but average citizens. Today it’s almost commonplace, but in 2008 it was unheard of until The UpTake took its live cameras to the streets outside the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, letting the world witness first-hand what the networks would not, or could not show because they were barricaded behind heavy security.

No matter where the action happened, The UpTake had cameras there.

How did we beat the major TV networks on reporting this story? Our secret: we were using a little-known service called Twitter (remember, this is 2008) so the crowds could self-report on what was happening and call our cameras into the fray. We let our audience decide what they wanted to watch by posting a running Twitter feed on our home page with links to the live and recently recorded videos.

A real game changer

The story on the streets turned out to be much more interesting than the pre-scripted convention. To bring you the voice of the people, The UpTake’s “citizen reporters” braved tear gas, explosions and arrests.

In the video to the right, UpTake correspondents Corrine McDermid and Oliver Dykstra find themselves caught between police and protesters as explosions catch them off guard. The main video is from Oliver’s tape camera. What the live audience saw was video from Corrine’s cell phone camera and her voice as you hear it here.

As commonplace as live cell phone video is now on the web and television news, in 2008 it was something brand new, and The UpTake was leading the way with finding innovative ways to use it. Live video meant the police couldn’t censor your video by confiscating your camera. That became a real game changer, putting journalists on a more even footing with police who may not want the world to see what they were doing.

High drama 

In one of the more dramatic moments, UpTake journalists Corrine McDermid and Oliver Dykstra got swept up in a massive police arrest outside the RNC.

It’s that spirit — using innovation to search for truth and give everyone a voice — that continues to drive The UpTake. We’ve been able to do so because people like you have recognized the need to use video to show the truth and supported us with your donations.