Teaching The Legacy Media New Tricks

I had a feeling of Deja Vu watching KARE-11, the Minneapolis NBC affiliate try using the Mogulus live streaming service today.  The live camera was coming from Eric Perkins, their reporter who is in Bejing covering the Olympics and their anchor in the Twin Cities.

I watched as even with the assistance of seasoned broadcast professional technicians, KARE had many of the same “learning curve” problems that The UpTake had when we started using Mogulus about 8 months ago.  There’s getting used to the time lag of switching from one camera to another.  There’s audio problems because you can’t always hear the other person.  There’s feedback as the audio gets routed wrong.

But then there’s the things that TV people should know better than to do.  Eric was complaining about something and his microphone was open for all 43 people watching to hear.  (Rule one in broadcasting…. always assume EVERY microphone is LIVE….ask Jesse Jackson about that one).  Then Perkins started making faces to the camera while he was waiting to start… balancing a pencil between his upper lip and his nose…apparently oblivious that he was live for the entire world to see.

(Update: KARE-11 News Director tells me Eric was at the end of a 19+ hour workday and is a “incredibly creative and gracious force”.  Having been in the same situation, I know that long hours can cause us all to do things we might not normally do.  My point here is not that Eric is a bad reporter… but that Moguls and live streaming is a new medium not just for us new media types, but for legacy media as well and knowing that the camera is “always on”, is something we need to get used to)

On the Minneapolis side of this live webcast, the anchor was more professional.  I think it was Julie Nelson, but it was hard to tell since the lighting was so horrible.  The anchor was Kim Insley. Why they decided to have her sit in a dimly lit control room with no lights is beyond me.  I can understand not having proper lighting at a remote location, but not at a multi-million dollar TV facility?  Then there was the clowning around of what I assumed are station employees behind her…. waving to the camera and acting like they’ve never been on TV before.   

I think this was like this because TV people are conditioned that what they do before and after the “live shot” will not appear for the rest of the world to see.   When I worked at CONUS Communications I saw this a lot as TV reporters would do and say some pretty outrageous stuff before or after they went on the air via satellite.  CONUS was the nation’s first company to enable TV stations to do live satellite reports… commonplace now, but back in the early 90s this was pretty cutting edge stuff.

Back then the only audience for those types of antics were the producers and editors at the other end of the feed… and perhaps a few people who had satellite dishes pointed in the right direction.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that not all media people are as professional as they really seem on air.  It’s good to pull back the curtain and offer transparency. I believe there’s an old saying that we see the true person when they think nobody is looking.

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