Report and sustainability plan

Summary of activities**#

In terms of the 8-month development plan of visionOntv presented at the last meeting, there is one essential part of the technological backbone of visionOntv which we have not yet achieved. It is called "rss in", and enables the effective aggregation of content and its re-distribution by metadata tag. It means that all the content we distribute exists inside our website, and can be sent to anywhere else. It is the backbone of our distribution system, and would mean that we became a model media distribution project. Technician Phil Coates has scripted the code necessary for this, but there is one major problem he has not been able to solve using our website software (the articles brought in will not display. In other words they are there, but we cannot see them). He has worked very hard to find a solution, and we have recently connected him to another rss geek, who he is meeting with to try to resolve this. Having failed to get help on this one issue from the liferay forum, we are also setting up a liferay users meetup group.
In the meantime, we have created a workaround, putting content drawn from the miro communities (currently hosting our video channels) through our own media player. This makes any content embeddable on sites and blogs. This means that, even without the rss in, our volunteers can roll out the distribution of video by embedding in other people's sites and blogs (see the sustainability plan below)

The Making News Roadshow began on June 18 in Liverpool, creating a community of citizen reporters in the Merseyside Street Reporters Network with their own webspace and video channel hosted by us. Crucially, they are still producing and publishing reports now. This shows the value of the "cartoon template" methodology for training, and of the "before, during and after" strategy (Article about this)

Following two Making News trainings in Tokyo, Richard and Takako have launched a Japan Street Reporters Network (first independent meeting on 27 October)., = English version, = Japanese version.

Hack the Media
A series of techie workshops launched by Hamish in London Hackspace, which successfully attracted a number of geeks to the project.

Rebellious Media Conference
This event on October 8/9, which had around 1000 people interested in radical media in attendance, represented an opportunity we were keen to make the most of. We built an interactive website for the conference on our own liferay cms,
, organised and ran the documenting of the entire conference (video and audio), ran a TV studio with radical media celebrities including John Pilger as guests, ran a pop-up TV studio. plus three workshops on video citizen journalism. One of the most positive things to come out of the RMC was a new group of volunteers.

We currently have 3 interns, doing supervised work for an average of 2 days a week.

Facebook strategy

Mandy requested this at our last meeting. Here is Hamish's response:

We aim to use any corporate takedown as a publicity window. There are many examples recently

We aim to use this as an opportunity to:

  • press release the action
  • use other social media to promote our project by saying we are so radical that we are being censored
  • post a prominent front page article (this will be linked to in the press release) about being censored.
  • strap line “as censored by facebook”
  • will use our personal FB pages to promote the “replacement FB page” which should soon have more active members than the old one We can repeat this and re-publicise it as necessary.
  • we can use the fact that you can't get our video on FB to drive embeds – so that you can get our videos here, here and here – this gives us an opportunity to partner with sympathetic websites.


To repeat the report from June, the first thing to say is that there is no possibility of visionOntv not continuing after the JRRT grant runs out.

The baseline costs necessary for the survival of visionOntv are £70 a month (the cost of the server). This is obviously the absolute minimum, requiring a team of volunteers to do a few hours of work a week to curate the channels etc. This is not at all how we envisage visionOntv developing, but it is worth pointing out this is actually how most alternative media projects work (eg indymedia, which has existed since 1999, and Schnews, since 1992). The JRRT grant is necessary to build the technical and personnel infrastructure to make sustainability easy.

We have updated the budget, taking account of underspend, to allow an additional 6 months' salary to two key workers, from May to October 2012.

In reality we will have income from a number of sources. The priority use of this income is to pay core workers, to give them the time they need to develop the project.


Paid training courses in our unique templates for video citizen journalism. We are in negotiation with the NUJ, who are currently re-organising their training, to be part of their new course programme.

SCHEDULE: We will be invited to do a presentation at the first meeting of the new NUJ training committee in January.
In the first week of December we will make a new version of the VCJ templates to make them appropriate for professional journalists, including a new mobile phone template.

Making News Roadshow: We have seed-funding for this from Andrew Wainwright, and have done trainings in Liverpool and Tokyo so far. The plan is to package up training and support for distribution to colleges, trade unions and other user groups, via a general glossy publicity leaflet, so as to roll out stand-alone trainings, not dependent on external funding.

SCHEDULE: Leaflet for distribution by early December. Build for large-scale central London training in May 2012.

Accreditation for training

This is one thing to ask the Media Trust about. We will also ask our academic contacts in Roehampton and UEL.

We are currently investigating how to obtain accreditation through the Open College Network and the examination boards OCR and Edexcel.

SCHEDULE: Feasibility study by mid-November. Accreditation by March 2012.


The shop now works technically, and we are already using it for the ticketing of training courses. now we need someone to take it on and run it. The plan is for a basic physical shop – for screenings and events, with an online shop attached.

SCHEDULE: None until there is a person or people to take it on.


We've added Paypal and Flattr donate buttons on nearly every page of the site.

We have a now a “business account” with Paypal which allows us to customize the donate check out page (logo, text and access to new functionalities).

An innovative social media donations website and community. We'll write a blog post on the frontpage explaining the concept and try to publicize this donation mode, contacting other independent projects and suggest them to join Flattr. We'll also try to work on how to get visionOntv featured on the flattr site.

SCHEDULE for Flattr: Early January.

Pledge drives**#

We will do this after the marketing of version 4 leads to a greater number of users.

SCHEDULE: The essential feature for version 4, from which all other functionality flows, is the rss in. We are pushing as hard as possible to get it completed asap. Phil now has another expert (Martin) working with him on the remaining technical obstacles.

Grant funding**#

SCHEDULE: We have set aside two weeks in November to do funding applications for specific project funding. Major foundations will be approached when version 4 of the website is ready, and we can propose large, game-changing plans using it.


Roll out fund-raising embeds by adding an icon bar to our channel embeds with flattr, donation, facebook, twitter and link. The link page goes to a special "what you can do" landing page, showing how you can support the work of visionOntv. The embeds in general are very important for sustainability. Donations and pledges are much more likely when people can see visionOntv rendering them a really useful service.

SCHEDULE: Our 3 interns are preparing a database of sites and blogs to approach for embeds. They will start contacting these sites next week (November 1st). Julian Harley, a highly competent new techie, will add the icon bar, with a deadline December 2011.

A physical space**#

A very exciting proposal to get together a "media hackspace", a shared space for media workers on a similar basis to the outstandingly successful Hackspace . This will give a work environment for ourselves, interns and other volunteers (as the London Hackspace in Shoreditch does now) It will give us a space to run fee-paying small trainings and shop during events.

SCHEDULE: Does not start as a premises until April 2012.

Website hosting**#

We can host websites in return. This can cover the cost of hosting the main site. We have the technical possibility to offer a single login for all activist sites under the umbrella of our cms, which might have some value. Overall this may be a way of paying for a sys admin.

SCHEDULE: Not until the second half of 2012.

Citizen Media Handbook**#

An update of the undercurrents Activist Media Handbook incorporating the video citizen journalism templates, both as an e-book and printed.

SCHEDULE: Get the original files from Paul this week. Create new cartoons. Update media contact list. Finalise text in December. Interns to research printers, prices etc.

The TV studio as a paid service**#

A service for conferences, both "pop-up" and full version.

SCHEDULE: Do it as a perfect exemplar at Mozilla on 4/5/6 November. Create smart studio page on the site and send the link to lots of conferences, by the end of 2011.


Kickstarter could be used for a specific project, such as the startup costs of the physical space.

SCHEDULE: When appropriate.

Sticker campaign**#

Using QR codes to go to the landing (donate) page. Then add to the back of business cards.

SCHEDULE: Mid-January.

Aggregator advertising**#

Blinx is still paying a small sum every quarter. The two other aggregators that we were planning to pursue have gone bust.

Hyper-local advertising**#

SCHEDULE: Needs rss in and a much bigger audience

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