Report for 9 March
Summary of Activities#
visionOntv is now by far the largest radical video project in the UK. Since September 2009 we have produced over 500 films, and are currently distributing 18,000 curated, quality films from around the world. Both in terms of production and in terms of the aggregation of related media we are probably the largest project globally. At the recent Bristol Radical Film Festival, everyone referred to visionOntv as the model project.
In terms of training, our production templates have been used as the core tools for the roll-out of citizen journalist Street Reporters Networks. In addition to the films cited above, our exemplar of the SRNs Merseyside Street Reporters Network, following our training in Liverpool in June, have themselves produced around 100 films, while they are distributing some 500 from their local area. This achievement, the production of a huge amount of original media by students after a course has finished, is unprecedented in the history of video training. We are hoping that a similar Bristol SRN will be set up as a result of the training we did there on 3 March 2012.
The production templates are the centrepiece of a Citizen Media Handbook we are currently writing for presentation to publishers and funders.
We are currently seeking funding for further training, the writing and publishing of the Citizen Media Handbook (eg Lush), and for an imaginative way to tackle the problems of open source software development via geek / creative dating in universities (eg Esmee Fairbairn). We are also seeking funding for our bigger technological project, which would radically transform open media on the web, building visionOntv as an exemplar (eg Knight News Challenge, deadline March 17th).
We are partners and web hosters of the 3-month Spring of Code, which began on 1st March. This is an initiative between us and technical members of the Occupy movement to create and improve open media tools.
As for our audience we are able to estimate that viewing figures have risen 330% compared with 6 months ago.
We have a number of new production volunteers who have been trained in both templated rapid-turnaround production and TV studio production (Glenn McMahon, ex-Reuters journalist Patrick Chalmers and Cristian Jensen). We also currently have an experienced intern from Witness New York Tanya O'Carroll, who has developed our youtube income strategy, and will develop regular studio shows for our channels.
We've looked at various accreditation services for our training (NOCN, UKAS, ASCB...). Our courses don't fit their qualification criteria to receive certificates. More importantly the fees for accreditation in each case are too elevated to make this a viable option. We have been pursuing a parallel strategy of partnering with universities. We're now in discussion with lecturers at Roehampton, University of East London and University of West England to get accreditation via them. Incidentally, we are meeting with the NUJ and Amnesty International over training, very important for the roll-out of our programme and for national credibility.
Taking ideas from the donation pages of wikipedia and Searchlight magazine mentioned during the last board meeting, we have created a "donate" page which explains how visionOntv works and how important the support of the community is to assure the project's future. The page offers simple donations options with secure payment for £10, £50, £100 or more. In addition, we're promoting the Flattr micropayment solution with a link to our profile page on Flattr. We've also added a wishlist of equipment donations for audio/video gear so that people can give away the equipment they don't need or use anymore.
We met with Gavin Sheppard in November. The citizen journalism funding Media Trust got from the Lottery was to meet the "news needs of local communities". They are seeking partnerships with the main media organisations to take feeds of community channels and visionOntv could possibly be one of these partners.
3 potential funding opportunities:
1. They aim to have 300 CJ outlets, of which 75 will be beacon hubs, with a diverse selection of good quality output. So these are "shining examples".
2. Grant-giving: Community Voices funding they are hoping to bring back in April 2012. Community development grants can be applied for at the beginning of 2012, and he will tell us when.
3. External funds: Go to big funders with MT as a partner. NewsNet aims to develop into a well-respected media community over 3 years.
As a follow-up we met with Adam Perry from NewsNet in December. He has been doing a UK tour of the main CJ projects, making interviews and blog posts (as seen on newsnet). Adam confirmed Media Trust is opening a CJ portal called NewsNet. The plan is to have 25 CJ beacon projects each year for the next three years, featuring communities from different background. The Community Voices mentioned by Gavin is not something he has controlled on and seems for him a separate project. He is definitely interested in working with us but he's still in the process of reporting on his UK tour (tons of footage to edit) and figure out how to build the training project he has for CJ people. He wants to wait for the demand to be clear and target people who directly expressed an interest in getting media skills. Practically he's thinking of doing all the training in the same place: a "media trust" camp where selected people come for training. This training will include every media (text, photo, video) and also organising/managing training. It was too soon for him to be clearer or to say if this will also include training in situ, where we'd train directly the CJ people where they are.
We have generated a QR (quick response) code for the visionOntv page and printed it on stickers that we put on our business cards. We tested it successfully during the Mozilla Festival where people used the camera function on their smartphone to visit directly our site just after being handed our cards. We're now using this code at each networking event and plan to add it to each promotional printed material. Here is the link to the QR code: QR code
Open source player and RSS in#
One of our techie members, Julian Harley, is still developing this player which we don't have an urgent need for as long the RSS In is not implemented. We also have added the specs to the Spring of Code so any developer can work on it.
We are still pursuing a variety of simultaneous strategies for getting the RSS in achieved, and we are pursuing them on a daily basis (rentacoders, friendly geeks, Liferay platinum partners, members of the Spring of Code, geek networking).
For the videos we can obtain figures for, viewers have increased exponentially. For the 1300 films we have ourselves produced or licensed, in the month between January 26th 2012 and February 25th, we had 120,409 views on youtube alone. This compares with 435,518 for the whole of last year. As a monthly average, the views for youtube in 2011 were 36,293. Our viewing figures therefore are up 330%, reflected in the increase in our advertising income. We have a concerted strategy to increase this further. Our other accounts are currently adding around 20,000 views a month to this total.
These 1300 films however only represent 7% of the total number of films we distribute. Viewers for the remainder are at present uncountable because of the lack of "rss in".
Our latest funding mail out brought in a donation of 260 pounds (including £100 by check and £160 via our Paypal account). We have received 113 pounds from donations on courses.
A table with all the revenue since July 2011 is attached and can be seen on this direct link to the text file
Citizen Media Handbook#
We have written the table of contents and the outline for the book and are now applying for funding. We also have written a new template and are working with an artist to add the cartoons.
TV Studio as a paid service#
We've set up a pop-up studio show kit (1 configured laptop+microphone+HD webcam), available in a secure box in London Hackspace, so our trained members can freely borrow it for covering events. We haven't yet had time to develop the paid service.
Flattr as income source for the future#
We met with the founder of Flattr during the Mozilla Festival and talked how we could work together. We've organised for Peter Ross, Flattr's "community growth manager" to give a presentation of their project in Hackspace and we plan to partner with them for the Spring of Code event (see below)
Here is the link of the event. This festival is a yearly event where hundreds of filmmakers, educators, coders, techmedia and developers present their projects and brainstorm together. This edition of the festival was around the challenge of using the web for a more creative and collaborative media landscape. visionOntv was media partner and actively present during the 2 days of the event. We set up our interactive studio show right in the middle of the venue and recorded more than 20 interviews. Our online presence was hard to miss: our embed player displayed on their site showing interviews of the main speakers (eg documentarist Kat Cizek, Mozilla Foundation chairperson Mitchell Baker).
Additionally we organised one week later a follow-up meet-up in partnership with Mozilla,where participants came to present what they've been working on and meet other members of the HackTheMedia community.
We've organised in London Hackspace a series of presentations and workshop around new media. Goals: it is primarily mostly a way to recruit people to our project through hands-on session. It also allows us to perfect our training, keep up to date with technologies to update our templates our courses. http://visionon.tv/hackthemedia
Spring of Code#
This 3-month event comes out of Occupy and is an opportunity for us to have open media tools created and to recruit tech people to work with visionOntv. Additionally by hosting Spring of Code on our server and CMS they're getting familiar with Liferay and will create portlets that we can use in the future.
Human Rights Festival#
Roehampton University organised a Human Right Festival and invited us to give a workshop. We trained 10 students to shoot a mobile phone report and organise a news report competition. 3 prizes were awarded to the best films and promoted on visionOntv.
The Occupy movement was for us an opportunity to help protesters use our templates and website but also to "train the trainers" (Glenn, Patrick) so they can be independent and reproduce our training model themselves. The films produced we've added to the new London Street Report Network. At the Bank of Ideas we also set up a TV studio where we recorded about 30 interviews.
Amnesty International London#
We met during the Rebellious Media Conference the Amnesty London coordinator who saw our coverage and asked if we could do the same for one of their events, the MENA We have now a link on their site and some of our films are promoted on their videos page: Our coverage: http://richardhering.com/blog/-/blogs/thousands-protest-in-trafalgar-square http://www.amnestylondon.org.uk/video/
We received tremendous feedback from our video interviews with speakers form Egypt, Bahrain and Libya and have been invited to Amnesty's office to discuss further collaboration, including training and embedded players.
- Funding Applications
In the last 2 months we've actively engaged in funding research and applications for a series of projects and core funding. This also involves a strategy for visionOntv to try to meet directly possible funders during events.
- Media Pundits
Raising the profile of Richard and Hamish as media experts is an important part of our visibility strategy (as proven with the feedback from Hamish's Sky News interview). Our plan: - get invited on panels and talks (Idocumentary, Ravensbourne 2012, Bristol Festival) - produce a 5min weekly video show where we'll address the current media/tech trends and follow up discussion with online community. - Seeds in the tech and media: Networking at "trendy" events like HackHackers, Guardian OpenWeekend, HackTheMedia,... - Event coverage: We are multiplying our visibility and coverage by requesting press passes to large events in London (in March and April: Tedx Talk event, London Web Summit and Media Conference at Goldsmiths have already accepted our requests)
Our recent donation page is much clearer and will invite (we hope) donations. Additionally we'll print a special QR code which will directly send the user to our donate page.
- New Youtube Strategy
We've decided to cultivate our Youtube channel as the Adsense money received is proof that the site is a regular source of income. We have a member Tanya O'Carroll) working on this strategy by engaging with the Youtube community (reply to comments, video responses, growing subscribers...)
We are training trainers and hope that with coming accreditations we can develop training solutions which would bring regular income.