Two weeks ago, while covering the choreographed spectacle that was a protest for the Sean Bell verdict (Abridged Backstory: On November 25, 2006, three plainclothes NYPD officers shot 50 rounds at three unarmed black men, killing one of them, Sean Bell, on his wedding day. The cops were acquitted on all charges, and lots of people became incensed.), Lindsey Campbell was arrested.
Reporting for Moblogic – CBS’ online, community-involved answer to mainstream news coverage – the host signed up to wear handcuffs, in part because she was sympathetic to the cause and, like any good journalist, she “wanted to be where the action was.”
But unlike traditional journalists, and atypical of any regular news organization, Lindsay and Moblogic are passionate about, and determined to involve the audience in the reporting process. In an episode prior to her arrest, Lindsay attended Al Sharpton organized rallies and asked random participants questions that were submitted solely by viewers.
Now, the crew’s in Georgia, because “if you want to talk about the death penalty, you need to be where it’s happening. (Abridged Backstory: In January, the US Supreme Court started an examination of whether lethal injection is unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment. On April 16, they upheld that it was an a-okay form of execution. Since the ruling, Georgia’s put to death William Early Lynd. Barring any pardon or stay, this Thursday the state will do the same to Samuel David Crowe.).
And in an ongoing effort to create “an interactive journalism experience,” Lindsay solicits viewers to take charge of their own news. Let her know who she should speak with, where she should go, and what she should ask. Tell her what you’re thinking by comments, e-mail, or even give her cell phone – seriously, find her at 917-273-7212 – a call.
From its inception, Moblogic has fostered what web producer Sean Tice told me is a “running conversation” that starts with “topics on the street, then moves to the site where viewers comment on the comments of people in the video. From there, comments evolve into their own conversations.” Spend a few minutes browsing through those conversations and you’ll see the site has one of the highest levels of thoughtful audience participation you’ll find anywhere online. The show is not an entertainment or informational end product; it’s a starting point.
Now it’s come full circle, from acting as a focus for audience interaction to being entirely driven by an audience granted with unprecedented access to those running the show.
Moblogic is a relief from mainstream news organizations where we, the viewers, are treated like silent news receptors. Producers decide what’s relevant to report to, not with, the public. Certainly that traditional type of coverage has a place. Educated and informed anchors and analysts will always play valuable roles in providing access to information. But it’s nice to have an alternative.
Who hasn’t wanted call Lou Dobbs and tell him to get the $&@# on a bus to Southern California where he can gain much needed perspective or suggest that John King to do something relevant with his touch screen? Now you have a voice. Give Lindsey a ring – that number, ONE MORE TIME! 917-273-7212 – and let her know what you wanna know.