State Senator Wendy Davis from the great state of Texas took to the floor at a special session of the Lone Star State’s legislature on Tuesday, January 25 at 11:18 AM. She didn’t give it up for the next 11 hours.
The epic filibuster was a move by the Democrat to block Senate Bill 5, a Republican-backed piece of legislation containing sweeping new restrictions on abortions. Presumably Davis’ plan was to talk until the stroke of midnight, at which point the special session would conclude, no new legislation could be passed, and all the members of the GOP in the room would turn into pumpkins. It didn’t quite work out that way as Davis’ Republican colleagues called into question her ability to hold the floor based on idiosyncrasies in the Texas Legislature’s operating procedures and the definition of “germaneness”. Still, due to technicalities, a number of parliamentary questions, and a very vocal group of onlooking concerned citizens, the special session concluded and SB5 wasn’t given the opportunity to pass.
Now, how do I know all this? Two reasons: 1) The non-profit news organization Texas Tribune has done some fabulous reporting on the issue and 2) YouTube.
Texas Tribune live streamed the entire special session (with multiple camera angles, no less!), on its YouTube channel. Over 1.4 million people tuned into watch the proceedings over the course of the past three weeks, a view count to which Barack Obama helped contribute by spreading the #StandWithWendy hashtag via this Tweet:
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) June 26, 2013
The number of peak concurrent viewers watching (and very much engaged with) the special session peaked at around 183,000 in the minutes before midnight CST on Tuesday.
Media organizations are already reporting how, in this instance, YouTube shone bright while your regularly scheduled, scare tactics-ridden, 24/7 television news networks where nowhere to be seen. They’re right. But more than that, it’s another reminder that with the advent of low-cost video production tools, no-cost streaming services, and distribution sites like YouTube, all local news can now be global news. And that YouTube is the new C-SPAN, except with comments.