True North Media House campaign discussed at PBS Media Shift

The PBS Media Shift blog followed the True North Media House campaign, Craig Silverman wrote a lengthy article about the various alternative reporting efforts in Vancouver during the Olympics.

Again for the record & archive, I’ve pasted liberally from the article but encourage you to read the full version in context at True North Media House, W2 Provide Citizen Media Hub at Olympics by by Craig Silverman (bio below), February 22, 2010. The article ran with photos (including this one of interviewing Gord Rickards at Molson Brewing by John Biehler) for the Olympic Outsider podcast plus video clips from WGHthemovie.ca- Webisode #2 ‘True North Media House’.

Dave Olson, left, conducts an interview with Gord Rickards at Molson BRewery, Vancouver - Photo by John Biehler

The article sets the stage thusly about the changes in the media landscape compared to previous Olympics and offers the background of the TNMH campaign:

Well over 100 unofficial media folks are united under the True North Media House, a virtual media accreditation organization that’s aggregating content from bloggers and citizen journalists at the Games. The TNMH initiative also helps them coordinate and communicate with each other via a mailing list and #tnmh Twitter hashtag, while also serving as a point of aggregation for reporting and content.

{snip}

TRUE NORTH MEDIA HOUSE

Last Wednesday, an email went out on the True North Media House email list to let people know the group would be holding an “Olympic Hockey Tweetup” the following day between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. at a local club. “There will be an appearance by special guest Guy Kawasaki at about 8 p.m.,” the message said.

{Ed Note: The mentioned was just rebroadcast via True North Media House but was organized by another group}

Apart from a few organized events like that one, the people sporting TNMH badges have largely roamed Vancouver on their own, or in small groups. They go where they choose (and where security lets them) and report, photograph and tweet what they see. As a result, theTNMH news feed is an eclectic mix of content. It’s also spreading far and wide, according to Dave Olson, one of the organizers.

“What we’re starting to see now is people are getting their coverage up and out and distributed well before the mainstream media,” he said.

Olson, whose day job is the marketing/community director for Twitter client HootSuite, hatched the idea for TNMH with Robert Scales, who runs Raincity Sudios andVancouverAccess2010.com, and local photographer Kris Krüg, who is contributing photo essays to MediaShift during the Games.

{snip}

Now that the games are up and running, Olson said it’s a matter of letting the TNMH-accredited reporters go about their business, produce content, and see what happens. One surprise so far has been Aleks, a 5-year-old Vancouver boy who’s blogging about his Games experience with the help of his dad. He proudly wears his TNMH badge wherever he goes.

“We have people who four or five days ago didn’t self-identify as social media reporters, but they had a passion for photography or making videos,” Olson said. “Once the Games were on, they realized they see stuff no one else sees. A lot of people are just stepping up and saying they want to be a part of this.”

The reports in the TNMH news feed and discussion on #TNMH bring to mind the old saying that youth is wasted on the young. It’s hard to imagine professional media are bounding around with as much joy, delight and enthusiasm. Certainly, not having an assignment editor or producer harrassing you on deadline helps keep the TNMH crew happy. But you can’t help noticing how much fun they seem to having.

He continues to profile my compatriot John Biehler who produced exceptional quality and quantity of work during the Games:

BUSINESS ANALYST GETS ACCREDITED

John Biehler is an e-business analyst for an insurance company in Vancouver, but he’s also a self-described camera geek. He loves taking pictures and shooting video, and he shares his work on a blog and on Flickr.

Biehler booked off three weeks of vacation so he would be able to document the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, and now spends his days and nights reporting on everything from the torch relay to tall ships and zip line rides. His videos and photos are available in a special Olympic section of his blog, but they’re also showing up in the news feed of True North Media House.

Biehler proudly wears his TNMH media accreditation badge around his neck, and is often stopped by people who ask what it means, and where he got it.

“Some of the [people wearing the badge] have been able to get past security and get into venues because security think it’s official,” he said. “They don’t know we printed them out on a home printer and went to Staples and got them laminated.”

And Mr. Silverman shared my point (for which i am very glad) that grassroots content creation is for documentation as much or moreso than reportage or journalism.

DOCUMENTATION OR JOURNALISM?

Biehler is enjoying a unique experience because he has both a TNMH pass and an official one from the BCIMC. He is among the lucky few bloggers and folks from online media outlets granted access to the province’s media center. For the most part, he said, the professional media folks have been welcoming.

“They seem to work more hours,” he said of the pros, “and it’s been interesting talking with them about what I’m doing and what I’m working on, and comparing gear. Even if they’re working for a big company we’re similar in that we’re just trying to figure out the best way to do something.”

Olson said TNMH is more about documentation than journalism.

“But we’ve taken great pains to educate people about journalistic standards and how to tell a mixed media story,” he said. (The resources section on the website offers a wealth of useful information.)
The night we spoke, Olson was rushing off to meet a group of hockey fans from Latvia, an experience he looked forward to documenting.

“How often do you get a chance to meet someone who has come halfway around the world to your city to enjoy something that you’re also passionate about?”

To which he could have added: and then share that experience with the world.

Again, be sure to read the entire article and related media at True North Media House, W2 Provide Citizen Media Hub at Olympics and thanks to Craig for spreading the story.

Bio: Craig Silverman is an award-winning journalist and author, and the managing editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. Follow him on Twitter at @CraigSilverman.

Whatcha think?