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How Real TV And A Book Affected Informed Not Inflamed

by John on 05/09/2012

This site and my theories behind the media evolved from two separate incidents.

The first was a book I read in the early 1990s.  It’s called Life After Television by George Gilder. 

In short, Gilder made the case that television is a centralized, totalitarian tool that governs and rules people.  The coming Internet will free people, he wrote.

He compared the amount of televisions in the Soviet Union compared to the number of telephones.  Televisions were ubiquitous; telephones were non-existent.  The Soviet government could control what you watch on TV, but they could not control what you communicate to others directly in the country or around the world. 

The book rings true today even though Gilder could not have predicted the growth of companies like Google or Facebook.

By 1992, Gilder had sunk the hook in my news media mouth.  I thought about his theories constantly, especially late at night after exiting the anchor desk and wondering about the newscasts I just anchored, “Did I really present what was really going on?”

The second was Real TV.  They hired me in 1996.  It would change my life in a couple of ways: I would have a national and international reputation; and I would see the future of TV and communications.  Here’s what I wrote in my book in 2005:

Real TV was a pioneering television show. Our producers showed the news business how to take home video, surveillance video, and police video and turn them into compelling stories. Look at any newscast or news magazine show and they are essentially mirroring Real TV. In fact, Real TV was probably the first interactive news show. We had a slogan: “You shoot it; we show it.” Nearly half the videos on Real TV came from the audience. People with home video cameras who were in the right place at the right time became paid contractors of Real TV. A great, unstaged video clip got them into the television business.

Hosting this show gave me insight as to what the twenty-first-century media has and will become. As technology expands, our frontline reporters are actually the everyday men and women on the street. The 2004 election gave birth to the term “citizen journalist.” Many of you already have blogs to deliver your views to the rest of the world. Cellular phones are the cameras and the satellite links of the future. A recent LIFE magazine article stated that more camera cell phones were sold in the United States last year than were actual cameras.

Look at the deadly tsunami in South Asia on December 26, 2004. Who were the first journalists on the scene? Look at the first moments of video contained in the network news stories. The video is camcorder video shot by tourists who survived. The tourists and the locals were the first reporters on the scene. They had the story long before a network news anchor had even booked his flight.

I wrote that seven years ago. 

Today cameras, computers, video editing systems are smaller, more powerful, and less expensive.  As a result, the reality of shooting your own TV show and being your own journalist is now within the grasp of nearly all of us.

And I am still looking for a way online to resurrect Real TV.

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