Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Keeping Current

This is the way things work now. I'm still on vacation but I logged into my IM and co-worker/good buddy Oiko said hi and happened to mention that over the weekend his thirteen-year old son turned him on to a new TV channel called "Current" that features news stories submitted by viewers. As you can imagine googling "Current News" is something of a joke, but I finally managed to get a hit. It turns out that Current is something that Al Gore helped to put together.
Hoping to lure young viewers who have grown disillusioned with traditional media outlets, Current is taking a different approach to current-affairs TV -- one that goes well beyond news and into lifestyle and other subjects. Rather than relying solely on reporters and editors to produce stories, the channel is trying to generate up to half of its programming from members of the public. It uses its Web site to gather feedback from the public on what it should air and pays modestly for those videos it chooses to run.

Current's unorthodox approach shows the effect of the Internet on media habits. Use of blogs and community Web sites have changed attitudes to journalism: Young people now frequently use the Web to post material ranging from diaries about their lives to comments on news events -- sometimes even stitching together video clips to enhance their commentary. Blogs offer interactive and unfiltered content very different from the rigorously edited and highly polished news coverage offered by the mainstream media....

Mr. Gore, who is chairman of Current, said he and entrepreneur Joel Hyatt came up with the idea of a channel relying on consumer contributions. The two first met to discuss working together after Mr. Gore's campaign for president in 2000. Last year, backed by a group of investors, they bought a little-known cable channel from Vivendi Universal SA for about $70 million. They are now working to make it widely available: Current can be seen in only about 20 million homes, whereas most major cable channels are available in 80 million.

My buddy says that Current is available to his house on DirecTV. Ask your cable company to supply it at your home.

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