• davis logo
    Davis Media Access's offices
  • A video on Luminosity's YouTube channel
  • A visionOntv training template
  • An edit suite at Davis Media Access
  • A video on AbsoluteDestiny's YouTube channel
  • The visionOntv platform's menu
  • telex
    Davis Media Access's studio control room
  • Laura announcing a video on LiveJournal
  • visionOntv's YouTube channel
  • mixing board
    A mixing board in Davis Media Access's control room
  • Obsessive24 announcing a video on LiveJournal
  • One of visionOntv's Twitter feeds
  • Davis on air
    The entrance to Davis Media Access's studio
  • Laura recommending a video on her Dreamwidth journal
  • visionOntv's Facebook page
  • marin control
    Community Media Center of Marin's studio contol room
  • Here's Luck's website
  • visionOntv's Blip channel
  • mural
    Davis Media Access office's wall mural
  • Here's Luck announcing a video on tumblr
  • Merseyside Street Reporters Network's Facebook page
  • MarinWindow
    The Community Media Center of Marin's offices
  • AbsoluteDestiny announcing a video on Dreamwidth
  • Merseyside Street Reporters Network wiki page on the visionOntv platform
  • Davis camera
    A studio camera at Davis Media Access
  • Luminosity's video "Vogue"
  • Sara Newton's YouTube channel
  • Marin cameras wide
    Remote control studio cameras at the Community Media Center of Marin
  • researcher
    The reseacher (left) co-operating visionOntv's "pop-up studio" at OpenTech 2011

Environmental Voices

Deborah Whitman, a resident of Davis at the time of my research, primarily produced environmental videos, although she also produced a few other videos mostly about social and political issues in Davis and Sacramento.  She had a non-profit organisation, Environmental Voices, as a vehicle for her video making activities, and it consisted of her and volunteers she would enrol from time to time to help out on specific projects on a sporadic basis.  The mission of Environmental Voices, as she stated on the organisation’s website, “is to help preserve our future by providing education and research about toxic chemicals and how they affect our health and the environment”.

Deborah speaking at event

A screenshot from the "Environmental Voices" website

Her reason for using the Internet to distribute her videos was a common one amongst my public access informants:

I’m trying to market my non-profit, and I’m trying to reach a lot of people.  These issues are critical issues I’m really passionate about, and this is my way of getting it out amongst the people in an inexpensive way … you can reach so many more people.

YouTube was the only video hosting platform Deborah used for her videos.  When I first spoke to her, the reason she gave was simply that she did not know of any others.  However, by the final interview she had become aware of other hosting platforms, but had continued to use YouTube in spite of two significant issues she had with it.  Firstly, her primary video work was the environmental documentary “Skylines”, and because its length was 90 minutes she had been forced to break it into smaller parts so it could be uploaded to YouTube.

Part 1 of Deborah's documentary Sky Lines on YouTube

The second issue she had with YouTube was that she did not have the technical skills or patience to upload her videos: while she had in fact learnt how to shoot and edit videos through classes taught by both Davis Media Access and Access Sacramento, she lamented that they did not offer classes on uploading as far as she was aware.  This was compounded by the fact that she did not have the money to pay other people to do it, so she had to rely on volunteers.  Unfortunately, finding a volunteer for this task had proved difficult, which meant that although she had a number of completed videos ready for uploading, nothing had been uploaded in the 12 months I was observing her online activity. 

While Deborah had an Environmental Voices Facebook page, it had very little activity.  Started in July 2010, she had only made nine posts in total, seven of those during the 12-month period I was in contact with her.  While there were links to other people’s environmental videos, and to two radio appearances she had made, she did not post any of her own videos there.  When I asked her why she didn’t use Facebook more, she acknowledged its importance to non-profits but had very limited time to devote to online activities because of her other commitments and general dislike of sitting in front of computers for any length of time.

Environmental Voices Facebook page

A screenshot from the "Environmental Voices" Facebook page

There was also no audience activity on the Facebook page within the timeframe of my fieldwork. In fact, Deborah did not use her own website or YouTube to interact with her audience either: she had disabled ratings and comments on YouTube, as she felt negative comments would discourage her from making videos, and generally, as with her reasons for not using Facebook more, she did not want to devote more time to sitting in front of a computer. For her, the most important thing about having the videos online was that she could direct the people she engaged with at offline forums to them, which included environmental activist events and meetings, and radio interviews.

The following is a short background interview I conducted with Deborah where she talks about her video making and distribution activities:

 

The video "Breaking Ground for Peace", mentioned in this interview, which she co-produced and co-directed, was filmed and edited by Tom Pettit, and uploaded to his Vimeo account, and did not appear on any of Deborah's online platforms during my fieldwork. It can be viewed here.