Saturday, March 24, 2012

Current TV- Where Viewers Make the Shows!

While Current TV no longer supports this format of programming, when the channel first began it was extremely different from other channels in that it formatted the majority of its shows around viewer created content. Current refused to be simply another news channel that told people what was important or unimportant. I remember watching the channel beginning in 2008 and being simply blown away at how many different shows and segments there were simply based in viewer submitted and created content. A number of news networks claim to integrate viewer opinions into their material but in fact do nothing of the sort. Current TV, created by politician Al Gore, was created specifically for this idea of giving the viewers a voice, and the use of viewer created content to fuel an entire channel proved a useful solution to the lack of public viewer opinion and content in news media. If this isn't a perfect example of collecting, then I don't know what is!

(Original Current TV logo)

There were a number of television segments and shows which helped harness and organize the thousands of videos submitted to Current's hosts online and posted on the Current TV Community boards. Some of the shows included Max and Jason: Still Up, Current Exposed, InfoMania, The Rotten Tomatoes Show, and the nightly Current News segment. The Rotten Tomatoes Show had two hosts, Brett Erlich and Ellen Fox, both of which have moved on since the show's end. Of course, the show was about film reviews. Viewers were encouraged and welcomed to go out and see films that Ellen and Brett would propose to present the next week, and after seeing the film come home and make a short review with their webcam or camera. They could then send it in to Brett, Ellen, or the show's email, and they had a chance to have their review aired on the program. As well, the reviewers who made it on tv would get a bit of cash for their review (around $100), which made the experience even more beneficial for the viewers. The audience's opinions could finally be heard! This was quite creative in that since film critique is said to be an open field, but in reality often falls short, that regular movie goers could have their own personal reviews broadcasted for the masses. The people's opinion was not only heard, but promoted through the integration and dependency on viewer created content for the shows. The producers and hosts are literally part of the production team as well, and they collaborate on various levels with the audience. Their collaboration is the heart and soul of the creative fuel of the channel, and the collection of viewer created content is vital!

(The Rotten Tomatoes Show hosts Ellen Fox and Brett Erlich)

I almost feel like it was this show that inspired me to go into film/media studies because I was utterly amazed at how the programs at Current TV worked. Everything came back to the viewers unlike any other show or television channel on the air. It was extremely enticing to see as a sophomore in high school and I can't help but miss it now that I'm a sophomore in college. Another one of the most viewer content fueled shows on the channel, and another personal favorite of mine, was Current Exposed, hosted by Douglas Caballero, who now co-hosts a Dallas morning show with Rotten Tomatoes' Ellen Fox. Every day after school, I remember coming home to watch Current Exposed and just being in awe of how many different people would send in short documentary-style videos about issues they felt were important in their lives. There were countless videos, a wide variety of show topics, and every video wore the heart of its creator on its sleeve. While the videos and segments in which Douglas Caballero himself would interview people on Current Exposed are no longer on the Current TV website itself, if you go to Youtube and simply search "Current Exposed", the interview videos of Caballero and other past Current TV hosts and workers show up in the results. More importantly, to access the viewer created content from the show, you merely have to go to Youtube, yet again, and search "VC2", at which point you will see countless videos with the VC2 in the title and the user who posted the videos being Current. The VC2 (which stands for 'viewer created content') videos cover a wide range of topics and the creators of the videos were viewers from around the world. The channel thrived on this VC2 and found a creative way for people to be heard. Again, collaboration and collecting are the most prevalent elements of this channel.

(host Douglas Caballero discusses a piece of viewer created content-or VC2- with a guest from Current's offices)

Where most channels say that their viewers matter and that their voices will be heard and made vital to the channel itself, very few follow through with this promise. Current TV, back when it first began, fulfilled this promise more than anyone could have ever though possible. Audiences tire very easily of being told what is important by the same news broadcasters and experts. The public opinion matters. Current solved the problem of lack of public input and opinion in the news and media by creating a channel which would run on viewer created content. Though the channel has taken a severely political turn and cut out almost all, if not all already, viewer created and submitted content, the remnants of what the channel was in its glory days are still out there, floating around the internet for everyone to investigate for themselves. The channel began a creative revolution in specifically using VC2 as its material in a journalistic world where experience matters and more often than not the voices of the public go unheard. The journalists worked their best to collaborate with viewers, and this collaboration created an entirely new way to present issues in daily life in a news media format. The creativity flows freely in this channel and not many can compete, if any at all.

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