Over at Skype Journal Phil Wolff has been writing about the way in which Skype is “democratizing” media production. He grabbed a couple of the clips of Oprah’s Twitter debut, including a conversation via Skype Video with Ashton Kutcher. His comment is that although Oprah could have flown a crew to interview Ashton’s half of the segment, Skype was good enough. Phil sees this as a sea change.
In actual fact, this has been going on for a very long time. During the Gulf War, CNN sent video correspondents equipped with what was essentially an ISDN video phone. Those slow frame jerky videos came back to us live faster than any crew could have set up a satellite feed, and for much less cost and risk.
Closer to home, just yesterday I recorded a half hour interview with Sheryl Breuker for her Incidental Interviews series. Sheryl, on Skype, called me. Minimal cost for equipment and production, and quality similar to anything you’d hear on the radio. As Ashton Kutcher said in his segment, the internet makes it possible for ordinary people to achieve extraordinary things by “democratizing media”. Just as blogs democratized what had previously been the domain of publishers and print, real time audio and video technologies like Skype are making it possible for ordinary people to become media personalities.
Cost is a huge factor in all of this. All forms of media are finding that as advertising dollars dry up or shift to the internet costs have to be reduced. Some, like my local newspaper, are simply publishing thinner products – reducing cost reducing content. That’s a path to oblivion. Business models like Huffington Post which rely on citizen reporters, or Oprah’s use of Skype rather than a camera crew, are the key to providing quality content while containing cost.
What next on CNN or Oprah? A QIK feed? It won’t be long, I predict.