#OnlineVideo Activism Lessons From Netroots Nation

A couple of us had a chance to go to Netroots Nation this past weekend, and it got us thinking about our favorite outlet for activism – online video. There has never been a more exciting time to be doing video activism.  In the last few months, YouTube has made it easier for activists to use its site, starting with the announcement of its Human Rights Channel.

From the YouTube Blog:

…“In the case of human rights, video plays a particularly important role in illuminating what occurs when governments and individuals in power abuse their positions.”…

From New York Times:

…“Nonprofits and activism” is one of the fastest-growing categories on YouTube, according to Olivia Ma, YouTube’s news manager. At the height of the Arab Spring last year, she said, 100,000 videos were uploaded from Egypt, representing a 72 percent increase in uploads from the previous three months, even after the government shut down the Internet for five days…

Here are some tips from some of the top video activists who attended Netroots:

Andy Menconi, video animator/graphic designer for The Other 98%, suggests having a strategy for distribution, specifically consider contacting like-minded individuals and groups who would support your cause by sending them the link to your video first.  Supporters are more likely to share it with their network, and the likelihood of the video going viral is higher.

Pittsburgh rapper and community activist Jasiri X says he has a core group of friends and colleagues who review his videos privately before they are published for public viewing on YouTube.  This way he can get honest opinions – good or bad – and make any necessary changes, so he knows he is putting out the best product possible.

Andy Cobb, political director of Second City New Media, suggests keeping videos under two minutes and putting your best material at the beginning of the video.  Most people decide if they want to watch the rest of the video based on that first impression.

And just a couple of technical tips from us…  Audio is key to good video.  Most people are understanding of less than perfect visuals, but if your audio is bad, people will not want to watch your video.  Also, whenever possible, use a tripod.  Even if you are using a small gadget like a iPhone or a Flip camera, a tripod will support a more stable, professional looking video.

Posted in Accountability/Transparency, Global, Online Journalism, Video, YouTube and tagged , , , , , , , , , .

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