WORCESTER, Mass. — Residents of 17 U.S. cities will soon be able to view and exchange videos about their communities on a network of local websites through a new project of the Participatory Culture Foundation, makers of the popular Internet TV application Miro.
Existing tools let anyone create, publish and share video online. But these video hubs, launched in partnership with local TV stations, will help users find and discuss content specifically about their hometown.
The project, called Miro Local TV, is funded with a $589,000 grant by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
"Budgets or local TV and print journalism are declining, threatening the vitality of cities and towns," said Nicholas Reville, the foundation’s executive director. "But the explosion of viewer-created web video gives us a powerful new way to do local journalism.”
Each site will bring together relevant video from local video bloggers and sites such as YouTube, using a combination of automation and expertise from staff at partnering private or public access stations.
Curators at the partner station will develop a set of keywords that identify neighborhoods, local landmarks or venues.
"If somebody posts a video to, say, YouTube with one of those keywords, the local site will automatically pull in that video," said Holmes Wilson, Participatory Culture’s co-founder. "The goal is to bring the great video that's already out there into a uniquely local space that will spur even more video production, as well as discussion of local issues."
Knight Foundation believes the project will create better-informed citizens by giving them new spaces to discuss their community.
"This grant is an opportunity to focus a good technical tool on the information needs of communities in a democracy," said Gary Kebbel, Knight's journalism program director.
In the first year, the project will launch in five communities of different sizes, among them Worcester, Cambridge and Medfield, Massachusetts, and two large cities. In the second year, the project will expand to 12 additional cities. The group of cities will include five "Knight Communities of Focus," or cities where the Knight brothers once owned newspapers.
Participatory Culture Foundation’s Miro is a popular open-source video podcast aggregator found at getmiro.com. Miro Local TV will be the first venture into local media for the organization, which is a nonprofit.
"There is tremendous potential for this explosion we've seen in online video to serve communities' needs for local news and local discourse," said Reville. "But for the big companies that dominate online video, this simply isn't a priority."
"Since founding Miro, we have wanted to take these participatory video tools to the local level," Wilson said. "We are thrilled to have the support from Knight Foundation to tackle this problem."
About Participatory Culture Foundation:
Participatory Culture Foundation was founded in 2005 with seed funding from Andy and Deborah Rappaport and Mitch Kapor to democratize media by building an open access, open standards, open source platform for internet video. Its flagship product, Miro, has been downloaded three million times in the past year. For more, visit participatoryculture.org or getmiro.com.
About John S. and James L. Knight Foundation:
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation invests in journalism excellence worldwide and in the vitality of U.S. communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Since 1950, the foundation has granted more than $400 million to advance quality journalism and freedom of expression. Knight Foundation focuses on projects with the potential to create transformational change. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.