Last week, I sat in a conference room in Dorchester, Mass., with some of the great minds of public media to recommend which 10 producers and public media stations should be supported for year-long projects to transform the industry.
Localore is a new $2 million national competition produced by the Boston-based Association of Independents in Radio (AIR), with $1 million in funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, to catalyze producer-led innovation teams at local stations. Here at Zeega, this is particularly exciting because we'll be teaming up with several of the winners as creative technology partners. (For more info about Zeega, an open-source platform for creating interactive projects and documentaries, see this and this.)
To be paired with producers, stations had to produce a video to describe what made them the perfect hub for innovation. In a pretty amazing showing, 61 stations across the nation -- from Native American reservations to statewide networks to major market radio and television outlets -- added their profile to the Localore Station Runway. More than 130 producers applied with their ideas for Localore projects. The winners will be announced on February 1.
For us, these projects will play a leading role in defining much of what Zeega becomes during this early stage. Our partnership with Localore matches the strategy we've envisaged for ourselves from the beginning -- we believe firmly that great storytelling and storytellers should drive the design and development process. As opposed to traditional software development that begins with generic specs, we're committed to building out Zeega's core features through real projects tied to real producers, communities and users. And importantly, as opposed to just ending up with a bespoke mix of technology experiments after Localore ends, these projects will make a lasting contribution to the tools for public media. There will be a set of content-driven features in Zeega that will be made available for other producers and a set of rigorously documented open-source code that can be further expanded.
The Localore initiative is an outgrowth of MQ2, the AIR-driven effort that first funded Mapping Main Street, thus planting the seeds for Zeega. The Localore teams are tasked with bringing their ingenuity to blend digital and broadcast technology, and invent new forms of journalism that will appeal beyond public broadcasting's traditional core audience.
To complement this technological innovation, the initiative is based in specific geographic communities in order to deeply enrich local reporting and community engagement. This push for localism comes at a time when commercial station owners in the U.S. continue to divest their investment in local talent and stations.
Media theorist Marshall McLuhan said, "It is the artist's job to try to dislocate older media into postures that permit attention to the new. To this end, the artist must ever play and experiment with new means of arranging experience." For us, it's about searching for means to create new possibilities with what currently exists, making it, and in the process, often subverting the intentions imagined by a technology's original creators.
We'll be back with more at the beginning of February when we can share the winners!