Written by Dominic Dezzutti

The media industry, in all of its forms, newspaper, radio, TV and internet, is evolving at a rapid pace. If someone announces that they know exactly what’s going to happen in this business beyond next week, it’s a pretty safe bet that they have no idea.

So, I’m taking a dangerous, bold and likely pretty stupid step by asserting that I think I have seen a new stage in the evolution of the television business and in our evolution as an audience.

Coverage of the Japanese earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis, whether by necessity or because of power issues, is forcing many national outlets to combine reports via satellite with reports via streaming technology, using wireless networks.

This methodology, nor the concept, is new. However, the growing use of streaming technology both nationally and locally, and more importantly, our willingness as an audience to be patient with its unpredictability, has the ability to change “live coverage” dramatically.

This isn’t simply another way that technology is getting smaller and faster. Technology is simply the tool. The key part of this evolution is our willingness as an audience to be early adapters, even in the age of high definition.

As an audience, we would rather have three different shots and reports from the field on feeds with questionable quality, than one crystal clear high definition report from some safe bunker, far from the action.

Streaming technology isn’t reliant upon satellites in the same way that the traditional “live via satellite” system is. Being live via satellite necessitates buying satellite time and making arrangements with a third party. Satellite time is high quality, but very expensive.

Streaming, on the other hand, is everything satellite isn’t. It’s not as reliable, the signal can be far from perfect but it’s pretty inexpensive.

With the audience embracing streaming technology far better than they did the first “Video Phone” reports from the Iraq war years ago, investment will make reliability and signal quality much better.

So what does this have to do with politics? Why the sudden interest in TV technology?

Evolving social media technology has shown what it can do for an oppressed country. It truly can change the world, one Facebook post at a time.

If covering news, and thereby political stories is easier than ever before, especially live, our expectations of our leaders can change just as quickly.

Think of it this way. Right now people send in pictures of snow on their decks and amazing sunsets to CBS 4. They also join the conversation via Facebook on a regular basis. How long do you think it will take to actually start sending in videos, or better yet, become a live streaming reporter?

So, if instead of a small team of reporters able to go live, soon local stations and national outlets could feasibly be wherever they needed to be with a live report, from nearly anywhere, from nearly anyone standing nearby.

Do you think if any of those recent police brutality cases in Denver were caught on live TV it would affect the Mayoral race? The video that was captured sometimes wasn’t released for weeks. Imagine instead if it were broadcast live.

That is a small example, but I think you can see my point. When “Live via Satellite” first came about, I’m sure many people wondered if it was just an unnecessary gimmick. They were okay with the way things already were and didn’t really see a need for this new satellite technology.

We’ve learned now that satellite dramatically changed the news and our expectations regarding major political decisions.

Streaming on TV can do the same, but faster, cheaper and eventually, better.

About The Blogger

– Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.


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