Before my first day at Public-i, I was excited but also a little bit overwhelmed. Here I am, a journalism graduate, about to dive into something slightly more technical than what I was used to. I knew my nervous state was unnecessary, mainly because when I thought about it, this wasn’t unfamiliar territory at all. In fact, I was simply stepping onto the other side of the screen. Rather than watching from the outside, I was now part of the internal process of bringing things together to create a webcast, and in turn a transparent practice in the public sector.
If you were to ask me five years ago where I see myself in 2014, I would have said that I was going to be a writer for a newspaper, or if I got really lucky, a magazine. Even though I did once dream of being a journalist, dashing from the newsroom to the scene of an event or protest, one day I realized this wasn’t for me. Then I panicked – if I wasn’t going to be a writer, what was I going to do with my life? Like any recent graduate, I wanted to do something that would still pertain to my degree, and when I found Public-i, I also found a new and exciting way to use the skills I had gained during my time at University.
In my four years at journalism school, I often found myself sitting in council chambers for hours on end, tape recorder in my lap and scribbling furiously in a notebook. One week in particular is memorable – a contentious issue surrounding some rather important land in Ottawa, Canada. Being there was of course a great experience for a young wannabe journalist, but when I realized I could watch these same meetings from the comfort of my desk at home, my life was made a lot easier. This was particularly important on days where I didn’t want to skip a class or had several assignments to work on.
In today’s world, I’ve learned multi-tasking is not only prevalent, but pretty well everyone in the working world – no matter the field – is expected to do it. To be honest, I never thought about who was behind this webcasting business. This tool that made it easier for people like myself to tune in to gather information for stories, or for curious citizens to see what goes on within the walls of their town hall. Now that I have seen the steps that it takes to get from an idea to an actual live broadcast online, I realize that I had taken this tool for granted.
When it comes to webcasting, there is a lot more that goes into it than just setting up a camera and pressing a big green button. There is so much that goes on in the world of webcasting behind the scenes, and it’s difficult to put down on paper. This was a world I was once blind to. There are several teams working towards goals to bring it all together into a finished product, which you can then watch at home or anywhere else you find yourself with an internet connection.
These include academic, technical, and personal processes. From speaking to people about initial ideas, such as our Chief Executive Catherine Howe’s ‘Networked Councillor’to creating websites tailored to certain needs, to developing an interface that is not only user friendly but also appealing to the eye.
Now that I have been on both sides of the spectrum in terms of using webcasting and now helping to co-ordinate webcasting events, I can fully appreciate the tool. But you might still be wondering how this relates to my journalism studies.
From the outside, it’s not so clear, but I spent a lot of time not only writing but also learning about the importance of creating a web presence for yourself as well as the company you work for. As a journalist, you’re expected to use several social media platforms, create multimedia content, live tweet events you attend, and post articles online on a regular basis. And the most important thing of all – getting, and keeping, a reader’s attention. Online, this can be especially difficult.
In today’s world, councillors and community leaders are expected to do something very similar, and Public-i helps to facilitate this. Councils and other community leaders can now become a part of the digital world that so many of us are turning to in order to increase democratic participation and transparency. This is also important to the media, allowing journalists to relay information to the public and generate more discussion. It’s all one big circle that is very much connected – and we’re here in the middle of it all, something a lot of people don’t even realize. Including my past self.
Even after just one month, I can sense there will be some big things coming up in our future. Considering the next generation is being raised with iPhones and tablets at their fingertips, it’s pretty clear that webcasting is only the beginning.