May 13, 2013

Current TV is dead. Long Live Indie Journalism

Womp womp.

So Al Jazeera, after acquiring Current TV, isn't going to be continuing with Current in any way shape or form.

So Current TV is officially going to be dead starting sometime this month.

Current long ago killed what made them different from the corporate-owned, top-down media structure we all know and loathe. What made them different?

In addition to having a voting system that allowed quality content to float to the top of the heap, and be featured on TV, they also had an editorial staff who also picked out quality content, and created quality news content. Their "Vanguard" journalists did an amazing job doing in-depth stories that the MTV-ized 24 hour news networks are too busy acting like highly distractable puppies with ADHA chasing a ball, to put the effort into producing. So too was the user-generated content. So, Current hired the assholes from MTV who MTVized the channel, and turned it all to vapid shit.

They died in effect, when they stopped featuring user-generated content that made its way up through the reddit-style voting of the online communtiy, and instead, through their "VCAM" project (Viewer Created Advertisement Material) asked us to make advertising for corporate bullshit like Axe Body Spray and Loreal Shampoo. Which wasn't as much user-participation as it was ad firms being incredibly lazy and stealing ideas from people too stupid to realize that they should get paid $40k a year to generate marketing materials.

The online community that had developed around open-source indie journalism, was left on a deserted island of a chatroom, abandoned. Without the ability to get your news stories covered by the channel, few people bothered to come on to the website. As the MTV-ization started, content that was getting voted up was vapid TMZ crap about celebrity culture. Gone were the 7 minute documentaries about arts, culture, science, news, sociological experiments, etc.

Things picked up a bit when they hired on the Young Turks, but the other shows, like Jennifer Granholm's "The Panic Room" (or whatever it was called) was pure, uncut, DNC propaganda, the sort of inane inside-baseball and horse-race bullshit about campaigning we can get anywhere else (mostly CNN, with their holographic sets, touch-screen maps and total lack of news content). Not coverage of issues, and not news, not things that make a difference in people's lives.

I think ultimately, the reason that Current failed so horribly, is that in each misstep along the way, they never really understood the value of what they had, they never understood what made them unique or important. They effectively cut off their own hands. So Al Jazeera America? Great! Al Jazeera has time and again proven themselves to be in line of what Current set out to be in the first place-- high-quality, boots-on-the-ground journalism.

So Current TV is dead. Long live Independent Journalism.

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