July 18, 2014. Your Town, USA. (ONN) No, you can’t barbecue your Congressman, as much as we know you want to sometimes. But you can put them on the spot and capture it on video for the whole world to see. The grassroots citizen-journalism co-op known as Watchdog Wire is holding a summer video contest. All you need to do to enter is interview one of your government representatives, asking them any number of difficult questions, and record their uncomfortable response.
Submissions due by August 31, 2014. Image courtesy of WatchdogWire.com.
Public officials to face the heat this summer
“Summer is here, and the kids aren’t the only ones coming back home to see you,” the editors at Watchdog Wire announced, “If you’re familiar with ‘August Recess’, you know that it is a time when your federal representatives unplug from Washington, return to the real world, and traditionally hold events, meetings, and town halls around the state to reconnect with the taxpayers that put them in office.”
Congress’ approval rating has soared recently, from its record low of 10% earlier this year to an equally abysmal 15% now. So, it shouldn’t be difficult to find a Congressman or woman who is extremely unpopular due to their actions in Washington, or lack of action in some cases, and call them on the carpet in front of your grassroots camera lens. Ask them any question you want and do your best to get them to answer it. Their responses, or more likely, their double-talk, smoke and mirrors, and issue-dodging will probably be the content that wins the prize for best video.
Watchdog Wire Video Contest
As detailed on the outlet’s contest webpage, ‘Watchdog Wire is holding a summer-long video journalism contest for the best original video coverage - local, state, federal - of this Summer Recess. Video submissions will be featured on Watchdog Wire and voted on by the public throughout the summer on a rolling basis. Prizes that compliment participants’ filming and technology flair will be awarded to the videos with the most votes. The first prize we’re giving out to the video with the most votes is an AppleTV (or an Amazon gift card equal in value)!’
In addition to smaller prizes, all video submissions will be eligible to win the contest’s Grand Prize - an all-expense paid trip to our nation’s capitol in Washington DC. The visit will include everything a grassroots citizen-reporter might need to break a story from the seat of American power, including tours, briefings and more. While the 1st place winner and lesser prizes will be determined by Watchdog Wire’s readers and viewers, the grand prize winner will be selected by a panel of judges.
For those like this author who love reporting the news but have never done a video segment before, our friends at Watchdog Wire have scheduled a free video journalism webinar. It will broadcast online in four days on July 22 and be available for viewing anytime after that.
Details and tips
The contest runs from now until August 31, 2014. Videos should be 2-3 minutes in length and will be judged more on their substance and the footage captured, and less on editing skills and camera work. Entrants are encouraged to submit as many separate videos as they want. The rules don’t specifically state that old videos can’t be submitted. But the contest calls for participants to create a new video while their representatives are on this year’s summer recess. So, you’re on your honor.
For would-be videographers who aren’t sure where to start, Watchdog Wire gives some tips:
For additional tips and suggestions from contest administrators, Watchdog Wire has produced a detailed ‘Tip Sheet’ containing “9 Tips for Telling your Story with Video.” Some of the headings include, ‘The Smartphone, a TV station in your pocket’, ‘Never stop shooting’, and ‘Obey the law, but not necessarily the rules’. The tip sheet also includes some sample videos of Watchdogs interviewing their elected officials in the past.
Watchdog Wire is a project of the Franklin Center and according to their website, ‘Watchdog Wire exists to train citizens just like you to be citizen journalists and provide a place to feature your work. By covering stories in your local community that are otherwise ignored by the establishment media, you can make a difference! We partner with you to provide the training, the platform and the coaching you need to be government watchdogs in your own cities and states.’
For more information on the Watchdog Wire Summer Recess Video Contest, visit WatchdogWire.com.
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