Four More Years – Why I’m Going to Continue Covering City Hall and Why I Need Your Support To Do It Better

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I’m committed to continuing to cover my hometown and creating a sustainable independent news outlet which grows to make Hamilton a more informed engaged City.

Journalism is Dead! Newspapers are Dying! Nobody Wants to Pay for News!

These are just some of the headlines that are taken as common beliefs in journalism today.

I don’t believe this and it is why for the past two years I went against the conventional wisdom of my profession with a simple belief:

People are willing to pay for news … they are willing to pay for high quality news that informs them and provides them access to the information they need to be informed and engaged citizens as part of a vibrant functioning democracy.

This is why I'm launching The Public Record. Hamilton needs high quality journalism more than ever, and together we can build something that provides the information we need.

I crowdfunded to buy the equipment we needed to do this, the equipment that livestreams nearly meeting at City Hall, Public School Board Meetings, Hamilton Police Services Boards, the camera gear that is there live when you need information in the middle of the night, and the only live camera that is there for community events such as the Casino Town Halls, Public School Trustee Debates, and numerous election debates.

Now, I have to achieve sustainability for myself to continue. I need to be able to draw a modest salary for my work. More importantly, I have to build a news outlet which can hire more Hamiltonians to cover our City.

Improving My Coverage with new Equipment

I need new equipment to improve my workflow and to create better coverage.

  • Video Broadcast Computer – $5000
  • Broadcast Software – $1000
  • Replace Streaming Box – $600

I’m going to build a custom computer this November which will enable me to add graphics to my live video such as information boxes explaining agenda items, allow me to clip video item-by-item during meetings (enabling you to find exactly what you are looking for without searching hours of video), and build in picture-in-picture so you can see presentation slides in high quality while still seeing the speaker.

I’ll also be able to display tweets in real-time, enabling a better civic conversation, and getting more Hamiltonians engaged in our civic affairs.

I’m going to be able to use the video processing power to create – at minimum – a weekly 15 minute video summary of the week at City Hall. It’s my hope – especially because I’ll be better able to catalog video archives – to produce summary videos more often.

Building a computer capable of real-time video graphics will not be inexpensive.

Off-the-shelf studio computers cost $8,000 dollars. I expect to spend $5000 building the system. Importantly, I’ll build the system for future upgrades as I plan to eventually purchase a second camera and will be able to broadcast with both.

Software for broadcast graphics will add approximately $1000 to the cost of the system, and another $1000 dollars for monitors as I’ll need a set at my office and a set at City Hall. (I’ll be transporting the computer between my office and City Hall daily)

I need to replace my streaming box. This will cost $600.

I’ll be documenting the building of the system during the month of November as contributions to this crowdfunding campaign enable me to purchase the needed parts. I hope to raise the funds need to complete the build before December 1 when the new City Council is sworn in.

Improving My Coverage With Renewed Focus

I’m excited to continue covering City Hall and my hometown. I’ve thought much about my career goals, especially in the past year. I’m enjoying covering my hometown and when you enjoy something, it doesn’t feel like work.

I wish to keep innovating. To this end, I’ll be working in November to do the following:

  • Rebranding: I’ve purchased a new domain name for my work, one which provides better branding of my work and will enable the evolution of my work into a media outlet. I think you’ll be very happy with the new name. This ensure many years in the future, our work building high-quality journalism will continue.
  • Improving my website: November provides an unique opportunity for rebuilding the website (along with the rebranding) to improve search, categorization, and build databases with an eventual API for open data. This will be especially useful in tracking planning applications at City Hall.
  • Starting a Mobile App: I’ll work with local developers who wish to create an open-sourced news app for independent journalism. With the studio computer, I’ll be able to separately stream audio to mobile devices. I’ve heard from many that you want audio only streaming as an option. Prior to my laptop not working this spring, we experimented with audio streaming. With this crowdfunding campaign, it will be able to be a part of my daily broadcasts.
  • Better Workspace: I’m going to use some of the funds from this campaign to purchase a proper desk for use in the City Hall media room. (In addition to my work space at The Seedworks) to improve my workflow between meetings at City Hall.
  • Better Care of Myself: I’m going to purchase a YMCA membership downtown to be working out each day. I’ll be getting a small fridge and microwave for the media room, with a focus on improving my day. I can’t create more hours in the day, but I can focus on making better use of them.
  • Sustainability: Simply put, I’m doing a good job of the journalism side of new journalism. I need to improve on the business side. I’ll be using the remaining funds from this crowdfunding campaign as a “runway” to get more supporters signed up for small monthly contribution subscriptions to my work. In the future, I’ll be using crowdfunding solely for capital purchases and freedom of information requests.

Events

I want to start holding a monthly town hall type event at area pubs. I've heard clearly that people want to do more than just engage online, they want to have informed dialogue in person.
As I refocus my work and improve it, I plan to hold a monthly pub night on the fourth Thursday of each month.
As I grow the number of supporters of my work, I'll hire someone to help organize panel discussions and other events to improve our civic life.

I Need Your Support To Make it Happen

For the past few months, I’ve been working on my tablet (my laptop broke in June). Even with minimal equipment, I’ve been able to provide the high quality coverage.

With your support, I’ll be able to get the equipment to provide even better coverage.

Your support makes high quality coverage available to all Hamiltonians. There is no paywall, I don’t run advertisements.

Together, we just produce good high-quality journalism by Hamiltonians, for Hamiltonians, accountable to Hamiltonians, to advance Hamilton.

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