Activists Tune In

As YouTube proves itself the new online distraction, more and
more of us are watching the triumphs and failures of something
called ‘user-generated television’ — video contributed by the
audience, for the audience. Amidst the tens of thousands of
submissions, those with a specific message to spread can get lost
in the crowd. To sort through the static, like-minded activists are
using online television and video sites like Current TV and
Channel G to
showcase their projects and garner interest and support.

Co-founded by Al Gore, Current TV is both a cable TV channel and an
online community where users can submit videos and vote for their
favorites. Called ‘pods,’ these videos ‘tell a story, profile a
character, and/or share an idea.’ To help viewers create
interesting, informative pieces, Current provides an
online tutorial. Every Thursday, the submission
that draws the most viewers’ votes is aired on
cable channel
. (Check out a recent top-choice, the six-minute
profile of Ashray, a shelter in India for children of
HIV-positive parents.)

For those who’d like to contribute, but not necessarily turn on
a camera, Channel G connects online users to videos of interesting
projects in need of financial support. Channel G features short
documentaries on nonprofit projects like
Blue Planet Run Foundation, whose mission is to
bring safe drinking water to the world, and
Red Feather, an organization that builds straw
bale housing for Native American elders.

Such sites provide a space for content that can scarcely be
found in the ever expanding range of television channels available
today. So, the next time you’re flipping past ‘The OC’ or ‘Fear
Factor’ and lamenting the dearth of socially responsible
programming, consider turning your TV off and your computer on.

Go there >>
Current TV

Go there, too >>
Channel G

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