Pass the microphone to the people

KVDA's foray into community journalism

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Very quietly, an experiment has begun in San Antonio which could revolutionize TV news. It's the first really new thing in local television news since the canned Eyewitness News format came along some decades ago, and contrary to what you might expect, it's not being tried on local cable access or public TV.

It's being done by a commercial station.

A few weeks ago, news director Victor Landa and his crew at KVDA-TV kicked off what may be the first serious attempt at community-based television journalism in the United States.

Citizen-correspondents get a computer, a web cam, and a high-speed Internet connection, and they're expected to generate and report stories. Landa says the correspondents are '... people who are not necessarily leaders, but people who are involved in their community already, so they're known and they have the pulse of what's going on around their neighborhoods.'

Correspondents report their stories live, from their homes, via the Internet.

Trinity University communication professor Rob Huesca says, 'It was refreshing to see ordinary people on television -- that unrehearsed, unscripted, unedited genuineness did come through. It was refreshing because you never see that on television news.'

The station started off small with only two neighborhood correspondents, but Landa hopes to have two or three more on board by the time you read this. His goal is to have 30 by October of this year.