latakoo goes Presidential: Sending Video from Conventions

The 2012 political conventions came and went, without me. A small part of me was screaming to participate! I sat home and watched. Just a few years ago, the only thing that could keep me from the middle of the action, was a hurricane. I distinctly remember HD News General Manager Will J. Wright and Executive Producer Chris Long, dispatching me out of the Republican Convention in 2004, just a day after I arrived. I had traveled with President George W. Bush’s campaign all the way to the convention and had just checked into my hotel, filed my first convention story, and got the call. “Are you still packed? Good. Don’t bother unpacking.”  Just as I was about to enjoy the thrill of convention coverage, a hurricane had formed in the Atlantic, aiming for Florida. I exchanged the RNC credentials and black suit for my jeans and extreme weather gear; exchanged George for Charley.

Nigel McGregor and I covering the 2008 Republican National Convention.

Because of how television stations are covering the conventions and because of my role at latakoo, I did get to feel the adrenaline rush of the big story. Gone are the days of running to the satellite truck or the feed room with tapes. I’ve worn out quite a few heels sprinting to the satellite truck parked on the farthest corner of whatever convention center happened to be in play. Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show crew had fun with the security checkpoints at this year’s Democratic convention, but it’s routine (especially if you’re not assigned to the major networks) to be forced out into the nether regions, even if you are part of the credentialed media.  My photographer, Nigel McGregor wore Keens, but he still had to carry a 35-pound camera on his shoulder during the trek.

These days, there’s less running to the trucks and stopping to flash credentials every 10 steps along the way. Video content can now be moved from where you stand. latakoo is part of that revolution. And in the case of the RNC and DNC this year, we made it possible to move news content fast and share resources. Nearly 80 stations used content that moved through latakoo. Nexstar Broadcasting used latakoo consistently during the conventions, assigning a handful of staff to the two locations, and managing customized stories for each of their more than 60 stations. “Most of what we did was local content with local delegates,” said Jerry Walsh, Nexstar’s Director of Local Content Development.  “Our reporters turned over 300 local stories during the two weeks.  Latakoo gave us a significant advantage to push this content to the markets.”

I’ve attached two of the stories from Nexstar stations here. In the interest fair reporting, one is from the DNC — Josh Berry of KARK TV in Arkansas and one is from the RNC — Nick Ochsner of KAMC TV in Texas.

Satellite trucks help deliver news immediately, but it's costly, cumbersome technology.

Satellite technology is costly and cumbersome and complicated. latakoo is simple.  Our price points are affordable, our service is easy-to-use, and our technology leverages the power of the web and of the user’s laptop or mobile device.

This is how television is done now. This is how video is done now. YouTube, Dropbox, and Box, and FTP usually take hours to upload large video files. latakoo has the science down to minutes for the upload of a Gigabyte of video. (Naturally, overall speed is dependent on your Internet connection.) During the 2008 Republican Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, HD News sent files via FTP.  The result — our crews had to plan on being finished with our shooting, writing, and editing well in advance of show time so that our HD stories could be sent via FTP to our broadcast center in New York.  It was a slow, painful, process for all of us and when hiccups occurred (often), we had to pinch hit.

Photojournalist Mike Colin editing one of my 2008 RNC stories to send via FTP.

At latakoo, we support the democratic process and we believe that in order to make good decisions that uphold a democracy, people need information. Journalism is at the heart of that effort. News companies, like most businesses, make many decisions based on two critical factors: time and money. How much time will it take? How much money will it take? latakoo allows news crews to save time, preventing overtime and in many cases, allowing one person to produce more content. And, if you save time, you save money. Add to that the low-cost nature of latakoo’s web transfer and big news corporations are able to cover more stories.

For the latakoo team, knowing we played a part in giving Americans a look into their democratic process is very satisfying. We don’t mind who you root for, or what issues cause you to act, we just hope you’ll be informed, and then exercise the beautiful right this country gives each citizen – to vote.

Words by Jade Kurian; Photos courtesy of Nigel McGregor; Video courtesy of Nexstar Broadcasting





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