This post is the first in a series called Meet The Creators, where we interview the people behind some of the Internet’s most interesting video shows.
Political Lunch is one of my favorite video shows. Though I am not an American voter, I find US politics are very interesting, and always looking for unbiased source of bite size information about what’s going on in the presidential elections. Also, Obama’s brilliant use of social media and online video make this elections even more interesting for me.
That’s why I was so happy to meet Robert Mills and start watching Political Lunch – a daily political video show that caters my needs exactly.
Robert Millis (right) and Will Coghlan, the creators of Political Lunch
Here is a short interview that I’ve done with Robert, with some insights about his show and its affect on American politics:
KP: What is Political Lunch
RB: Political Lunch is the only independent daily news program covering the U.S. presidential election online. We focus on cutting through the spin and drama to deliver short, engaging and informative reports. Our lunchtime episodes are typically 3-5 minutes long, allowing people to get caught up on the news that matters in just a few minutes and go on with their day. We don’t play favorites, and we never lose our sense of humor.
KP: What is the motivation behind this show?
RB:We do this to meet a need. When my partner, Will Coghlan, and I came up with Political Lunch, no online program was committed to covering the campaigns. And most existing coverage of political news online was driven by opinion and ideology, or was simply uninformed. Meanwhile, television coverage in the U.S. has become so dominated by bloviating pundits that it can take an hour to sift through all the spin and get the top campaign stories.
KP: How did you start the whole thing?
RM: I was producing an interview series on current affairs called American Microphone [www.AmericanMicrophone.com] and at the time nobody had produced a high quality political news program online yet. My friend WIll Coghlan had worked in politics and journalism, and when we founded Hudson Street Media we decided to create the sort of program we would like to see: high quality, informative and engaging.
KP: What equipment are you using?
RM: We shoot in HDV on a Sony Z1U and edit on Final Cut Pro. We have a small studio (3×4 meters) with a simple ceiling grid to mount microphones and lights.
KP: What are your views on independent political sites?
RM: Truly independent sites? I would like to see more of them done well. Considering the possibilities, there are few sites which do more than simply advance a particular cause or ideology. Many sites serve just one perspective, often building yet another echo chamber of opinion, and don’t have anything to offer people who disagree. In other cases, some of the most useful political sites are so narrow in their focus that you don’t visit them unless you are seeking something very particular. Because nobody has gotten this quite right, we see an opportunity and we are now in the process of building an integrated network of political sites ourselves. More on that another time though.
KP: What are your views on the affect of online video on the presidential elections?
RM: Most importantly, every word a candidate speaks may be recorded. And when something troubling comes up, word spreads quickly. Candidates sometimes believe that online video has less of an impact because the audience is smaller. But when something goes viral, it’s very powerful. Also important is the kind of audience a candidate reaches. The online audience is usually small compared to television, but programs like Political Lunch have viewers who influence others. People who are getting their news from programs like ours are more likely to be early adopters of technology, more likely to be well informed, and more likely to tell their friends and family about something they learn while watching the report. I think this niche audience will have a much larger impact on the elections than many expect.
KP: what did you learn from working on your show?
RM: The simplest ideas are often the best.
KP: What is the end game for your show? TV? An online Brand?
RM: Political Lunch is definitely a strong online brand and I think it will stay there, though it could add value to the right television network.
KP: What were your biggest challenge while producing the show?
One of the biggest challenges for us has been being misunderstood by the campaigns and the mainstream media. The lines are blurred between roles, so definitions of “blogger” and “citizen journalist” and “reporter” are all very subjective. People sometimes don’t know what to do with us because we are not really bloggers, but neither are we a television crew.
KP: What will happen with your show after the elections?
RM: We have talked with people about a variety of options for Political Lunch, but have not committed to any particular plan yet. We are building other online properties, so it is likely that Political Lunch will be integrated with one of those and offer somewhat broader news content. But if you know somebody who is looking to buy a program, we’re always ready to listen.
KP: and, what is your message for candidates and vloggers?
RM: For candidates: Embrace the medium. This is one of the most effective ways to connect with the people you want to reach.
For vloggers: Don’t hesitate. Turn on the camera and start. Right now.
If you’ve never seen it before, here is an episode from their show: