Wednesday, January 7, 2009

TVW Goes on the (Capital) Record

What cable-only network can be seen in 99% of the cable households in Washington, with a reach of approximately 3.5 million viewers, or 55% of the state's population, and is on 24/7 in most locations. If you paid any attention to the title of the post you would likely guess TVW. They have a blog now too.

Founded in 1993 by Denny Heck, former legislator, House chief clerk, and chief of staff to Gov. Booth Gardner, and veteran government official Stan Marshburn, TVW serves up over 2,000 hours of original programming annually. Though most of its programming is unedited gavel-to-gavel legislative coverage they also produce programs including Inside Olympia, Olympia On-Call, Legislative Review, The Faces and Places of Washington State, The Docket, and Pacific Northwest Technology Tour.

A couple other quick facts. They were one of the first organizations to intern one of our Computer Science students who worked on their programming management software. Their control room allows for the operation of robotic cameras within the chambers to focus in on speakers and cut from one to the other. In fact at one time they had the largest robotic camera facility in the world. TVW maintains 39 robotic cameras in 4 buildings on the Capitol Campus in Olympia.

About that blog: Launched in mid December of 2008, The Capital Record is making an effort to keep us updated on what the state Legislature and the Governor are up to.

It is written by former Grit City blogger for the News Tribune, Niki Sullivan, who has also covered government for our regional paper as well as The Associated Press in Oregon.

Note however that they do not allow for comments. As Niki explains:

If we do our job right, you’ll be a more informed citizen after reading The Capitol Record. That might make you want to share your opinion with someone. But the office of your elected official is the more appropriate place to do that. We’ll help facilitate that direct communication by providing links to the Legislature’s web site, where you can find the contact information for your elected official.

Niki also produces the Legislative Review , which airs nightly at 11, and reruns every morning at 7:45. It is also streamed on the web, which all of TVW programming does. They have tags to search the videos that they serve up as well. You can search on the name of a State Senator and you should be able to jump right to them within the program. I hope that someday they are able to aggregate the videos into a searchable database that carry over the tags and topic information from the legislative sessions. What a resource that would be in tracking your elected officials positions.

They are also providing an RSS feed and Twitter access to the blog, though I hope they also allow for Tacoma tagging so that it is picked up by FeedTacoma.

Joe Turner of the News Tribune's Political Buzz blog gives his take here.

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