Win tickets to see the smash hit musical Mamma Mia at the Roanoke Civic Center. Two winners will each receive four tickets!
JOEL HAWKSLEY | The Roanoke Times
Sunday, June 2, 2013
Google launched YouTube in 2005, and this year announced that the online video site is averaging 1 billion users a month.
Let’s see, at 12 billion users a year that’s, uh . . . that’s somewhat more than our circulation.
I understand. If you want instruction from Jenna Marbles on applying makeup while drunk — or, more to the point, if you want to be Jenna Marbles, or maybe her ex-boyfriend, Max — you go to YouTube, where you can follow her exploits in extended adolescence (which pays remarkably well) or stream some video of your own and wait for it to go viral.
But what if you want to persuade local government officials that, by forgoing sidewalks even on the busiest streets in your burg or hamlet, they have put you in mortal danger and they really ought to rethink that?
Because deciding sidewalks are too expensive is not the same as obviating the need for them.
Or more to the point, what if you want to persuade fellow residents and taxpayers of the danger, not only to you, but to anyone who has no car yet still must get around town, or who maybe needs to burn calories, rather than fossil fuel, every time she wants to go down the street a block or two, whether to jog or pick up groceries?
You can make a video and slip it into the YouTube stream and wait for it to go viral, catching the attention of much of the world — and, presumably, your community, perhaps making it an issue in the next local election. But you might not want to do what it takes to attract that kind of attention. (Unless you have a kitten that’s adorable beyond words. Which you definitely would not allow anywhere near the road. So that’s a problem.)
Or you can make a video letter to the editor, slip it into the YouTube stream and send a link to us. We’ll post it on the RoundTable blog, where online readers already go to read and comment on letters that appear in our print edition.
We’re launching the new feature today with two video letters, which you can find at blogs.roanoke.com/roundtable/, along with a brief how-to video inviting submissions. Our main objective is to draw more young people into the community conversation by adding a medium as engaging to them as the smart phones that have become near extensions of life as they live it.
Alexandra Rouse, a senior at Salem High School who writes for The Edge, already submitted a video to help us kick things off.
We hope older readers will want to jump in, too — and have every reason to expect that they will. Letter writer Ron Adkins, the gentleman in the freeze-frame above, was eager to accommodate us when Editorial Page Editor Christina Nuckols asked if he’d be willing to turn a missive on the need for sidewalks in Roanoke County into a video.
We’re printing his letter, as well, as today’s Pick of the Day, but think you’ll agree that the video we’ve posted online of Adkins speaking from his wheelchair in a parking lot off Brambleton Avenue, with traffic zipping by in the background, makes his point pretty well.
A video can show, as well as tell, the public about a problem that needs attending, or an achievement that needs celebrating, a local hero who needs lauding. And visually, it can be fun. We hope some will be fun, to make and to view.
News photographer Joel Hawksley did us a good turn by shooting Adkins’ video as we worked through the technical aspects of getting this feature online. We don’t have staff to provide videographers, though. So if you want to try your hand at a video letter, you’ll need to find your own shooter.
Just talking into the camera with a blank wall as backdrop is OK. That’s what I did in the short how-to we’ve posted. But if you can show people what you’re talking about, your point will be all the more effective. If your topic lends itself to visualization, go for it.
Start with your name and home town. Be concise: Keep your video to two minutes. And understand that video letters will be selected for use, subject to the same editorial standards as letters accepted for print publication.
Once you’re happy with your submission, post it on your YouTube account and send the link to email@example.com.
We hope we’ll be seeing you soon.
Strother is on the editorial board and is the letters editor of The Roanoke Times.
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