Interviews Become Two-Way Street Online

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Anyone who’s ever appeared on the news or a talk show can tell you that you can’t necessarily trust you will be treated fairly in editing — especially if you ramble, contradict the host or call a show’s sponsor or advertisers into controversy. Until recently, there was no way to clarify your story, unless you were lucky enough to be a television personality yourself.

BoingBoing Gadget’s Joel Johnson knew this already. So when he went into an interview on The Hugh Thompson Show, which airs on AT&T’s Tech Channel, an online video mini-net focused on technology, he brought along Richard Blakeley (NewTeeVee profile), posted it to YouTube and embedded the video on his blog.

Which illustrates that in a world where one-to-many broadcasting is no longer the only option, the balance of power between interviewer and interviewee has shifted.

Thompson’s show with Johnson has yet to air, and may never — after all, Johnson calls into question AT&T’s publicly stated intent to filter Internet access across its portion of the network and its stance against network neutrality, and Thompson’s show is wholly funded and distributed by AT&T.

A search on Google for The Hugh Thompson Show now returns links to both the YouTube video and Johnson’s blog post in more than half of the first 10 results. Blakeley’s clip featuring Johnson racked up 35,000 views in two days — or about 33,000 more than the most-viewed clip posted by AT&T of Thompson’s show on YouTube.

I asked Johnson in a text chat if he had permission to tape the interview, and he assured me that he did. Though even if he hadn’t come prepared, he was covered: “Someone approached me from the crowd and offered me cell-phone footage they shot just in case ours didn’t come out,” he told me.

Granted, Thompson’s production team are to be commended for asking a vocal critic to come on the show in the first place — the show’s band even composed a ditty in honor of BoingBoing. If anything, the drama surrounding the event probably exposed more new viewers to the show than anything AT&T has done so far to promote it.

But it goes to show that the interviewer’s chair is no longer the seat of power it once was — talk show hosts can’t presume that what happens in the studio will stay in the studio.

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