Who is the "Tea Party?" – My Tax Day Video

Who is the “Tea Party?”

A college student. A coal miner.

Check this out video from Tax Day, where I shadowed supporters of the “Tea Party,” (which was initiated by Freedom Works), and were out engaging the government about what’s going on in their lives.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhaD1g9-Dp8[/youtube]

As a side note, finally! I am back. As a video journalist, that is. It was a long journey to transition and upgrade all my gear. I’m happy to report that I have officially gone from a Panasonic Mini DV cam (MTV vids), to a Flip Cam (CNN iReport vids) to a Canon Vixia and a Kodak Zi8 Pocket, which are both HD quality. In this video, you’ll notice some imperfections, in part due to experimenting with different file formats. That’s OK though. No one is expecting technical perfection – I think we all get at this point, it’s all about creating content that is raw, unfiltered and authentic…and in some way makes you feel like by watching it you are closer to a truth you had not considered.

As for my editing gear, I also transitioned to a MacBook Pro and Final Cut Express. I won’t bore you with the details, but it was a dramatic, drawn out process getting the Canon Vixia HD filed (AVCHD .MTS) ready to go into Final Cut. In fact there’s no easy way, it requires tons of conversion and compression. That’s what video editing is all about. Tedious, challenging problems that require solutions. Over and over. Thanks to @AnthonyFears, who suggested I use HandBrake, an excellent converter that made my life so much easier and got these old clips ready to produce.

"Enlighten us, But Make it Quick!" All About Ignite DC

A lot of my friends have been asking me to describe the work I’m doing with Ignite DC. I’ve been asked to co-host along with Jared Goralnick, who is a successful technology entreprenuer and all around go getter. I figured if I was lucky enough to be considered – and would be in the company of people like him, I’d go for it.

As some background, Ignite is an O’Reilly Media event that takes place in over 50 cities across the globe. The event draws hundreds of people, happens a few times a year, and the next D.C. one is coming up on June 16th from 6-10PM. I’m tasked with helping to organize it and bring in compelling, thought-provoking speakers. Like many of you, the readers of my blog.

O’Reilly describe the event as “a high-energy evening of 5-minute talks by people who have an idea—and the guts to get onstage and share it with their hometown crowd. Run by local volunteers who are connected through the global Ignite network, Ignite is a force for raising the collective IQ and building connections in each city.  And, via streaming and archived videos of local talks, local Ignites share all that knowledge and passion with the world.”

Below, I’ve embedded a few of my favorite past Ignite presentations. If you have an idea you’d like to submit – please do. We’re accepting applications (which are super easy to do) through May 17th. You can also pick up a ticket here.

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Alex Lundry, Conservative Political Pollster
Presentation: Chart Wars: The Political Power of Data Visualization

“A funny thing happened during this summer’s health care debate: a chart that purported to show the organizational structure of the Democratic health care reform proposal took over the media cycle and triggered a partisan visualization volley. Since then, the original chart has frequently been used as a provocative protest sign and is now the subject of a congressional investigation. What was it that made this data visualization so powerful and politically potent?”

Peter Corbett, CEO, iStrategy Labs
Presentation: The Future of Social Capital

“Do stuff that maters. Where do you find the time? Sleep less, talk less. Help more. Do more. Do it now. Really, now. Literally when you leave tonight…write that blog post, reach out to that person. If you do that, we’re going to be the social capital that inspires the world. We’ll take (D.C.) from a social entrepreneurship perspective, a social technology…and a social change perspective, and we’ll inspire the world.”

ALL IGNITE ARCHIVES ARE HERE

Washington Life Power Issue: Media You May Not Have Met (yet…)

A few weeks ago I got a note from an editor at Washington Life. (For those of you outside of D.C., Washington Life is a glossy magazine, a kind of “Insider’s Guide” to the city. It’s been around since 1991.)

The Editor was writing to ask how I felt about being featured in the magazine’s May Power Issue. He had heard about the work I did producing web videos for About Our Children (a Michelle Bernard/MSNBC program) and my success uploading and airing my first amendement news reports on CNN.

So I told him I was game…and here we are. Be sure to check out the magazine when it hits the stands this Monday, May 10th. In the meantime, enjoy the sneak peak of the other talented people in the “Media You May Not Have Met (yet…)” section. I’m being featured with – Huffington Post’s Dan Froomkin, Washington Post’s Katharine Zaleski, Facebook’s Tim Sparapani, TBD’s Erik Wemple and Bloomberg’s Manuela Hoelterhoff.

Today: World Press Freedom Day

Today is World Press Freedom Day, a day devoted to remind everyone about the freedom of expression – and remember those journalists who lost their lives or freedom by pursuing it.

But with it, it is also a chance to look at all the great things that are happening on different corners of the globe to make sure vulnerable voices are heard, stories are told, and lives are made better because of it. And what better place to look than one of my favorite countries, India.

Video Volunteers (VV), (winner of a Knight News Challenge), is an organization in India that trains journalists to produce video reports on social issues – inside the often unpublicized crevices of the country’s widespread poverty. From Rajastan to the Himalayas, VV is out capturing stories from the voices of villagers who face major obstacles in education, poverty and health care.

Perhaps the most impressive part of VV and their new project, IndiaUnheard. The journalists are made up of Indians from different castes, genders, and states.

While the demand for community produced content in the media increases, it’s great to see programs like this get off the ground. Thanks to Mahima Kaul of VV for the tip on this great project. Having been to India three times, I’m an advocate of this work. Keep it up.

White House Correspondents Week Kicks Off

I had a great time last night at the Quinn Gillespie & Associates (QGA) and FD official White House Correspondents Dinner “toast” to the Press Corps last night. On my way, I did a quick Wikipedia search to find out the history of the WHCD, as it is a pretty big deal in Washington. Turns out, the WHCD began in 1920 just six years after the White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) organized to protect journalists covering the White House. Today, the WHCD has become a sort of “Prom” for D.C., an annual event where some of the most prominent members of the media come out and mingle.

Thanks so much to the wonderful Pat McMurray of QGA for inviting me to the event. While my main WH squeeze (well..my friend and mentor) Helen Thomas, wasn’t there, I felt right at home in the company of talented media professionals like Tim Burger, Matt Dornic, Chris Brown and Brendan Kownacki.

Check out the write up from the Scene Bisnow here and Kiki Ryan’s post at Politico Click here.


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#SecClinton Announces International Women's Fund

Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton (affectionately known as HRC for short) announced today a new @StateDept initiative called the International Fund for Women and Girls. To summarize, the mission is to help the State Department get “high impact” grants to NGOs faster – NGOs that help advance the rights of women and girls across the globe. HRC (referred to as #SecClinton on Twitter) has made it a priority to support private/public partnerships to see this happen.

Check out the Fund’s topic areas here:

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Comparing Headlines: Framing Tonight's Financial Reform Vote

NYTimes takes aim with: “Republicans Vote to Block Debate,” Talking Points Memo takes the same

approach, while Roll Call gives no indication of who is to blame. Which one do you like the best?
Roll Call: “Breaking News: First Senate Vote on Financial Reform Bill Falls Short”
Talking Points Memo: “Lockstep: Senate GOPers All Vote To Block Debate On Financial Reform”

Erica Anderson
Sent from my iPhone

Posted via email from EricaAmerica’s posterous

Up Close with the Tea Party on the National Mall

UPDATE: I have just been reminded by many diligent readers that “Tea Baggers” is widely accepted as a negative term.  At the risk of sounding oblivious or insensitive – and just plain naive, I was using it as a term of affection. But I digress – and at the chance that someone will not read my piece based on the construct of the word in a title, I have changed it. It has been a teaching moment for me and with it, I’ll leave a lesson for you here: don’t judge the book of Erica America by the cover – it’s impossible to pin my ideology because every day it is in some way shaped by the stories I hear and the people I meet. I’m just your eyes and your ears. My opinions are rarely inside the fold… and when they are you will know.

READ THE POST BELOW. KEEP AN OPEN MIND.

saw something unusual today at the Tax Day  Tea Party Rally – and it wasn’t bright yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” flags or the woman dressed in a revolutionary gown. It was a woman wearing a Politico employee t-shirt with a name tag that had the logo for Cision – a PR service that collects information and data. What was she doing? Handing out a “Census Form” to a group of willing, middle-aged people at the footsteps of the Washington Monument. Trying to uncover who, demographically, these so-called Tea Partiers were.

The Tea Party  – a rapidly growing movement that started supported in part by initiatives of Freedom Works, a conservative advocacy group in Washington, DC, has spread like wildfire to the states with messages about high taxes and an expanding government – that resonated real time. If your’re web savvy, all you have to do is check out the Tea Party Patriots web site, and scroll through, state-by-state, to see the hundreds of membership organizations and data of a growing group of well, pissed off Americans. But before today, I always thought Tea Partiers were racist, homophobic jerks?

Is the Tea Party misunderstood or is the misunderstanding about the Tea Party? I decided to find out.

As I walked around the National Mall, cutting through a current of signs, I stopped to talk to normal looking people. Did I profile “normal?” You bet. I’m an Indiana Hoosier so nothing about Midwesterners, manufactures or miners seems unusual to me. And as I walked, that’s when I met Jerry from New Jersey.

Jerry was a clean-cut, Country Club looking guy.

“I’ve been involved in the Tea Party for a little over a year now. We’re here looking to make a statement that we’re not ok with what the government is doing. Congress and the Administration. We’re in a rapid slide that is – well taking us to a place that is not the way I think of America.”

“The government can not spend money like they do,” a gay man with his partner, told me.

“It’s going to back up this country. Why am I here? I think its collectivism, the fact that we’re getting together with people who have like minds. We’re peacefully assembling and petitioning our government.”

I do love a good demonstration of the First Amendment.

On my way out, I stopped by the concession stand (I was famished) and before I could find a hot dog, I found something better. A bubbly woman from Pennsylvania with a sign that read “Taxed Enough Already.” When she sat down at the picnic table, I squatted in front of her, held up my camera, and we talked.

“Everything you touch or buy, you’re taxed on,” she told me.

“I have 14 grandkids. Some are in college, and they don’t know what it’s like yet to pay for their own rent, their car, and insurance. Sooner or later they will find out – and when they do, they won’t be happy. We are taxed to death.”

Like everyone else – I asked her: “How was it doing your returns?”

“I am retired and my taxes – well, you’d be surprised how much you pay – retirement income, it’s pretty amazing. I also just lost my Uncle, like a week ago. And now I’m finding out what the death tax is all about. It’s absolutely horrible. I can’t not believe the money he earned, he paid taxes on, the money he saved, he paid taxes on, and now that he died, we’re paying taxes on. It’s been taxes three times over. That’s insane.

So with that, I packed up my gear and made my way through the crowd one more time to my walk home. What just happened? I wondered to myself. Are these people made to be completely fictitious characters on TV – mainstream news – to serve some kind of pre-existing media narrative? Or are they, as I tweeted this: “Americans are worried, broke and tired of career politicians. Can we blame them? #TeaParty.”

Turns out I have no idea if Politico and Cision will be making their survey results public – or if it’s something for their internal marketing and targeting purposes. Either way, I commend the idea. So basic yet so important.

There will be more to come from me on the story of the Tea Party. The Express is moving and I’d hate to miss a good ride.

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