More Messages: Lost in the Stream

Categories: Media

People who remained on the job but wanted to check on the progress of "A Day Without Immigrants," the May 1 march and rally at the State Capitol, had what appeared to be an excellent way to do so. Channels 4, 7 and 9 each offered live streaming coverage of the event. But when I visited the sites beginning around 11:15 a.m., I discovered glitches galore.

At Channel 9's site, the video coverage popped up right away, and while the images, as seen from the station's helicopter, occasionally froze, they were clearly visible -- but only for about fifteen seconds. Then, without warning, the screen was filled with green blobs, as if someone was shining a flashlight through an undulating bowl of Grandma's Jell-O.

Next, I surfed to Channel 7's web address, where irony was on tap: The advertisement I was forced to watch before seeing footage of people who had left their work for the rally spotlighted Monster.com, an Internet employment specialist. It was worth the wait, though, because the shots from Channel 7's helicopter were accompanied by random comments from airborne reporter Jayson Luber, who apparently didn't realize that his microphone was on. Computer users could only hear his side of the conversation, so they had to fill in the gaps around remarks such as, "Was that just for fun? A circle? Ha, ha, ha, ha," and "Whoa -- they're going back for gas again?"

The live stream at Channel 4's page was considerably less satisfying. The image took forever -- well, maybe ninety seconds -- to come up, and when it did, it showed a shot featuring a whole lot of sky and very little city as seen through the helicopter's landing strut. The image stayed pretty much the same for the next ten seconds, after which it vanished. Replacing it were the words, "Thanks for Watching."

It was nothing. Really nothing. -- Michael Roberts


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