Invitation to TheSpec - join citizens in live streaming Council

I contacted The Hamilton Spectator Tuesday after they used a live video stream I was providing with other volunteers of Hamilton City Council meetings on their website Monday.

Myself and the others providing the stream have requested The Spectator join us in providing the stream instead of using our work on their website without any contribution.

Those of us volunteering to provide the live streams of City Council make absolutely no moneyit costs us time, labour, and resources.

Our goal is simple: Create a precedent that the City of Hamilton provide an Open Data-compliant live video stream of all City Council and Committee meetings. The City also provide the streams on-demand following the meetings.

Under the headline “Spec Live,” The Hamilton Spectator informed readers of that they were providing live coverage of the Hamilton City Council meeting with a small link to at the bottom.

They did remove the live video stream for Spec Live coverage from when requested.

Had The Spectator contacted us, we would request, at minimum, they donate their profits from embedding the live video stream to the United Way. They were not aware that other sites, such as RTH, had agreed to link to the video coverage instead of embedding specifically in recognition of the work involved in providing the stream.

The Spectator was putting the sites which support community collaboration and provide support to the live streaming of City Council at a disadvantage – it appeared The Spectator was providing “Spec Live” video when this was not the case. The Spectator did not intend this to be the case.

We’re glad  The Spectator was interested in using the live video stream and want to help them by allowing them to add live video provided they donate all ad revenues to charity.

Speaking for myself, I’m relieved. It’s difficult to provide informative live written coverage of Council at the same time as my attention is split on the technical aspects of streaming the meetings.

The Spectator is more than welcome to use the video streams for Wednesday, Thursday, and Monday’s meetings.

Same for other for-profit media outlets such as The National Post, Fan 590, CHCH, 900CHML, OpenFile Hamilton.

The Spectator can do more than hitch a ride on the back of citizens who are volunteering to provide service journalism – they can join us in scaling this mountain and getting the City to start live-streaming their meetings.

I emailed The Spectator earlier today requesting they do so.

Specifically, The Spectator we request they provide their camera, one of their laptops to process the video, the tripod for the camera, one XLR audio cable, one firewire cable, and a power bar.

This equipment was sitting in a cabinet at their offices yesterday – they have it and instead of collecting dust, we can use it at City Hall tonight, tomorrow and on Monday.

This costs The Spectator nothing, volunteers will take care of everything.

In exchange, the entire community receives a high quality live video stream of Hamilton City Council with multiple camera angles and video of the overhead slides being shown to Council.

The Spectator will gain significantly greater traffic to their website than they currently receive.  (When I live streamed City Council on August 10, 2010, traffic on shattered every single traffic record.)

Further, I’ve also offered to train The Spectator staff to produce their own live streams in the future. This training is free.

In the future, will be able to provide live streaming during events such as municipal elections or news conferences similar to the Tiger-Cats news conference announcing Ivor Wynne Stadium.

This is payment enough for me – improved news coverage in Hamilton.

To summarize:

The Spectator provides:

  • Equipment to add a second camera to the live video stream
  • Proper credit to all the volunteers who make the video stream possible on
  • A requested donation of all  advertising revenue from live video stream to the United Way

The Spectator gains:

  • The significant increase in traffic to
  • Free training of a staff member
  • The positive karma from joining with citizens to improve civic engagement and knowledge

Citizens provide:

  • The time and the labour

Citizens gain:

  • The precedent that the City should provide live streaming without any restriction on use.
  • able to provide live streams of news.
  • Two cameras to better follow the City Council meetings

Wednesday’s City Council meeting will be live streamed.

The live stream embed code can be found at

Anyone may embed the live stream code.
We request that any commercial enterprise using the live stream donate their advertising revenue from the web page they are displaying it on to the United Way.

The United Way is short $300,000 of it’s campaign fundraising goal. (Read story on We hope we can do our bit to assist in meeting the needs of our community.

Lastly, on a personal note, thank you to everyone who has spoke up on my behalf during the past 24 hours.