#Backchannel v 2.0

Posted: August 9, 2010 in Uncategorized

I promised a big announcement today so here it comes.

Okay, I’ll have the big announcement in a minute or two. First of all I just want to tell you how amazed/pleased/excited/energized I am over what the #Backchannel has become in a relatively short time. As you know when we embarked down this path I only had a vague idea where it might lead. My immediate goal had been just to open some line of communication between us…to remove the glass screen that has blocked my view of you through my entire career.

So I tweeted. And like some lonesome cry in the night wind a few of you heard me and tweeted back. It was like that moment in “Castaway” when Tom Hanks finally made fire. You “early adopters” will remember what started happening pretty quickly. A few more joined in. I tweeted…you tweeted back. You asked questions about the stories we were running on the air. You made comments. You wondered abut the process of making television. I lifted the curtain and gave you a peek…like Dorothy getting her first look at the Wizard. That was pretty cool in itself… but then a really cool thing started happening. You stopped talking to just me and started talking to each other. Like new arrivals to a new subdivision you realized there were people on the other side of that fence. And the #backchannel community was born.

That leads me to where we go next. What is #backchannel v 2.0? I got a glimpse Friday night. We ran a story about a couple whose wheelchair ramp was stolen and sold for scrap. Before the story was done we had backchannelers volunteering to get together and build them a new ramp. That is a peek into the combined power of “old media” and “new media”… of TV and Twitter. The ability to put out a message and amplify it with action.

So this leads me to the big announcement. At least I hope that’s the way you see it…I do.

Starting immediately I want you to find the stories that I will cover on Channel 7. I want you to find the good people doing good things in your community. I want you to tell me about the interesting characters and fascinating sights that make your communities special. I want you to stop complaining that all you see on TV is bad news and give me some good news.

That’s it…pretty simple. Oh, there is one little catch. I don’t want you just to tell me about it. I want you so show me. I want you to show the entire #backchannel. It doesn’t have to be perfect and polished. Just take your flip camera or iPhone and shoot some video. Show us the pictures of why it is a compelling story. If you have a fascinating character that needs to be introduced to the #backchannel… and the Channel 7 audience… put him/her/it on camera and show us. If you can edit some sound, video, even your own narration into a short story, do it! Post the video on YouTube or Vimeo or wherever and hashtag a synopsis to the #backchannel.

I’ll post the links on this blog site and open it to comments. If the backchannel agrees that the story is compelling and interesting I’ll grab my “junior correspondent’s” camera gear and shoot the story for broadcast on Channel 7.  If you really hit your “pitch” out of the park I’ll find a way to slip your version past the “suits” and get it on our website at wxyz.com…maybe even use some of your story in my story. The #backchannel will start showing Detroit it’s best, rather than worst side.

Something I have learned about myself and about you since we started getting together is that we are exceedingly passionate and motivated. We backchannelers are pioneers in a vast new world that stretches somewhere between “old” and “new” media. I have faith that we’re up to this challenge and I can’t wait to get started.

Who’s first?


  1. Eric Brown says:

    Bravo Stephen! This is a brilliant idea, and will change the face of our local news. Hat’s off to you for starting the experiment, and being innovative, we all appreciate that!

  2. I love this idea, and look forward to seeing how it shakes out.

  3. Candy says:

    LOVE your vision of Backchannel 2.0!

  4. Dave Peckens says:

    Wow! Awesome! Some worthwhile to watch. Thank you Stephen for taking this public.

  5. Tray McGuire says:

    This is a great idea. For aspiring journalist like my self this could be the thing that gets our foot in the door. Other channels, after seeing this, will soon follow.

  6. Sounds great Stephen! There are a lot of things happening that many of us are part of. We appreciate the support and kudos to you for taking the initiative to give Detroit a platform to get the word out!

  7. Amy says:

    FINALLY!! Now Stephen, the challenge becomes can you follow through and not just talk the talk, but walk the walk. Not be lured back into the “if it bleeds it leads” mentality and really help us all focus on the positives of this great city and state where we live. I got LOTS of great stuff happening! Tomorrow I’m meeting with a group trying to start a community farm project in Detroit. I’ll be bringing my flip video camera with me and start shooting!

    • sclarkwxyz says:

      A reminder– the #backchannel v 2.0 is my creation with a lot of inspiration from the #backchannel. It is not supported, endorsed, acknowledged by the “official” WXYZ. I imagine we’ll still see plenty of bleeding leads. My mission, with your help, is to find and report enough good, positive stories that we’ll shove all the other stuff off the air simply because there won’t be time. It will really take the commitment of our TV “viewers” to prove that a) the good news is out there and b) that’s what they want to see. We can change the traditional thinking…. but we have to be passionate and consistent.

  8. Glad to see this idea finally come to fruition.


  9. Matt Dibble says:

    As one who’s been very critical of negativity media, I have to say… well done. If one good, positive story comes out of this, well done.

  10. Becks Davis says:

    Fabulous way to take the backchannel to the next level. There are so many amazing Detroit stories, you’re right, they’re going to start flying in. Well done, Stephen!

  11. Stacie Ball says:

    I absolutely love the idea, the power of social media truly is working wonders, I have seen it with my own eyes and even been the recepient of the love so to speak. Great, great, idea and I cannot wait to see what stories come in from the #Backchannel along with the #EarlyRisers.

  12. Stephen – Excellent work here. Not only is this a blend of new media and old media, I see it as a convergence of traditional journalism and citizen journalism. Putting the power to create news in your viewers hands is where we need to go.

    And like you, I hope we see more positive stories come from it.

  13. Mike McClure says:

    Great idea, Stephen. Something many of us have been talking about for a long time. Glad to see you taking it one step further to see where it goes. Now, it’s up to us to do our part!


  14. […] Over time many who follow him on Twitter started using the #backchannel hashtag to discuss what was being covered during his 11 p.m. broadcast. The other night, WXYZ aired a story about a wheelchair ramp that was stolen and sold for scrap. According to Steven, before the story was over backchannelers were volunteering to get together and build a new ramp, and the inspiration for #Backchannel v2 was born. […]

  15. Hahah “the suits”. I love it.

    You wear a suit every night! :p

  16. I love this idea… it hits so well..
    the other night we were waiting to see the story on the Victorious Secrets and as my 9 year old son sat next to me watching the news, I had noticed that 90%+ of the stories were all negative. I could tell in his face that he wasn’t hearing any good, only the hurt, crime, and bad stuff that is going on around detroit.

    I can’t wait to see how this explodes!


  17. Randy Christenhusz says:

    I agree with everyone else, I absolutely love this idea! It’s time for Detroit news to prove that there is good in our part of the state. So much good out there, lets show it to the world.

  18. Cameron says:

    Can you give us an update on how Bill Spencer is doing in collecting volunteers for this event? I was on the backchannel the night that this story broke and immediately wanted to be a part of it and still would. Good news shouldn’t die!


  19. What a fun idea! Looking forward to the stories people share.

  20. Love it. My iPhone is always by my side. Hope I will be able to contribute soon.

  21. Cara Rosaen says:

    How refreshing – can’t wait to see and hear the stories, and submit one of my own! Thanks for doing this really important work!

  22. Matt says:

    techdirt covered what you’re doing here. I think it’s pretty awesome! I wish we had this in chicago.

  23. Stephen, this is awesome what is going on here with the #backchannel. I’m totally pumped about this and can’t wait to be a part of it somehow. I was really only introduced to all this social media stuff this summer and I’ve already been amazed, enlightened and inspired at how Twitter and the like are capable of bringing people together like this.

    Im a journalism student at State and up until recently I was really fearing for the future of this industry…but not anymore. Because of people like you, journalism is taking on a completely different life-form and if I’m lucky I’ll be able to be a part of it some day.
    Truly incredible, thank you and keep it up!

    • sclarkwxyz says:

      Josh–this is your opportunity to find that “good” story… a visually compelling story of somebody interesting doing something good. Don’t worry about the quality–it doesn’t have to be slick. Just edit something together, post it on youtube and send me the link. It’s real-life experience. s

  24. Maria Briones says:

    What a great idea! The time is long overdue to show the good people of Detroit and the surrounding communities

  25. Ron says:

    Steve: where is the link to facebook? I want to link to your webpage from FB.
    Love it.

  26. steve says:

    Not just a great idea, Stephen but kudos to you for moving it in to action. I now feel even better about always having my iPhone at my side. Seriously, be proud of what you’ve done.

  27. […] lot has changed in the 30 years Stephen Clark has been in broadcast journalism.  Gone are the days of huge cameras, big recording decks, big […]

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