WLA 2007: WisconsinEye.com

Posted by Lisa Strand on Friday, October 19, 2007 in WLA Blog Archive
The first I learned of this new C-SPAN-like broadcasting network was from the WLA conference brochure's directory of exhibitors, two days ago: "WisconsinEye is a statewide public affairs network providing independent, nonpartisan coverage of community and civic life, beginning with gavel-to-gavel coverage of state government in Madison."

Then Thursday morning, Bonnie Shucha at WisBlawg passed along an announcement of the partnership between WisconsinEye and BadgerNet, the state's network of "voice, data, and video services to state agencies, local governments, UW campuses, technical colleges, private colleges and universities, public and private K-12 schools, and libraries."

When I made it into the exhibit hall for the first time late Thursday afternoon, it was my intention to seek out the WisconsinEye booth and find out a bit more about this venture. I found Chris Long, President & CEO, ready to talk, with a back-drop of streaming news playing on both their website and a television, and maps of cable and BadgerNet coverage areas within the state.

Chris is a former C-SPAN staffer, who was pursuing a PhD in Mass Communications at the UW-Madison when the opportunity to lead WisconsinEye came up last year. The idea for the network originated over ten years ago, within state government. After some initial research into existing models, it was determined that such a network should properly be established as a non-profit, with no state funding or state-funded staff, unlike other systems across the country.

Anyone in the world can watch the fascinating machinations of the Wisconsin legislative, judicial, and executive branches at http://www.wiseye.org/. Cable subscribers can currently tune in for free to Channel 200 (Charter) or 163 (Time Warner), although the long-term financing plan is to sell broadcast rights to these companies - and they may need to hear your voice as a subscriber to be convinced of the value of WisconsinEye, so speak up and get involved, if you like what you see.

As a sample of their intended "civic life" coverage, you can also go to their website to catch recorded author talks from the Wisconsin Book Festival!
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