"The heart is our educational outreach and student enrichment programs. We teach island young people how to shoot, edit and produce 3-5 minute video journals in collaboration with island non-profit organizations. We build sponsor revenue by teaching kids to produce video segments essential to the success of island businesses."
Patrick Phillips, Vineyard Voice founder, in a 2009 MGP interview
Photo courtesy of Sam Hiser
Vineyardvoice.org is a non-profit community magazine that uses video journalism as its central service and has a youth education focus. The initial version of the site was a "community publishing" site. It depended wholly upon community volunteerism – the community newsroom. Phillips thinks that, in hindsight, this idea was not well thought through. At the time community was not computer-centric and depended upon word of mouth to share important and socially resonant ideas. Still, word of mouth remained only so successful in dealing with the many social, environmental and cultural issues this community faces, he says.
"What we are trying to do is use education as a lever to create journalists and mentors," says Phillips. Eventually, he says, they can become production people and other journalists that "will eventually create a community media organization that uses social media as well as video in the web world."
The current version of the site is powered by the Drupal open-source content-management system. It's more of a curated conversation. It focuses on Ideas and Art in order to give the site and the audience a focus. It drives inclusion through a curated public access format – enabling all individuals and non profit organizations to contribute their ideas and art as a well design page with a unique URL. Each page is actively indexed, so content and pages (in the name of individuals and organizations) are easily found. The result is a content engine that provides individuals and organizations with the capacity to share their stories with the community and the world.
It is fundamentally this collection and sharing that drives the community connection and relevance. However, a site needs not only editorial content to survive, but information in the form of events and calendars and commerce in the form of a store. We are an entrepreneurial non profit. This means that we accept sponsorship, member contributions, funding from donors, grants and engage in fee-for-service activities.
"The heart," says Patrick Phillips, founder, "Is our educational outreach and student enrichment programs. We teach island young people how to shoot, edit and produce 3-5 minute video journals in collaboration with island non-profit organizations. We build sponsor revenue by teaching kids to produce video segments essential to the success of island businesses. The reason is simple. By teaching young people video journalism we are building future stakeholders in our island's future at the same time we are helping the social and economic vitality of the island." Phillips says Vineyard Voice is working with 25 artists, a local school, collaborating with five organizations, a local arts center and cable television station. "We take our collaborations very seriously," he says, "In that we are only a product of our relationships with others and organizations who recognize this and work together can cut costs at the same time they reach more people. This has shown itself to be true, and it will only grow." Philips says pages are well ordered and actively managed for search engine optimization. Original videos are all syndicated and pulled back into the site as RSS feeds. Once published the content is already a web of non proprietary content with several external URLS associated with each page. "In addition," he says, "Each page is submitted to our extensive friend network on Facebook and is Tweeted about on Twitter. On top of all this, each URL is actively Dugg on Digg.com, so all content will surface in search engines. The result is a wide net of content and audience outreach through nonproprietary content that is widely shared in an interest to inform and serve as many people as possible."
Vineyard Voice staff includes a managing director who handles business development. Phillips expected during 2010 to grow to a staff of four, with 6-to-8 interns at different times throughout the year. "Summer interns are especially welcomed," he says.
Phillips was a freelancer with Pacifica Radio in the San Francisco Bay area and did some stringer work with Christian Science Monitor during the fall of Ferdinand Marcos. He also taught English at an inner city college, and worked at the Rhode Island School of Design.