The North Haven News is an experiment in hyper-local broadcasting. My goal is to bring to you – in video format – a quick recap of the news stories that are making headlines in our town. Using the community’s local newspapers and websites for content, I hope to package a few of the more important and interesting stories in a short, 3-5 minute video podcast as a way to present you with the stories that are important to the members of our community that would not normally be covered by local television.
Below is the text of an article about the North Haven News published by the North Haven Citizen on September 22nd, 2008…
One-Man Show Brings News to Residents Through Video Blog
By André Ward
Posted Monday, September 22, 2008
Four newspapers and one TV station cover all the news in North Haven, but a new contender has stepped into town.
Chris Kirby has been flying under the radar with his website, www.northhavennews.com, a video blog which offers quick recaps of the town’s major news. Kirby’s one-man operation tries to switch up the standard formula, offering a more casual, accessible version of the news.
Kirby attended Syracuse University on a gymnastics scholarship, where he decided to study illustration photography. He had drawn his own comic strips when he was younger, and the mediums of design had always interested him. After graduating, he landed a job at a print design firm, and then moved on to become the art director at WTNH Channel 8 news.
Around a year ago, he started to consider the idea of creating his own website. Kirby is an avid frequenter of news and technology blogs such as www.rocketboom.com and www.mobuzz.tv, and wanted to make his own contribution.
“I was watching these video blogs I enjoy and I thought, ‘I can do this,'” he said.
Kirby recognized that the Internet was changing the way many people got their news, and noticed that none of the newspapers in town used video on their websites. He registered a domain name, and decided to start shooting videos of town events, as well as himself delivering the news.
For his first entry to the website, Kirby posted the debate for First Selectman in October 2007 between incumbent Republican Kevin Kopetz and Democratic challenger Janet McCarty. The debate was also televised on NHTV, but Kirby wanted to provide an alternative for non-cable subscribers in town.
“I would probably be doing this on NHTV if I got the channel,” said Kirby. “I’m trying to reach people who might not get it.”
Soon afterwards, Kirby stepped in front of the camera himself to deliver his take on the news, with new updates appearing on the website every few weeks. His process is a lengthy one. After absorbing all the recent happenings, he will go down to his studio in New Haven to shoot the videos. The editing takes place at his house in North Haven, and a five-minute video can take around five hours to complete.
“I’ll sit here with all the papers laid out, and try to pull out all the important stuff,” said Kirby. “I’m not going out and investigating these stories. I’m just giving the people the news in a different format.”
Kirby’s video newscasts have the production values belonging to a professional, but the personality and humor he adds keeps the podcasts flowing. On a recent broadcast, he tried out some ninja moves to poke fun at a moment where state Sen. Len Fasano, R-North Haven, was accosted at the Republican National Convention.
Kirby’s enthusiasm, coupled with the occasional sarcastic comment, make him feel less like an anchor than an ordinary resident relaying the news to the townspeople in a way they can relate to.
“Nobody wants to turn this on and watch a boring five minutes,” he said. “I’m trying to take the material and lighten it up a little.”
So far, between 25 and 75 people have watched each video on the site. Kirby would like to see the numbers increase, but the people who currently visit the site are hooked.
“He certainly has the experience and the talent to put together a top notch project,” said Walter Mann, executive director at NHTV, who knew Kirby when he worked at the WTNH affiliate WCTX. “What he does is what a lot of people are doing, but he goes beyond that with the videos he has on his site. He’s doing a great job.”
“I would love for people to start interacting a little more,” said Kirby. He added that if anyone wanted to shoot video of a town event or add something to the website, he would be willing to put it up.
“I don’t know where it’s gonna go,” said Kirby, “but I just felt like I had to be there and I had to do it.”