VidSF Serves Up San Franciscans With Bay Area News Online [Interview]

VidSF is a local news website in the San Francisco area that brings viewers the Bay Area news that is most relevant to them, while giving local journalists an outlet. The site was started a couple of years ago by Kieran Farr and Steve Cochrane when they came to the realization that television news is slowly dying out. They wanted to give San Franciscans a break from the violence and tension found on network television news, so they launched VidSF to report on the positive local events happening in the San Francisco community.

VidSF has worked with over 50 different independent producers and has had over one million video streams since their launch in 2008. They stream a number of news series, including Bronstein at Large, a show which interviews some of the Bay Areas most interesting subjects; Live From pariSoma, a show discussing technology and innovation; Ronn Live, hosted by comedian Ronn Vigh; TEDxSoMa, VidSF Reports, a lighthearted look at San Francisco people, events and small business; and more.

I had the opportunity to ask CEO Kieran Farr a few questions about VidSF. See what he had to say in the interview below:

Social Times: When did VidSF start and how has it grown and changed through the years?

Kieran Farr: I started VidSF with co-founder Steve Cochrane as a way of creating and distributing high quality local video content. We were strongly motivated by what we perceived as the slow motion downfall of local TV in the US, which is dominated by violence and car crashes. We felt online was the perfect medium for a different kind of local TV.

When we sat down to create vidsf.com we realized we needed a software infrastructure to manage, publish and distribute video content. Since none existed at the price-point we could afford with the features we needed, we decided to write our own video platform instead. (More on the platform later.)

After using this platform to power our original content creation efforts, we began partnering with other online properties to help build out their video content strategies. We have produced content with a number of notable SF online publications including the SFist.com, MissionMission, the SF Appeal and a few others.

Over the past few months we’ve been working with the San Francisco Chronicle to begin creating original video content in partnership with their editorial staff. The early pilots are looking very good – it’s great to work with teams that have expansive domain knowledge, it allows our producers to focus on translating that into great web video.

Meanwhile, we’re also opening up our VidCaster platform to anyone who wants to distribute video online.

ST: Is VidSF made up primarily of shows, or can anyone upload content?

KF: Our content is primarily series-driven, we’ve found that to be a format that appeals to audiences and advertisers alike.

While we don’t accept unsolicited submissions, we are always open to working with producers that have existing projects or wish to create something new.

ST: How does VidSF differ from uReport, YouTube’s recent partnership with the Bay Area’s ABC7?

KF: We’re big fans of the YouTube uReport project. In fact we were one of the launch partners with YouTube to source initial content when the project launched earlier this summer. I’m a believer in distributing content to as many outlets as possible and not restricting it within the confines of a single portal or medium.

ST: Have you considered expanding beyond the Bay Area?

KF: Yes, we have the VidNY.com domain name.

Kieran also shared a couple of videos with me that are a great example of VidSF content. The first is from a show called ‘Beths’ (named as such because the videographer and the on-air host are both named Beth. This video shows coverage of an event called the ‘Lebowski Fest’ – a bowling alley event where people dress up as characters from the Big Lebowski. Amazing.

This next video comes from a trial series that VidSF is working on with the SF Chronicle. Kieran gave me a little bit of background about the clip: “Phil Bronstein, Editor at Large for Heart Newspapers, expands his blog out to a video version for a number of notable interviews, the first here brought quite a set of responses from SFGate.com readers.” You can check out the comments here.

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