Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Music Videos For People Who Think: The Guerrilla News Network

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Born with the intention of providing an alternative news venue for the younger generations, often very critical and alienated by mainstream news media, the Guerrilla News Network is a uniquely interesting hub of counter-information, articles, and voices from a growing group of awareness-increasing individuals.

One of the most valuable resources behind the Guerrilla News Network is the collection of videos that Stephen Marshall, together with a number of other great partners, has shot and published on GNN in the course of the last three years.

GNN CopWatch - see clip

These video clips are truly a great example of the open source television of the future I have been writing about many times recently.

Here is information-rich, entertaining video material that can indeed make people think, reflect and ask questions, in ways that our present TV system hasn't accustomed us to. Indeed, as the GNN authors put it themselves, this is what could be called for a lack of a better term "music videos for people who [want] to think".

GNN videos use mashup and remixing approaches, fast-pace editing, great juxtapositions of clips from major news sources, animated graphics, thriving music tracks, and whichever other creative components which facilitate digestion and understanding of the topics covered.

I think, that independently of the positions or stance these videos may appear to take, the GNN crew has done an excellent and rare-to-find job of communicating effectively with new media technologies and on such difficult and sensitive topics.

Today, unless you are as good or better than the traditional media (TV, film, radio, newspaper and magazines) at handling images, text, music, and at the smart use of editing, animation and graphics tools, you are doomed to be switched off.

GNN has well understood this pivotal point and it has set itself up to become a model for the type of programming and content that I expect to see emerging in greater and greater quantities on the Web.

In my view, GNN provides open source television content that is high quality, educational, interesting and well produced. Content for which I'd easily trade my dusty and unused television set anytime.

Guerrilla News Network is a truly innovative and independent news organization based in New York City and with a production facilities office in Berkeley, California.

They key official mission of GNN is to expose people to important global issues through cross-platform guerrilla online content programming.

The news site does not require any subscription nor publishes any ads next to its content.

GNN (version 2) was launched in October 2004 with the goal of providing a platform for the next wave of digital media guerrillas.

GNN, like several new startups I have been pointing to recently, wants to facilitate and enable its community with the tools to create and disseminate news themselves; either through blogs, videos, photos, customized email newsletters and/or collaborative ongoing investigations that will allow GNNers to work together to cover important stories the mainstream media has not been paying attention to.

By signing up to the GNN community you can freely create your own home page and blog, create a network of friends, participate in the forum and contribute Headlines to the Yard for being promoted on the main page of the site.

GNN was originally co-founded by Stephen Marshall and Josh Shore in the summer of 2000. The partners first joined forces at MTV when they finally realized that the mainstream networks would never allow their hi-impact brand of television content and design to reach prime-time.

GNN's inaugural project was a NewsVideo called The Diamond Life. Completed in the fall of 2000, the video features the music of Peter Gabriel and was produced in conjunction with Peter's non-profit organization, WITNESS.

Shortly after, GNN rounded out the core partnership with reporter Anthony Lappé and investment banker-turned-producer Ian Inaba.

Since 2000, GNN has grown its audience from approximately an initial 300 unique visitors/day to an average of 25,000-30,000 visitors per day.

To counter the enormous bandwidth demands that the viewers of GNN video clips generate, GNN now uploads all of its video content to the Internet Archive.

One of the most requested clips is the Sundance-award winning short, Crack The CIA and the 2003 Media That Matters Film Festival Media Activism Award winner, Copwatch.

In 2003, they produced AfterMath, a 30-min. documentary investigating the unanswered questions surrounding 9/11. Since its release, AfterMath has played in festivals and at public venues across the United States and Europe and has been translated into four languages.

GNN has also collaborated with and produced politicized music videos for artists such as Ad Rock (Beastie Boys), dead prez, Chronic Future, Eminem and 50 Cent.

I must honestly say that the GNN videos are absolutely great: innovative, well edited, with good ideas and a communication approach that makes it easy for everyone to understand.

Yesterday, I have spent several hours downloading and watching this great collection, and frankly was almost never disappointed (a few videos lead to dead links) by it. This is not only great informational material but it is great video communication class for everyone.

If you want to check one of GNN most requested and acclaimed videos, head off to watch this highly innovative and irreverent S-11 Redux. Recommended.

GNN has also recently published a book, True Lies (Plume), which is openly commented by Daniel Richler in this television interview. For more information on this book, see this resource page.

GNN's first feature-length documentary, BattleGround: 21 Days on the Empire's Edge, recently won the Silver Hugo Award at the 2004 Chicago International Film Festival.

GNN's first feature film, This Revolution, a political thriller starring Rosario Dawson, set at the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York, premiered at the 2005 Sundance International Film Festival.

The people behind GNN are:

Ian Inaba, a writer, producer and director with a wide range of experience in media creation, technology production as well as marketing and business development. Ian is now director and producer of highly controversial and informative media projects. Most recently, he directed the music video for Eminem's "Mosh" and contributed to GNN's first book True Lies. Ian runs his own blog, Earning Man, here.

Anthony Lappé, a graduate of NYU and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism is a writer and television producer with professional experience as a correspondent for The New York Times Video News International (now NYT-TV), the world pioneer in small-format video-journalism, as a breaking news producer for Worldwide Television News (WTN), and as a documentary producer for MTV News and Specials and Fuse. A contributing writer for more than twenty magazines and newspapers Anthony has written for Black Book.


Stephen Marshall, writer and award-winning director, is the internationally-known creator of Channel Zero, the world's first global VHS newsmagazine. Distributed in Tower, Virgin and HMV record stores around the world, Channel Zero became an underground hit and one of the first successes of the small-format video revolution. The Village Voice wrote, "Leave it to a Canadian to revolutionize television." In 1997, Marshall produced the provocative series The Electronic Eye: Canada as a Surveillance Society for the CBC's The National and consulted CNN on the creation of a youth-based global news network. Since co-founding Guerrilla News Network in the summer of 2000, Stephen has directed over 15 short documentaries, many of which have been selected for film festivals around the world. He also recently published his first book, True Lies, co-authored with GNN's Anthony Lappe. Here, in a rare mainstream television appearance, GNN's Stephen Marshall is interviewed by Bravo!'s Daniel Richler. This interview is approximately 20 minutes and I think it is a worthwhile viewing experience if you want to learn more about Stephen Marshall, his videos, GNN and why he is doing this.

Josh Shore, a graduate of the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, is a film/television producer, media/brand strategist, and developer of transformative enterprises. Josh has a professional background in producing assorted original television shows for USA Network, Showtime, MTV and MuchMusicUSA (now Fuse), in addition to producing and directing material for E! and Comedy Central. At GNN Josh has split his time between producing and directing GNN media, working with different grant-makers to support the creation of original GNN productions, and developing various television initiatives that seek to bring the culture of GNN to a wider audience.

More? Start here: All GNN videos.

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posted by Robin Good on Sunday, July 17 2005, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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