Podelis: Making Social TV


Podelis (“Share”) is VOA Russian Service’s premier online program that is accessible on the VOA Russian Service home page (“live” via Ustream), on-demand (“recorded live”), or via satellite TV in Russia.  What sets it apart from other programming is that it is geared toward the “second screen culture”.  The audience is encouraged to comment and ask questions on topics via Facebook and Twitter, as well as sometimes be guest commentators via Skype or pre-submitted YouTube videos.

Podelis-collage-brainstormingPhotos above: Podelis hosts (Igor Riskin (blue shirt) and Yulia Savchenko (green shirt)) discuss ideas for the upcoming week’s program with VOA Eurasia Division’s Managing Web Editor (Alen Mlatisuma (gray shirt)).

In particular, they were discussing potential hash-tags for the audience to use to ask questions during a scheduled interview with Russian finance mogul and anti-corruption advocate Bill Browder—whose lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, was held for a year without charge and eventually died while in pre-trial detention.  The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously approved the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act on Jun 27, 2012; it seeks to impose travel and economic sanctions against Russian officials as punishment for such civil rights abuses.  The Podelis audience has been very opinionated about this US-Russian development. “Every new media product should allow the audience to produce content and share opinions… as long as it is journalistically sound,” said Mlatisuma.

“27 Jun
Share! @Podelis
On air @fatimatlis reporter talks about voting for “The Magnitsky Act” http://www.ustream.tv/channel/468091 What would you ask her?”

Podelis-collage-productionPhotos above: Behind the scenes on Wednesday’s Podelis production day.  The entire team works together to coordinate video feeds, Skype feeds, YouTube videos, Twitter and Facebook comments.  “Russians use a lot of sarcasm and opposite meanings in their dialogue… it is important to manually sift through all the user-created content so we can fully understand what our audience is trying to say,” added Podelis host Igor Riskin.

Podelis-collage-onsetPhoto above: Podelis hosts Igor Riskin and Yulia Savchenko live on set.  Both Riskin and Savchenko are Russian natives who truly understand their audience.  They’re also supported by an expert production team—including Executive Producer Gareth Conway.  “It was a blogger that first broke the news about American helicopters landing in Pakistan at Osama Bin Laden’s compound,” Conway explained, “that blog went viral.  So imagine the responsibility that we have to listen to our audience in Russia in order to create socially generated, relevant, and breaking news content for Podelis.”

Podelis is setting standards for social media best practices in broadcast TV.  The Podelis production team hopes that the success of their social TV programming will serve as an example for future VOA projects.

For more information, visit: VOA’s ‘Podelis’ on Satellite to Russia: Amb. McFaul Talks Twitter
To watch Podelis live on Wednesdays, click here.
To watch past Podelis shows on YouTube, click here.
To like Podelis on Facebook, click here.
To follow Podelis on Twitter, click here.

(Thank you to Alen Mlatisuma, Gareth Conway, Igor Riskin, and Yulia Savchenko for their informational contributions to this post.  Also, thank you to Jenny Lea, Steve Fuchs, and April Deibert for their photo contributions to this post.)

(The foregoing commentary does not constitute endorsement by the US Government, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, VOA, MBN, OCB, RFA, or RFE/RL of the information products or services discussed.)

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April Deibert

April Deibert

April Deibert is the Multimedia Blogger/Producer for the Office of Digital & Design Innovation. Follow her on Twitter: @BBGinnovate and @AprilDeibert.

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