News 12 New Jersey announced on the 22nd that Cablevision has begun broadcasting the Newark Municipal Access Channel on channel 78. I forgot about it until I was channel-surfing after midnite that nite, whereupon I chanced across it. The Associated Press article about this at NJ.com seems internally self-contradicting:
Newark has a new television studio and its own government access channel.
Cablevision customers will now be able to see live city council meetings and other government events and information on Cablevision Channel 78.
The city is unveiling the new studio and channel today. * * *
[But goes on to say that] Channel 78 began broadcasting government programming a week ago. With its creation, [a mayor's office spokeswoman] says Newark joins 240 other municipalities across the country that have their own government channels.
Except for one, below, fotos today are more of those taken at the closing reception January 17th for the "Westinghouse Project" at NJIT. Here, Matt Gosser takes foto alongside his assemblage, Artifact Collage, with Joan Sonnenfeld''s mask, "The Ghost of Westinghouse Past", hanging on it in the middle. (If I get any of the ID's wrong, I hope someone will correct me.)Naturally, this little story brought forth nasty comments by the "haters" who have devoted their lives to lurking at NJ.com and other places where favorable things about Newark might appear, in order instantly to put up comments ripping Newark, as to ensure that no one ever gets a favorable impression of this city. As usual, the comments ignored a key phrase in the story, "studio construction was funded with $1.8 million from Cablevision", in order to suggest that suburban taxpayers will be subsidizing this new channel. When one of them realized that the article said plainly that Cablevision put up the money to start the channel (that is, I and other Cablevision Newark subscribers paid for it), he hastened to complain that tho the studio and channel were provided by Cablevision, all costs of the tapes (big whoop) and personnel would be born by the taxpayer — that would, again, be me, and other people who actually LIVE in Newark — and says, with majestic stupidity, "Stop the crap. If people want to know what their elected officials are doing, go to the dam [sic] meeting."
Collages by Rachel Ehrgood.Oh, that makes a lot of sense. We should stop what we're doing and go to Downtown Newark, spending money on gas and incurring automotive wear and tear, then try to find a parking space or pay to park in a commercial lot; or pay for roundtrip busfare and wait, for perhaps a half hour, in subfreezing temperatures, for a bus; and then hope to get a seat in the Council Chamber; all on the offchance that that week's meeting will deal with something we might be interested in. That makes much better sense than simply tuning, from the comfort of our home, to channel 78, a channel we have already paid for as part of our Cablevision subscription? I don't think so.
Fotos and Westinghouse documents in works by Colleen Gutwein.As it happens, I heard Central Ward councilmember Charles Bell offer an irritatingly high-handed and imperious resolution to increase enforcement of supposedly extant ordinances that require homeowners to put out trash for collection in bins with covers — not just sturdy trash bags, much easier for everyone to handle?? — and clean up not only their own frontage but also 9 feet into the street, or risk PUNISHMENT by the City! So we, the victims of litterpigs, have to clean up not just the trash that slobs dump out their car windows or let fall as they walk down the sidewalk dropping snack containers like bread crumbs to find their way back, but we also have to clean the streets that similar trash-strewing slobs walk down as tho they are extra-wide sidewalks (a practice that gets a lot of Newarkers killed or injured, and causes a lot of drivers trauma), as well? And what if the wind blows trash from one side of the street to the other? Are we, private persons, supposed to bear all the costs and hardship of cleaning up trash that no one is ever punished for strewing? Punish the homeowners, not the litterers, eh? Outrageous!
Colleen Gutwein's untitled foto, Kathryn Okeson's sculpture (28-word title not reproduced here), and one of Tamas Szalczer's "Sirens" group, chalk and pastel on paper.Newark's schools (public, religious, and private) should be inculcating respect for cleanliness and physical order in one's environment as a precondition to mental and emotional order. Sanitation police should be targeting litterpigs, not homeowners. Let them sit in unmarked Sanitation cars in heavily littered areas, and use video cameras to record the behavior of suspect individuals, then jump out with their ticket books to drop littering citations on litterers like snow until the people who create the problem of filth on public streets and sidewalks learn that they, not their victims, are the ones who must pay the price. And let physical cleanup duty be written into the law for at least a third offense, if not a second or even first offense. Let garbage-strewing morons be seen by their friends, picking up trash with reachers or hands, while wearing dayglow-orange jumpsuits. Then they might think it's not so cool to drop garbage everywhere they go. And maybe the next time they see an acquaintance drop trash on a street — especially a stretch they just cleaned — they will speak up and tell them "Quit it, m*f*!"
The access channel is, alas, badly designed, and a lot of the information on it is not readable from the distance at which people watch television, across a room. The site is fundamentally misconceived, in design terms. A wide frame on the left contains only the words "Newark Government Access", "NWK TV 78" and something in very small type on a dark-green background. I went close and saw that that box contains the word "Cablevision" and its logo, in a lite-blue box. The left frame has to be wide to fit the word "Government". But that compresses all the real information, on the right. The frame should be at the TOP. The main information window could then occupy the entire width of the screen below.
The slides shown are apparently designed for a computer monitor, not TV screen. The Internet and TV are very different media, and what works for one (which you view from a couple of feet directly ahead), does not necessarily work for the other, which you may watch from ten or more feet away. Worse, no one checked how long it takes to read the text on a given slide, even if one can read it quickly, without struggling to distinguish foreground from background or read small type. Some slides are whipped away long before you can finish reading them.
Works by (left to right) Linda Morgan, Jessica Dalrymple, and Alexandra Pacula.Small white type on a lite blue background is NOT LEGIBLE from across the room. TV is not designed for a lot of text to be read on a single screen. Text graphics on TV must include only small amounts of text at a time, in a large, simple font with high contrast between text and background. Yellow on purplish-white is another color combination that appears regularly on NWK-TV, but should not, because it's not easily legible.
Works by Matt Gosser, left to right, Millipede and American Flag v.2008.Channel 78 also has an informational "crawl" across the bottom, which cannot work with text on the screen above. You can't read two things at once. A crawl can work if there are pictures and sound in the main window, not more text. There is very little informational sound, just music, mainly jazz/smooth jazz during the times I have watched. The manager of this channel should put more informational sound — not fiting with background music for dominance — and informational video that also does not compete with the crawl. To the extent possible, the crawl, on the one hand, and videos or still fotos on the other, should reinforce each other.
Foto, Salvage Room, by Leslie Granda Hill.If the cost of videos and onscreen talent is a problem, there are tons of people who would be ecstatic to volunteer to do voiceovers or offer fotos or videos for no monetary compensation. Some wouldn't even need an auditory or onscreen visual credit, tho credits are important in broadcasting. My first job (after McDonald's in Middletown), as scarcely more than a kid out of high school, was as a "production assistant" for an ABC News documentary unit in Manhattan. There were a lot of good people working in this glamor industry for much less money than a comparable job in a non-glamor industry would pay. One way TV gets away with that is by giving people fancy titles and listing them in the credits of the shows they work on. Kids in Arts High and other Newark schools and colleges have a lot to offer. Ask, and you shall receive. But give credit where credit is due.
Poem memorializing a partial collapse of part of the façade of the Westinghouse Building. I couldn't get the foto to turn out right, but in this case, what matters is the words, not the image.A regular feature of channel 78 (repeated several times an hour) is a slideshow of the members of the "Municipal Council" — why not City Council? — with their office fone number, alongside a foto that looks essentially identical to my foto of the Passaic River skyline seen from the Jackson Street Bridge at dawn, which opens my Resurgence City website, right down to a swirl in the water left of center. Here's that picture.
If you go to channel 78 and see the councilmembers' names and pictures alongside a view of the skyline, compare that foto to my picture above and let me know if you see some indication that it is NOT my picture. I don't mind if the City of Newark is using my foto. Indeed, I'd be flattered. But I'd like to be able to claim that credit, for my 'portfolio', as might increase my reputation. As I say at my Resurgence City site, it's OK with me if people use my pix for nonprofit, educational purposes, but I'd like to be asked in advance, or at least told later.