We instigated a bit of wordplay around reader support of the Guardian last year, using “Guardian Angel,” “Lesser Angel” and “Archangel” to describe various donor levels. It was a pretty transparent appeal to concern for the greater good, a concern we believe resides in each of us, if we’ll just take a moment to listen for it.
As we’ve worked over the past few weeks to coordinate what we’ve dubbed the Greenville City Council Debate Series, we’ve learned that there are Angels—and then there are people like Akela Thigpen.
If you think pulling together multiple debates is easy, let me disabuse you of that notion right off the bat. Our announcement of dates, times and debate format helped us avoid some of the usual pitfalls, but we felt from the start that just staging debates isn’t enough: People need to see them.
We turned to GPAT-TV, where Jake Postma and the GPAT board has for many years provided local residents with inspiring, unique, educational programming. Thanks to a combination of circumstances, however – not the least of which is the (now chronic) inaction of North Carolina’s General Assembly, when it comes to supporting local resources – Greenville’s cable access channel lacked the funding to film the events.
We looked to the city. The debates are taking place in council chambers, so we hoped the production facilities used to broadcast city council meetings could be brought to bear. No dice: The city’s information office recently lost a key staffer. It could provide audio, but no video.
We sent emails to instructors in ECU’s Cinematic Arts and Media Production program. Crickets. We called wedding videographers, at least one of whom was willing to help, and at a discount—but Saturdays are wedding days. It seemed like strike three (or four, or whatever we’re up to).
Enter Akela Thigpen.
Akela is a videographer whose company (Vision on Film) GPAT often turns to for video services. Jake gave Akela his highest recommendation.
Warily, I picked up the phone. We were asking a lot and I knew it. These are complex events: Two-camera shoots covering a moderator, reporters asking questions, and of course the candidates. I explained that we wanted the sessions recorded so GPAT could broadcast them throughout the fall election campaign. And something else. (more…)