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T-Squared: Kickstarting Our Livestream Up to 11

Our livestream of Sen. Wendy Davis' abortion filibuster made for an incredible night of television. Today we're launching a Kickstarter campaign to make live, unfiltered video the norm in Texas politics.

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About three months ago, on June 25, The Texas Tribune had what can only be described as a remarkably big night on television. It was the night Sen. Wendy Davis took the Senate floor for an 11-hour filibuster of abortion legislation, and close to 200,000 people from across 187 countries stayed up past midnight with us to watch Texas politics in action. Take that, CNN

We want to make that type of attention the norm. That’s why we’re launching a $60,000 Kickstarter campaign today — to help us invest in the additional hardware and software we need to bring live, unfiltered video to you from anywhere, at any time. 

While we had livestreamed all House and Senate floor proceedings since the start of the 83rd legislative session, it wasn't until Davis' filibuster that the world took notice. Fortunately, our clever programmers had built our livestreaming system to leverage YouTube's scalability, just in case we caught any tigers by the tail, which we certainly did that night.

If you watched the filibuster or caught some clips of the debate the next day, you might not realize that the Trib didn't create any of that video. We only took a feed produced by the Capitol's AV group and made it YouTube friendly. Because we didn't originate or control the source video, we had no say over it. When the Capitol muted microphones on its feed, as it did during parliamentary inquiries, the sound went out on our livestream. Moreover, when the lieutenant governor gaveled out the Senate at midnight, our feed was cut, leaving a couple hundred thousand viewers around the world wondering what was going on. Our feed was dead, but the Capitol was erupting in protests and the fate of the bill was up in the air for another three hours. 

We want to make sure that whenever we cover an event, it’s on our terms, not someone else’s. We also want to be able to livestream anything and everything, be it the next Senate showdown; the interviews, press conferences and reporting we publish day after day; or the dozens of TribLive events we produce around the state each year.

With the money raised through the Kickstarter campaign, we plan to augment our existing HD cameras and editing equipment with several items. Central to this plan is a “satellite backpack,” which will allow us to transmit HD video over multiple cellular networks, and gear to create and stream studio-quality, multi-camera productions from the field.

With the 2014 election cycle gearing up, the eyes of the world are going to be on Texas. That makes this the perfect time for us to livestream the candidates, the campaigns and the decisions that will affect us all for years to come.

Please visit our Kickstarter campaign and make a contribution to this work. We want to be your real-time eyes on the candidates, the races, and the impact the next election will have on Texans and the nation.

Texans need truth. Help us report it.

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Politics Wendy Davis