Column: ‘Good Morning Newport’ seeks to bring public affairs to the social media generation
“Good Morning Newport” is a new political online show created by 27-year-old Alex Crawford and his friend and business partner, Riley Hayes, 29.
Both grew up in Newport and run Everything Bagel, their own full-service video, digital and social media ad agency.
With Hayes directing, and Crawford hosting, the two posted their first episode of “Good Morning Newport” this week.
Watching the 16-minute, inaugural episode on Facebook, I was impressed with the quality of the production, writing and cutting-edge political content.
The show tackles issues dealing with recent Newport council decisions and upcoming elections in a funny, informative and entertaining way.
Crawford opens with a segment stating how six of the seven council members are represented by political consultant Dave Ellis, who Crawford says “prefers to work in the shadows … and jokes, “people are afraid to say his name,” a reference to Lord Voldemort in “Harry Potter.”
The tongue-in-cheek banter is entertaining throughout as the hosts address serious issues, such as the controversy surrounding City Manager Dave Kiff’s retirement announcement, with footage from the council meeting where Diane Dixon dressed down those on the council whom she felt were responsible for his decision to opt out of his contract early.
There’s also an interesting interview on this first episode with council candidate Joy Brenner, who says she is running because “it has become evident the City Council was not really listening to the citizens” on Museum House and other issues.
After watching the show, I called Hayes and Crawford.
I was especially interested in them because of my background in access cable with the comedy cooking show “At Home on the Range” from 1992-1998. In those days cable was the only avenue available for projects like mine; today the online creative outlets are endless for budding young producers like Crawford and Riley.
The two initially partnered for a documentary project about the history of Newport Beach dating to 1906.
Their movie project is ongoing but in the meantime it prompted “Good Morning Newport.”
To give you some background on these guys, Hayes graduated from Chapman University, where he majored in film. Crawford studied journalism in Oregon and worked on a sports radio show in Portland.
Crawford moved back to Newport to team up with Hayes and make the documentary about their hometown.
They started going to council meetings to learn more about city government, connect with residents and network.
Not a bad plan. If you’ve been to council meetings, they’re well attended by longtime residents with lots of history behind them.
So the two started talking to people and sitting in on council meetings. They soon discovered all was not well in Newport’s political arena.
Hayes was surprised to find “many of these council members didn’t grow up in Newport,” which troubled him.
“Now, more than ever, those who did grow up here need to be included” and it “shouldn’t be up to who [has] more money to lobby and special interests.”
Crawford and Hayes say they understand that council meetings can be “boring” to younger folks.
With that in mind, their intent with “Good Morning Newport” is not only to inform and inspire the next generation politically, but entertain it as well.
So the pair started taking their cameras to council meetings and streaming live on Facebook.
Though residents can watch meetings via cable and on the city’s website, Crawford and Hayes feel their generation is more apt to watch on social media.
“There are great city groups keeping government in check,” they say, and with their show, they’ll highlight these groups, giving them new exposure to a wider audience.
Realizing they “could make a serious difference in bridging the gap through an entertaining video show,” their plan is to produce two episodes of “Good Morning Newport” a month.
As they discuss current issues, they’ll also refer to the city’s rich history, which they’re continuing to discover through their documentary research.
They plan on interviewing former and current council members, as well as candidates running this year.
It’s exciting for me to see younger people interested in local politics, and if “Good Morning Newport” grows a substantial audience, I feel it could be a game changer this political season.
Barbara Venezia is an opinion columnist writing political and social commentary since 2007. She can be reached at email@example.com