Do you remember the coming of cable television to the Twin Cities?  It was about 30 years ago, circa 1980, when representatives of the major cable operators in North America started their efforts to obtain the lucrative and exclusive cable TV franchises in the metro area.  One way to enhance the chances of winning the cable franchise jackpot was including a heavy layering of local cable TV programming in the proposal to the city choosing a cable operator.  
    The promises made to the cities then had the cable company providing, at no cost:  studios, equipment, channels, and training for local citizens to produce top-shelf programming.  The vision and hopes of yesterday cannot be found in the local cable offerings today.  Now, instead of channels with songs, dances, and funny sayings, most local programming is down to alphanumeric channels with community messages, announcements of public meetings and, in some places, even the local school lunch menus.  Of course, because cable continues to depend on local government for a license, you almost always can find a channel with live and videotaped reruns of city council meetings.
    Now, all of these years later, the vision of three decades ago is alive and working at www.theuptake.org.  TheUptake is doing everything that the visionaries of the late 1970s had imagined for cable, but they are doing it better and with more imagination and reality.  In addition, when you talk to these enthusiastic theuptake.org volunteers you find that the limitations are only those of us of an older generation who can’t imagine some of the things this bunch is willing and able to try.
    It is, in fact, an operation that is only limited by the capabilities of the latest in web and video technology and the exciting horizons of theuptake.org’s collective imagination.  What these people lack in professional experience and on-air talent is more than made up for by their eagerness, earnestness and joyful appreciation that comes with knowing they’re on the cutting edge of tomorrow.
    When I was in journalism school, back when the world was young, the definition of news was simply the reporting of what happened.  Theuptake.org—along with others like CNN and MSNBC—have completely changed the definition of news to the reporting of what IS happening.
Each morning, the theuptake.org people show up in the State Capitol complex with their cameras, cable, lights and microphones to provide online streaming video in real-time of the election contest hearings on Minnesota’s U.S. Senate race.  On Thursday, they also had full coverage from the Minnesota Supreme Court.  It was there that the justices were listening to arguments on an Al Franken petition for the court to order the governor and the secretary of state to issue a provisional certification of election to Franken for the now-vacant Minnesota seat in the U.S. Senate.  Former Senator Norm Coleman’s attorneys were also heard by the supreme court in opposition to the provisional certification.
    In addition to live coverage of the supreme court and the three judge recount panel, theuptake.org also provided coverage of various news conferences called by the Coleman and Franken camps.  This would be a pretty heavy workload any day of the week for fully staffed news department of any commercial television station, so for it to be handled by a mostly-volunteer webcasting operation is almost beyond belief.  
But theuptake’s people are dedicated.  
    If you’ve been at work all day and want to catch up on this recount/election contest and all of the various side shows, just point your computer to www.theuptake.org and register for an early glimpse at tomorrow’s news gathering today.