Project URL: 3minuteegg.org
Your Name: Matt Peiken Organization (If any): 3-Minute Egg
Tell us about yourself/your team: 3-Minute Egg’s creator, producer and host is Matt Peiken, former staff arts writer at the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press and managing editor of the Walker Art Center’s magazine. Peiken has won fellowships from the National Arts Journalism Program and Poynter Institute and regional writing awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists and California Newspapers Assocation. He spent 21 years on the staffs of daily newspapers before joining the Walker in 2007. He left in 2008 to launch 3-Minute Egg.
Description of your project: 3-Minute Egg is the nation’s first daily video blog exclusively covering a local arts scene (Our motto: “The Twin Cities arts SEEN”). Our videos are seen on Facebook, iTunes, our own Web site and those of a few local media partners. In June 2009, 3-Minute Egg also became a weekly program on Twin Cities Public Television — a tremendous feat for a new, independent journalism venture.
Date your Project Launched (will Launch): September 15, 2008
How your Project works/What it does: We cover Twin Cities artists and arts happenings in every discipline — dance, theater, visual art, music, literature, slam poetry, alternative performance, multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary work. I shoot from recitals, rehearsals, artists’ studios, exhibition openings, CD-release concerts, author and poet readings and more, mixing performance and scene-setting footage with artist interviews into polished videos that run between three to four minutes each. During the Egg’s first season (September 2008 – June 2009), we produced and posted new videos online every Monday through Friday — more than 170 videos in all — exceeding the arts-based videos produced by all other Twin Cities media outlets combined.
Why is your Project a model for Arts Journalism?: Traditional, text-based journalism can be summarized, aggregated or appropriated by blogs, undercutting the original work. By contrast, video-based journalism is exclusive — if people want to see our coverage, they must watch our videos. Also, video is a natural medium for the arts — we prioritize showing the art work over telling about it — and because 3-Minute Egg focuses solely on local artists, our work is all the more unique and valued by the artists and groups we profile, their supporters and the broader arts community. Commercial television isn’t covering the local arts scene, so 3-Minute Egg has the run of the stage. Our content always free, our archives categorized and fully searchable by the name of the featured artists and organizations and by artistic genre. Also, 3-Minute Egg works in service to the arts community by allowing anyone, at no charge under a Creative Commons license, to embed our videos onto their own Web sites. Many organizations and independent artists do just that, using our videos to quickly and easily show the public what they do. All this speaks to a paradigm shift between the media and the public -– fostering a greater sense of investment from both sides into the well-being of the other –- without sacrificing the editorial independence at the core of this enterprise.
Explain (briefly) your business model [Please be specific - this is an important question]: With the support of a nonprofit fiscal agent, 3-Minute Egg applies for government and foundation grants while also raising money through sponsors, individual donors and, soon, memberships. Sponsors appreciate that, with their brand at the front of a video, every viewer sees it, and because 3-Minute Egg is rooted solely in local arts, our sponsors have a much clearer sense of the people they’re reaching through us than they do with traditional, broad-based media. Our television program opens us to levels of funding we couldn’t attain simply through our Web site. 3-Minute Egg also benefits from a range of in-kind contributions that would elude us under a for-profit model.
Anything else we should know? : From MATT PEIKEN: I report, shoot, edit, produce and post every video myself, and I’m working far more hours, more consistently, than I ever did during my newspaper career (55+ hours weekly is routine), but it’s rarely a grind. I’m building something new, unique and valuable to my community, and patience, while not a natural trait of mine, is certainly a virtue here. Many artists comment that 3-Minute Egg is a “tremendous service” to the arts community — a perspective and framework I rarely encountered during my many years in newspapers. As I build 3-Minute Egg from the ground up, I can relate to many of the struggling artists I’m covering in a way I never could when I covered the arts with a union-protected salary and benefits. This further endears me further to local artists, who are keenly aware that 3-Minute Egg has emerged as print and broadcast media, here and elsewhere, are cutting back arts coverage. Check out my work and see for yourself.