Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Chat Ventures launches the Qwidget Blog

Monday, June 30th, 2008

While you were momentarily not paying attention to us, we quietly launched a new blog for the Qwidget at The qwidget is a project that we dreamed up to bring more web users into dialogue with each other. When we were releasing hometown baghdad on this blog, we always wanted better ways to bring more people into meaningful conversations and relationships. So we went back to our dialogue building expertise and came up with the tool that we always wished for. If you are a blogger who uses Wordpress on your own hosted domain and want to try it out on your blog, send me an email at my email address. Please check out the qwidget blog as well to see how we’re thinking these days. And no, this does not mean that we are not producing more web and television shows. It’s not a full direction change so much as a spin off that is taking all of my time. And yes, I love it. [qwidget question="4"]

Chat the Planet seeks Post Production Interns

Monday, May 12th, 2008

We at Chat headquarters are looking for a batch of awesomely talented, dedicated, and passionate interns to help us edit the stories of Hometown Baghdad into a two-hour television special. If I was still intern-age (and how I wish I was), I would jump at this opportunity in a second. Interns will focus on logging and digitizing incredible footage from Baghdad. And better yet, we usually get our own coffee so there will be a dearth of the typical intern coffee runs.

Some details are below and you can get a bit more info from our Craigslist Ppost.

Editing Assistant
• Log and digitize new material added to our library.
• Maintain Media Library
• DVD authoring and duplication
• General administrative tasks in and outside of the production realm.

• Knowledge of Avid
• Strong editing and storytelling skills
• Knowledge of Photoshop preferred

Additional Qualifications:

Flexible, creative, positive attitude and can handle multiple tasks.
Must be self-motivated

How to Apply:

Email me a cover letter and resume.

Vote in the Webby People’s Voice Awards!

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

While the Webby Academy chooses the official Webby winners, the People’s Voice awards are chosen by the people, i.e. you! So while you are hoping and praying that your favorite series/sites/videos/cewebrities (go Tay Zonday!) get the official wins, you can also cast your own votes in each category here (registration required). So go vote for your favorites (wink wink nudge nudge).

Hometown Baghdad Nominated for Four Webby Awards

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

I am uncontrollably thrilled to announce that Hometown Baghdad was nominated for four Webby Awards! The nominations are in the online film and video section in the following categories:

This is such an honor. As a tried and true internet geek, the Webby Awards are about the highest set of honors in the entire world to me. So I am ridiculously proud of everyone here at Chat and I’m proud to the point of drooling of the brave Iraqi crew and subjects. I even just called a very groggy Fady Hadid to give him the good news, momentarily having forgot about the time difference. (Sorry, Fady!)

This series was a long, hard, stressful and rewarding struggle. And this is a nice cap on the whole experience. But we can’t get too euphoric. As we celebrate, our hearts go out to the people who helped us make Hometown Baghdad who are still in danger, who are still struggling. With any luck, this nomination can make my dream of working with them again to tell Iraqi refugee stories in Leaving Hometown Baghdad a reality. Even though everyone at Chat makes fun of me for liking that name.

Watch a special made-for-the-Webbies-intro-to-HTB video made by our editors Barrett Hawes and Will Gardiner. Hmm…maybe I’m not so good at naming things.

Hometown Baghdad Cinematographer’s Letter to the World

Friday, September 14th, 2007

Back in January, HTB producer Fady Hadid sent me a translated letter/poem that Nezar Hussein, one of HTB’s talented cameramen, wrote about living as an artist in Baghdad. Moved, I forwarded it to all of my contacts, including an editor at Good Magazine. The letter got passed around the office there and they printed it in their 2007 media issue. It is powerful and worth reading.

Good, for those of you who don’t know, was started by Ben Goldhirsh with the idea that young people want to do well in the world by doing good for the world. It’s an intriguing concept and a great magazine - well written, artfully designed, etc. They also donate all of their subscription revenue to a great group of charities.

Revealing the production process of HTB

Monday, August 6th, 2007

Studio Daily Logo
Scott Simmons did a lengthy interview with me about the production and post production process on Hometown Baghdad for Studio Daily. The piece also reveals more about the history of the project and the thinking behind it than most other articles. From the intro: “I spoke with Mike DiBenedetto, the online distribution manager, about the project, how it came to be and about the technical issues and challenges faced during the production, and especially the post-production, when creating a series that was shot so far away.” Read on.

Face to face with Saif

Saturday, July 28th, 2007

A week ago a monumental landmark was achieved for Hometown Baghdad. We didn’t reach ten billion views. A sudden traffic overload did not shut down our site. We didn’t translate the videos into any new language. Nothing like that. But this milestone is in many ways even more important and even more exciting. A Hometown Baghdad viewer from America met Saif face-to-face in Jordan! I think this is so incredibly cool. After the experience of watching HTB, I know many of us count Saif, Ausama, Zaid, and Adel among our friends. But there is something really special about a viewer of the series showing up in Amman and crashing at Saif’s place. I know I’m jealous.

Here’s the story (as related to me by Saif):

Kate Jordan was watching episode 17 of HTB, “Hubbly Bubbly,” and she started thinking, “Mmm, that looks good.” Sometime around then, Saif left a comment on the blog inviting anyone to come try his hookah in Jordan. That was three months ago. Coincidentally, Kate and her friend Dan Irby had been planning a back packing trip through the Middle East. They got in touch with Saif and told him they were taking him up on his shisha offer. And Saif not only obliged but he invited them to stay in a spare room in his apartment. So Kate and Dan spent four days with Saif, smoking the shisha, hanging out with his family, doing some sightseeing together, and watching the Iraqi soccer team coast to victory. Kate and Dan are keeping a blog about their trip. The most recent post tells of their first impressions of Amman.

Dan, Saif and Kate in Saif’s apartment

Saif’s family welcomes Kate and Dan

The real reason Kate and Dan came to Amman!

So who’s next? Who’s going to visit Ausama in Kurdistan? Who’s going to hang with Adel wherever he may be?

HTB on ABC’s Nightline Tonight!

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007

Nightline Logo
I know, I know. I jumped the gun by announcing our upcoming Nightline spot back in mid June. I believe I said that we’d be on in the “upcoming days.” Days turned to weeks, weeks turned to a month. Anyway, that’s all history and I’d like to announce on good sources that we will be featured on ABC’s Nightline tonight at 11:35pm EST. It should be noted that the piece on HTB will only run in the US version and not the international version that airs on Middle East Broadcast and other non-US distributors.

A few weeks ago, the World News video podcast included some of the footage that will go into the Nightline feature. Check that out here. But tonight’s piece should be a bit longer with more interviews. I’m pretty excited to watch it and immensely thankful that the press continues to give Adel, Saif, Ausama and our incredible crew the attention they deserve. This feature alone will introduce HTB to a few million more viewers.