Friday, June 30, 2006

Media Giraffe: Getting to Work

It's 5pm. I just got done giving an interview on my views on citizen journalism for a documentary being done by a Cambridge TV station. If there's one thing that has stood out for me so far at this particular conference it's been meeting people who are local. As I explained to the young woman who was interviewing me, it's been difficult for people in W. Mass to find one another. Partly geography, partly because, unlike out in the eastern part of the state, we don't have a place that will support us or that we can use to hold meetings, etc. Maybe that's something that will evolve out of this conference. That would be a good thing.

Bloggers out here, like lots of bloggers, all have different reasons for blogging--but I think there are less of us out here (can't speak to the reason why) and without the auspices of a university, we don't have a place to rally. Hence, we don't find each other. I know that my talking about this conference helped get some people here. But I know there are other bloggers out here that don't know about me, don't read me, and didn't find out about the conference.

Some bloggers, too, are just private. They do what they do for their own reasons, but they're not particularly interested in meeting other bloggers or interacting with other bloggers. Most certainly, it is their choice.

I'm sitting in one of the later citzen journalism sessions. They're talking about setting up a post-conference space of some kind to post on. This track--the citizen journalism track--has been run very well. The people who have been speaking have been incredible, and are truly the ones to give the best information.

I don't necessarily consider what I do citizen journalism. Yes, I'm a citizen commentator--but not a citizen journalist (unless commentary is journalism--oh, it's all so darned subjective!). Mostly because I'm not reporting on or for a community. I write about a subculture--the blogosphere and the different groups that interact with it--mostly how journalism/journalists interact with it. The writings are my observations, or comments, or information I want to share. It was fun chairing the panel this morning...because what I've done with blogging interfaces with cit j and I understand what they're doing, and I think it's important. Everyone was very clear that what they're doing is not meant to replace journalists. They do what they do because they want to, and would eventually like to get paid, but it's not about the bottom line.

Newspapers are, nowadays and unfortunately, about the bottom line--about making a profit. About selling news. Even if there is a civic reason for reporting the news, the necessity for advertising, and the importance of the advertisers, is related to paying investors and the Profit Margin.

One thing I've learned in this is that ownership matters. Corporate ownership's wreaked havoc with so many papers. It may be time for some papers to be privately owned again. And if so, they will need to be more interactive with the community. The Community's been interacting in various ways, so they're going to want it.

Yes, there's a downside to private ownership....but my sense is that every paper will find its niche. Right now there's huge upheaval. But within the upheaval, we have to make sure that the few do not dictate the terms for the many.

Tom Stites of the Center for Public Integrity was the only person who spoke (video archives here) to the socio-economic and social class divide in all this. And it's not that people don't have access. They have access. As Stites explained, it's that the news is not relevant to their lives because the news that's printed is the news for a different social class. Those who are not part of a partiular social class are considere "waste readers." Tom is editor and publisher of UU Magazine The text of his speech is at Dan Gillmor's blog

Imagine that--people considered "waste." Like garbage--because they're not Big Spenders. It was sad, but important for *somebody* to actually *say* that this is what the problem is--a large swath of individuals who could be reading the new do not because they are considered "waste" and not worth marketing to.

So, It leads me to think that what big media, and big journalism gets, is its own fault.

Back to the session: it's not being recorded or taped. It's a small group of less than 20 people, but people are talking. Any journaists here? Theres a guy from the NYTimes--or used to be with the NYTimes. I'm not sure. But there are good things being said and done here. There is progress here.

I'm not sure if the other days represented any progress or if it was, as I said previously, just a giant echo chamber.

I'm thinking again about Tom Rosenstiel's disagreement with me yesterday. Maybe media's made some progress, but they still don't get it.

I ws talking with John Burke of The Editor's Weblog Turns out that we read one another's stuff (he reads the Media hub), and there was some agreement between he and I that there are aspects of the blogosphere that media *still* doesn't get...

We had a wonderful conversation about newsmedia around the different is it is from here. I often read news from India, and Korea, and all over the place--mainly because it comes in my Google Alerts for "journalism" "media" and "citizen journalism." I'm fascinated by the ways the media is consitituted in other countries

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