Right now, I'm sitting in the second half of the morning session at the MGP conference (streamed here.) Also check out other podcasts and blogs to get another perspective.
Yet once again, the journalists are talking *about* the people, not *with* the people. It's not like at the first We Media, where there were few people. There are many People here. There are a lot of people here (I'm glad to see the turnout is good)--but Jeff Jarvis is "hogging" the mic (yes, I joked with him about it) and the journalists are saying there's no divide between journalists and non-journalists, but the divide, more than ever, is extremely palpable right now.
Because they are talking among themselves, and calling on one another and ignoring those they do not know. Following tenets of human nature, it is obviously more fun to talk with one's friends than it is to talk with the free-range rabble.
Helen Thomas is making a point again about how the people are not journalists--but we can have conversations. She say how the people are "zombies"--we're not zombies. We are having conversations--like here and now--but they are not listening.
John Donley just talked about Katrina--and how people did the reporting. Yes, that happens and was esp in that instance it was both...people having conversation, telling others what was happeneing without opinion because there was no time for opinion. It became journalism because there weren't any professional journalists writing the stories.
Panelists are arguing about what's going on now--and if it's all good or all bad. But it's not all journalism per se as much as it's conversation. There can be good conversations and there can be bad conversations.
I used to think that limited access to the internet was limiting the variety of conversation. However, from the latest figures by Pew, it's not access. There's alot of access. People just don't think they have the power to communicate--or don't believe there's a strong, compelling reason to get into the conversation.
That, in part, has happened because of all the journalism that has been done about the conversation. Most of it--from horror stories about MySpace, to highlights about the rancourousness on political blogs--leaves people with a sense of trepidation and doubt about the modes of conversation.
Yet I wonder: If journalists don't jump out from behind the curtains and start talking with the people who show up at their conferences, they're going to keep going over the same ground and never learn a single thing about The People they believe they want to reach.
Update I thanked Jon Donley for pointing out that people doing citizen media are pretty smart--not gomers. However, Tom Rosenstiel, who's stuff I read often, and usually agree with, disagrees with me that the press is still down on conversation. So, I go up and talked with him afterward. He's seen progress in journo conferences over the past 3 years. There, I agree with him--yet I don't think he's seeing/hearing how much further things have to go. He says something about, in the future, a popular blogger will make $200 thousand a year, and I am doubtful of this for many reasons. What will one have to do to be popular? Be Christine Dolce? or Michale Arrington? (few of us could be the former even when we were young, and how many of us can really be the latter. Needless to say I do love what Arrington does!) Steve Fox from washingtonpost.com comes over and brings up Ana Marie Cox and Andrew Sullivan as 'bloggers' who have got book deals. I remind him that they were journalists first. He doesn't comment. There still seems to be some disconnect in the understanding of who many bloggers are--and they're not Cox nor Sullivan who were an editor and a journalist before blogging.
Makes me think "hmmm....are we talking about Bloggers or bloggers? are we talking about the Technorati Magic Middle or the A-list?"
Perhaps they don't see there is a difference. I see that there is. Will someone have to always be a journalist first, or will a blogger be able to also be journalist?
Because of the lack of professional licensing of journalism, journalism will, in some respect, remain a subjective term. Another audience member also sees journalism as as something that is performed (a process) rather than just a profession. Yet I see where the forces on one side want to consider *everything* journalism, and the other wants to say that journalism is a profession more than what one performs. Perhaps that, more than anything, is the crux of the matter.