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 world...how 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

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Vin Crosbie's take on last night's dinner discussion. Vin and I are very much on the same wavelength: old media can't just co-opt citizen journalism and get all utopian about it. Cit J. is not the "panacea" for the problems of old media. Old Media has to innovate if it's going to rebuild.

Media Giraffe: Money, money, money....

I'm in the afternoon panel, where they're discussing money (simulcast here.)

So far, interesting...David Beers from the The Tyee, Barry Parr from The Coastsider talked about how an adverstiser can potentially shut down a small pub, and that this is a challenge. Someone from The Raw Story is talking about the kinds of ads running...He also mentioned how sensationalism drives traffic to Raw Story. That's very true. Says it's worrisome--very true. Where do you draw the line when controversy sells?

All this kind of plays back to what Tom Rosensteil said to me earlier about "popular" blogs making very big money--but right now, when sensation and celebrity sell, only the sensational celebrities are going to sell. And how many of us who have something to say are the level of sensational celebrity?? Unless they have some sort of authority behind them before they start out, or if they can scoop the Big Boys on the press. "But it's really hard to get those kinds of stories out there, "says Raw Story guy. Big media doesn't necessarily think new media is credible, and he cites Howard Kurtz tearing apart the Terry Schiavo memo a la Rathergate--but then getting a little hamstrung when the guy who wrote the memo said it was credible.

New media's hard business....but eventually partnerships will do better than individual efforts (overall, I think.) Unless you're Jossip and don't care to have a life.

I'm wondering if I should put some ads on either of my blogs. It might generate at least some pocket change...

Who knows, maybe after awhile, like Jeff Jarvis' son, I'll be able to buy an iPod...

The guy from the Twin Cities Daily Planet says they're using the OhMyNews model--having citizens write then use journalists as 'gatekeeprs' (oh, just call them editors!) This model isn't too bad. They've been getting grants, have some ads, and have some contributors, too. Ads haven't been making them alot of money--but that's not a surprise.

Talent's really not a problem in new media. Money is. You can make it, but it right now resources are limited.

But so much of this is so new...there's so much that needs to grow. I keep thinking of Jamie Boyle at Beyond Broadcast kept reiterating how all of internet stuff is in its infancy. And so is the money.

Staci Kramer of PaidContent.org is talking about P.C. When she asked how many people knew about P.C., there were less than 10 of us in the room. They just got some funding (under $1 mil, but still it's not bad) She says she's a journalist and blogging is her style and software. That's very true--a style and a software. P.C. is blogging as journalism. I would never argue that point, and what they do, they do well.

What Staci has been explaining is why I don't believe all blogging is journalism. What P.C. does is different than other kinds of blogging...their efforts are a practice.

The guy from The Center for Public Integrity talks about raising money via foundations--and has done very well. They do a new model of investigative journalism. Non-profit investigative journalism, he says, is a new business model. He used to be a producer for 60 Minutes. "If the media was doing its job, it wouldn't need a Center for Public Integrity..." "Investigative journalism needs to flourish...it costs money....and many companies don't want to go there." "I'm trying to figure out what's possible here..."

Everything that's been said has been important--and all the efforts are so very new. It may be journalism, but it's in a new medium and the funding will come from different places. Maybe the way things are going is that the old models have to die and new models have to rise. Print papers might rise as a practicality out of new web publications.

Who knows....

Media Giraffe: Journalists talking about the people, not with the people

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.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Echo Chamber Redux

Tonight was the opening session of the Media Giraffe Project Inaugural Conference on the changing role of journalism and how it relates to maintaining our democratic system (or at least I think that's part of what it's about...)

and all I can say is that when you get a bunch of media men together who all know each other, you can bet that they're going to re-hash all the problems from the 2000 election, bitch and moan about all the trouble with George Bush, keep the mics among themselves, and pat each other on the back about what wonderful jobs they're doing.

Be that as it may, all I can say is that big media is no less responsible for creating echo chambers than bloggers. In fact, they're just as bad. Got to hand it to Jeff Jarvis and Vin Crosbie for keeping the echo chamber going (although Vin gave it a shot to keep it less echo-centric.) We were supposed to be talking about the future of media, not the foilbles of a past presidential election.

Criminey!

However, Helen Thomas' speech (and the Q&A) earlier in the evening was very interesting! To hear what she had to say about the way the White House Press Corps used to be was--well, like a history lesson. But one that was a grim reminder of how far we have come *from* the 20th century in a short period of time. The events of 9/11 have caused the press corps to roll over and die--and take the democratic party with them. The political situation is "rudderless, leaderless and have lost our way" and the problem in journalism is that "anything goes and there's no standard on accuarcy and truth."

She didn't have kind words for bloggers--once again stating how they're not reporters (mostly because they don't verify their sources--but that's not totally true)....and it seemed that she really wasn't all that familiar with the medium.

But I wasn't expecting that from Helen Thomas. (a podcast of Helen's evening dinner talk, recorded by Wayne McPhail, can be found at theRabble Podcast Network) Helen isn't a decision-maker in the big media process. Helen is, though, a vital part of its history.

I was, though, expecting a few kind words from the panel--esp. after Jay Rosen's piece this a.m. on "the people formerly known as the audience."

Tonight though it seemed like conversation was for "the journalists formerly known as the people." There was lots of handwringing over the past, and little talk about the future. There was some praise for Times Select with only the barest of acknowledgement that its best columnists are no longer part of the conversation in the blogosphere...

Overall, it seemed like nobody wanted to talk about the conversation in the blogosphere. All they wanted to do was say "those bloggers!" and say how so many aren't truly reporting (maybe we're having conversation--duh!) and nobody really wanted to talk about why citizens are forming citizen journalism sites...with the exception of Jay, who brought out the fact that some regions have such piss-poor coverage that citizens need to jump in and do *something*.

I wonder if Jay spent any time around here in W. Mass, he'd feel that way...

I think what bothers me the most is that this bunch of folks--like most media folks--just do not get that the citizens doing citizens media are not a bunch of gomers with no teeth. Most are very educated. Some even have a smattering of journalism in their backgrounds (if I dig back far enough, I have it, too. It's like finding an irish relative in your otherwise un-irish gene pool.) There is also very little understanding of small-town life, how many people know the goings on and history of towns, and if you get it wrong, they'll let you know. The audience are your fact checkers (as Lise LePage and Chris Grotke told me about their work out in Brattleboro.)

They also pooh-poohed Grace Sullivan, who spoke up about a lack of newspapers in public schools--but how kids in tony private schools all have their own subscriptions to the New York Times. They also refused to address the issue that there are inconsistencies between print and online versions of the same story. This is true and happens often. I've found it in the Times, and my friend Bill Anderson also found it in the Times (with John K. Galbraith's obit).

I know what Grace is talking about. When kids at public schools don't read papers any more than they can scan a piece of poetry, you can bet none of them will make it to Princeton.

So, to use a crude colloquialism: don't piss on our shoes and tell us it's raining.

Shava Nered, who I met at Beyond Broadcast, Grace and I were talking afterward, and Shava mentioned how she felt offended--basically by the ignorance of the panelists about blogging. I, too, was offended because other than Theresa Hannifin, nobody got that blogs aren't necessarily about reporting--but they are often about conversation.

I was going to ask the panel if any of them ever did Technorati vanity searches just to see if anyone was linking to their stuff--and if they found the links, would they engage the person in conversation. I later asked Theresa about this, and she laughed. She said she doubted most of them knew what a Technorati search is, let alone do one. And interact with a blogger?? Heaven forbid!

Oh, and if the Boston Globe taked Jon Garfunkel up on his stupid idea of Globe Select, there's going to be some serious squaking. Jon doesn't seem to want to acknowledge that Times Select not only removes its columnists from conversation in the blogosphere, but also makes their work inaccessable to those who do not have the money to pay for the service. What Jon doesn't seem to remember is that when most newspapers originally set up their online presence, that presence was only meant to be a gateway or promotion for the main site. The gateway was never meant to become the main portal. Now, all efforts to monetize are short-sighted, back-handed efforts to play catch-up on a boat that left the dock sometime ago. There is no clear evidence that monetizing now will help a struggling paper--but it certainly will deny access for a good sector of the populace who cannot affor the service

I don't think Jon understands that this is a form of social stratification of information--because there are few public libraries who are willing to pony up for Times Select, even though they are still buying the more reliable print version...Guess all readers are created equal, but some readers are more equal than others...Correction Staci Kramer and I were speaking, and she very courteously corrected my take on Times Select. Schools that get academic subscriptions do indeed get Times Select.

Until big media gets over its overinflated sense of self-importance and begins to listen to The People in the Room (who have more to tell them than their stats), there will only be more echo chambers like tonight and little in the way of real conversation.

I will be interested to see how it all unfolds tomorrow...

Never Send a Boy to Do a Grown-Up's Job

At the rate it's going, the BBC is never going to understand citizen journalism..."citizen journalist" Frankie Roberto spent a week at the Beeb in an effort to find out more about "what separates professional reporters from amateur enthusiasts such as himself."

But Frankie's not your average citizen: he's a web developer who works for WikiNews. I wonder what he's doing at the Beeb: he could be looking to turn himself into a Beeb journalist more than exploring citizen journalism....and if that's the case, that's fine. Just be a bit more honest about it.

I wonder why Frankie didn't check out what independent citizens are doing in England for citizen journalism...or do they not have efforts such as iBrattleboro or H2OTown or Muncie Free Press or Chi-Town Daily News

Overall I suspect Frankie's motives in this, and the Beeb's motives. Actually, the whole thing looks like a publicity stunt on the part of the Beeb. here's Frankie's blog. Note that there is no blogroll, even if there is an archives, and most of his reporting is basic blogging about this, that or the other in his life. So, is Frankie then a "citizen journalist" in the broadest sense of the term? Then pretty much anyone who blogs is a "citizen journalist"....which dilutes the efforts of those interestsed in serving their community because their local media has failed...

And where did the Beeb find him? Thru WikiNews? Or was he just an enterprising go-getter who contacted the Beeb on his own? I understand that motive. But be honest about it.

Frankie says that by going to the Beeb he wanted to discover more about "citizen journalism"...which begs the question: Should the MSM be defining and guiding citizen journalism efforts? I don't think it's MSM's place to be steering citizen journalism directly thru its channels. Perhaps it's the place of journalists who are disaffected, who know the process and may have been professional--but not the established media.

With their ever-eroding business models, and their shrinking profit margins, can MSM be trusted to do the right thing by citizens? I'm not so sure any more...

I have to hand it to the Beeb though. It's transparent here --making it quite clear that it wants to be the "citizen journalism" portal for England. But doesn't that just, ultimately, translate out to paying people to do the jobs of reporters?? Perhaps what the Beeb, and lots of media outlets need, are citizen journalism efforts that aren't part of the MSM...and maybe, more than ever, the MSM needs Watchdogs rather than lapdogs.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Over the next few days...

I will be moderating the keynote panel--"What Is Citizen Journalism?"--of the Citizen Media Bootcamp session at the MediaGiraffe "Democracy and Independence: Sharing News and Politics in a Connected World" conference. It's at UMass-Amherst 6/28-7/1. Great people on the panel, including my friend Lisa Williams, Lise LePage (and Chris Grotke will be there), Paul and Ilona from ePluribus Media and author/activist/journalist Eesha Williams.


oh and I'm a last-minute Citizen Media "devil's advocate" panelist on saturday's Merging Forms: Is the Medium Still the Message?” panel. Robb, Steve and I worked out the logistics of the "un-panel" and Paul's willing to go along with us, so it should be fun. Yesterday's conference call was a hoot, and we all kind of wished Steve had hit the record button. Hopefully we'll get a podcast out of the panel.

Monday, June 26, 2006

"Toto, Perhaps We're In Beijing Now..."

Get this: In China Government turns screw on mass media and social revolts:

The National People's Congress Standing Committee has decided that media agencies breaking news “on emergencies in the country” without authorization will face fines ranging from 50,000 to 100,000 yuan [from 5,000 to 10,000 euros]. The decision is part of a draft law being reviewed by the executive body.

Emergencies listed by the law include: natural disasters, accidents, public health crises and “social security crises”, such as protests and clashes between farmers and local officials, which are on the rise.


but before you tut-tut, get a load of this:

GOP Congressman Calls for Criminal Charges Against 'NYT'
Appearing on Fox News, (Rep. Peter)King (R-NY) said, "The time has come for the American people to realize, and the New York Times to realize, we’re at war and they can’t be on their own deciding what to declassify, what to release. If Congress wants to work on this privately, that’s one thing. But for them to, on their own, for the editor of the New York Times to say that he decides it’s in the national interest -- no one elected them to anything.


And the Times replied:
We weighed most heavily the Administration's concern that describing this program would endanger it. The central argument we heard from officials at senior levels was that international bankers would stop cooperating, would resist, if this program saw the light of day. We don't know what the banking consortium will do, but we found this argument puzzling. First, the bankers provide this information under the authority of a subpoena, which imposes a legal obligation.

Second, if, as the Administration says, the program is legal, highly effective, and well protected against invasion of privacy, the bankers should have little trouble defending it. The Bush Administration and America itself may be unpopular in Europe these days, but policing the byways of international terror seems to have pretty strong support everywhere. And while it is too early to tell, the initial signs are that our article is not generating a banker backlash against the program.


I don't normally like to get political, but it really seems that the Bush administration, with the help of Australian Rupert Murdoch's Fox News is getting more aggressive about wanting to take away our right to a free press. They're pushing all the right buttons about "national security." But what does Murdoch or Fox care about the freedom of the press in the U.S. or "national security"? About as much as they care about teenagers on MySpace.com...

Monday, June 19, 2006

Dick Cheney to award Gerald R. Ford Journalism prizes today--can you say "Irony?"

Blogging vs. Journalism: the Debate Continues

The results of some rather tart words between myself and Stephen Spruiell of the National Review's MediaBlog has been some very interesting correpsondence...and while the correspondence is confidential, (this is the civil thing to do) what's precipitated has been some more thoughts on the differences between journalism and blogging.

Journalism--or the creation of a piece of journalism--is a process. There are editors and levels and a back and front and a whole bunch of other things. With most blogs, it's just the blogger and his/her words. If there's fact-checking, it's usually done by the blogger--like the proofing, editing, style and grammer checking, etc. If the blog has a staff (and some do--such as OhMyNews and Barista.net) it migh have an editorial process. Which means a post might go thru a process similar to that of a piece of journalism (as do citizen pieces at OhMyNews and Barista.net)...

Now that ain't what most of us bloggers are up to. Whether or not a jounralistic process happens at Kos, I cannot speak to (and do any of us outside of Kos know?) Whether a process happens with Stephen's blog before he hits the "publish" button (his site sits safely nestled in a publication) I can't speak to either. I'm not sure if anybody at that level or in those debates is being transparent on this part of their blogging process...and perhaps that's what's most frustrating--are these blogs going thru an editorial process and, thus more like journalism than individual blogging? Should these vetted blogs even be called blogs and should the entire blogosphere be lumped into one category--journalism--when not all are created under the same conditions?

Perhaps then all blogs are created equal (in the technical sense--from the same open-source software platforms), but some blogs are more equal (to journalism) than others--if they're the kinds of blogs that go through a journalistic vetting process like an editorial or an article in a publication. Perhaps blogs like Kos should be called Blogs while the rest of us, writing at varying degrees, are simply "blogs".

It makes me think, though, am I--somewhere--doing a form of journalism? Perhaps with Corante, and with articles like this one in OJR, but my blogging is, well, different. First because the blogs were designed to communicate to different audiences without any conscious intention of journalism--the ideas behind the content of each blog became fully developed after they were created. The first more personal blog was definitely meant to communicate more to women--I wanted to tell stories about my life-- while this blog was meant to communicate to a more general audience. It's been very curious watching both of them develop and change over the time I've been doing this. I find that the term "audience," and how I know what kinds of people constitute it, depends on who makes themselves known to me. For all I know, I could have an even distribution of men and women readers for each blog--and men and women could read each blog for very different reasons.

I find that calling them journalism falls short because they were designed for the purpose of communication and have never been edited or vetted by anyone other than myself.

Am I doing journalism here on this blog in particular? Not like I might in other places, and to the varying degrees of judgements by others. I'm throwing out my raw thoughts like I might if I were writing a yet-to-be-published academic paper. Can I call myself a journalist? Maybe a "newbie" journalist because of the type of freelance writing I get paid for--but not for my blogging alone. Maybe I'm more of a blogger turning into a journalist (in spite of herself.) I don't know. Only time will tell.

Additional good reads: Daniel Okrent took a lot of crapola at the New York Times as its Public Editor, but when he left, he passed along a number of great insights about journalism. Some of his points--from the fact that his own column goes thru many reads (and he thanks those who read) to how freelancers are missing something of the newsroom experience--gave me a bit more insight into what makes journalism different from blogging.

Leonard Witt, prof at Kennesaw State University and who blogs at PJNet.org put together Constructing a framework to enable an open source re-invention of journalism. I'm still mulling over a lot of its points. But he does make interesting correlations between how open-source software works and how these notions can be applied to journalism:
von Hippel [26] reminds us that false starts are not just experienced by the open source software world when he writes: “It is striking that most new products developed and introduced to the market by manufacturers are commercial failures.” He argues manufactures which work with what he calls “lead users,” those who modify the product to meet their individual needs, will be better informed than manufacturers who rely solely on internally produced predictions.

This means going beyond the traditional focus groups. Remember Kelly (2005) wrote, “Everything media experts knew about audiences — and they knew a lot — confirmed the focus group belief that audiences would never get off their butts and start making their own entertainment.” However, if they had paid attention to “lead users,” the innovators, they would have, using von Hippel’s arguments, had a better understanding of what was coming in the world of commons–based peer production. Today we know that with their blogs, vlogs, and podcasts there are hosts of “lead users” in the world of citizen produced and modified media. The media industry should be looking to them for leadership as well as to their traditional audiences to increase the chances of successful experimentation.


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Friday, June 16, 2006

Who You Callin' a Journalist?

The debate over who--or what--in the world is a jounalist has been flairing up in all sorts of odd (or not so odd) places on the 'net...

This week Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Sam Fulwood III penned this piece that pokes at the notion of citizen journalists taking over the internet, and concludes with a smug comment from a journalism student:
"I certainly hope that reporters are never replaced by ordinary citizens," Kevin wrote. "It would defeat the purpose of newspapers. It has been a lifelong dream of mine to become a journalist, and I want to be sure that I can have a long career at a newspaper. "


Hmm....I keep hearing all kinds of hoo-ha from working journalists that journalism school doesn't mean a hill of beans. Are they blowing smoke up my ass or what??

Meanwhile there's been a brou-ha-ha over at the National Review's Media Blog--the result of the outing and subsequent cry of "I'm outta here!" from Daily Kos' Armando--which prompted this post from Stephen Spruiell and another by Nate Goulding defending their bloggers-are-journalists position. From Goulding's post:
A journalist is defined as one who "[writes material] for publication in a newspaper or magazine or for broadcast." Assuming blogs are created for broadcast—which, I think, most are—that would make any blogger a journalist. "Circulation" (read, traffic) will depend on how well a blogger upholds journalistic standards. If a blogger claims a bomb has gone off, when one really hasn't, then that blogger's support and readership will likely drop off—at least when it comes to breaking news. Look at Truthout.org and their Rove-indictment story. This is, of course, true only if producing fake news stories is not your primary goal (h/t The Onion).
...

I ended up emailing Spruiell on the matter (I wholeheartedly support the notion that bloggers aren't journalists--but that doesn't mean that many of us *don't* follow some kind of ethical code. He and I had a very civil email exchange, and I ended up questioning him (as I did Mike Needs and some others) on just what makes a journalist.

Oddly enough, I got the answer--once again from someone who went to journalism school--that it's not school that makes the journalist....

Why is it that all these people who've gone to journalism school all seem to agree that one does not need journalism school to be a journalist? If that's the case, why aren't they working as plumbers? The only journalists I can trust when they say that you don't need journalism school to be a jounalist are the ones who've never gone to journalism school and are doing something other than writing for the local paper (under the tutelage of a journo-school journalist.)

The word of the rest, I do not believe-- any more that I believe journalists are completely objective and always follow their ethical guidelines to a "T."

I think it's that I have a low tolerance for b.s.

And then Yahoo decided to announce that it is launching a "citizen video journalist news service at the end of June."

Writers--whether bloggers or journalists--need not apply. Budding TV news camerapersons however are strongly encouraged!

We are, however, no closer to understanding if indeed there is a difference between bloggers and journalists--but the debates are interesting. I say there is a distinct difference-- in part because bloggers have the freedom to interact, and journalists do not. The freedom to interact, however, doesn't mean we act without some sort of ethical code (as some journalists believe)--esp. if we want to gain respect among a certain group of people. Even on the most contentious political blogs, there's a certain integrity beyond the "echo chamber" effect that keeps them afloat--no matter how much we hate what they say or the way in which they say it. We as bloggers also have the freedom to NOT be objective. Journalists are hampered in may ways by this.

We are, essentially, two different forms of media. There are some journalists who will be able to overlap (such as Mike Sando, who's interviewed in OJR) and I'm sure there will be bloggers who will be able to move far more seamlessly between both worlds than the current crop of practicing journos ever might. Yet I think acceptance of the differences--and a mutual respect earned--will happen when we stop trying to one-up one another. The only way that can happen is when we stop fighting over the same over-tapped revenue stream.

Just a thought...


(thanks to J.H. for the PeeDee link


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Jim Lehrer's Blog Sensibilities

He may be in his 70's, and part of nasty MSM (even if he *is* PBS), but Jim Lehrer gets blogging!....in an interview with Sean McCarthy of the Boston Herald:
The proliferation of news blogs doesn’t bother or worry Lehrer. “The more people are talking about the news and arguing and having debates, I think it’s fabulous,” he said. “The reporting of the news will still be done by people like you and me.”


That's the thing...we'er talking out here. If we want to be journalists, we can be, but most of the time we're having conversation. It's different than journalism in the way in which we interact with one another and the world. And the fact that so many people are simply talking about the news, politics, etc. is far better than a populace that isn't engaged at all.

Although I have to say that the final sentiment *is* a bit haughty, and makes me want to ask Lehrer what he believes would make a person a reporter and if he sees some bloggers as reporters/journalists.

It's a connundrum that we're going to be playing around with for quite some time. Lots of folks have invested big bucks in journo school degrees and aren't about to concede much turf (or that's my viewpoint.) And do we really even want the precious turf?? I find it odd how many in the profession of journalism can say that journo school really doesn't count--but then why are places like Columbia Jouno still important? Or is journo school just another means of making connections and getting oneself placed higher on the newsroom foodchain?

I'm very curious...

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Opening the Doors to The Editor's Desk

In a very bold move, the Spokane Spokesman-Review has begun to stream online live its 10-4:30 Tuesday editorial meetings.

It's now up to the general populace to go in and check it out. The webcasts may end up being as boring as the average town council meeting--but the webcasts also give enterprising citizen who would like to watchdog the newsroom a chance to actually do just that.

Al Tompkins at Poynter has an interview with S-R editor Steven Smith on the decision to webcast.(btw, the S-R's had a blog since last May)

Not to be outdone, the NYTimes has decided to webcast its Second Quarter earnings meeting...

not *quite* the same as getting into the editorial room, but given the walls of Times Select, it's something...

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Learning to Communicate With The Enemy

(Cue the Odd Couple theme...)Can a hardcore journalist and a big-mouthed blogger agree on transparency?? Mike Needs, Public Editor of the Akron Beacon Journal (who I recently took umbrage with) and myself have been having a very interesting email exchange re our difference of opinion on whether or not reporters should post full bios--and if this is transparency...

The exchange has been important for many reasons--Mike and I both unloaded a bit on each other via email, then through continuing the email, discovered a mutual respect and a meeting of the minds. Mike shared a salient perspective with me that I wasn't able to glean just from his column:
Once in a while I drop in on techie message groups and blogs and see how the bleeding edge crowd mocks the ink-on-dead-trees product. From their point of view, it's a dinosaur that needs to be made extinct. Ridiculed. Bashed. And, frankly, I agree with much of what they say.

But, consider this, each Sunday 400,000 people will read the Akron Beacon Journal. Even if only a modest 10 percent read my Sunday column, that's 40,000 people. When I last checked my online stats, about 400 people read me on Ohio.com each week.

Which master should I serve?

"Old-world" media have many, many problems - including the top-down authority structure, the corporate culture and all the other things you mention. I see those things changing, though, and I'm confident the evolution will produce a new generation of news communication that will salvage the strength of the old and harness the energy of the new. That's my hope, anyway.


Mike's thoughts have illuminated his position--and have thus given me a reason to reconsider my feelings about what he said and why. He didn't have to take the time to talk with me, but he did. And I responded back to him in a civilized way. In each of us there is a desire to connect and to communicate as much as to have our opinions heard and understood...and we've found a way to do this. In part it took putting our own egos aside and listening...

And I agree very much with what Mike is saying. We're not at the point where we can totally trash old media. His stats prove a point I've made here a couple of times just through observation of my geographic region. Journalism is in a major transition, and to read more of Mike's perspective--beyond the column--was very helpful (although that's not *quite* the right word.)

When it comes down to it, Mike and I simply disagree on how, or in what fashion, the the first move towards transparency should take. He has the ombudsman's perspective from hearing it from both reporters and readers. I have the perspective of someone who's moved in and out of all sorts of subcultures over the years--and has found online communication to be the single most difficult form of communication out there. He sees bios as helpful--I see simply more column-like writing as more helpful (the reporting wearing heart and mind on sleeve) Mike and I may disagree on the method that transparency can be achieved, because we are coming from different orientations towards the Internet--he as a journalist and me as a talker--but we both agree that transparency is essential to producing that new generation of news communication we both see and hope will occur.

I hope, too, that more of us can build bridges of communication and learn to respect one another. Jounalism needs the perspective of those of us who hang out in the blogosphere...and those of us who hang out in the blogosphere don't always have to harp on the obsolescence of dead-tree media (although that's never really been me) and how everybody should just do it like us.

If we do that, we might find there's more common ground than we first realized. Then, maybe working together, we can ease this massive transition just enough to not leave so many damaged and in the dust.

Monday, June 12, 2006

OhMyNews Announces July Conference Agenda

OhMyNews posts the agenda for their conference on Citizen Journalism Best Practices taking place July 12-15. If you can get to Korea without a lot of hassle, it might be interesting to attend this event. I'm going to keep an eye on it from over here--Korea's just too darned expensive a trip for me to undertake.

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All the News That's Fit to (Not) Print

A report from Smart Mobs tells us that bloggers made the front page of the New York Times...

Strangely, I happened to have purchased a copy of that issue of the New York Times in New York on that day, and the front page pic and story was about the shelling of a Palestinian beach in Gaza, killing seven people

So, what's really the news here? Is it a blogger convention, or a bunch of innocent people getting blown up and a delicate cease-fire, with international implications, called off?? Perhaps it all has to do with time of day--if you're monitoring the news 24/7, the Israel story would be "old news" and completely irrelevant to you by a certain time of day. The blogging story might be relavent if you live mostly online or are deeply into political blogging (not to take away from what Smart Mobs reported, the piece in the Times also talked about the number of political tpyes that were circulating at Yearly Kos.)

Makes me wonder, though, about what we now consider the "front page"--is it now just our own personal front page, or the front page that will eventually make it to the archives of various libraries across the country?

I wonder if the Times reported on Scoble leaving Microsoft to vlog and such for Podtech.net. Probably not--but: good luck Scoble!

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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Observing New York City on a Cool June Weekend

So, I was in New York from Thursday until today....and if there's one thing that stood out for me, it is that the people of NYC are a heck of a lot thinner than most of the folks out where I live. I blame it on mass transit. New York City has the best mass transit system of any city in the United States.
Residents don't even need to own cars (and when a space in a garage could run as much as rent for a studio apartment, not to mention insurance, why bother?) But mass transit doesn't make door-to-door stops, so everyone has to walk just a bit to get to where they need to go.

A couple of years ago, I heard somewhere that the average New Yorker walks close to 5 miles a day. Five might be a bit much, but the average New Yorker walks a heck of a lot more miles than the average suburb-dweller.

Another thing about New York...I'd rather watch a slightly weird French film and a seriously bizarre Guy Madden short in the
oddly reclined seating at the IFC Film Center (which used to be the Waverly Theater on 6th Ave.) than anything new at the local super-clean stadium-seated googleplex....

and later discover a really cool, very dark, rather small bar in Greenwich Village where they serve a rather nice, reasonably-priced shiraz and lovely small pannini sandwiches...after 10p.m.

I'd also like to know what it is about men in NYC and women in cowboy boots. Or, more specifically, me in cowboy boots. For some strange reason, when I wear my cowboy boots (similar to these) with a skirt, a whole lot of men say hello to me. And I don't me just "hi." I mean "hel-lo!" and turning around and watching me walk down the street, staring, and continuing to say hello to get my attention....

I don't get it. I certainly don't look like a drag queen, and I'm not in my 20's (like the two other people I saw wearing cowboy boots) So, if there's some strange super-secret code thing about a woman in a pair of black cowboy boots in New York City, I'd like someone to give me a clue. Nothing worse than being clueless in a city where I've always had more than just the average clue.

It's just funny because, around here, nobody bats an eyelash. Not that a woman in a skirt and cowboy boots is all that ubiquitous around here either.

Dinner in New York can be a low-key deal at a diner, or it can be a big, expensive to-do at an historic restaurant. On Thursday, I ended up in an historic restaurant that I didn't know was historic until after I left. I chose Patsy's Restaurant because I felt like Italian food. It took a bit for all the autographed photos and the waiters in white jackets and the smell of fresh lilies to register with me that I was eating in a place where reservations are usually required. But I was a single female, and they were hospitable. I sat at a small table underneath a beautiful flower arrangement, had my Grey Goose martini (straight up), my Cesar salad (but they forgot the anchovies) and three-ravioli entree like I belonged there. Why not? I might not live there, by New York's my Home.

I think, though, the best thing about Patsy's was the snippets of conversations I kept catching....two little girls who love Italian food, a couple on their way to a play, and a bunch of media guys. The media guys' conversation was possibly the funniest. They kept turning and staring at an autographed picture of some young, scantily clad starlet, while one guy talked about how his wife is obsessed with movie stars. "She reads People and Us religiously," he says, "she tells me everything about who's doing what...she knew that Jennifer Aniston shot a scene from her new movie right down the street from where we live..." He sounded rather bored with his wife's obsession, and I thought of interrupting the conversation with a bit of womanly advice along the lines of "well, if you don't like her talking about celebrities,why don't you be a man and give your wife something else to talk about," but I figured that'd be just a tad too bitchy and decided to keep that little thought to myself. Besides, I was having way too much fun just listening. It was like dinner and a show.

This morning, before leaving, I got to watch a World Cup Game--the Netherlands and Serbia/Montenegro. Sure, I could watch the World Cup here if I chipped in for ESPN. Watching it in New York, though, brings back some bittersweet memories--like walking down West 45th Street and remembering the last time I was there was to see Show Boat with my ex. It's a similar thing with the World Cup--last time I watched a World Cup game was with him, when we went to several of the games at the Meadowlands in 1994. Twelve years later, I'm watching the World Cup in an hotel in New York City, and I'm very content to have figured out that I'm watching it for my own enjoyment and not (like many women) because it's the interest of the man in my life.

I wasn't prepared to leave New York today--but, as I mentioned, I don't live there. Hotels are expensive. So, it's back to Western Mass. Although you can bet that I'm thinking of ways to get myself back there....one way or another...



postcard photo courtesy of Penny Postcards from New York
Been in NYC since thursday...will write more when I'm back.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Is Full Disclosure of a Journalist's Politics or Religion Really Transparency??

Update:Katherine Stump of the San Antonio Current writes on the thorny issue of journalists participating in politics even as voters. Apparently, reporters at the San Antonio Express-News "and at most other major Texas daily newspapers, were instructed not to sign any Independent candidate’s petition." Kathereine has a lot more to say about how ethics plays out in this (the NYTimes--arbiter of journalistic ethics says that"journalists have no place on the playing fields of politics.") so take a moment to read it Will they have more leeway on those playing fields if they fully disclose their affiliations before they are hired? Or will a paper use it against a journalist--as it can be used against any employee--and not hire that person? Bob Jensen, a UT journo prof thinks reporters should be able to participate and to write "more openly" about politics. Writing more openly would be a sincere move towards transparency. yet, as I say below, are newspapers willing to allow their reporters to write with their hearts and minds on their sleeves? That might be the first question to ask.



According to Mike Needs, Public Editor at the Akron Beacon Journal, reporters should disclose more to the public than an employer has the right to ask an employee during an interview:
Political and religious affiliations, education background, media experience, active membership in organizations, and any involvement in causes or campaigns that could have any influence on a journalist's news judgment.

Not only that, I'd do the same for any editor involved in news decisions.


Needs says that revealing this information would be an exercise in "transparency." I'm not so sure...

Yet I'm wondering *when* would a journalist first be reqired to expose this information about him/herself? Obviously, in a job interview, media experience, memberships, and education background would be part and parcle of the process. And that's fine for the public to know, too.

But religious affiliation? and political affiliation? Might as well go as far as to have a journalist expose his/her sexual orientation, marital, and familial status....because, after all, those things also show how a reporter is capable of covering events that have to deal with certain politically-charged topics. Of course, if a reporter is gay, he/she can't possibly fairly cover a story on gay marriage, and certainly can't write anything about family life...and neither can that young single person who's got no kids...

If a journalist, or anyone, is compelled to reveal this kind of information during an interview, the employer can then discriminate against the potential employee if he/she reveals or conceals the information. There is great potential for abuse--a newsroom could easily be stocked with reporters who are all of a similar religious affiliation or political affiliation.

The public isn't necessarily going to get up in arms if the newsroom is stocked with squeaky-clean Protestant family men, is it?? It may though if there are a few Wiccans or a liberal Jew or some Pope-worshipping Catholics. How about single moms? Sure,they can write all kinds of stuff about family life--but maybe not so much about politics....

The public does, indeed, make value judgements on how a person lives his/her life if presented with that life, in one fell swoop, in a static bio...and might not even get to know if the person is a good writer. Think about it...

Needs claims that "it's folly to believe that journalists aren't involved in their community and don't have direct connections with such things as churches and clubs. They do. Full disclosure only reveals things that many people already know and most assume." So, then what difference does it make to have bios that list what he suggests--other than perhaps make that person a target for hatemail or other forms of harassment on religious or political grounds when someone doesn't like what that the journalist has written.

Needs goes on to say that it's "smart business" for papers to print complete bios because it "humanizes" the newsroom: You read news articles, but you remember the work of columnists. Why? Because they have an identity and you connect with them on an emotional level.

There are other reasons why people remember columnists over beat reporters. Some of that has to do with the basic content of their articles--not what we know about their political or religious affiliations.

Futher, columnists have been given the priviledge of exposure. Something I have noticed over time is how people who are wealthy, or have worked their way up a bit on the economic food chain, often have the priviledge to reveal very personal information about their lives without consequence to their employment. That, however, is not the case for the most. It is, then, quite unfair to make the comparison between a columnist and a journalist who hasn't earned the priviledge to write a column...

Also, columnists have the priviledge of interaction with the public on a personal level. Many columnists don't start out being able to spill their guts or write about their neighbors in a column. They have earned their positions through their beat reporting. They are done, for whatever reason, with standard reporting, no longer need to hide, and therefore no longer need to withhold their opinions. They can also interact with the public in a more personal manner than the beat reporter. Needs gives the example of Terry Pluto, you know about his prison ministry, his dad's battle with the effects of a major stroke, and a considerable amount of other personal information. A few of you may discount what he writes because of that. But far, far more of you appreciate knowing about him, and, if anything, it enhances his credibility.

Yes, but are newspapers willing to allow every journalist to be a columnist? Are they willing to allow self-expression and are they willing to be more accepting of the varied and fascinating personal lives of some, as much as they might the normal or boringly bourgeious lives of others? If they're willing to consider whole persons, then they might as well hire bloggers and pay them a decent rate :-)

But,seriously...what Terry Pluto is able to reveal is more than what a static 4-line bio accompanying an article might reveal. And Pluto has revealed that information over time. He has built a relationship with readers by revealing things, a little at a time, about himself in his writing. This is very, very different than the reporter who is sent out to cover a story and then has a bio attached to it somewhere. The reporter in that case is still very static because his/her writing is static. Unless newsrooms are willing to let reporters openly invest a bit of opinion in their work, then a detailed bio isn't going to necessarily change how we feel about a reporter--it might, though, cause us to make judgements about them.

I agree with Needs when he says that "Openness fosters integrity. Secrecy kills." But unless he's willing to guarantee that journalists will not be jeopardized for their revelations, then he shouldn't ask for it...

And the openness Needs asks for may not be transparency either. Transparency is not compelled. Transparency isn't static either. It is something that comes out, in time, in one's writing, not in a plastered-up bio and somebody demanded. Anyone who has some familiarity how the blogosphere works, and knows a few good anonymous bloggers, knows that transparency and integrity come from the blogger's writing as much as it might from the "about me" page.

So while I can, in some way, respect Needs' positon as an editor, I certainly challenge his understanding of transparency, as much as I challenge the corporate newsroom's ability to be fair in its hiring practices if full disclosure of certain personal information is demanded from journalists. Are corporate newsrooms ready for an army of columnists wearing their hearts and minds on their sleeves?? Maybe--if it will boost profits. But out of concern for newsroom integrity? I'm not so sure.

(mucho thanks to Jeff Hess at Have Coffee Will Write for the link to Needs' editorial...)

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Word in Moscow is Interactivity

The 13th World Editor's Forum is going on right now in Moscow.

Interesting place to have a Fourm like this...considering there are still some questions over the role of the Russian state in Russian media...

But the emphasis of this Lucky Number 13 Forum was Interactivity and what editors can do to get all us folks under the age of 50 to read the paper again...

Jim Brady, executive editor of WashingtonPost.com rhapsodised about the realities of theconvergent newsroom
the Post’s philosophy is now that the actual article is the starting point of the conversation, rather than its more traditional endpoint…

That means that now, the Post’s stories also link to the different independent blogs that have commented on a particular article… Soon readers will be able to instantly comment on articles… Washingtonpost.com is also full of interesting “packaged” content -- multimedia efforts that show how politicians voted, for instance, that can be organized however the reader wants…

What else has the Post done? Basically, the newspaper has established the convergence newsroom, which includes a multimedia control room, TV studio, and a radio studio. They have also equipped reporters with cameras…


And Steve Yelvington talked about what's happeneing with hyperlocal news site BlufftonToday--and how the "consumption of news is directly related to civic engagement" and “Community conversation feeds professional journalism. Journalism feeds conversation. And around, and around.”

Also there were
Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales, Google News' Nathan Stoll, and Yahoo!News' Neil Budde.

Odd that GoogleNews would be there...kind of shows that there's a shift in what could be considered a news organization. Google's Stoll said they're "not trying to be all things to all people" and "not trying to have an editorial voice."

Both Google and Yahoo are shaking up the paradigm of "news organization" by simply aggregating (although I believe Yahoo! has hired journalists to write news for them.)

We live in interesting times.

The Wrong Poster Girl

When ABCNews decided totally scrap the idea of a male/female co-anchor team for its World News Tonight program and hire Charlie Gibson as a solo performer, lots of folks thought "what's up with that??" Yes, we knew something would happen as a consequence of Bob Woodruff's awful ordeal but we thought they'd at least keep Elizabeth Vargas.

Turns out that Vargas, however, is pregnant. Which raised a whole lot of eyebrows when it was also announced that she was stepping down from the anchor's spot...

Now, if you've got a bunch of friends who are going thru that whole baby-thing right now, you may have heard the story of at least one of them getting laid-off from her job during maternity leave. Even The Wall St. Journal has reported that since 2001 there's been a rise in pregnancy discrimination claims (along with age discrimination claims).

So when the news got out about Vargas radically unpopular decision, theories and accusations began to fly that she'd been laid off like so many of her lower-on-the-foodchain sisters for having the temerity to get pregnant. NOW and two other women's orgs readily jumped on the Save Elizabeth's Job bandwagon.

Right cause for a high-level-careerist poster girl. Wrong poster girl, however....

Yes, Vargas is stepping down because of her unexpected pregnancy, but it is of of her own free will and not because she was laid-off by the network And even if she doesn't return to ABC:
"I've been told by other networks, if it doesn't work out here, there will be opportunities elsewhere... . Those kinds of conversations take place all the time. It's a very small business. We all know each other."



Okay...so, Elizabeth Vargas has decided that, in the best interests of her health and her family that it's best that she step away from her career right now--and THE MAN is not making her do it. Heck, she's even got a network so she can on-ramp again...

But let's get another perspective on this: perhaps the whole idea of climbing the career ladder, for a lot of women, actually pales in comparison to staying at home with their kids. And if that's the case, and they've got the money and on-ramping connections to do it without much consequence, then perhaps NOW and everyone else should back off and let them do it.

Yet I remain amazingly perterbed at feminists' jump-to-conclusions. Perhaps there needs to be some serious soul-searching on the part of feminist orgs and their own attitudes towards women who stay home, as well as towards women who don't bear children. It seem, IMHO anyway, that it's great if you want to play the role of superwoman and have the baby and have the career and even do it by yourself (because, naturally, men suck), but if you make a choice--whether it's to bear a child and stay home, or not bear a child and have a career--you somehow don't count, and are even a traitor to the cause...

Perhaps feminism nowdays is more caught up in trying to make women conform to what a certain political dogma believes women should be, and not who women really are. Maybe Elizabeth Vargas should be the poster girl for a woman's right to make up her own mind about her own body and her own pregnancy--free of causes or banner-waving or anything like that.

Still, if feminists are *really* concerned about women being laid-off during their pregnancies, they should be concentrating on helping women who truly have faced discrimination during their pregnancies. It shouldn't matter if a woman is a celebrity--feminist orgs should be investigating discrimiation claims and test cases across socio-economic boundaries, rather than waiting around for some celebrity to be their poster girl--and getting their knickers in a bunch trying to help her.

Because when it comes down to it, the high level career chicks have the *option* to stay at home--but a lot of women in our Wal-Mart Economy do not and cannot. Economic necessity, not career choice, is often what compels a woman's choice to keep working through and after a pregnancy.

It all comes down to social class, folks...it always does...

Sunday, June 04, 2006