This is a follow up to an earlier post from today about SF Chronicle David Lazarus’ story “So who will get the story?” Here are some things Lazarus wrote that I think are worth looking at more closely with an open mind.

“The blogosphere – a silly term coined by bloggers to legitimize their posturing — is comprised by and large of the people whose work consists of commenting on the work of others.”

Commenting on the work of others sounds like a worthless, meaningless endeavor.  Instead, this is a heathy thing.  This is what we’re trained to do in college.  This is the foundamental act of classical education, especially in Western Europe.  And we might say the same about religions.  If we could clear the frustration clouding Lazarus’  point of view, we might see better .  Blogging is different than professional journalism.  But just after the printing press was invented, politicians and businessmen probably blurted out the same venomous despise for writers before journalism was legitimized as a vocation or profession.  This is not to say that someday people will get a degree in blogging.  But companies are developing blogging curiculums to help employees feel comfortable and empowered to join online conversations.  Journalists can see blogging as competition, but it is only a threat if the businesses that pay journalists are not efficient, effective businesses.  And keep in mind, we have the respected, publically funded PBS and NPR — hallmarks for great journalism. 

Professional journalists who blog or who have become full-time bloggers attest to the potential wonders of blogging.  People like SiliconValleyWatcher’s Tom Foremski, who is chronicling the development of new rules of communication.  Bottom line, stay on top of your game by constantly learning and keeping your mind open.  Protect what you value by making it more valuable to others, not by building walls.

“The harsh reality, though, is that most newspaper Web sties account for only about 5 percent of total revenue (of combined print and online editions).  That means a news organization that relies primarily on teh Internet couldn’t possible support a newsroom as large or resoucful as that the parid-for print product allows.”

And that means this glorious new paradign of content that’s not worth paying for would allow news organizations to be capable of doing only a fraction of the investivative and watchdog work they currently perform.”

The stakes couldn’t be higher — htat is, unless bloggers and cyberreaders are satisfied to accept the words of Washington politicans, or companies like Halliburton and Enron, as face value.”

Here’s a point that can be traced back to something I’ve heard from Tom Foremski — recent story on the topic here.  The traditional media economy will have to change.  It is changing.  It has been changing ever since I can remember.  I worked at San Francisco’s KRON-TV through the 1990s, when digital edit suites first entered the building, a local cable station was born and died and the well-respected, family-owned maveric station was sold.  I suspect that might have been the height and early decline into the ever tightening state it seems most local TV stations have been living in.  Heck KRON-TV now has v-journalists shooting video, editing and electronically submitting stories live or pre-taped over the Internet whenever possible.

The name calling is divisive — “glorious new paradigm” “bloggers and cyberreaders.”  Not everyone is using news aggregators and still many aren’t turning to the Internet for news and information, but it’s way beyond a growing trend.  Momentum is strong and growing rapidly thanks to search engines and social sites that let people embed media players, making anyone/everyone a point of distribution. 

TV didn’t kill the radio star.  In fact, I see radio stars making it big on TV all the time.  This can be true when looking at professional journalists and bloggers.  In fact, many people see professional print journalists on TV, hear them on Radio and read their blogs.  People seek comfort and when change is afoot, the perception of comfort can feel threatened.  Again, this is an opportunity to put skin in the game and passionately encourage co-workers and the powers-that-be to try new things.  Along the way, we can all live, learn and and share new examples that incorpate the old and new ways.

I can’t let this one pass by:  In a world where traditional media economics are downsized, “bloggers and cyberreaders” would have to take at face value the words of companies, employees, politicians, government workers, neighbors and family members.  That’s what we do when we face the world bravely, openly and head on.  But there is a state of reflection that blends in one’s own reason, values and experiences.  We never want to deny or diminish this right.  So the need to feed and encourage this reflection will be provided by great journalism skills from people and professionals.  Journalists get paid for devoting themselves and their skills to this endeavour.  Bloggers blog out of passion and interest.  Seems we’re better off with both!

A coment in the Lazarus story by SF Chronicle reader “dasmb” — “‘Get if first, but get it right'” is a credo for journalists…but blogging ain’t journalism and the same rules don’t apply.”

This is not such a bad thing.  In fact it’s humanizing.  Who in the world doesn’t make mistakes?  It’s said that each person’s reality is soley based on what they believe to be true.  When new information comes in, or a revelation occurs or a leap in logic lands someone on a new level of heightened awareness…we can acknoledge our mistakes or misunderstand and embrace the new understanding.  This is how we move ahead!  Newspapers and TV news play this out, too, but only in a tiny “corrections” section or in a few seconds during a newscast.  These mistakes are the best fodder for exploring and finding better understanding for everyone.

Lazarus brings his article to a close by advocating that the newspaper industry ought “to safeguard its output until a more suitable means of electronic distribution comes to light.”

OK, so we shut down access like the record industry did to Naptster and wait for another Steve Jobs to come in on a white horse to save the day.  Possible, sure!  Workable models exist.  But this feels like backwards thinking, light on details and facts.  The record company is still struggling.  We’re seeing the video wars spark up with billion dollar lawsuits.  This is all still being defined, just like the movie industry, medical field and many other industries. 

The Internet is changing so many things.  Can’t we put our collective minds and spirits together and focus on the advancing the best possbilities?  Along the way we can hold wide open our eyes, blinking oly to share our opinions and to breathe as we stay committed to moving ahead and making things better for people and economies.

Link to the San Francisco Chronicle story for March 23, 2007

One thought on “It’s Personal, but Behavior May Define our Media Future

  1. Lazarus is a little late in his understanding of what is going. He still thinks that “bloggers” are the threat, or the potential replacement for mainstream media.
    Neither MSM or bloggers have much of a business model, they are in the same boat.

    But at least “bloggers” have day jobs 🙂

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