Thursday, December 4, 2008

Memo to Brummett: Print is Dead!

The entire Arkansas blogosphere (all ten of us) has been a buzz the last few days with the grumpy musing of John Brummett of the Arkansas News Bureau. I have largely ignored his rants as, quite frankly, he is vastly losing all relevance as he clings to the dinosaur print media like toddler to their mommy’s skirt. But today’s column in which he takes numerous shots at the “Choose Your News” project of KATV reporter Kristin Fisher in addition to us “lonely, misfit bloggers” deserves some attention.

It does not take much research to realize that the news industry is currently going through a dramatic change. Just look at the layoff within Brummett’s own organization. The new media has changed reporting to be almost instantaneous and as well as interactive. People in my generation (I’m 32) don’t find out the news by tuning into the evening news or picking up the morning paper. We go online to our list of favorite sites. We have our news stories delivered to our inbox through RSS feeds. We Google. By the time the traditional media reports the story, we have heard about three different ways. In addition, if we read a news story that we disagree with or have a comment, we want to be heard. We want to tell the author where they are wrong. We want to discuss our views on the story with other readers. We want interaction and we don’t want to have to corner Brummett in a bar to do it, which is where he claims to receive his best reader interaction.

Brummett claims his main objection to the new media is the lack of “professional journalists.” Brummett claims that the blogophere is made up of “lonely, misfits” who blog with “cowardly anonymity.” I think he needs to closely examine who the bloggers are and why we blog. I never blog anonymously and certainly would not classify myself as a lonely misfit. I am a Certified Public Accountant and hold degrees in history and accounting as well and a MBA. Like Brummett, I attend numerous community group meetings, many of which I am a member, where I interact directly with people. No, I do not hold a degree in journalism and have never been paid to report. I am sure my posts have all sorts of grammar and editing errors but I will put my political analysis skills, particularly on tax or economic policies up against the “professional journalists” any day. I think if you look at the prominent blogs around the state you will find similar credentials from most of the bloggers.

Second, Brummett should seriously look at why people blog and why the new media, made up of non-professional journalists like me, have emerged. Almost everyone I talk to about my blog tells me that they are glad someone is finally writing about the stories that everyone else is ignoring. We exist because the demand is there. People, like myself, are so dissatisfied by the one sided mainstream media that we are creating our own blog to report on the stories we care about. I would certainly much rather spend my lunch breaks at Chili’s instead of my freelance (emphasis on the word free) reporting but if I did, there are too many stories that would be ignored.

Brummett is part of an industry that better figure these things out. Kristin Fisher and KATV are attempting to do this with their “Choose Your News” experiment. Is it perfect? Of course not, but it is an attempt to understand how to navigate through thier industry’s change. By interacting with their customers, they are trying to give them what they want instead of telling them what they want. Every successful business does this or they do not survive. Brummett can choose to either figure out how to adapt his business and survive as well or he can continue to attack those who do and fade into obscurity.

Your move John…

Related Posts from fellow “Lonely Misfit Bloggers”

The Arkansas Project – Can’t We All Get Along

Arkansas Watch - Deconstructing Brummett on the New Media

Ark Times – Old v. New

Blakes’ Think Tank - It keeps going, and going, and going ...

Fayetteville Flyer – Local Journalist Blasts KATV

Lance Turner - Fisher, Brummett To Talk New Media at SPJ Event
This just in! - KATV Kristin Fisher reports (via the new media)...

"After two weeks of peer pressure from the Arkansas blogosphere and now a personal invitation from yours truly, Brummett has kindly agreed to be a guest on the Daily Debrief. He will be on next Tuesday (December 9th) at 6:15. So saddle up and prepare your questions.

"From there, we will face-off at a debate sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists. It all starts at 7 PM inside the Arkansas Press Association Building (411 S. Victory St., Little Rock). The event is free and open to the public. And yes, I will be armed with all the technologies of the 21st century... twittering, blogging, live streaming QIK feeds, and maybe even a good old fashioned camera."

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