Thursday, October 16, 2008

Starbucks-era journalism

You know you've got their attention when you get heckled during your presentation. At least that's my theory.

It happened at last Saturday's JACC NorCal conference (that's the Journalism Association of Community Colleges of Northern California), held at SJSU. My colleague Steve Sloan and I were the keynoters, addressing an audience of about 250 community college J-students and faculty on "Journalism in the Starbucks Era."

During our talk, we discussed some of the trends and online tools that are shaping journalism, including blogging, YouTube, Twitter and other forms of social media. I am a self-proclaimed blogging evangelist and a fan of Twitter, so my perspective on these tools is largely positive. I see them as tools, not as implements of destruction.

However, one CC faculty member, tucked in the last row, apparently disagreed. He took issue with the idea that bloggers could also be journalists. He interrupted us. Twice.

So here's what I told him: Blogging and journalism are not mutually exclusive. Journalism is what you do, not who you work for. Some journalists are also bloggers, and some bloggers do commit acts of journalism. After all, blogs are just another distribution channel, not the infidel.

Today, for example, some bloggers are doing something that looks a lot like journalism to me. They're digging through public records for background information on "Joe the (soon to be infamous) plumber," who was cited by Sen. John McCain in last night's presidential debate. Turns out that a number of the things McCain said about "Joe" last night are not true: Joe is registered as a Republican, not as an independent; he's a plumber's helper, not a plumbing business owner; and he doesn't make over $250,000 a year. Yes, it appears that Joe was a "plant."

Bloggers helped ferret some of that information out. Instead of looking at them as impediments, perhaps journalists should look at bloggers as potential people who could be helpful in these times of news organization cutbacks.

As the old saying goes, "Many hands make light work."

P.S. If you'd like to view my segment of our JACC presentation, you can see it on SlideShare at Links to all my resources are included on the final slide. And if you didn't "Hack the Debate," be sure to check out that link.

No comments: