Posts from April 17, 2005

Dry land

Dry land

: I used to think that when I got to middle age, I’d enjoy going on cruises. But between the germs and the seven-story waves, I don’t think so. I’m staying on dry land.

‘You report, you decide’

‘You report, you decide’

: It’s wonderful watching what I think is a global warming in mainstream media toward citizens’ media.

We may just be at the tipping point.

The latest evidence of the attitude shift is FoxNews’ MediaWatch cordial discussion about major media using citizens (Trey Jackson has the video). It’s a nice little wink from Fox that the crawl on the screen as the panel talked said, “You report, you decide.”

It may or may not be a coincidence — I’ll bet it’s not — but this comes only days after Fox boss Rupert Murdoch gave a speech pushing the idea of mainstream media using citizens’ media.

As I mentioned in my full disclosure in the post about Murdoch’s speech, I happened to have some small supporting role in getting that notion into the speech — and I’m surprised it succeeded. The fuller story: Someone who was helping on the speech called — via a mutual friend — and I pointed him to Merrill Brown’s Carnegie report and The Vanishing Newspaper — both of which perfectly backed up the thesis of Murdoch’s message. And, of course, I couldn’t resist playing all my soundbites about a new world of citizens’ media. I play those soundbites at every opportunity (I don’t just blog about it; I bore people in person, too, like a preacher on Times Square) and I’m used to it going nowhere; that’s what I expected to happen here. But the person I spoke with found Murdoch cautiously receptive and a suggestion that newspapers should be open to blogs and hyperlocal citizens’ media ended up in his speech to the nation’s newspaper editors: “…We may want to experiment with the concept of using bloggers to supplement our daily coverage of news on the net,” he said. I think he said it because the time is right.

About a year ago, I had lunch with a former colleague at TV Guide who’s still at News Corp. and I told her that cable news should use networks of webcams in the homes and offices of experts, analysts, bloggers, pundits, and panels of citizens to get immediate input and reaction to news. I said it would take the FoxNews revolution — which was really a business revolution that was all about turning news into an (inexpensive) on-air conversation and getting rid (expensive) produced pieces — and bring in more viewpoints at an even faster pace and at an even lower cost. I wasn’t selling the idea, just lunching on it. But my friend introduced me to an exec at FoxNews who pretty much pooh-poohed it because “the backhaul won’t be broadcast quality.” But it would be better than Oliver North’s satphone, I protested, and it’s going to be ubiquitous and cheap and fast. I was dismissed.

A year later, I was broadcasting on competitor MSNBC with just such a webcam and Ed Cone and others are doing it now, too. It’s all in the timing.

I know of the heads of at least three national TV news operations who are eager to incorporate citizens’ media; I know of more newspaper editors who are finally siddling up to the concept. I hear less and less of the dismissive jabs from big-time editors about small-time citizen journalists. Blogs are now a regular feature on MSNBC and CNN. Bloggers are getting quoted in newspapers and credited with big stories (Trend, Dan, et al). Newspapers are getting published with citizens’ news.

It’s spreading. It’s tipping.

We are beyond the point of arguing about bloggers v. journalists (thank goodness!). We are beyond the point of screaming for bloggers to be heard. Yes, we are beyond the point of triumphalism. We are at the point of put-up-or-shut-up: Now it’s about joining in and showing what we can do.

I think Murdoch’s speech will turn out to be a landmark. After he scolded the newspaper (and news) industry for complacency in the face of audience desertion, after he warned of more collapse ahead, and after he suggested relying on the public to help save the day, I didn’t hear a chorus of boos from the audience. We’re past that.

Yes, I do think we’re at the tipping point.

: Tim Porter tips, too.