I was invited to speak to a media trade organization today – I’ll spare them the specifics – with the assignment of provoking discussion about new models, which I’m happy to do, even if I do often hear the same old lines and take the same old arrows. I also hear new challenges and learn from that. I was also looking forward to spending the rest of the day with the group to hear about their ideas and opportunities and needs were and, at their invitation, to share a drink at the end of it. I was going to get a chance to catch up with people I’ve worked with over many years and meet some new people I was looking forward to getting to know and I would learn a lot. It was an off-the-record session, which may not be ideal – for them – but is pretty standard; I’m used to that and abide by the desire.
But after I finished talking and sat down to hear the next panel, I was ejected from the meeting. It wasn’t anything I said, I don’t think. It was that they now wanted a closed meeting. As I was rather unceremoniously rushed out, still noshing on my cookie, grabbing my coat and hat and trying not to let the door hit me in the ass on the way out, I turned to the room and said, “One last thing: Think open-source, people.” It got a laugh and even a hand.
I was angry – insulted and embarrassed. But the problem is worse for this trade group and its industry. Talk about an echo chamber. What these people need is hear more new voices – newer than old me. What they really need to do is share their challenges and ideas openly and hear new perspectives and new answers from unexpected sources. Hearing the same old stuff from the same old group will get them nowhere. Witness the last 15 years.
If I were such a group, I’d be bringing in people from many different backgrounds and perspectives – from bloggers to technology executives to inventors to investors to customers to kids – and share quite openly my business with them (it’s not as if media’s problems are a secret!) to get new ideas and solutions. But then, that is the reflex I have learned here, online. That, sadly, is still not how media people think. As a group – not to a man – they’re still closed. Too bad. That will hurt them. It already has.
: LATER: A rather lengthy addendum, in response to a Jay Rosen comment, here.