Reflecting on Last Nights New Media Ethics Forum

After a decent night’s sleep, here’s my thoughts on last night’s MPR talk. It was originally an email, so some things might read a little weird.

First off, I’d like to thank MPR (et al) for bringing all of us together. I alway enjoy our time together. I think very highly of Dan Gillmor (and his brother Steve). Dan’s book ‘We the Media’ is one of the best books on the subject of bottom-up political journalism and fantastic recount of the meltdown of the Dean campaign. I’m also happy to listen to Dan talk for 2 hours, if that’s what I had expected I would have stayed home and turned on the stream.

Secondly, last night was the 3rd time I attended an event @ MPR (in that same room) with the expectations of a conversation and left without having one. I found it quiet telling when the guy watching the survey results said people wanted Bob to ask the audience more questions and he replied, “I thought I did.” Ummm.

I agree w/ Graeme – I don’t know why this is an ‘us v them’ (blog-less vs. blog-ful) thing. To say one media form is somehow less credible simply because the barriers to publish are lower than some other media form is simply specist. Especially when traditional media is investing in blogs more.

Somehow last night, even after starting the conversation about the recent failings of NY Times there seemed to be an underlying assumption that everything published (blog or otherwise) was to be interpreted as important, award-winning journalism. Sometimes it’s just writing. Sometimes for a pay check on a deadline to fill a newshole, or create controversy for the sake of ad dollars. I’ve been told that McCartney and Lennon would frequently sit down, “to write a couch.” As I mentioned in a recent post [1] and mentioned on mic last night – the greater the pressure to publish the greater the chances something isn’t journalism (or important, or relevant, or worth reading). What we didn’t do last night was dig into those pressures and their ethical ramifications.

As I mentioned to Dan Haugen of TCDailyPlanet afterwards, I assume everyone has a blog (if not many). That assumption frames my perspective of projects like MinnPost, TCDailyPlanet, MPR, etc. Leading me to 2 questions; if I can read about an issue on a friend/colleague’s blog what do those other publications offer me?, if the people closest to me aren’t writing about an issue and those publications are – is it relevant to me?

If we were to go off topic last night, that’s the direction I would have preferred.

Lastly, I think we would have had a better chance of getting the conversation we expected if we had sat in the reception room on the chairs, couches, and floor, than inside the hierarchy-reinforcing forum.

More great comments in the following places:
Minneapolis Metblogs
Chuck’s Blogumentary
and if that’s not enough Bob Collins for you:
Bob Collins’ News Cuts

UPDATE 29 March 2008
I think Chris Pirillo’s account of Gnomedex 2007 applies here as well:

“the expectations of the crowd did not match what was happening on stage. The first person (name?) to say something that resonated with a good portion of the crowd wasn’t to blame for what a portion of the crowd was thinking. Positive or negative, Twitter fuels groupthink….Expectations were off…” – Chris Pirillo

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