Instant Journalism and The 1000 Foot View
Uber PR/blogging guy Andy Abramson thinks that 2007 CES will be big for bloggers. Specifically, he thinks they should as important, if not more important than the mainstream media in covering these events. Bloggers–both with and without press passes–will be wandering the halls, documenting what they see, and making it available in real-time.
This isn’t any surprise to me. Over this past year, I have “virtually” attended many Apple keynote speeches by simply reading the web. I wasn’t getting the data “in real time,” but it was damn close. Blog postings being updated every few minutes with the things Steve Jobs (and others) were saying. It wasn’t a word-for-word transcript, but it got the big ideas out. Then, of course, I read other blogs who digested the information afterwords to verify what was said or get a different spin.
Instant Journalism seems to work really well for things that a lot of people are interested in, such as CES, MacWorld, or some other kind of news event. Because there is such a thirst for the knowledge and information, anyone who writes about these events will likely get some readers. Certainly for these kind of events, bloggers have a say in shaping the message that gets sent out.
But what about for, say, something important in your home town? It might work if your home town is, say, San Francisco, CA or London. There is a significant critical mass in these locations. But what about the thousands of smaller communities out there? Certainly, having all of these wonderful tools at our disposal for documenting and disseminating the information makes that part of the process easier. There are two issues: being passionate enough to go through the trouble to do the work, and getting the word out about it.
A huge local issue in my area is a proposal to build a NASCAR track, almost in my backyard. Okay, it’s a few miles away as the crow flies, but something like that is bound to impact everything around it for miles. The roads and facilities around the proposed area, as they exist today, could not handle that many people trying to get to the track! There are plenty of other issues as well that, for the purposes of discussion, I will not go into.
Let’s say one of my neighbors digs up some information or catches one of our elected officials “doing something improper” related to this NASCAR track and posts it to their blog. We’ll ignore for the moment the fact that the vast majority of people around here lack the tools and/or the technical expertise to pull this off. Now that this information is posted, how do you let people know that information is there? How you do let real people know that this information is there for all the world to see? And how do you do it in a timely fashion so that the public can take action quickly, if need be?
The other part of the problem to talk about: the lack of people able and willing to do the “journalism.” According to census estimates, Kitsap County (where I live) has 240,661 people. I’m not sure what percentage of the general population are “bloggers,” let alone “bloggers who give a damn about a topic.” I’m sure that number is sufficiently small that few, if any, are blogging about the happenings in Kitsap County.
I recently attended the West Sound Technology Professionals Association holiday party and ended up sitting next to a PR person who works at a local news magazine publisher. When I found out what she did, I had to ask–does podcasting and the blogosphere affecting what she does? Her answer: “not yet, though we are keeping our eyes on it.”
While the blogosphere may be doing a good job on breaking the conventional media’s monopoly on information dissemination, in small town, USA, the conventional media players still rule the roost. I suspect that what is happening on a macro scale will eventually translate to the micro scale, but it will take quite a while and a lot of hard work by passionate, technologically savvy people to break those barriers down.