The RISING TIDE III journalism panel was almost as much fun as the keynote speaker. First of all, because the topic was of great interest to me. And second, because the panelists maintained an engaging yet humorous tone.
No need to blog about TV's Lee Zurik and the eyebrow-raising comments of the assembled NOLA Bloggers—others have that story covered. I will simply say that Zurik was a plucky sport and withstood the tweezing questions with aplomb. My Precious Wife says it’s not the eyebrows that cause her to wonder. Instead she wants to know, "But does he wear eyeliner?" She will tell you he looks like a prince of Egypt, which I guess is not too shabby a compliment. But eyeliner? That will have to be a question for another day.
Zurik was not only unpretentious, he proved he reads blogs and readily shared credit for busting the NOAH scandal with NOLA Bloggers and "amateur investigators" Karen, Sarah and Eli. For what it’s worth, I’ve found that people who are eager to share credit with others are the most confident and accomplished, so Zurik's stock is up on that account.
And on the NOAH scandal, there was one particularly interesting thing Zurik said that's worth exploring. Essentially he gave our NOLA Bloggers credit for uncovering and researching the story and himself the credit for transmitting that story to a wide audience. Very few bloggers have more than a few hundred regular readers, and none has the daily reach of a news program on a local network affiliate, even in a small market like New Orleans. So that's how the cooperative works according to Zurik: NOLA Bloggers found the story, TV distributed it.
It makes perfect sense because surely there are more people watching television than surfing the Internet. But think about that for just a moment. What will happen in say, 5 or 10 years, when there are just as many people online as in front of the tube? What will happen when consumers of blogs outnumber the consumers of TV news? Once that happens, what added value would TV news bring to the table? Now I'm not going out on a limb predicting the demise of everything Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite created, but it makes for an interesting vision of our possible future.
Kevin Allman was the most introspective of the journalism panel, claiming that journalism is a civic duty. He also cited the ugly willingness of capitalists to take the creative work of bloggers to make money. I agree in large measure with his concerns, but I wanted to tell Kevin, you know, this goes both ways. I and so many other bloggers run our blogs at no out-of-pocket cost thanks to the dozens of totally free web services. I take full advantage of free photo sharing and free web email. At what point do you say, "Hey, freeloader, you have to pay to play"?
I'm all for creative control, but we all know this stuff ain't really free. Somebody is paying for upkeep of the code and the servers and all that entails. They must see financial advantage in giving away these services at no charge, and we are all to willing to oblige them. So we should not be so shocked when schemes arise to recoup on all that investment in the "free" realm of the Internet. I'm just sayin...