Brummett: ‘Can’t We All Get Along?’ (Updated!)

Man, I wrote last night I was going to give this issue a rest for a few days, but here comes newspaperman John Brummett with another column looking at his recent dispute with a local TV reporter (and various bloggers) over the value of new media (blogging, Twittering, interactivity, etc.) in today’s world of news reporting and commentary.

In today’s column, Brummett extends an olive branch and a friendly, generous hand to new media practitioners and enthusiasts, and pledges to look for ways in which we can all work together to build a better tomorrow. He admits that maybe he was a little hasty to judge in his earlier columns, and he wants to repent. And maybe he’ll share some of his hard-earned wisdom with the young folks, and maybe…well, just maybe he’ll learn a little something himself…

Brummett: Besieged
Brummett: Besieged

Oh, wait, my mistake, that’s not the column he wrote at all. The column he wrote is a bubbling stew of cranky condescension and straw man arguments (Did you know that blogs invented unsourced rumors and the spreading thereof? It’s true!).

Mostly, what it’s starting to look like is that John doesn’t like all this damn backtalk from young’n’s and upstarts and amateurs and nobodies (Hey, I think I fit all of those categories, more or less!)

Mark Moore at the Arkansas Watch blog is already on the case.

Update: Frequent Arkansas Project flier Br549 contributes a thoughtful take in the comments section of a previous post — check it out.

Update to the Update: More good stuff from those on the right side of history: See the Fayetteville Flyer’s Ted Dancin’s savvy submission in the comments section below, and a splendid take from Blake Rutherford at The Think Tank, who, like me, didn’t realize when he first started writing about this matter that it would turn into a second job.

The Tolbert Report is in the mix, too, declaring boldly that “Print Is Dead.” Oh, my.

More Updating Goodness: Major, major breaking news from Lance Turner, seconded by the Arkansas Project’s awesome on-the-spot source R., who phoned in a confirmation from the site in downtown Little Rock. This has officially become the most ridiculous story in the entire state.

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9 thoughts on “Brummett: ‘Can’t We All Get Along?’ (Updated!)

  • December 4, 2008 at 9:50 am

    Brummett is a grumpy old poot and pretty soon the only other people reading his column will be other grumpy old poots. Enough about him. Off with his head!

  • December 4, 2008 at 10:37 am

    Goodness. Brummett is really coming off as a complete bumbling idiot. Oh, wait. That was already well known.

  • December 4, 2008 at 11:27 am

    “Br549” is absolutely right.

    Anonymous or not, these are the same people who used to rely solely on the printed paper before they moved online and were presented with a way to find an assortment of news that satisfies their own individual interests.

    There are so many options out there right now. Why wait for your local newspaper to print a story about something you’re deeply interested in when you can go straight to a source that covers only that particular topic?

    I have no idea how common package news organizations are ever going to survive but I do know that insulting their audiences is only going to speed up the collapse.

    KATV’s “Choose Your News” is an attempt to create some kind of trust with its viewers in order to keep them coming back for the “real news.” While it might not be the best way to gain their trust, it’s certainly better than writing them off as just a bunch of “anonymous yahoos.”

  • December 4, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    Bottom line: Ch. 7 has generated a butt load of interest and publicity.

  • December 4, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    Well-stated, Nemo.

  • December 4, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    This is long, but I want to pull this apart.

    Brummett: “You may not know this because you have a life and you don’t regularly engage in online surfing of the local political blogosphere and such. But I’ve stirred up some people in this insular, circular, incestuous universe…”

    Wait just a cotton picking minute, John. Like you aren’t in this little power broker cabal that runs the state? You don’t spend all your time with just a few people of influence? You don’t take an active role in promoting candidates, parties and policies? I remember you talking about playing tennis with a state senator. I’m pretty certain none of us members of the great unwashed and unenlightened on this blog have done that.
    I’m sure you get out and interact with other folks, but I bet your friends are much more powerful than mine. I’m sure you can pick up the phone and call any elected official in the state and get to see them when you need to. Don’t act like you aren’t in an, “insular, circular and incestuous universe.”

    Brummett: “Interactivity used to get called human contact. I’ve interacted with readers for more than 20 years.”

    Really? Do you let them publicly comment on what you write? Do you let people call you out when they think you are wrong like Max Brantley does? I guess you answer the phone and the emails you get, but where is the public’s ability to hold you accountable for what you say? Or do you do selective listening and only comment on the input you feel fits your need for material that week?

    And you know, we do have human contact, even if we do get on blogs every once in a while.

    Brummett “I’ve stood in front of their civic clubs and chambers of commerce and trade group conventions to speak to them and take their questions. I’ve received their column ideas and acted upon them.”

    Well, whoopee freaking do! Civic Clubs! Chambers of Commerce! Wow! You’ve talked with the elitist and the power brokers! You should be honored to be asked to talk to these groups. I mean, when do they invite Al, the mechanic that works on my car, to come and speak to them. Or my buddy Brad who “grows chickens.” Or any common people for that matter. These talks are at meetings of select individuals where they want to hear from some person of notoriety. They are often closed or held at times where the working stiffs can’t go. That is not exactly being in touch with the common man.

    Brummett: “I’ve fielded their criticisms to my face, without cowardly anonymity.”

    I don’t think anyone is calling you out for a fight, John. The anonymity is not cowardly, it is often necessary where you live in a society where you can be punished for calling out the monolithic one-party government that controls a state. That damned coward Ben Franklin was just a wimp for printing all those flyers attacking the King George the Third, you know. If he had been a man, he would have used his real name!

    Brummett: “Just a minute ago, I accepted an invitation to debate this choose-your-news person before the Society of Professional Journalists, though, as I understand the democratic, interactive modern media, there are no professional journalists anymore.”

    I graduated with a degree in journalism. I wanted to change the world and make things all the better. I then went to law school because of the same desire. I pulled out my notes to check what I could find what I was taught on journalistic ethics. I found one page from my feature writing class that dealt with ethics. There was a small part of a chapter on ethics in my News Reporting text book. Granted, you can take electives on professionalism in journalism but they are not required. There is no licensing requirements for journalist and no one to hold you accountable when you fail to meet non-existent standards. I don’t buy this notion that the old media was the epitome of professionalism. It was and is like any other job, it has ethical professionals and it has hacks. Don’t hide behind this fake idea that you have standards that are rigidly enforced because you know there is no such thing. What it boils down to is that your editor makes the call on if you are a professional or not. If he or she doesn’t care then you are left to your own whimsy on what you put out for public consumption.

    Brummett: “Democratic news, which these modernists espouse, and interactivity, which these modernists advocate, net you such things as the online spreading via blog comment sections of horrible, absurd, vicious and disgusting rumors, such as one the last few days I dare not repeat. I was taught as a kid in church and as a young reporter for the Arkansas Gazette that it is wrong, simply wrong, to tell things you don’t know to be true.”

    Damned modernist! Before they came along, no one ever gossiped or spread rumors! I mean, nobody got on the telephone to talk about things that weren’t true and knitting circles were completely free of scandalous talk! If it were not for these bloggers, this type of activity would never happen. And Lord knows nobody gossiped at church!

    This is the heart of it. Freedom of the press and freedom of speech are an irritant to those who say things you don’t happen to like. A member of the press should be ashamed for attacking the very right that allows him to make a living. Just as the second amendment is not about hunting, the first amendment is not about professional journalist working for companies that make money. It is about everyone in this country being able to say what they want to say about the institutions that impact our daily lives. It protects vile rumors as much as it protects Pulitzer Prize winners. And there are no rules to what journalism is or is not. It is not up to anyone person to define it. Like pornography, you know it when you see it. Anyone with half an ounce of sense knows when internet postings are crap and when they are credible. Those given to conspiracy theories will get their information despite what bloggers say or do.
    Furthermore, there is a vast difference between a blogger putting up information and readers commenting on it. When I read the Times blog, I know that I can trust Max Brantley because he wants people to trust his postings. I may think he is an idiot for his opinion, but I know he has looked into what he has to say and has thought it through (most of the time). I respect him despite the fact that I’ve picked on him on this blog. When DBI or eLWood comment on something, I ignore it. They are just commenting. They may have some valuable information, but usually they don’t. They are just talking back. They are just commenting. Where’s the harm in that?

    When Charlie Gibson gives the news, he’s talking. He’s telling us what he has learned and communicating verbally. When by buddy Fatty calls to talk about Obama being a Marxist Muslim, he’s using the same form of communication that Gibson is using, he’s using his voice. The difference is that I can’t call out Charlie Gibson when I think he’s wrong. I can call out Fatty and say that I think he’s wrong, that Obama is a socialist secularist not a Marxist Muslim. It’s the same thing with blogs. You, Mr. Brummett, are Charlie Gibson talking away without any way of us responding back to you. Max Brantley and David Kincaide are my buddy Fatty, with a little more credibility. I can respond back to them and tell them what I think. We are all entitled to our opinion and we all can act as reporters. That is not modern, that is not new. What is new is this medium…which, honestly, isn’t that new anymore. If you don’t like it, then don’t participate, but stop being so damned condescending. It is quite unflattering and not that professional. If we’re not worth commenting on, then don’t.

  • December 4, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    Yeah, Lonely Misfit, and that’s how people talk about me when they’re trying to say NICE things.


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