Eight days ago, KATV’s Kristin Fisher invited columnist John Brummett to come on her Choose Your News Daily Debrief webcast to talk about news-gathering in the age of new media—and Arkansas media watchers are held hostage as they anxiously await his answer!
Oh, wait—never mind. We have his answer, which is that he has no intention of accepting. In a Sunday column, Brummett writes that Fisher and the rest of the new media gang—all you bloggers, Twitterers, Facebookers and other assorted riffraff out there—can go hang as far as he’s concerned.
Brummett’s mighty skeptical of all this flashy technology and user-generated content, which is fair enough. People have a tendency to get a little hyped up over these amazing technological tools, so his questioning as to whether all this technology is in and of itelf a good thing is well-taken. In fact, it’s an inherently conservative gesture on Brummett’s part, though I don’t think he’d like being called that.
What’s difficult to understand is Brummett’s cranky dismissal of all these new turns. Sure, the “Choose Your News” segment that Fisher hosts on KATV may be kind of gimmicky, but a great many worthwhile innovations start out as gimmicks. And in difficult times for traditional media properties, KATV should certainly be credited for trying something new to engage viewers.
And of course, don’t tell Brummett, but this train has already left the station. For example, within minutes of reading Brummett’s column, I caught this through Google Reader: Business Week magazine runs a regular “What’s Your Story Idea?” blog feature that focuses on collecting ideas from readers on business stories they’d like to see covered.
Brummett himself has dipped a toe into the new media world in the past, experimenting with blogging back during the 2007 legislative session, and he says he’s getting ready to start up again when the Arkansas News Bureau launches its new website soon.
So why the reactionary dismissiveness against other media practitioners who, like him, are simply trying out new innovations in an effort to find the way forward in this new media terrain? It’s puzzling.
Update: Max Brantley at the Arkansas Times blog, who is incidentally an object lesson of one old newspaper dog who’s willing to learn new media tricks, offers a thoughtful response to Brummett’s grumpy outburst.
Update to the Update: Kristin Fisher responds to Brummett with a post at her blog. It’s much more impressive than my response, as she includes actual statistics, which means that she has now officially blinded me with science.
Another Update: Blake Rutherford at the Think Tank weighs in with some additional context on how the BBC is embracing viewer input to improve news coverage.