Brummett to New Media: ‘Drop Dead’ (Updated!)

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.

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9 thoughts on “Brummett to New Media: ‘Drop Dead’ (Updated!)

  • December 1, 2008 at 9:17 am
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    Did Brummett only respond via his column? Maybe I missed that somewhere, I’ve been off in varying degrees of woods for some time now, but did she email/call him and ask him?

    How did the actual request and diss go down? Was is more like “8 Mile” or a battle of letters?

    just looking for insight here.

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  • December 1, 2008 at 9:22 am
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    Br549,
    Fisher issued an invite on her blog, I know — I’m not sure if there was an additional invitation issued via e-mail, telephone, carrier pigeon or messenger boy. I suppose it’s possible that, if the invitation were only proffered publicly via Fisher’s blog, Brummett may have been offended by the upending of social niceties, though he’s never struck me as being that sensitive.
    D.

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  • December 1, 2008 at 9:39 am
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    hmm. Maybe she should stand outside of his office and wait for him to show up.

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  • December 1, 2008 at 10:22 am
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    From Brummett’s work habits at the Dem-Gaz, I hear that Fisher might have a long wait.

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  • December 1, 2008 at 12:55 pm
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    Brummet needs to get back in his horse and buggy!

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  • December 1, 2008 at 3:56 pm
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    You know, this choose your news thing isn’t that big of a deal. You have several story ideas to choose from and you vote on what you want. It’s not like you have an open slate to choose any random thing in the world. I can’t just submit an idea for Kristen Fisher to report on the type of toilet paper Governor Beebe uses or the number of dog ticks that live on Huckabee’s dog and then she covers it. If so, I’d ask her to report on things lost in Max Brantley’s double chin. (I could hear her now, “Oh, look, I’ve found the key to a 1978 Saab!”)

    They have story ideas and they are as valid as any other idea they might put on the air. It’s democracy in a way…but the type of democracy that people in the US are used to, i.e., here’s your limited choices, choose the least offensive and live with it. Crap, why is this a shocking development?

    As for blogging, granted, I would not want an amateur Doctor cutting on me, so I usually depend on professional medical treatment, ergo, when I want in depth news, I go to normal news sources. That said, I have been known to drop trou and ask a friend or two, “Does this look normal to you?” (Word of warning, if you do this, make sure you are not, I repeat, NOT in the women’s section of Dillard’s. They frown on this for some reason.) If they say, “yeah”, I go about my business and don’t worry about it. If they express concern, I go to an expert. There is value in untrained opinions. Especially in an age where the media is viewed as being as biased as it is. In the above analogy, Brummett is akin to a oncologist treating lung cancer patients while investing stock in Phillip Morris. He may give you an opinion, but he’s doing so with a vested interest in an outcome. He will tell you, “You have lung cancer, but I’m sure it wasn’t cigarettes that caused it. Keep on smoking!” His argument, I’m sure, is that he is all opinion. Well, so be it. But who says opinions should be limited to just the media elite? News reporting, I leave to journalist. Opinions I get from every source available. If not I think I cold probably dismiss Brummett because his opinion isn’t is widely read as Meredith Oakley or someone in the DOG. Restricting opinion is a slippery slope, which is why the founders designed the Bill or Rights to allow those pesky leafleteers to offer their most unprofessional opinions.

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  • December 1, 2008 at 5:00 pm
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    You’re almost funny. I’d bookmark you if I knew how.

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  • December 1, 2008 at 7:31 pm
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    I can’t figure out if Kristin’s hot or not. I do, however, know that she’s inviting lots of creepy guys in to her life with the webcams everywhere. After Anne Pressly, you’d think she’d try to avoid stalkers instead of encouraging them.

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  • December 1, 2008 at 10:11 pm
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    I do plan to weight in on this most weighty matter, but I’m too busy blogging.
    Lyncho

    Reply

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