October 19, 2009

Takeaways from Blogworld Expo

Anthony Edwards

Anthony Edwards of “ER” fame did his first tweet — to raise funds for the first children’s pediatric training hospital in Africa.

Bloggers, journalism, celebrities and what the future holds

JD LasicaThere was a little bit of a SXSW vibe at the just-ended Blogworld Expo in Las Vegas — a communal feeling where the goings-on in the sessions (on the whole, consistently engaging) were overshadowed by the face time and first-time encounters between longtime Twitter friends. To be sure, BlogWorld is a smaller affair than SouthBy — one official told me 1,500 people turned out for the Causes/Activism track on Thursday, 5,000 for the next two days — but from my vantage point, it seems that the social media phenomenon has rejuvenated ones of the world’s oldest and largest new media gatherings.

Twitter was front and center throughout the affair, both on screen — where rolling tweets of each session’s hashtags were displayed (though not consistently) — and as a way for conference-goers to figure out evening social plans. And cameras and recorders were everwhere — here’s my Flickr set of BlogWorld.

Below is a recap of the highlights in my field of vision (see after the jump). In addition, I just posted 8 tips for raising funds online — a recap of the Tools for Nonprofits panel that I moderated at Blogworld — over at our sister site, Socialbrite.org.

Journalists vs. bloggers: Can we please move on?

As regular readers know, I’ve been blogging about journalism, blogging, and the need for journalists and bloggers to love each other and use the best elements of both worlds since 2001, when I started this blog (then called New Media Musings). See, for example, Blogs and Journalism Need Each Other in Harvard’s Nieman Reports in Fall 2003.

So it’s now irritating, and not merely tiresome, to attend a new media conference where too many of the sessions veered into hostility toward traditional news organizations. The audience questions to and reaction to CNN weekend anchor Don Lemon (below), was a case in point.

Don Lemon

Why should bloggers want to work with CNN? Lemon should have more artfully worded his reply — “The plain truth is that my platform is bigger than your platform” — but, with the exception of a few outliers like iJustine or cross-over Twitter celebrities, that’s still true. It’s not about CNN, it’s about reach and bringing value to more people.

The notion that crowdsourced amateur journalism can supplant professional journalism, and actually do a better job — which many in the audience truly believe — is not only ludicrous but potentially dangerous to our democratic institutions. Journalism that ferrets out corruption, that takes the pulse of a community, that sheds a light on international events is hard work, something that the crowd tends to avoid. Just ask anyone toiling in overworked, understaffed independent journalism publications like Spot.us, AliveinBaghdad, Pro Publica, or the just-launched Oakland Local.

Similarly, I’ve finally found a fundamental disagreement with my friend, colleague and fellow Traveling Geek Robert Scoble. I tweeted my dismay at the bottom-line premise of his panel, How Social Media Is Changing the Definition of News: that news sites should pass along rumors and second-hand reports without fact-checking them. “The old world was i fact-checked before I published, in this new world i can correct it after the fact,” Scoble said.

Immediately after the panel, he cited TMZ’s early report on the death of Michael Jackson and the fact that no one remembers who reported it second. “It’s over. It’s over,” he told me, referring to journalism’s authentication function. Continue reading