I'm writing this morning from Lake Placid, where I'm attending the N.Y. Press Association's publishers' convention. I'm sitting in the bistro of the inn where the convention is being held, next to a window overlooking Mirror Lake. The sky's just getting light and, while it's overcast, it's not raining. It's a lovely sight. Lake Placid is a nice little town, lots of great little shops. Our first seminar isn't until 11 AM this morning, so I'm planning to walk the 2.7 mile trail around the lake.
Being new to the role of publisher, there's so much to learn, and the workshops have been quite informative.
One of the seminars I was most interested in was about — you guessed it — blogs. Weblogs — blogs for short — are actually part of a broader phenomenon the seminar presenters call citizen journalism. They talk about it as "unbundled journalism" or the decentralization of journalistic functions. The way journalism has traditionally worked, news organizations tell people what the news is, and the rest of us are consumers of the news. With the widespread access to the internet, that model is changing rapidly. It may even disappear altogether.
The seminar presenters yesterday challenged us to re-envision our news organizations as part of the public conversation, not as 'owning' or defining the news. That's a really big and difficult challenge for most publishers, who tend to see it as turning 'the way things work' right on their head. It's also somewhat threatening, because we fear being usurped. The way I look at it, this is happening with or without us, so journalists and publishers had better figure out how to embrace it and adapt what we do to it, or risk being left in the dust. (If you're interested in this, check out the website IReporter.org.
After attending that seminar yesterday I went online and looked at my last post and felt embarrassed by how snarky I was. I apologize. I was feeling frustrated by all the repetitive snipes at the supervisor and two councilwomen, and the rather low level of public discourse we've been witnessing in the early stages of this year's local election campaign. I asked the speakers at yesterday's seminar how to deal with that sort of thing, and they advised me to (1) work to encourage others to post more meaningful comments and (2) just delete the ones that are bogging down discussion like that. But I really hate the idea of deleting comments. I'd rather just ignore them if I can. What do you think?
I came away from that seminar yesterday with a whole bunch of ideas. What if Times/Review started a community website where we can feature the blogs of maybe six or ten people— or more? Different people could rotate in and out of the role of blogger. There could also be topical discussion forums there. What do you think of that idea? Do you have any other ideas for a site like that? Anybody interested in participating? Please post here or send me an email and let me know.
I've been out of town since early Thursday morning. What's going on? Anything new? There's been lots of rain from Ophelia, right? How much? Have we had any flooding? High winds? Any intrepid citizen reporters out there willing to post some local news?
Meanwhile, I think I'll take that walk.