Whose News: The Remix

Day One of Whose News? is past, I’m in my room winding up for an insomniac blogging feast(not food, links) and it’s quiet in freezing cold Cambridge.
So, how did it go today?
To my way of thinking, the major brainpower in the room spent a lot of time trudging through the weeds.

  • We steered away from a fight about blogging and journalism (oops, did that last month), established that folks had vastly unequal understandings of RSS, moblogging, folksonomies and tags, and agreed that while we all got blogging many of us were sick of talking about it thank you very much, whiles others felt it was THE answer.

(Answer to what?)

  • Len Apcar of the Times and Jim Kennedy of the AP made the very good points that their companies are smart as they come but have to fund their newsrooms (not to mention that great NYC real estate) and there’s no real business model in social media yet.
  • Michael Schrage said that legacy brands weren’t the groups’ problem.
  • Rebecca McKinnon said she valued a brand like the Times–
  • And that’s when yours as moderator truly stepped in and dragged the group back from the well-worn ruts of a familiar argument so that we could skim over mobile, open source media, and the need to get outside of the US-centric media model.

But it could have been better–while people made good points individually, we didn’t have any great insights, major epiphanies, or well-developed new insights.
In truth, it felt to me like a lot of the same people swirling the same wine around in the same glass, falling back on the old homilies because they weren’t sure what else to say.
In retrospective, what I wish the organizers had done:

  • Opened an IRC backchannel and projected it on screen for all takers
  • Webcast the proceedings in real time
  • Asked for statements from virtual participants and interested parties and published them in a wiki
  • Organized the sessions a little more tightly; for me, free-floating discussions don’t work once you get over 6-8 people.

What did work:
The mix.

  • Some great experienced online news practicioners, some newspaper folks, a good mix of bloggers.
  • Matt Thompson, late of Poynter and now of the Fresno Bee (this guy is smart!) Telecom and mobile folk who didn’t get to say enough.
  • At least two J-School deans.
  • One Yahoo guy, one Comcast exec, the founder of Craig’s List (yes, Craig!).
  • Berkman fellow Dave Weinberger.
  • Nieman fellows, a political/policy consultant, an alt media dissenter.
  • Two (or more academics)–and one ethnographer.

More and related from Rebecca McKinnon and Halley.