About 60 people showed up tonight to watch KATV’s Kristin Fisher take on Arkansas News Bureau’s John Brummett in a discussion on new media and journalism, moderated by Andrew DeMillo of the Associated Press. Sponsored by the local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, it might very well be the most documented event in Arkansas journalism history, with reporters, photographers and bloggers all on hand plying their respective crafts. And yes, there was abundant Twittering.
At the end of the 90-minute debate, which included questions from the audience, the two agreed to disagree on certain points. Brummett still thinks Fisher’s and KATV’s Choose Your News concept, whereby viewers vote on what story Fisher will cover for the next night’s newscast, is gimmicky and trivializes the newscast. Fisher doesn’t, and cites the benefits of engaging a new audience that doesn’t watch the traditional TV newscast, while also introducing the traditional TV news audience to the interactivity and additional content the Web provides.
In the video below, the two talk about monetizing new media, which has been a challenge in the industry:
Despite those differences of opinion, Brummett showed he’s not the grizzled naysayer many might have dissmissed him as. He says the entire debate with Fisher (which now includes three Brummett columns, an appearance on KATV’s Daily Debrief and a segment with Fisher on KUAR radio) has him thinking more about the challenges the journalism faces as newspapers go under and people’s media habits change. And he notes that he’ll soon be blogging once again when the new ArkansasNews.com site launches in time for next month’s legislative session.
And he clearly recognizes the power of all this so-called new media, with Brummett noting that Max Brantley’s Arkansas Times blog has “rendered the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Arkansas section obsolete.” And, he also said he believes the future of news might lie in more targeted, niche entities, which is certainly a theory we’re familiar with at Arkansas Business Publishing Group. Brummett is most certainly not oblivious to what’s happening online.
Another video, in which Fisher talks about safety issues concerning being on Webcam all day, plus more thoughts on the discussion, after the jump:
My biggest concern about this whole debate was that Brummett had dismissed a tool like Twitter without considering it might be A) a genuinely useful tool for distributing news and supplementing reporting and B) reach an audience that, for whatever reason, isn’t engaged in “traditional” forms of media.
And now I don’t think that’s the case. I think Brummett’s desire is that whatever new tools we as journalists employ, we use them in a way that is responsible, is valuable to our readers, is best suited to the stories we’re covering and is not simply for the sake of using those tools. And I wholeheartedly agree.
Also, props to DeMillo for organizing and moderating the event, which he handled with Jim Lehrer-esque dexterity. And it was great to finally meet bloggers David Kinkade and Jason Tolbert (rockin’ the “Print Is Dead” t-shirt, no less) in real life. Click below for their assessments, as well as thoughts from the Think Tank.
(Were you there? Did watch live on the Web? Leave your thoughts in comments below.)