With the promise of free food, WNBC last night lured over 100 New York City bloggers into Studios 6A and 6B at 30 Rock to discuss the future of blogging and television journalist. Set up by Erin Monteiro, the NYC Blogger Summit made for an interesting evening of MSM/Blogosphere mingling. (How much more cliched could I get?)
Sree Sreenivasan, tech reporter and Columbia Journalism School dean, led the discussion as many executives and staffers from WNBC spoke about their ideas to integrate blogging into their coverage and fielded questions from bloggers. For much of the evening, the discussion was all over the map. WNBC, as with many local TV outlets, isn’t quite sure what it wants to do with blogs.
What is clear from WNBC’s perspective is that they want to form relationships with blogs that give them stories. In turn, WNBC will give these bloggers credit and, in the eyes of some of the bloggers at least, legitimize their writing and reporting efforts. Where the talks broke down last night were over the details.
Some of the WNBC execs, it seems, wanted bloggers to give them exclusives. Others, Sree included, stressed that WNBC simply wants to be on the blogger distribution list each writer has for self-promotion purposes. We would become, in other words, the eyes on the street for WNBC.
Meanwhile, WNBC is struggling with integrating blogs into its own site. How does a TV news organization so used to producing something at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. change its focus to present constantly breaking news without upstaging its own product? Print journalists have adapted to the Internet because they had to. The medium of print was too easily co-opted by bloggers who had an audience clamoring for on-demand breaking news. Only recently have video presentations made enough strides to challenge TV news, and most bloggers don’t watch their local newscasts, I learned last night.
The problem I have with the local newscast, as I discussed at the Channel 4 bar afterwards with Brian Basset of The Jets Blog, is that it’s not relevant. Watching a 30-second story about a fire somewhere that affects 20 people and then another 30-second story about a car accident from seven hours ago has no bearing on my life. Another murder, another crime, it’s all part of any urban life, and to me, that’s not news.
What local TV news should cover and what the blogs can cover are the important stories. Tell me in detail what construction cost overruns on the subway mean to me. Show me the weather; show me politics; show me sports. If a local TV news story wants to cover crime, give it to me in context. Was that murder in a neighborhood typically free from murders? Are murder rates rising? Put some time into it.
Just don’t become a media whore like our Fox 5 newscast.
For another look at the evening, The Wonkers from Gotham Gazette was there and wrote up a summary too.
Other than the summit, the networking aspect of the event was enlightening. We sit here all day typing away at our blogs, but hey, real people are behind those posts. In addition to the folks above, I got to meet Chris from East Village Idiot (a daily favorite), Heather from Gawker, Julie from Trailer Spy, Matt from NYC Convergence and a whole slew of other folk. Good crowd; good times; interesting discussion.
But I think there’s still a long way to go before WNBC and other local TV affiliates determine just how we as bloggers fit in with their news coverage.