Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Blogging Blind

This morning I had my first eye exam in about seven years. Fortunately, I still have 20/20 vision, however, right now, my vision is sorely hampered. My eyes were dilated. The Doctor suggested I read a magazine until the eye solution started to work. Of course, that wasn't possible because my focus was changing by the second. So, I decided to use my recorder application on my iPhone. I recorded my thoughts instead of writing them. I responded to a disruptive technology by adapting. This is what traditional media have got to do. It's not a matter of trying one thing and then saying, "okay, we've tried it and it's done." That is a completely unrealistic and unacceptable approach.

The traditional media have had their "eye dilated." They can't see things the same way anymore. Things are out of focus. For a time, they couldn't and or wouldn't see the value of the new media. I wanted my notebook and paper so bad when I couldn't see but I was forced to record my voice instead.

As I sat in the chair in the doctor's office, the notion of The Audience 20/20 Manifesto was birthed. Traditional media must be transparent and allow the audience to see exactly what they are doing, how they are doing it and why they are doing it. The last point lends itself to the notion of objectivity which I will explore more deeply at another time. Suffice it to say, that our colleagues in Europe dislike the American media in some ways because they disclose their biases in the press whereas we do not do so formally.

At any rate, back to the idea of transparency. In television news, local stations are still teasing stories. This is an insane practice when I as a viewer can google the answer immediately and then bypass the news completely. A better strategy may be to tease the fact that you have resources and ways to investigate the story that they audience may not know.

When choosing story ideas, let the audience know why that story was selected and why others were not. Put some of the stories you don't chooose to cover at large, on the Intenet. I made some of these suggestions, years ago and many others have said the same.

The media as well as the faculty at America's colleges and universities are now facilitators. We need to give people ideas about what to think about and then where they can gain more in-depth information and insight.

The fundamentals have not changed. Good journalism is good journalism. However, much of what is being produced today isn't journalism, it's sensationalism, think Pulitzer versus Hearst. If traditional media will continue to produce compelling, well thought out pieces, the audience will consume it and pursue a deeper understanding.

It's funny, when you can see clearly, you take a lot of things for granted. When your vision is suddenly and unexpectedly blurred for a prolonged period of time ( I still can't see clearly as I type this entry) you are forced to adapt. Embrace the change. More on the Audience 20/20 Manifesto to come.

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