Our story begins in Little Rock, where local affiliate KATV 7 is trying out a new newsgathering tactic on their website. 'Choose Your News', they call it; an interactive feature that allows viewers to pick a two-minute news story from a pre-determined list. The story that scores the most votes will be covered on-air, via Twitter and anywhere else KATV sees fit to stick it. Is it revolutionary? Not really. Is it a little cheesy? Certainly - and for my liking, w-a-y too candy colored. But I'm guessing none of that bothers terminally cute Kristin Fisher who wrangles and fronts Choose Your News both on-line and on that magic box in your living room.
John Brummett, on the other hand, is stricken with indignation. Seems he's a Columnist/Reporter for some-thing called the Arkansas News Bureau and he doesn't cotton too well to the unwashed masses being in charge of their news line-up. I also have it on good authority that he's vehemently against ball-point pens as well, for they can't possibly compare to the old school etchings of a trusty No. 2 pencil. Okay, I made that last part up, but judging from Brummett's turgid dismissal of Choose Your News, I wouldn't be too shocked if he were anti-eraser as well. But enough of my derision; let the man speak for himself...
“I am so old that I remember when news professionals - trained news hounds who got called editors - beheld the contemporary landscape each day and decided with supposed professional and experience-seasoned expertise what to assign reporters to cover. We didn’t take a poll. We didn’t ask anonymous yahoos with laptops and BlackBerrys and other telephonic gadgetry to click on some icon and dictate our activities.”Uh, John? Those 'yahoos with laptops' are/were your readers. They've got Twitter accounts and magic Crackberries, blue tooth gizmos wedged in their ears and cell phones that can launch space shuttles. They've got home computers that can replicate the output of some TV stations I've worked for and Tivo's that know which episodes of 'What Not To Wear' they've already seen. What they probably don't have is a newspaper subscription. Even if they do, I doubt they have a dying need for some troglodyte in a clip-on tie to tell them what the world (or even Arkansas) looks like. That three-masted vessel has sailed, my friend and it took my job security and your overly-developed sense of entitlement with it. Surely they printed something about in your paper. Go grab it out of the drive-way... I'll wait
Oh - and just so you don't think I'm some Millenial in a spangly t-shirt, a little disclosure: At almost 42, I'm closer to your age than that of Ms. Fisher. While I do work for one of those crass television stations, I consider myself something of an ex-patriate. I've many friends in the newspaper industry and while I consider them some of the smartest people I know, humility ain't their strong suit. Even those few, who - as you apparently do - consider all this new media just a passing fad, are smart enough to keep their beliefs off the opinion page. Why, your printed assertion is about as silly as us TV folk getting all worked up over this. It's a new world, John. Everyone in corporate media is feeling the rub, from the bloated columnist who considers his cubicle a kingdom to the overly verbose cameraman who sits up all night surfing around for inspiration.
Just try not to make us look so bad, would ya?