Brummett is still going grumpily into the new media night. Naming no names, he has harsh words for the "choose-your-news" segment on Channel 7 with Kristin Fisher and, for now, resists her challenge to come on her live web show to talk about it. I think he ought to pay a visit when his new blog is up and running. It's all about pollinating the brand in today's electronic universe. But he seems to feel strongly enough about the merits of this sort of journalism not to join the show. My apologies for suggesting, as I originally wrote this item, that he was feigning reluctance.
I'm sympathetic to his larger theme, but not entirely. I think audience interaction is good. You can listen and talk back without sacrificing your own instincts and principles about covering the news. The Washington Post's daily on-line sessions with staff reporters is a good example of a feature that helps a newspaper understand its readers and vice versa. The other extreme is the local daily newspaper, whose editor refuses to be interviewed by local reporters. (Guess what? I get tons of news tips from the two-way communication we encourage with readers.)
Fluff is fine, too, both in-print and on-air. Just so long as the diet isn't solely fluff. Realistically, TV isn't going to cover it all in a 30-minute show (more like 10 after you take out commercials, mundane weather, etc.) anyway. That's where blogs and websites and live webcam interviews, etc. add new dimensions to how we get information.
What many TV and newspaper editors don't get, though, is that nothing sells like news. Here, I couldn't agree more with Brummett.
All kinds of traditional news media, but mainly newspapers and television, are trying clumsily to figure out how to make their way in this rapidly changing Internet-dominated world. All of us are pondering how to do things on-line to preserve and enhance our audience.
In the end, though, we will succeed whatever the medium only if we cover real news when it happens and do so vigorously, accurately, expertly and insightfully.
BUT SPEAKING OF NEW MEDIA: Here's Maureen Dowd on a California newspaper guy who's outsourcing local news coverage to India. $7.50 for a thousand words, harvested from phone, web, email, etc. Hmm. Sounds a little like the Arkansas Blog.