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In all fairness, I also got a tee shirt when I went to the CBS46 “Blogger Summit.” And a nice highlighter pen thingee in the goodie bag, in addition to the Flip cams CBS6 news director Steve Schwaid and co. handed out to the 25 or so assembled Atlanta blogerati who filled up an empty studio with pizza and some lively chatter about community, social networks, and what bloggers can and cannot add to the broadcasting milieu on July 20, 2009.
Come to think about it, CBS46, or WGCL, did a remarkable thing this evening – they invited Atlanta bloggers and social media utilizers from the metro area into their station to talk about, er, stuff. I can’t say this has ever happened before in Atlanta – the MSM reaching out in such a way, other than that one ill-fated meeting at WSB-TV a couple of years ago, but that meeting was so pointless and futile it’s not really worth mentioning so I’ll leave it at “ill-fated.”
I admire their chutzpah at WGCL if nothing else. It may be a case of nothing left to lose so why not go for broke? But to widen the net towards taking seriously Atlanta’s numerous community content providers seems like a reasonable, if not likely highly lucrative, approach.
The chit chat at CBS46 was brisk and spicy, as was the A-listing of some of Atlanta’s longtime, well-regarded bloggers who showed. Spotted in the crowd were Blog For Democracy’s co-founders Catherine Smith and Melanie Goux, Peach Pundit’s Buzz Brockway, Dan Greenfield of BernaiseSource, Amani Channel of My Urban Report, Rusty Tanton of Georgia Podcast Network, Tessa Horehled of Drive A Faster Car, and Doug Richards of Live Apartment Fire.
(Oddly enough, as CBS46 isn’t a Cox Plantation property, a couple of reporter/bloggers from the Cox Plantation Big House showed too, but I’m not sure why they were there as they never said a word. Go figure. Your guess is as good as mine.)
CBS46 wasn’t too coy about why they wanted us bloggers and SM users there. They wanted us bloggers and citizen journalists and writers and marketeers and promoters there to ask us to provide content. For free. To them. (Thus the handing out of the Flip cams.)
And that’s ok. I didn’t think we were invited in to be given paying jobs as journalists and anointed Queens and Kings of the ATL. CBS46 wants to try new things. I assume they need to try new things. They’re willing to experiment, in a rather large way, with citizen journalism and the news content they broadcast. My hat’s off to anyone willing to experiment with change in a traditional medium and not be crystal clear as to what, or even where, the road ahead is going to be. (That approach having been my personal MO for the last couple of years or so.)
But I gotta tell you, with so many places to give our content away for free, other than our own blogs, at some point I’m going to get hyper-picky. No one’s offering grownup money, so until they do we’ve got to be happy with a tee shirt, free pizza, and an occasional guest flash of our homemade news-style content wherever we can get it.
I don’t know if this is the formula for changing the world, and somehow I doubt it is. But in the Atlanta market at least it is a fresh approach and a start to messing around with the status quo of local news broadcasting as we’ve historically known it. (White anchor, black anchor, traffic chopper, and a whole lotta crime scene tape.) And that’s got to be a good thing.
So is the nifty Flip cam handed out by CBS46. I’ve been wanting one of those puppies for a while now. I got mine home and pointed it at the dog. She didn’t seem to mind: