Balloon Boy Bust

October 19, 2009

At what point do we in the media say no to stories that are more sensational than newsworthy? In an effort to compete with other news organizations, we tend to air first and ask questions later. What is sensational video one moment can end up being not only suspect but staged.  So, the balloon boy frenzy ended up being just that – staged. A hoax. But what is more disturbing is that we – the media and the public – fed into a a case of possible child abuse. And that’s just wrong.


Internet Manifesto

October 17, 2009

Worth repeating…

It’s Alright Ma

October 15, 2009

The whole Letterman debacle has gotten me thinking about the concept of privacy and how it has evolved in the last decade or so. While the Internet and social media have helped us become more uninhibited about ourselves, they have also – along with reality shows and their ilk – helped to somewhat diminish our respect for privacy. Through Facebook, Twitter, etc.,  we willingly share just about anything about ourselves for all the world to see. (Sometimes a tad too much, i.e. tweeting about one’s miscarriage during a board meeting.) But that’s OK because its our choice. But when it comes to reading someone else’s diary without their permission, that’s not OK. A diary, in my mind, is something absolutely and unconditionally sacred. Even if it doesn’t have the useless little lock and key on it, its private, not-to-be read-by-anyone-but-the-author. (Believe me – I would love to know what’s in my 15-year-old daughter’s  diary, but I respect and value her right to privacy too much to look. Unless, of course, if I felt her safety was at stake.)

So, when Robert “Joe” Halderman, the scorned boyfriend of David Letterman’s staffer/lover,  first opened Stephanie Birkitt’s diary in which he discovered evidence of the  now very well-known romance, did he feel even an ounce of guilt? Did he even hesitate for one moment before starting to read it? Did he not value Birkitt’s right to privacy at all? I really don’t care what goes on behind Letterman’s office doors. I do care, however, if we, as a society, get to the point where we share too much and thus end up devaluing  the entire concept of privacy completely. What do you think?

(It’s Alright Ma is a Bob Dylan song in which he sings, “And if my thoughts-dreams could be seen/They’d put my head in a guillotine.”)

Old Meets New

October 14, 2009

Through the magic of Facebook and Twitter, I recently reconnected with an old colleague, Jim Long. He’s @newmediajim on Twitter and the author of the  fabulous blog, Verge New Media. Jim and I worked together for a while in the early 90s on a tv show called First Business which was produced out of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington,  DC.  I had previously worked for many years at CNN and returned there again after my stint with First Business. Jim, as  many know, went on to do great things at NBC.

I absolutely loved working with Jim back in the day, but these days he is my new-found hero. I am in awe of all that he has embraced and achieved in the social media  realm.  His passion and zeal for new media is infectious and, although I’m a relative latecomer to the party,   I  fervently share his enthusiasm as well.  In fact, I can relate to how Jim describes himself:  “New media trapped in an old media body.” I really wish I had thought of that myself!

While reading the blogs and following many of the people at the forefront of Social Media, I have come to the  realization that many of them are young enough to be my children!  But that’s ok and, like any good parent, I have the utmost admiration for their talents and accomplishments in this wonderful and emerging field.

We’ve certainly come a long way. When I was in college, the only computers were in the Computer Science building. Being a Journalism major, I never went near there.  (Oh, and everyone on a dorm floor shared a phone – it was in the stairwell.)

I had an internship at a local radio station where we edited tape with a razor blade.  My first job after college was at WTTG-TV where some film chains were still in use and where the newsroom was filled with the din of clacking typewriters and the “dt-dt-dt-dt-dt” of the wire service machines.  One of my responsibilities, in fact, was ripping the wire stories off the machine and hanging them on the appropriate nails on the wall – “Local”, “Natl” ,”Intl” ,”WX”, “Sports”, “Ent.”

My first job at CNN was on a two-person camera crew where we carried approximately 49 lbs. of equipment . It was quite a challenge running after newsmakers, riding in motorcades and hopping in and out of helicopters  at top speed with all that weight while also attached to each other by a BNC cable.

Now, of course, network correspondents file their stories from far flung places using their laptops.  Breaking news is captured on video by anyone with a cellphone and “citizen journalists” are everywhere. It’s incredible how far we have come and I am excited to see how much futher we will go. I am having tons of fun helping clients establish a social media presence and building up my own as well.  New media is incredibly exciting and I’m psyched to be along for the ride!