Third Wave

Just returned from a couple of days in Los Angeles at USC, attending a seminar co-hosted by Berkeley’s and USC’s j-schools. Around 125 educators and online journalism professionals from around the world, arranged in panels discussing the state of online journalism, how it could be done better, etc. Much discussion of whether and how much it’s appropriate to utilize the audience as information gatherers, which touches on the topics of community-driven sites, blogs, etc. In fact, there was quite a bit of discussion about the blog phenom, professional journalists who maintain blogs alongside their regular journalism, etc. Also much discussion about training – old-world journalists need to know how to use typewriters, but that’s not enough anymore. How to bring the old guard up to speed. Debates on whether we’re “doing it right” or not – what does that even mean? Is there a succesful online model yet? Is the internet different enough a medium that it deserves to be treated as categorically different re: journalistic techniques, or is it just another means of distribution with a few unique characteristics. Is the “immediacy” of the internet anything new? Radio and TV are immediate too, so no, not really. Anyway, some interesting discussions, but mostly debate, not a whole lot of concrete stuff to take home, and nothing technical. Worth the trip though. Shook some good hands, made some contacts, etc.

Anecdote: At one point, a panelist was talking about the “three-dot column” form of journalism, like Herb Caen of the SF Chronicle. “… three guys in a restaurant trading bites of top sirloin … Time for a new mayor … ” So this woman in the audience raises her hand and asks “What was that address again?” Confused looks, awkward silence. Took a while to realize that she had thought he was talking about The term “three-dot column” is fading out because, well, because there aren’t many three-dot columns anymore. Well, it was funny at the time. Maybe you had to be there.

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