Triangle’s Media Ecosystem Needs Tributaries and Mainstream

Written by Ryan Thornburg October 14, 2010 9:16 am EDT No comments

Sitting next to News & Observer editor John Drescher last Friday during a forum about the Triangle’s media landscape, I had to feel a bit sorry for him. Of the nearly 20 representatives of news media in the region, he was the most prominent representative of the mainstream media and drew all the fire from the bloggers, entrepreneurs, do-gooders and pontificators who had him easily outnumbered and whose smaller organizations had often beaten his Goliath newsroom on important stories.

But I also envied Drescher. He was also the only one at the table who had ever dropped $200,000 of his company’s money on an investigation of a state agency. And the only one who knew what it was like to spend four years pinging the government for public records before he had a story solid enough to sell to his subscribers and advertisers.

One other thing made Drescher an enviable character in the Triangle’s media ecosystem. Despite their valid criticisms of increasing gaps in The News & Observer’s coverage of our communities many noted without irony in their voices, the small, independent and non-profit news operations had the most impact on public policy when they got the attention of Drescher’s paper or one of the local television stations.

And that made me realize that if our state is going to retain its generation-long reputation as a home for journalism that gives voice to the voiceless and holds powerful people accountable, then we must find a way to foster dozens of new and diverse tributaries of news and information that flow into the big, slow-moving mainstream media. Without the tributaries, the MSM seems likely to evaporate entirely. Without a larger channel into which they can empty, the tributaries seem likely to overwhelm us with a flood of disconnected datapoints.

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THBT: Social Media in Eastern N.C.

Written by Ryan Thornburg May 12, 2008 11:20 pm EDT 2 comments

Rocky Mount, split by a railroad line between the white world of Nash County and the black world of Edgecomb County, was the first stop on this year’s Tar Heel Bus Tour. For me, it was a fitting first stop because it was one of the first towns in “the real North Carolina” to which I was introduced as an undergrad.

The stop reminded me that, even in an era of international, on-demand connections, so much — if not most — of what we know about the world comes from the people we call friends.

Social media is not a new concept.

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Research Question: Do Hits Equal Votes?

Written by Ryan Thornburg May 5, 2008 4:24 pm EDT No comments

North Carolina Republican gubernatorial candidate argues that they are.

But what’s he talking about? Page views? Unique visitors?

What parts of the site are busiest? Fundraising? Issue briefings?

How are people finding his site? Google “earned search”? Online ads? Media coverage?

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  • MySQL :: MySQL 5.0 Reference Manual :: 10 Data Types 2010/10/16

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