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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I Filter, You Summarize?

Written by Ryan Thornburg August 17, 2010 9:41 am EDT No comments

Clay Shirky said we don’t suffer from information overload, but filter failure. That sounds right to me. Despite by efforts to use social and technical filters to focus my daily doses of e-mail newsletters, RSS feeds and tweets, I still find myself swamped with more words than I can read in the hour I’ve given myself to “read-in” each day. I am much more efficient at pulling things that might be interesting than carefully reading text for anything that’s actually new and noteworthy.

So here’s a new deal I’m going to start trying. I find the headlines and I ask you to filter back to me the new facts, missing info and impact of the stories. If you read one of the stories that pass my filter, will kindly post one comment if you find anything interesting in the articles themselves?

Here’s what passed through my filter today:

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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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What I'm reading

  • Writing from Video Exercise 2 hours ago
    These video writing and editing exercises are from the 4th Edition of the Broadcast News Handbook by Charlie Tuggle, Forrest Carr and Suzanne Hoffman.
  • News Corp. Donation Clouds Fox Coverage of Prop. 24 - NYTimes.com 2010/11/02
  • How to Count Items in a Filtered List in Excel 2010/10/25
  • Relational Databases - Example - Martin Baker 2010/10/16
  • MySQL :: MySQL 5.0 Reference Manual :: 10 Data Types 2010/10/16

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