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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

What's wrong with this picture


I went to a recent New England Podcasting meetup in Framingham at John Harvard's Brewhouse. I love it there. Good beer AND good food. Plus, with podcasters, you get good people too.

This evening, a reporter showed up with a notepad.

"What's your name?" she asks.

"Steve Garfield", I replied.

"Where do you live?" she wanted to know. I told her Boston. "Where exactly?" she pressed.

I replied with a question, "Who are you and where are you from?"

If I'm going to be answering probing questions about the exact whereabouts of my house, I'd like to know who is asking.

When I interview people , I usually introduce myself first. Seems like the polite thing to do.

She told me that she was a reporter from the Boston Globe and writes features for the West Weekly section. Since I wasn't a resident of her coverage area, she wasn't interested in me, and turned to someone else at the table to grill.

This reporter was just doing a job.

She wasn't interested in me as a person. She just saw me as raw meat, an ingredient for her story. By turning her back on me upon finding out that I wasn't in her coverage area, she hurt my feelings.

I think that points up the difference in professional newspaper writers vs. bloggers. She obviously was writing this for a story, had an angle and was doing it because she was being paid to do it.

On the other hand, I was there to meet people and to socialize. I was interested in meeting as many people as I could, and in listening to their stories. I was there for the love of both meeting others and of podcasting. She wasn't.

LET THE PICTURE TAKING BEGIN, OR NOT
A little while later, the reporter started taking pictures.

At a Podcast Meetup Photos are taken
Nothing unusual about that. People are taking pictures all the time, at blogger meetings, podcast meetups and at videoblogging meetings where video is taken too. So that's pretty much the way life is these days. We all take pictures of things and people that interest us and post them up to flickr, where we can then share them and then post them on our blogs.

So as the reporter started to take a picture of the people at table, I brought out my camera to get a picture of her taking a picture of us. Pretty standard operating procedure for a flickr photo loving blogger who is also into documenting the way media is made.

As I raised my camera, she shielded her face and said that she didn't want her picture taken.

She was upset.

She fled the room and hurried into the next room, out of sight.

WHAT'S THE PROBLEM WITH THIS PICTURE?
At a Podcast Meetup Photos are taken
She wanted to take pictures of us, with no compensation, to put in the newspaper, where the paper will make money, but I can't take a picture of her?

I've encountered this before.

To me, it seems like we are being used and that she felt that she was better than us. Above it all. Wanting to take but not give back. Well it really doesn't work that way anymore.

It's only fair that if the press wants to take our pictures and put us in their newspapers, that we have the right in exchange to take their pictures and put them in our blogs.

NOW SOME OF THE PODCASTERS ARE MAD AT ME
After I upset the reporter, some of the local podcasters were mad at me. Not all, just those that don't 'get it' yet.

They wanted to know why was I antagonizing the one person who was here to help them. A reporter from the great and powerful Boston Globe which was going to promote podcasting and bring the New England Podcasters fame, fortune and new members.

I'm all in favor of good press, but at what cost?

WHICH PLATFORM PRODUCES MORE HITS?
I'm not sure that a newspaper article in a publication that hardly ever includes links to websites will actually be a good form of promotion. The Boston Globe has a long history of not including live URL's in the online version of stories where the main topic is a website.

On a side note, the Four Eyed Monsters video podcast got more hits from a mention in my Vlog Soup video blog then they got from a mention in the New York Times.

Better promotion for the New England Podcasters would be blog posts by members, on their own blogs, linking to each other.

As a matter of fact, at the end of the meeting I asked the New England Podcsaters webmaster to start a blog, which he did:

http://newenglandpodcasting.wordpress.com

I think some podcasters miss out on a good form of promotion by only having an RSS feed or an iTunes subscription without an associated blog.

Blogs also allow podcasters to have a discussion with their listeners in the comments. Lots more podcasters should have blogs...

I'll be interested in seeing how the Boston Globe article on podcasters comes out and wonder how much promotion it'll actually give the group.

This blog post will probably give them more hits.

Click this link to the New England Podcasting new blog and let the counting begin.

9 comments:

  1. Steve, I think you are on track when you say a podcaster needs a blog. I don't 'subscribe' to podcasts via iTunes, but I do read blogs, look at 'show notes', and listen if something catches my eye. The idea of show notes is cool, because I may hear/read something a week later and remember seeing the same topic mentioned in a podcaster's show notes. The site that I would use as an example is Geeknewscentral.com. Todd lists what he talks about via links, I can 'study' the topics, and then listen to his commentary. If he just posted a podcast without any clue about that was being discussed, I wouldn't listen.

    I'm still waiting for your group to hit the south shore.... then I'd at least stand a chance getting off Cape to meet you all!

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  2. Steve,

    I stopped the reporter briefly that night to ask her her name, and she was a bit cryptic in her response. I found that strange.

    As for having a blog associated with your podcast, I agree that it's important. Podcasters that don't have them are indeed missing out on a key opportunity to further market and brand their show.

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  3. Anonymous9:25 AM

    Steve, can I make a case for the reporter. She is probably a freelancer and not a fulltimer. So, she is worried about offending her handlers -- reporters aren't supposed to be part of the story. Also, she, unlike you, isn't an independent operator. You have a blog, you in a sense own it, so whatever you say is yours and yours alone. That same rule doesn't apply to her. She works forthe Globe, she doesn't own the Globe. If she were to say something controversial then I am almost certain that you, or someone else, would have been blogging almost immediately Boston Globe says blah, blah, blah. And, her career at the that paper could have ended right then and there.

    I think the mistake is that you think that everyone has the freedom of a blogger and that just isn't true. She probably should have been more open and upfront, but then she was probably worried that she would be part of the story -- and you certainly proved she had a right to be worried about that.

    You are right about one thing -- she was there to write a story not be part of a social event. Was she better than you? No. And I doubt she thought she was. But I can say she, unlike you, was probably worried about doing a good job for her employer.

    Anyway, I don't mean any of this as criticism just to point out there are other plausible and logical explanations for her behavior that don't include her being some kind of arrogant shark out to feed on you and your friends.

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  4. Steve, I was there as well. I think the noise level of the room added to "the issue" there was a lot going on all at once. However, I will agree that the reporter was a bit odd. Myself, being from RI, was really outside of her "coverage area."

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  5. Steve, There is a defense to be made for your individual point of view, and a defense for the reporter's individual point of view, and plenty of understanding and grace to go around around for any individual who may have been walking in or out of this situation or any like it.

    The main point is not a problem with any single individual who does or doesn't to be part of the media stream. The main point is that there is something wrong with the overall system, and I thank you for pointing it out here in this post. Thanks! -- Dave

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  6. It behooves us to consider what the MSM has to offer us, if anything. A historical in-print record of our goings on is one thing. Folks still feel - myself included - that to be written about in the MSM elevates us somehow. Perhaps it's time to re-think that position. This is a good starting point for that.

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  7. I have a lot of respect for journalists but they really need to expect turnabout. Asking a reporter where they are from and where their article will appear is fair play. Even asking who they are and taking their picture if they take yours is fair. Allowing this type of thing is just plain polite. None of this interferes with journlistic freedom.

    Sounds like you got a rude interviewer, Steve. That's my analysis. I always get asked who I am and what I am doing when shooting in public. It's annoying, but you can't afford to piss off people you need for a story.

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  8. Pardon my French, but WHAT A B1TCH!!!

    That is such a horrible way to treat a person... she's like a location Nazi!

    I can't imagine having a videoblog without a site... it would make life so much more difficult for my web-illiterate parents! I still don't think they understand RSS...

    I will take your picture at Vloggercon... as you may take my picture if you feel so inclined. But I'd prefer getting a picture WITH you...

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  9. Nice post, Steve. If a reporter is going to cover an event composed of media makers, it's reasonable to expect that they might make some media out of that reporter's visit. Good for you for asserting yourself.

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