Wednesday, December 31, 2008
It's been my belief for some time that one of the problems with traditional journalism - least the way I was taught - is that it is increasingly seen as bland in this age of visual journalism, YouTube and blogging. When compared with the fire and crackle of its competitors, old school reporting can seem well... simply boring. We try so hard NOT to have opinions that our writing (and reporting) is so bland as to become irrelevant. The San Francisco Bay Guardian tackles this issue on its website with an interesting piece that quotes Arianna Huffington from her Huffington Post. To wit:
"Our highest responsibility is to the truth," Huffington told us in a recent interview. "The truth is not about splitting the difference between one side and the other. Sometimes one side is speaking the truth ... The central mission of journalism is the search for the truth."
I'm not advocating for every reporter to become an opinion writer, but sucking the life out of copy just to remain "unbiased" isn't the way either.
Once newspapers go broke, they won't be a source for the Internet anymore. But I can think of several good sources right off the bat:
(1) Media releases and other information provided by corporations, institutions, political parties and lobby groups. Of course, this will be biased, but no more so than the existing media. As it is, much 'journalism' consists of transcribing these sources anyway.
(2) Citizen reporting. With mobile phones becoming ubiquitous, capable of taking photos and even sending video streams in real time, it is increasingly likely that someone will be present at a breaking news event, recording it on the spot.
(3) Interested amateurs -- bloggers with a day job who are enthusiastic enough to pursue a story and analyse the details. We have quite a few good ones already.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
The key to effective social networks is maintaining a common sense of purpose and a feeling that change and progress is still achievable.
Small towns benefit greatly from the goodwill and influence of individuals. So do neighbourhoods, alumni classes, your work unit and other small groups.
The challenge for social media advocates will be to mute all the talk of larger networks influencing the individual, and learn to emphasize collective benefits (that might not necessarily be to the advantage of corporate or organizational sponsors)
Not that anybody suspected otherwise, but once again Bakersfield shows up on a newly released list of the nation's worst real estate markets. Eight of those ten are in California and Bakersfield is ranked No. 9. It's another indication that we've got a ways to go to dig out of this mess, and any recovery will be half hearted with real estate leading the way. The list is from the NBC affiliate in the Bay Area and was compiled by the S&P Case-Shiller national home price index. 2009 looks like another tough year.
Top Ten Worst Markets
1) Los Angeles: Projected to be down 24.9 percent in 2009
2) Stockton: Projected 2009: down 24.7 percent
3) Riverside: Projected 2009: down 23.3 percent
4) Miami-Miami Beach: Projected 2009: down 22.8 percent
5) Sacramento: Projected 2009: 22.2 percent
6) Santa Ana-Anaheim: Projected 2009: down 22 percent
7) Fresno: Projected 2009: down 21.6 percent
8) San Diego: Projected 2009: 21.1 percent
9) Bakersfield: Projected 2009: down 20.9 percent
10) Washington, D.C.: Projected 2009: down 19.9 percent
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Spent a lovely evening last night at Luigi's where banker Bart Hill held a private reception to unveil his latest sideline: extra virgin olive oil. Seems Bart, president of San Joaquin Bank, has 13 acres of olive trees near Visalia and is now marketing his own boutique brand, appropriately named "13 Acres." Luigi's is of course a special place and it was packed with Bakersfield business people, along with a lot of their kids home from school. What struck me were the number of bright, articulate youngsters we send off to school who never come back. There's simply few opportunities for them here. Among them were Bart's girls, Paige (University of North Carolina) who is now in grad school at the University of South Carolina, and Elizabeth (also UNC) who is working in Washington, D.C. Also there were Katie Benham (UC Davis), working in Newport Beach, Sam Brandon, a sophomore at Colorado at Boulder, and my own daughter Lauren Beene (UC Berkeley) who is working in New York. "13 Acres" is on sale now at Luigi's but unfortunately we only see these promising young people there on rare occasions.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Friday, December 26, 2008
Fred Wilson says what I’ve been thinking: That we’re in more than a financial crisis, we’re in a fundamental restructuring.
Clearly the economic downturn is the direct cause of most of these failures but I believe it is the straw that broke the camel’s back in most cases.
The internet, now closing in on 15 years old in its mainstream incarnation as the world wide web, is in many cases the underlying cause of these business failures.
Bits of information flowing over a wire (or through the air) are just more efficient than physical infrastructure….
This downturn will be marked in history as the time where many of the business models built in the industrial era finally collapsed as a result of being undermined by the information age.
Fred outlines fundamental changes in retail, banking, and auto sales, to name three industries, and then is kind enough to plug my book for more.
I also argued in a recent Guardian column that not only will specific industries be overtaken by this change but so will the structure of the economy as - post-crisis, post-Google - companies and sectors will no longer grow to critical mass through vast ownership funded by vast debt but instead, Google-like, by building networks atop platforms. Industries will change and so will the structure in which they operate.
The point in any case is that it would be a mistake to think that we will come out of this financial crisis soon wounded but still seeing the world the way we saw it before. In the graveyard of camels with broken backs, we will see a new world newly structured and we’re only beginning to figure it out.
In this sense, media - music, newspapers, TV, magazines, books - may be lucky to be among the first to undergo this radical restructuring. Communications was also early on because it - like media - appeared close to the internet and Google (though, as I say in the post below, it’s a mistake to see the internet strictly as media or as pipes; it’s something other). Other industries and institutions - advertising, manufacturing, health, education, government… - are next and they, like their predecessors, don’t see what’s coming, especially if they think all they’re undergoing is a crisis. The change is bigger, more fundamental, and more permanent than that.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
To: V2020 Facilitation Team
Holly Culhane called with a request to identify a 1-2 day project for 500 local volunteers. Think back on what the community said they wanted and send me (or Holly) some ideas for this energetic group that can help our community become a better place. With the proper publicity, this volunteer activity could inspire others to do similar projects, and voila! Meantime, all the best wishes to you and your families for a wonderful holiday. Wishing peace for you and for the world, in the new year. Sheryl
We could use a few more Sheryls in this town....
The 2008 Lists:
Top 10 U.S. Cities Most Polluted by Short-Term Particle Pollution:
1) Pittsburgh, Pa.
2) Los Angeles/Long Beach/Riverside, Calif.
3) Fresno/Madera, Calif.
4) Bakersfield, Calif.
5) Birmingham, Ala.
6) Logan, Utah
7) Salt Lake City, Utah
8) Sacramento, Calif.
9) Detroit, Mich.
10) Baltimore, Md./Washington, D.C./Northern Virginia.
Top 10 U.S. Cities Most Polluted by Year-Round Particle Pollution:
1) Los Angeles/Long Beach/Riverside, Calif.
2) Pittsburgh, Pa.
3) Bakersfield, Calif.
4) Birmingham, Ala.
5) Visalia/Porterville, Calif.
6) Atlanta, Ga.
7) Cincinnati, Ohio
8) Fresno/Madera, Calif.
9) Hanford/Corcoran, Calif.
10) Detroit, Mich.
Top 10 U.S. Cities Most Polluted by Ozone:
1) Los Angeles/Long Beach/Riverside, Calif.
2) Bakersfield, Calif.
3) Visalia/Porterville, Calif.
4) Houston, Texas
5) Fresno/Madera, Calif.
6) Sacramento, Calif.
7) Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
8) New York, N.Y./Newark, N.J.
9) Baltimore, Md./Washington, D.C./Northern Virginia
10) Baton Rouge, La.
"I’ve often heard from people that they would like to get their foot in the door of community life but
1) nothing ever changes, so why try?
2) they’re overwhelmed by the size and number of our problems and 3) they don’t know HOW to get involved.
I’ll try and address the issues listed above and, hopefully, Santa will sprinkle a little “anti-apathy” powder over Kern County tonight. But the rest is up to you!
Yes, things do change when average people get involved."Amen, Lois, amen.