Wednesday, January 25th, 2006
I say taking over the mic. Oh wait, that’s over at our podcast. Suw and I have so many of these chats over coffee and crepes (I can’t believe it took an American to introduce her to Nutella) that we decided to capture some of our conversations and invite a few more people to the table.
You know Suw. I affectionately refer to you, her adoring masses, as Suw’s posse. But who is this Kevin character?
The Edward R Murrow of the internet
A friend once said of me that everyone wants something from me but managers don’t know exactly what to do with me. Sure, my journalism career started pretty traditionally. I went to J-school at the University of Illinois, but it just so happened that while I was studying to be an ink-stained wretch, Marc Andreessen and Eric Bina were on the other end of campus coming up with Mosaic.
Before that, I thought the internet was pretty cool, but I couldn’t see my parents getting into it. They had trouble with the VCR and the microwave. How the hell were they going to get their heads around this internet thing? (Bless ‘em. I just got them onto Skype over Christmas.) But when I saw Mosaic, I thought as a journalist, this is going to change everything I do. I was just a little ahead of my time.
So when my managers scratch their heads and try to figure out where the hell to shoe horn me into the org chart, they ask, but what is it that you want to do? I want to be the Edward R Murrow of the internet.
My television professor told me that before Murrow, television journalism was really just radio with pictures. Radio presenters just sat in front of a TV camera. Murrow helped create a grammar for telling stories tele-visually.
What is internet journalism? Some 10 years into this project, it’s still way too much newspaper and TV journalism regurgitated on a webpage. I went to a great talk by Danish multimedia visionary Ulrik Haagerup last year. He said that at our most basic, journalists are storytellers. We’ve got all these new ways of telling a story, but we might as well be radio presenters reading out reports on a computer screen for all the innovation in the industry.
Our audience is doing it better
But our audiences aren’t waiting for us. Neil McIntosh says that blogging is the first native storytelling format to develop on the internet. A friend of mine said that he worried that blogging had stopped the development of digital storytelling in its tracks.
I initially agreed with him, and then I took a quick look at the really amazing ways that people are telling stories online, and then I realised that blogging and social media are driving digital storytelling online more in the last few years than we professionals had done in the last decade.
Colleagues ask me why I blog. Robert Scoble told me at a London Geek Dinner last year that blogging keeps him and Microsoft close to its customers. Blogging keeps me close and more relevant to my audience than the one-way journalism of yesterday, and blogging increasingly keeps me close to the digital storytellers that are leading the way.
PS. Thanks to Ben Hammersley who shot the picture of me at Les Blogs 2.0.