Wednesday, May 03, 2006

We Media 2006

Very quickly, because I have to pack, eat and get up at 3.30am to go to Spain.
Updates from the citizen journalism conference session I attended here by experts who know more than me.

It was a thought-provoking afternoon, I can't believe I was asked to go. I rushed at 1.30pm, having booked a half day off work to attend, and caught Richard Dreyfuss, who was sobering. I was very grateful to be asked by the BBC to come, having blogged for them w/c 7/7, they occasionally invite me things. I was honoured to have the chance to meet such interesting people. I felt like a bit of a foolish fraud, though, having only come into blogging since last July. What do I know about anything? I'm still unable to manage HTML code with any degree of competence, for heaven's sake? How can one person offer anything more than a personal insight into the [crap word alert ] blogosphere, anyway?

I was struck by the sense of Them and Us, the 'old media' wary but seemingly wanting to engage with the new, and the new media frustrated, sometimes chippy, often passionately challenging. Why the tension, I wondered? It's all content, wherever you source it from, and you choose what you consume and how much faith you put in it. The blogs you choose to read, if you read any, the paper you buy, the channels you watch, say as much about you as your hobbies, friends and voting tendencies. In a wired world where technology means we are all gossips round the village well, the amount of trust you place in sources depends ultimately on your own prejudices. And I think most people pick the media that confirms their views, rather than challenges them. We're all more conservative than we think, I think. Old media has little to fear. It needn't feel twitchy.

Report on the panel I was on here.
You know, I am a real muppet, I didn't realise it was such a big conference when I said I'd go. I thought it was a BBC internal training conference. Dur. And '50,000' hits a day, I wish. Nope. I misheard the question as 'how many people have read your blog', not read. Indescribably embarrassing. Though the original BBC blog I did got well over a million hits, I was told, in the first two weeks. Hey ho, sorry for being a twat, sitemeter fans. At least I got to big up some top UK political bloggers, when we were asked what blogs we read. Sorry to those I didn't have a chance to mention, like Bloggerheads, Blairwatch, Curious Hamster and everyone else in my blogroll.

The people who care most about blogging and media and the Dead Tree/Pyjama Kid debate are, of course, bloggers and journalists themselves. And we're notorious for navel-gazing. So we can have this big old debate, but meanwhile, our readers skim us, whilst shovelling cereal into the toddler's mouth, hunting for a bus fare, nursing a hangover or talking on their mobile phones. We're not that important, any of us, however hard we work, however big we are. Media is a part of people's lives but it doesn't define them.

And we bloggers? Sometimes we are lucky enough to touch the lives of strangers. Mostly, I think we are lucky to be heard. Thought, type, post. It is instantaneous and it still staggers me, when I see that someone has read my blog in Ontario, or Brazil, or Israel. I look at their pages and I have a window into someone's soul. We write because we want to write, and if anyone listens or reads us, or cares, then that is personally very satisfying. And we are privileged to do so, not everyone has the tools to become a citizen journalist. Not everyone has access to the wired world, and many stories that deserve to be heard remain unhold.

But it is important that there are all of these passionate people; writers, journalists, bloggers, photographers rushing about, caring, arguing, shouting, researching, engaging, whether as an personal interest or a career. If we're all round the well talking to each other, caring enough to exchange opinions and take an interest in each other's affairs, sharing information, then we're doing all right, I think. We've got a future, together, because we have a stakehold in it. Bruce Chatwin called humans 'the story-telling mammal'; and what journalism and blogging show is that we will always tell each other our stories, swap opinions, fall out, mistrust, rant and laugh and generally take a great deal of interest in one another. Where truth is in all of this is subjective, and who the story belongs to, who has the wisdom or the right to tell it, is a matter for endless debate. Keep the stories coming though, it's what we are all here for. It keeps us human, in a world that moves at the speed of thought. It keeps us connected, together, alive. Wemedia? We People. As long as it's We, not Them, we'll be fine.


Back blogging next week. I'm off to Spain for our work conference. Taxi at 4a.m. Been a long, long day. Comment moderator is on, sorry, there's been a lot of hostility from a few posters, so I'm calling it. I'll publish comments and be back online over the weekend. Adios!

9 Comments:

Blogger MatGB said...

Heh, Paulie quoted me in his presentation, so I was there in spirit.

I need to move to London. Have fun in Spain.

May 04, 2006 1:14 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

fjl, walk away, its not worth your time.

May 04, 2006 1:15 am  
Blogger associatecontributor1 said...

Rachel,

You should start a second blog with the sole purpose of fooling around in html, that way you won't have to worry about potentially losing content. It worked for me.

May 04, 2006 2:00 am  
Blogger The Moai said...

Rachel - great news for you here: (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4975938.stm) - he's gone, ahahahaaa!

May 05, 2006 12:42 pm  
Anonymous Julia said...

Sorry to hear you've had problems with the fjl troll (and mysterious anonymous posters agreeing with it - 'sock puppets', I presume?). The Copper's Blog was recently hit by this, and had to put on moderation (and it's showing up at Chicken Yoghurt now, too).

The beauty of the Internet - that everyone has a voice - is also it's downfall - that everyone has a voice!

Don't let it put you off - your blog is well written, with a noble purpose, and I hope it helps you work through your experience.

May 06, 2006 11:33 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

May 07, 2006 7:34 am  
Blogger fjl said...

People are entitled to their own opinions but the juila and samthemean comments are actionable libel. You are aware there is a complaint made by me to police which has been taken seriously about such people. Would you please remove the remarks in question to avoid my having to make the nesc. complaints, thanks.

FJL

May 07, 2006 3:57 pm  
Anonymous seth said...

hiya,

boy you are really a world traveler;first your trip to turkey and now spain. i havent been there but i hear its great.

again,one day in the near future im going to london-gotta have the ay caramba fajita pizza from dominos yum yum alas dominos united states never responded to my email asking if we yanks will get this product. :(

May 07, 2006 6:04 pm  
Blogger Paul said...

You seem to be anti-Blair, but I can't see you supporting the Torries?

May 07, 2006 9:18 pm  

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