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Game on...

by Joe Donlon

Bio | Email | Follow: @pdxpeacock

Posted on November 16, 2005 at 6:52 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 18 at 2:27 PM

Welcome to the next generation of television news.

It seems like only yesterday, I was writing my first news stories on a typewriter. Back then, I would roll 5 sheets of paper into an IBM machine the size of a large watermelon - and drop carbon paper in between each sheet to ensure everyone had a copy of the script.

Fast forward 20 years, and I find myself in front of a computer screen - writing an entry for my own blog. Talk about an evolution.

It's hard for some people to make the link between 'television' news, and a blog entry on the Internet. Frankly, I include myself in that group at times. But that's where our business is heading. More accurately, I should say, that's where the business of 'information consumption' is heading.

Somewhere along the line, consumers began to doubt - or at least challenge - some of what they were hearing from print and broadcast outlets. I should point out, however, this is NOT new. I still remember covering the Republican National Convention in 1992, where the hot souvenir was a T-shirt emblazoned with three words: BLAME THE MEDIA.

Still, several recent scandals at journalistic institutions like the New York Times didn't help our cause. The mainstream media was deemed tainted and unreliable, and independent 'blogging' was born. Everyone had an opinion, and they didn't need a middle man (the media) getting in the way of their version of a story. Either way, it got everyone's attention.

And this is our response. Our colleague, Brian Williams, was one of the first to see the value in this additional dialog. In my opinion, it has become an effective way to let people into our thought process as a news organization. As Brian recently said, "If we can show how a bill becomes a law in terms of televison news, we become more approachable, more human in people's eyes, and less of a monolith."

I have absolutely found that to be the case. People often write or call with complaints about a certain story. After allowing them to vent, I explain our version of what happened and why, and they immediately seem to better understand why we do what we do.

Already, though, critics question whether this effort it is nothing more than a promotional ploy. Personally, I don't think that's an issue. Television news is often criticized as shallow and transparent, and if this somehow allows us to reach out to those skeptical viewers - everyone wins. I don't think there is such a thing as "too much information."

Despite what some people might think, we do not make content decisions with reckless disregard. Our newsroom is filled with dedicated journalists who are committed to producing fair, accurate, and compelling newscasts, and we often have very sprited - and even heated debates in our daily meetings. Now, thanks to yet another twist in the ever changing world of information technology, you will be included in that debate - warts and all.

I look forward to it.

Joe Donlon