This year, the panelists included:
Brian Williams, NBC News anchorman
Rev. Al Sharpton
Coleen Rowley, 2002 Person of the Year (she was the FBI 9-11 whistleblower - I got to sit next to her for a while!)
Andrew Sullivan, the infamous gay republican blogger and Time columnist
Alessandra Stanley, NY Times TV Critic (and a waste of space on this panel)
The panel was fascinating - each of them definetely had their own view of the universe, and it was refreshing to hear so many different viewpoints. After the magnetic pole-like atmosphere of the election, seeing people "in the middle" was breath of fresh air.
The panelists pretty much agreed between two "people" - Karl Rove, for being the main reason George Bush won the election (pretty much everyone agreed with the statement of "sorry, George just isn't that smart.) The other was God, with a reasoning of how today every group and person and idea somehow looks and claims to have God's backing. It was an interesting point.
But not what I want to talk about.
What I found infinetely more fascinating was a mini-debate that occurred between Sullivan and Williams. The moderator, Jim Kelly who is the Managing Editor of Time, asked Sullivan about the effects of the new blogging universe on today's society. Sullivan spoke about how there are so many more ideas and opinions out for consumption now, and how it is such a positive thing (which I agree with.)
The fascinating part was here - Williams begins this little speach on how traditional media reporters and anchors had a set path to follow, a set of rules to obey, a little club of personalities who earned their position and title. He then expressed dismay over how "anyone with a keyboard and a modem" can now consider themselves a journalist.
Anyone hear a resemblance between the leather community's old guard vs. new guard debate? Hmmm. Sounds like Williams and his "old boy" network are starting to feel the heat.
Sullivan was very smart with his response, talking about how we need to "trust the reader," and that they are "not stupid." Bad blogs will go away, good journalistic blogs will get popular. He also pointed out how venerable brands such as the NY Times and Time Magazine were once rags, and had to build the reputation that they have now.
Looks like 5 years of blogging is starting to make its mark. And, the old guard/new guard debate is happening in every spere of thought... and I find it just as annoying there.
Edit: See Andrew Sullivan's thoughts on the debate - http://andrewsullivan.com/