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New Media (Guard) vs. Old Media (Guard)

I just returned from a very cool lunch/debate - the Time Magazine Person of the Year Debate. Every year, Time puts together a panel of luminaries to debate who should be Time's Person of the Year.

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/


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 16th, 2004 12:44 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for writing about this -- it's a great insider look into something I hear about every year (Time's Person of the Year) but never really think about who chooses or why.

I totally agree that there's an Old Guard/New Guard corrolation here. I also feel a bit like Brian Williams is the senior in college whining because the freshmen aren't getting hazed the way he did. Here Brian Williams is, poised to take over from Brokaw, and assuming that the mantle he is taking is that of "revered newsman" and one of the "big three" who were formerly Brokaw, Rather, Jennings. But now he gets to the top and realizes that there is no big three anymore, that cable and the net have given him dozens more competitors, and if he wants to be Mr. "Revered Newsman" he's actually going to have to earn it, not just show up at NBC's anchor desk.

I've often wished that those who reach the top would spend more time lending a hand to those just reaching the bottom rung and starting the climb, rather than look down and spit on them to make the climb harder.
Nov. 16th, 2004 01:13 pm (UTC)
To answer your question on how the POY is chosen: The person of the year is always selected by the editorial staff of Time. No more, no less. One funny statement to come out of the panel was when Alessandra Stanley asked Jim Kelly, the moderator, if they could have a show of hands as to who on the panel thought it should be Karl Rove, and who thought it should be God.

Jim Kelly responded - "Nope, we are not a democracy here."

The Person of the Year is given to the person who has been most newsworthy, inspired the most discussion and thought, who captured societies attention, for good or bad. This is why Stalin was POY twice, for example. A lot of people try to put the POY issue in the same category as a Nobel prize, where it is given to the most positive person who made the greatest contribution to society's good. Well they might give it to the person who gave a contribution, but it aint always good.
Nov. 16th, 2004 01:23 pm (UTC)
Oh, I've always understood about it being the most influential/newsworthy person, not the "best" person or a necessarily good one. But thanks for the other details. And your write-up was better than Sullivans. :)
Nov. 16th, 2004 01:20 pm (UTC)
But now he gets to the top and realizes that there is no big three anymore, that cable and the net have given him dozens more competitors, and if he wants to be Mr. "Revered Newsman" he's actually going to have to earn it, not just show up at NBC's anchor desk.

Ha! Brillant.
Nov. 16th, 2004 12:59 pm (UTC)
During the bike protests during the RNC people would have blogs of the event. Video tape segments and put it on their blogs, take pictures and post them, have wireless connections so they could post time lines of events.

These blogs have made the legal process so much easier for them. Over 600 people total have been arrested during the Critical Mass rides over the past two months and also the 2 other bike protests during the RNC.

The police have called the blogging news a form of anarchy. When in reality it has been a voice of the truth. It exposes what really happened.

I find it interesting that the "Old School" is complaining about this. It means that no one is listening to their spin anymore. There are other ways and means to get to the truth and it's not just the standard old ways.
Nov. 16th, 2004 01:26 pm (UTC)
Personally, I don't like either the Rove or "God" picks (I really don't like God, too cutesy). W seems the obvious answer, given how the election blindsided Blue America. Can't think of anyone better.

I remember in 2002 when they chose "The Whistleblowers" (wtf?). At the time I went to time.com and voted in thier own online poll "Do you agree with Time's pick?" Several hundred thousands replies, 5% yes, 95% no.
Nov. 16th, 2004 02:24 pm (UTC)
Great post.
I agree with you about the OG/NG debate though. That's what happens when "the way it's always been" meets "the way it works now".

I don't think that Traditionalists ever see the new wave coming a lot of time. You can either stand there and drown because your traditions hold you in one place or you can kick free of some of them and swim or even learn to ride the wave.
Nov. 16th, 2004 08:04 pm (UTC)
I think it should be Martha. :)

I also think blogs will definitely have more impact than the web (except maybe google, of course) ever did.
Nov. 16th, 2004 08:07 pm (UTC)
great post...

definitely sounded like a very enlightening debate.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )