Impromptu Podcast 28: Flipping Bell the Bird

Those of you in the US probably haven't been following the #belltwit hashtag on Twitter to know that Bell Mobility in Canada has been giving us an example of how NOT to market to a web-savvy generation.
After Twitter removing SMS updates in Canada a few months back (to great dismay) Bell scooped up the monopoly on SMS tweets only to announce that there would be a 15 cent in and out charge ON TOP of existing text plans as tweets were considered "premium".
That was modified 18 hours ago to only include outgoing (which is still ridiculous). Just earlier this evening the issue was finally resolved in Bell "cutting a deal" with Twitter to use its API in a way that would cost any additional amount to those already on text message plans.
Please check out to find the real disturbing stats on the price gouging that occurs with SMS/text messaging and join "Text Nothing Day" on the 15th of each month.

lovehate: Podcamp - Peaks, Pitfalls, #pcto09

After attending, enduring, and being encompassed by my first Podcamp over the past few days, I'm hoping I can relay some of the peaks, pitfalls and go forward plans on my realtionship with with the experience.

First the good - and there were numerous great things that I experienced as a novice to the proceedings. As I've echoed in previous blog posts about conferences (especially some on the grand scale), the reason most people go to them, I believe anyway, is to be around like-minded individuals that they especially would not be able to hang out with on a regular basis. I'll be the first to admit that my immediate circle of friends and acquaintances that I see every day have little interest in blogs, podcasts or new media in general. Sure, some of them may consumer as an end-user and think they've tapped some vast arcane cool "alternative" thing, but most will get a glazed look in their eyes upon anything that sounds like jargon. So the immediate best thing about my Podcamp experience was being part of the hive mind that made up such an event.

I also met a bunch of great people. Although I'm far from a social butterfly (more like a wallflower moth that dabbles in moments of grandeur) I did get the opportunity to meet a solid group of people that I will maintain some sort of contact with especially around like events.

I like the idea of an "unconference" more than the execution. I love the anarchic feel of having anyone present about anything within the parameters of the event, but I will admit that such a process, or lack of one, does lend to some weak presenters and/or deceptively-titled workshops. I got the feeling that, other than sitting back and absorbing knowledge from someone like Chris Brogan, even experienced Podcampers were willing to sit through a workshop led by someone with less experience if there was a strong interactive component. Let's face it, we want to stamp our tag on everything as communicators and the venue of a "classroom" to wax intellectual about something we know about is too good to pass up. This said, there were still plenty of "traditional" presenters doing the preacher from the pulpit thing that can be engaging with the right dose of charisma and content.

The only trend that through me over the event was the huge number of PR people who were present on Saturday. I get that new media is still media and media is message and message is money, but, without knowing what to expect, my thoughts were that most people there would be indy bloggers and podcasters like myself instead of industry people. That's not to say the culture was bad, but it did throw me for a bit of a loop when one presenter asked how many PR people were in the room at a workshop I was in and half the hands went up out of about 80 people.

My single most gratifying moment, and one that to me summed up a combination of both the business side, the social media, the gathering itself, was the result of a challenge I threw out to a rep from Molson's via Twitter about a week ago. When I learned Molson's was sponsoring the big Saturday night event and saw the rep's name while watching the #pcto09 hashtag (which was the biggest trend on all of Twitter for the entire weekend mind you) I threw out the challenge of having a cold bottle of Molson Stock Ale waiting when I got to the party.

Thinking that, at best, it would be the prompt for some ribbing and casual conversation upon getting there (and quite honestly not even knowing if Molson Stock Ale was still being bottled) imagine my surprise when @molsonferg went behind the bar and pulled out the Stock Ale for myself and a couple of new acquaintances - those of us over 35 remember the original "Blue" with nostalgic reverence. So cheers to Molson for doing up the event right.

I can honestly say I'm already looking forward to Podcamp Toronto 2010 and got more than one prompt to get me thinking about Podcamp Hamilton. So for all you new media folks in the Hamilton, ON area, get in touch and maybe we can get something together.

Let the law of two feet live - so say we all!

Molson Stock Ale

lovehate: Citizen Journalism - An Oxymoron

I never thought I'd miss the days of some wide-eyed day-shift reporter who never thought they were ever going to do anything but read headline copy go painstakingly over a diagram or schematic 35 times while so-called experts, who were usually just whoever could be reached by phone first, were called to comment on the same picture. I never thought I would miss that until the Hudson River Splashdown.

What followed on CNN was some of the most painful reporting I have ever seen since the network kept vigil outside of Brett Favre's plane on the tarmac for 45 minutes when he came to NYC before signing last season.

I don't know, or want to know, the reporter's name as I've tried to burn all record of it from my skull, but CNN talked to a man who saw the plane touch down in the river from his 25th floor office and then disappear from sight behind other buildings. Ben Vonklemperer's moment in the sun was peppered with questions like: "Did the plane seem in distress?", "Were there any obvious signs something was wrong?", and "How do you think the pilot handled the situation?" This is a guy in AN OFFICE! One minute he's pushing papers around a desk and the next he's being called into services as a field correspondent in avionics.

Don't get me wrong, I'm as excited about the prospect of 10,000 points of information streaming in from an array of sources when a crisis arises. The web is equipped to deal with such information, the television networks are not. Two friends and I sat in front of the CNN web feed while this poor guy was being asked to wax intellectual about things he had no idea about, and one could tell from the tone of his voice that he was as dumbfounded at the questions as the viewers were.

Citizen Journalism is an oxymoron.

A citizen can witness, absorb, and even find ways to interact with a story. Their participation in a story is, in many ways, part of the story itself. A witness is flooded by perceptions from one viewpoint at one time. They are qualified to relay just that, one viewpoint from one time.

A reporter's job is to parse the viewpoints and opinions and statements and subjectivity and objectivity to craft what comes to be, at least with everything available at the time, a definitive statement about the events until the next definitive statement comes along. The web scares the hell out of real reporters and journalists. Let's face it, the concept of being "scooped" has always been the death knell of a story. If someone reports before you do, your story is derivative. Television news, with it's current technology, will ALWAYS be scooped by the web.

But reporters shouldn't be afraid of this. They should, instead, still take the time to craft the story instead of providing us the equivalent of a Twitter hashfeed over the air. This immediacy to journalism, while intoxicating to some viewers, yet strangely excruciating to me, has turned journalism into rehash and reporting into commercial fishing: let's cast a big net and see if we can come up with anything.

Twitter users are not journalists. They only qualify as reporters at the semantic level and, most often, the only real information their reporting in how many other people are tweeting the same things. Someone who snaps a picture on their iPhone may or may not be a good photographer, but they are certainly not a journalist.

Television journalism is dying because networks are trying to keep up with a medium that moves fast that cable news feeds or satellite hookups. The reason these so-called "citizen journalists" are getting any credibility at all is not because citizen journalists are getting better, but simply that traditional journalism is getting worse.

On a sliding scale between Ron Burgundy and Walter Cronkite, the credibility and attention to crafting a clear, concise story places almost all citizen journalists well below Burgundy. Traditional journalists, however, are showing themselves quite adept at closing that gap... maybe that's how they roll.

citizen journalist