Last night, I had the chance to attend the WNBC New York City Bloggers' Summit. I've got a lot of different opinions on the event, some positive and some more critical, mostly based on my comparisons to similar events that have been held by local TV stations in Nashville and San Francisco.
The goal, stated briefly, was to engage bloggers and encourage them to provide information and resources to the station's newsgathering efforts, in exchange for credit and exposure. This point was reiterated many times, though there was also some conversation about providing TV assets in a format that'd be more accessible for bloggers as well.
Until I get the chance to collect my thoughts more, I thought I'd point you at their story about the summit, above, and the best collected thoughts on the night that I've seen, over at Modern Fabulosity. Though ModFab is a little more uniformly critical than I would have been, every single one of the points raised there is accurate. I was bummed I didn't get to talk to more folks last night, but hey, my contact info's on the side of every page of this site -- if you were there, get in touch.
Lynne captured a few more responses, including a shot of, you guessed it, me hogging the mic. Say a humility prayer for me, people.
For what it's worth, there have definitely been much bigger blogger gatherings (the NYC Photobloggers event in 2004 at the Apple store was at least as big, and I think later events have been bigger) and there have been more comprehensive ones (Cam's 1999 dinner probably collected over 80% of all bloggers in NYC at the time) but it's still always nice to see everyone get together.
In short, I think Erin Monteiro and Sree Srinivasan at WNBC did a great job of reaching out to the blogging community honestly and with an open mind, but some of the innate structural assumptions of a major market local TV news station probably limited the dialogue in some fundamental ways. For example, the segment that ran on WNBC's broadcast last night showed a few crowd shots of everyone, and then the one person whose comments got featured was... on-air talent from the station. The crowd was also surprisingly homogenous, both in demographics and in the topics their blogs covered. (No mention of food blogs, no mention of art or film blogs, no mention of hobby/craft blogs, etc.) And lots of people, both the bloggers and the broadcasters, seemed unaware of the importance of personal blogs as a connection to family and friends.
All those criticisms aside, I am loathe to flame the station for "not getting it". Not least because, well, no other affiliates have even tried to have the conversation. Our hosts were gracious, as open as they could be given their constraints, and have definitely left open the possibility for more interaction between bloggers and local TV news.
And at the very least, I watched a local TV news broadcast in New York City last night, for perhaps the first time since roughly September 12, 2001. That has to count for something.