Wednesday, June 17, 2009

On the Media: Eyes on the Ground

Pulled an early post from this morning because it really didn't say what I wanted it to. It's so easy as a blogger to just put stuff out there and forget about it. So I wanted to do this post right.

In all the talk about traditional media and social media, between cable news and Twitter, between that generation and this generation... there has been one thing vitally missing: the people involved.

Thank god for Robert Fisk. His reporting from the streets of Baghdad comes in the best tradition of in-the-moment reporters stemming from Edward R. Murrow right up to the present. Without these reporters, news is just a sham.

Thank god also for the students and Twitterers inside Iran who have risked so much to show to the world what their country is going through. They too have a little Murrow in them.

It's easy, in the heat of battle as-it-were, to sling arrows with little regard for where they fall. Fisk and his ilk deserve better than to be compared to studio reporters who wouldn't know a story if it exploded in front of them. And the Iranian Twitterers deserve better than to be written off or -- even worse -- merely defined by their medium.

When it comes down to the brass tacks, good reporting isn't about whether you publish in the New York Times or whether you Tweet from a college dorm in Tehran. It's about whether you are honest about what you see.

Changes are taking place in front of our eyes. The mainstream media will not be the same after the events that have taken place in Iran. Not if they can be honest with themselves.

Likewise, the role of social media has changed. When you have the US Department of State telling Twitter not to shut down for scheduled maintenance in the midst of the protests, you know we have transcended the old criticisms of social media as a meaningless trend.

This is the world our students are growing up in. And more than anything, I hope that the events of the past days will change the way school leaders view social media.

But even more important than that, I hope for all humanities' sake, we recognize the value in having eyes on the ground with connections to the rest of us.

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