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Print journalist blasts new feature

KATV in Arkansas has launched a new interactive feature that lets users/viewers select one two-minute news story that airs in the six o’clock news and is published online. Hosted and reported by Kristin Fisher, the “Choose Your News” feature also includes a Twitter feed and live streams from both the field (when available) and Kristin’s desk. Now the idea isn’t terribly new, but what I find fascinating is what a local print journalist has to say about it. Here’s columnist John Brummett now:

“I am so old that I remember when news professionals – trained news hounds who got called editors – beheld the contemporary landscape each day and decided with supposed professional and experience-seasoned expertise what to assign reporters to cover. We didn’t take a poll. We didn’t ask anonymous yahoos with laptops and BlackBerrys and other telephonic gadgetry to click on some icon and dictate our activities.”

So Fisher asked Brummett if he’d like to come on her web show, The Daily Debrief, to talk about it. Brummett responded with a second column, blasting it as “gimmicky” and deriding local TV news. Then he wrote this:

“I’m told that this multiple-choice reporter has called me out with a public invitation, on her blog or her twitter or whatever, to debate her before her ubiquitous Web camera with its on-line audience of literally dozens of voyeurs and three or four lonely, misfit bloggers who spend all their time communicating only with each other. I need not lend my experience and credibility to draw her a crowd.”

Talk about an amazing contrast. On one side, is listening to their users/viewers, who are now sending in significantly more story ideas, which is resulting in better, more relevant coverage. They’re experimenting with new approaches to interactivity — some will work, others won’t. On the other side, Brummett and his old school print buddies are listening to themselves, praising their high-and-mighty ways, criticizing any experimental efforts to engage their audience, watching wave after wave of layoffs as their industry collapses.

As I’ve written before, what I’ve learned from my neighborhood blogging on is that we’re not covering the community, we’re moderating it. We provide a layer of journalism over the top of a vibrant online community. Because the community is smarter than us. And the sooner we can find ways to engage the community around a new business model, the better.

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