Sat in a Meet the Press panel today with the group Leadership Pikes Peak. The media present were: Tak Landrok, KRDO-Ch 13 Investigative reporter, who evidently has a reputation for no-holds bar news reporting. Sue McMillin, Gazette Local News Editor, who finds less information available with the use of social media and websites. Betty Sexton, an anchor on KKTV-11, who's theme was constant communication between news editors and anchors and interview subjects. Lastly, there was James Jarman, an investigative reporter from KOAA, News First 5, who felt that government is hiding something and it is the media's job to hold them accountable.
I've sat through a few of these panels before and most of their revelations weren't new, but there were some things that struck me as interesting.
1-- They thought the role of the media is to give information to the public and the public is supposed to act on that information. They were bewildered at some of the issues people turned a blind eye to or turned away from with the attitude that there was nothing they could do about it, particularly with crooked politicians. It does make a news reader ask: what am I supposed to do with this information?
2-- There seem to be an incoherent lack of understanding about how social media works. Twitter and Facebook are not the only forms of social media, yet these plus blogs, were the only ones mentioned several times by all panel members. I understand why considering these two are by far surpassing the competition. However, I think they are missing a major news audience and opportunity by not understanding this realm.
3-- The unity with which they seem to agree that 20 and 30 somethings don't engage in the news was disheartening to me, especially since Pew Research did a study proving that wrong. James did mention that they are engaged just in different ways rather than the traditional News at 6. I almost wonder if they are alienating that age group by thinking that all they want is Hollywood news. James even admitted to getting into the business because he read the news at that age. Are they confusing "that age" with teenagers or 20 and 30 somethings in college and starting careers who are interested in the news and reading/watching it? They are just doing it on smart phones and laptops. Hmmmm....
4-- Information has actually become harder to get because of social media and online resources. They used to get the police blotter or coroner's reports or other public records by having face to face interaction with people, but now with those organizations sending out information on Twitter or Facebook, it seems that those organizations feel that is enough information. Rather than let the journalist or reporter decide what information they need, the source is doing it for them. While in some ways, this is easier for snagging new tips, it's harder for actually investigating news. Therefore, the need to cultivate relationships with ongoing sources (i.e. law enforcement, government agencies, etc...) is greater.
5-- It is also harder to get public records. What used to take a day or less is now taking days or weeks. As always, stonewalling won't get the story squashed.
All in all, I thought it was rather informative, and I'll definitely attend the next one. I just wonder if they learned anything as well.