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Sunday, October 29, 2006

8-Track Cable TV

(My opening remarks at the recent Alliance for Community Media Western Region Conference in San Jose)

I begin with a newspaper quote that will ring familiar to all practitioners of public access media.

“My interest is very intense around my family, my community and my friends. Obviously, traditional journalistic institutions don’t scale down to the level of my kid’s soccer game. And yet, there is a reporting function that still needs to be done. Is that journalism? I don’t know what it is, but I do know that...individuals are …. doing it. “

I SAID THAT – so many times I lost count. But that was a quote from an interview conducted by the San Francisco Chronicle in the Sunday, October 15th edition with Chris Anderson, the editor in chief of Wired Magazine. He’s talking about how the internet is changing our lives. And I got the last line a bit wrong. It was “increasingly, individuals are GOING TO BE doing it.”

What’s wrong with this picture?…… I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it. If, instead ….. if someone could have handed me a time machine in 1984 when I took my first job as a public access manager and if I could have taken my same skills and interests and become a manager at YouTube, I’d be incredibly RICH today…. And my kids wouldn’t have ever said, “oh, my dad works in TV, but he runs the BORING channel. They’d have thought I was ALL GRAVY - THE BOMB!

The other thing is that Chris Anderson doesn’t seem to know that we’ve been presenting this type of “hyperlocal” content since he was writing for his school newspaper. Why doesn’t he know it?

At a regional conference we had in Palo Alto in 1995, the late, great Dirk Koning was our keynote speaker. He said he was surprised to be chosen for that role. He told us that he was the guy who went to the electronics store in the 70’s and said, “8-track? cassette? 8-track? cassette? Hmmmmmmm……..8-TRACK!" And made his purchase.

So today........"Cable TV Channels? Internet?...Hmmmmmmm.............

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