Friday, January 12, 2007

Blogger Summit: Brown Noses, Smiling Faces

If my life were a body of water, right now it is a fish-packed Montana stream. I used to feel stagnant, lying on my back at the bottom of a murky pond but now I'm out in the thick of it and things are getting exciting.

Shhh. I'm not trying to spoil it, either.

But if that rushing river is full of flopping brown trout and this blog is my net, some big guys have been slipping through the holes.

Like, for example, the blogging summit put on by the Washington Post this week. The Post is trying to integrate its coverage into local online media, which is a big fancy way of saying that they want a bunch of frustrated neck-talkers like yours truly to talk directly to their readers. So they invited a bunch of us out to hear their plans and openly critique them.

And we sat right there in front of a nice little buffet and got to Q&A a panel made up of some bigwigs in the Post's online media division. I got to ask Marc Fisher a thing or two about electronic journalism's uneasy hybridization with print media. And boy, did I ever feel smart hearing those words come out of my mouth, on a microphone and everything! And even smarter when he actually took me seriously!

Some of my blogging peers must have felt even smarter than I did, because they were all UP on that microphone. Not naming names here, but I mean, damn. Some folks were just enthused, some folks were super-enthused, and some folks were just bleating bags of hot gas. It could be argued that duh, what do you expect when you get a bunch of bloggers, people who BY DEFINITION have more opinions than social skills into the same room, but still.

It was a real personal victory for me to have Jim Brady's ear for a minute or two as well. Jim, you see, is the editor / VP of Washington Post online, and I was so busy either shooting my own mouth off or sucking on a glass of bourbon that I forgot to tell him this:

The Washington Post is a terrific, tremendous institution in the Simmermon family. The Post brought me in with Calvin and Hobbes and by fifth grade I was reading about D.C. crime while the rest of my peers were still having trouble sounding out the latest Sweet Valley High installment. My mom goes to 7-11 in Norfolk, Virginia to get a Post every day, and the only thing that has EVER stopped her is the hurricane in 2003.

My mom loves to clip articles and give them to my sister and I. She's a bit of a saver, too, so we've got piles of newspapers all over the damned place. If you guys ever need a back issue, you just go ahead and let me know, we'll dig one up for you.

But because the Post has done such a great job of translating itself online, the paper piles are dwindling. My mom still buys a paper every day, but she e-mails us links to relevant articles, and now the papers only hang out for six months or so before reverting to compost right there by the sofa.

So thank you, Jim Brady, Marc Fisher, and the rest of the WPNI staff, for putting in so many long hours to keep my parents a little bit safer in case of an accidental fire.

I was also terrifically flattered that the main-stream media took this blog, my labor of love and frustration, seriously enough to ask my opinions. And while I might unveil a blogging strategy a little differently than the Post is going to, their initial offering is very well-thought out and bound to succeed. I think. I'm a writer, not a strategist.

Okay. That's it. Something smells funny, and I think it's clumped at the end of my nose. But I was serious, all the same ...

1 Comments:

At 8:58 AM, Blogger Jamie Mottram said...

Jim Brady's a good dude. And I agree that the Post and the Post online are both terrific (not that I've ever known any other major paper so intimately).

 

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