Wednesday, February 16, 2005

More "More on Winer/Rhinehart"

11. There's a 4 p.m. session with the H-J staff. About eight or nine people, plus D and A. Some skepticism, sure, but it winds up being a good exchange.

12a. Dinner: We head up the street toward a barbecue or steak place, but we pass a restaurant that says "Noodle House" on the door and Dave says he loves noodles. So we eat noodles. "If I lived here I would eat here every day," Winer says. Dinner is good. Dave asks more questions about the South, then drums on cups and platters and table tops with his chop sticks.

12b. Dave seems to be doing two things: 1. I get the impression he's looking for a place to live next; 2. He's an evangelist for blogging, sort of a Johnny Blogoseed. Driving around the south, meeting with bloggers and editors and reporters, and not so much talking at them as interviewing them, bringing them out, making third-party connections that remain after he leaves. Only the subject really isn't blogging, and it really isn't media. What all these conversations have in common is a quest for some kind of deeper integrity, some sort of honest, open, non-elitist perspective that puts the emphasis on truth, not profit. I mean, boil it down.

13. One of my early concerns with "the blogger side" (a patently absurd label, I know) was that in its urge to tear down the monolithic media, the participants might trample the meaningful virtues of our business. I come away with a different understanding:

14. Example: Dave is openly hostile to concepts like "news judgment" and other manifestations of faux-objectivity (in fact, he doesn't believe that the virtues of the business even exist in any meaningful way, so corrupted does he see us). Me, I'm sitting there thinking about all the agonizing calls I've had to make over the years, thinking that a blogger-led media would vicitimize its subjects by destroying privacy, applying one-size-fits all ethics and "tough shit" answers to appeals for consideration of special circumstances. But now I think the disconnect is mostly one of semantics. In the act of posting his blog entries, I witness Dave commit at least two acts of what we would call news judgment, taking care not to "out" people, suggesting that a woman's comment would be great blog material so long as her name was not revealed.

He has a sense of when citing a source by name could be destructive, and he demonstrates compassion. Later in the evening, he argues AGAINST the mandatory use of his own transparency idea in cases where it might put female reporters at risk of stalking. We might call it different names, but Winer is dealing with the same issues that newspaper people worry about. Or SHOULD worry about.

15. In talking with editors/reporters, Winer is friendly and supportive. Yes, he still makes big, controversial statements that no doubt put some people off. But the average person with Dave's media grievences would not be so collegial. I don't know if he's as collegial with the bloggers with whom he disagrees.