The embarrassing fuss about a webcast in Jersey

A noteworthy event in the new media world took place this week with the launch of a daily webcast by The Star-Ledger in New Jersey. Noteworthy, not because it was another webcast, but because Jeff Jarvis and Michael Rosenblum have been involved. It naturally has gotten press in both the blogosphere and elsewhere, and this has not gone over well with the people in broadcasting. We get all defensive when a newspaper tries to do television, and this tends to bring out some of the worst kinds of condescension.

The basics are these: The paper hired Rosenblum at the behest of Jarvis, who took various members of the news department through his VJ boot camp. Rosenblum is a lightning rod in the local television business — mostly among photographers — because they feel he’s trying to take their jobs away. This is all couched in deep concern for the “quality” of television news, but it’s really just fear in the guise of anger.

So when Lost Remote writer Don Day went after the webcast as being just another boring newspaper webcast, it brought out comments both helpful and hurtful. Despite the negative tone of some of the commenters, people from the paper got in on the conversation and took the criticism as constructive. Good for them.

As webcasts go, this one isn’t bad, and it’ll only get better. The evidence suggests these things don’t “work” in terms of gathering an enough audience to justify the expense, but let’s wait and see. I was pretty pumped with the efforts of the Roanoke Times, but that didn’t last. The problem, I think, isn’t the quality; it’s that the web audience for news isn’t best served by this method. I can consume the news (at work) a lot quicker myself than by having somebody read it to me. Besides, there’s that “audio in the cubicle” thing.

But the issues of whether it’s good or not and whether it will work for the Star Ledger or not are overshadowed, in my opinion, by this continuing mindset that only broadcasters can do television or do television right. This is called contempt prior to investigation. Let’s see what happens in Jersey before passing judgment.

The first comment in the Lost Remote story was from someone impersonating Michael Rosenblum. It was taken down by the site’s manager, Cory Bergman, something he rarely does. Michael is a friend of mine, so consider the source here, but I’m pretty sick of the embarrassing levels to which some of these illiterate and ignorant people will stoop to vilify a guy who’s changing the way television is being created. And those changes are making the big time, too.

Mark Glaser wrote today about a simple kicker story that made NBC Nightly News last Saturday. It was a story about a little penguin that was created for the Web by an experienced NBC producer and an associate producer. That’s right, a producer. Not a cast of union thousands. Just a producer. Romenesko hit the angle of a web story moving to Nightly News, but Glaser’s article points out something even more significant.

The penguin story began as a web package created and reported by “Nightly News” producer Clare Duffy. She and an associate producer on the show shot, wrote and edited the piece a few weeks before. As she had done in several other web stories, Duffy narrated and even appeared in a short standup.

Even more remarkable: Though Duffy has been producing for “Nightly” for years (and even appeared in on-air crosstalks when she worked in Moscow 18 years ago), she began shooting and editing only this spring, after a few weeks of on-the-job training, and in addition to her usual day job as a traditional “Nightly News” producer.

So here we have a producer (of all people) shooting, writing, editing and appearing on camera, and it made it to NBC Nightly News! Oh, the immorality of it all!

Folks, get over yourselves. In a few more years, we’ll all be doing video the same way. Those who refuse will cling to their Betacams all the way to the bottom of the tar pits.


  1. Terry,
    I think you’re right that things are moving inexorably toward a new way of producing TV/video news and Michael Rosenblum has been a big catalyst — albeit a controversial one — for change. Thanks for pointing to the MediaShift story, but it wasn’t written by me. It’s actually the first of my “embed” reports, written by Tim Peek of NBC, who will be writing about the way things are changing at NBC. He has a excellent blog as well.

  2. Agreed, and I thought it was “Very Un-Lost-Remote” to post such a negative story. It was out of character for Don, as well, who I find to be upbeat and an innovator. I can only hope this was a hiccup, and that LR continues (as is the case with 99% of its stuff) to encourage experimentation.

  3. Michael Rosenblum is the public face of the massive disruption now going on in broadcasting and because of that he is a human lightning rod for all of those who feel threatened by the incredible changes taking place. Anyone who has spent anytime with Michael knows he is intelligent, entertaining and prescient in where the broadcast industry is heading. Heaton, Rosenblum and Jarvis all foresaw and blogged about what the industry is going through years ago. The Luddites can last only so long and those who refuse to change are not only missing a wonderful opportunity to expand their own talents but will as Terry points become irrelevant and very expendable.

  4. Terry (and anyone else with the courage to stick their neck out)- would you care to hazard a guess how long this daily webcast will last? Will it be here in 6 months?


  1. […] For those who suddenly find their ox is being gored… well, they’re going to be unhappy. annoyed. angry. and threatened. (Terry Heaton has a good take on this today).They will throw everything they can at the interlopers. “Get off my territory. Go back where you belong!” […]

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