Posts Tagged ‘media’

The future of journalism: ‘Oh shit!!’

There’s a scene in The Wire where Omar, a psychopath with a shotgun whose trade is robbing drug dealers, gets into a drug stash house he intends to rob by disguising himself as an old lady in a wheelchair. Once he pulls off his wig and pulls his weapon from under the lap blanket, one of the guards realizes what’s happening and blurts out, “Oh shit!” And Omar gleefully echoes him: “‘Oh shit!!’ Yeah!”

Somehow that’s what came to mind when I saw this announcement of a program at City Arts and Lectures on the future of journalism. Why, just today in the NYT’s media blog came the news that the Newark Star-Ledger is planning on more newsroom employee buyouts-slash-layoffs. I have the feeling the disemployed reporters felt somewhat the same way as the drug dealers felt when they realized they had been tricked by Omar Little. They had the feeling it was coming, they did everything they could to prevent it, and when it came, all they can do is blurt, “Oh shit!”

Right. Anyway, at City Arts and Lectures, “two seasoned journalists and editors will discuss the current state of print journalism, the impact and implications of the shift toward a more digital world, and the future of print media.” Good luck with that!

Take the skinheads swapping

KUSF, the great punk rock college radio station owned by the Roman Catholic USF, holds its periodic music swap Saturday, August 9 in McLaren Hall on the USF campus (circled in red on the map):
usf_campus_map

Fans trade vinyl, CDs, 8-track tapes for all I know (hey, they’re making a resurgence). Admission to the main event from 10 a.m. to 3 pm is $3, but if you want to beat everyone else, get there early, and trade with the real players, show up between 6 and 10 a.m. and pay $20. All proceeds go to keeping the great station on the air.

What do you do on public transit? Nothing… or something?

Macarthur BART, photo by Robert Schwandl

Local photographer Thomas Hawk made a very interesting post on his website today, reporting his “unscientific survey” of what commuters were doing on his 9 a.m. BART train from MacArthur to Embarcadero this morning. He didn’t ask anyone what they were doing, relying on his own observations. Most people were “doing nothing,” he found; others he broke down into “other” and into several categories of reading. See his post for the stats.

I love the idea of noticing what others are doing, and recording it unobtrusively and reporting it. It sounds a bit creepy when put that way, but there’s nothing wrong with doing so in a public space. I’d love to see people do this exact thing from time to time: walk the length of a bus or train and compile the same stats, or different ones. It’s just as valuable and interesting to report on skirt lengths, how many people smell, or the number of people wearing glasses.

That said, it’s interesting that Hawk happened to sort his survey by media consumption, and that he expresses surprise that “so many of the people on BART were simply doing nothing (this included sleeping as well).” Of course, BART, and public transit in general, is a great place to read. I’ve sometimes gotten on a BART train and ridden all the way to the end of the line and back just to have a comfortable reading experience uninterrupted by phones, people I know, my cats, or trips to the refrigerator. But those who were sitting quietly “doing nothing” may have relished the chance to do so as much as the people who were devouring media. As someone who sits in front of a computer all day and, often, much of the evening, I find it nice to have a time where I can’t do so — this includes driving, going to the ballgame or the symphony, and yes, “doing nothing.”

By the way, I just noticed that BART has a page on its website where it collects blog and Twitter posts about BART.

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