Thursday, February 28, 2008

On Reporting the News

This writer missed the City Council budget hearing Wednesday (Feb. 27, 2008) due to having to attend the Shade Tree Commission meeting upstairs in City Hall. Disclosure: I am a member of the Shade Tree Commission and serve as its secretary, an obligation that came about as a result of my involvement with the Ten Cities Tree Committee, after I retired but before I started the blog.

But never fear, Brandon Lausch of the Courier News was on hand to report on the budget hearing.

I look forward to reading his report.

On Tuesday, I was the only media witness to the school board budget discussion and duly reported it on the blog, although I had to stop and think about whether I would rather submit it to the Courier News as a freelance story for pay. I chose the immediacy of blog publishing over the 48-hour delay of print publishing for a fee.

This dichotomy is something I have been struggling with for some time and I still don’t know which is more valuable, letting people know the news early or getting print exposure and money besides.

I am on the verge of opening Plaintalker to moderated comments and that issue is at the top of my list for feedback.

There are so many more ways to disseminate and receive information now than there have ever been in my lifetime (and maybe yours). Have you ever heard of the Town Crier, a guy with a bell who would shout out the news as he walked through town? Once there were broadsides, handouts or posted sheets that gave out the news. In my childhood there were morning, afternoon and evening newspapers. We got reports on newsreels at the movies and on the radio. Years later, everyone watched the 6 o’clock news on television.

Today people get news on the fly, on little machines in their pockets or e-mail updates or other electronic means. And there is so much news! How do people decide what is important?

Plaintalker is what you call a hyperlocal blog. We only care about Plainfield, let the others report on Kajikistan, Pyongyang or Scotch Plains.

So if you have a particular focus on Plainfield and not the whole wide world, stick with us. And thanks for your interest.

--Bernice Paglia


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