Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Brian Williams Weighs In on New Media Submitted

Brian Williams Weighs In on New Media Submitted
by Kristen OGorman 487

Brian Williams, award-winning anchor and managing editor of the "NBC Nightly News," spoke before a packed room of NYU journalism students on Wednesday about his recent trip to Iraq and offered his advice to aspiring journalists.

And, as anticipated, Williams also spoke about the role the explosion of online media has played in traditional media.

"You’re going to be up against people who have an opinion, a modem, and a bathrobe,” said Williams. “All of my life, developing credentials to cover my field of work, and now I’m up against a guy named Vinny in an efficiency apartment in the Bronx who hasn’t let the efficiency apartment in two years."

Williams compared this to a New Yorker cartoon featuring two dogs sitting in front of a computer and one says to the other: “On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog.”

"On the Internet, no one knows if you’ve been to Ramadi or you’ve just been to Brooklyn and just have an opinion about Ramadi," said Williams.

"And now, apparently because encyclopedias were too exact, we have Wikipedia, the inexact encyclopedia. We don’t get hung up on facts. In my entry alone there are seven errors, and I’m completely unimportant."

While Williams is certainly not against blogs—he has a blog, The Daily Nightly, that he updates every day and speaks very highly of some other blogs, like Michael Yon’s—he does worry that the explosion of useless, frivolous media is causing us to miss out on something.

"If we’re all watching cats flushing toilets, what aren’t we reading? What great writer are we missing? What great story are we ignoring? This is societal, it’s cultural, I can’t change it. We should maybe pause to think about it. Because like everybody else, I can burn an hour on YouTube or Perez Hilton without breaking a sweat. And what have I just not paid attention to that 10 years ago I would’ve just consumed?"

But if a journalist doesn't embrace new media, he or she isn't going to be around much longer. According to Williams, a reporter at The Philadelphia Inquirer was fired recently because he refused to start a blog.

"It seems to me that if I’m in print and everything around me says ‘updated seven minutes ago,’ I’m going to want to also have been updated seven minutes ago, if not six," said Williams. "He or she who doesn’t adapt dies."

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