I stopped by at the KRON blogger bash this afternoon where 100 Bay Area bloggers convened to meet one another, share ideas and to hear KRON’s plans. KRON is a local TV station which has decided to reach out to Bay Area bloggers to learn more about citizen media. The station plans to create and maintain a list of local bloggers – 500 so far – which it will launch next week. It will then aggregate key posts from those blogs and provide commentary where necessary.
The project is the brainchild of Brian Shields, KRON’s online manager, and he plans to write about what local bloggers are discussing. In this way KRON hopes to take its reporting to a more granular level and presumably to hear about stories which would not normally be on its radar. Effectively the bloggers become the station’s eyes and ears. Furthermore it plans to use that network to provide experts about certain topics and to connect it to other sources. So if there’s say an earthquake, KRON has feelers out to those who might be affected, who have video footage, to credible seismology spokespeople etc. It’s a good idea and was done in an informal, friendly manner. The station president quite openly stated that he doesn’t know much about blogging – but that he’s learning. So this was very much a first step down a path with an unknown destination. Full credit to KRON for that.
I met Craig Newmark, founder of Craig’s List, at the event and asked him about his views on citizen journalism. He seems a reluctant champion, telling me he felt duty-bound to ‘do something’ but was unsure how to support it. “I’m not a journalist nor do I have pretensions to be one,” he said, “I’m just hear to listen and learn. There are lots of people in this room who know more than me.” Humble words indeed, but I sense a trace of irony from the man wearing a Craig’s List fleece and name tag sticker with ‘Craig’ scribbled across the front. Business seems good for him, though no plans for international expansion at the moment – “It’s a language issue – all that customer support.”
Meantime, KRON plans to hold several more of these events. The station took a shot of all 100 attendees. My bet is there’ll be twice that at the next one.
UPDATE: KRON4 has posted news about the event with photos and news footage here.