Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Baltimore Bulldog

I'll be back to showbiz posts in the next few days, having spent the holidays doing way too much research into the CRTC, Canadian television and some of our pending creative and labor issues. On that last subject, if anybody's taking names, I'm a Canadian producer who's completely on ACTRA's side in the current negotiations. Sometimes you have to say "enough with the bullshit" and for Canadian actors that time has come.

But before we get to all the fun that stuff'll be. I wanted to follow up the last post. For those whose lips get tired reading some of my stuff, the premise there was that big media is on the wane, newspapers, networks and the like have lost their credibility and something new is poised to take their place.

Turns out (as usual) I was right. Case in Point: The Baltimore Bulldog.

It's just a newborn puppy of an idea right now, but three Baltimore media pros (an IT geek, a journalist and a talk show host) are launching an online site this spring that will mix professional journalists, media artists and local bloggers to provide "a comprehensive understanding of what's really going on in the city."

The goal is to create "a newspaper that couldn't possibly be done on paper" which will include stories augmented with anecdotal or additional information from readers, instant restaurant reviews, ie: "The soup of the day at 'Mom's' is awesome", raw news video feeds, comics that move, interviews where readers can ask the questions and games more interesting than soduku.

For me, this captures the essence of what the media future can be. Somebody with a steady hand on the ethical reins, an open office concept that lets anybody call somebody on their bias and a forum for creative types to offer their visions.

Think of it! A world where you're required to think and speak for yourself instead of being encouraged or spun as to how you should vote, what you should consume, watch, root for and who you should accept as a credible source.

The news of this comes on the same day the Philadelphia Inquirer followed the downsizing spiral of newspapers on both sides of the border with a 17% cut of news staff -- and Iraqi Police Captain Jamail Hussein, the source of more than 60 Associated Press stories on various brutalities in Baghdad turned out not to exist.

It seems while the phantom Captain was providing screaming headlines to AP papers on various atrocities, no other journalists in Iraq could corroborate a single one of the stories. Enhancing their credibility, an AP spokeswoman insisted "it would be highly unusual for any news organization to provide sources on the demands of critics."

I think it's really the awesome hypocrisy of these people I'm going to be happy to see move on.

During the weekend's media debate of whether or not they should have broadcast or we should have been allowed to see Saddam Hussein's execution -- as well as which version, the official cleaned up one or the unofficial and all too stupefying one, I found these two remarkable quotes.

From CBS, like TIME, acknowledging that it can't control the floor: "Consumers are starting to realize that what television standards may deny them, the Internet readily provides."

And from another news source apparently unaware that porn channels and videos on demand are the profit engine behind his media conglomerate: "Anyone with a mouse can get to pornography too, but we're not going to show that either."

Y'know, I don't have much interest in watching people (no matter how dispicable) being dispatched or get off pretending the people in porn really like their jobs; but I always find it interesting that the powers that be eternally use those things as examples of how they know what's best for me.

Maybe I can handle that myself.

And maybe I should take a hint from them now and go write some fiction.

1 comment:

peb said...

Hey Jim, just a quick note to say hello and thanks. I stumbled upon your blog through some other screenwriting sights. I read through all your posts and wanted to say thanks. I really enjoyed them. Loved the John Candy story and referencing Bill Hicks gained you major points. I'll keep reading if you keep writing. Cheers. Peb