BarCamp Portland: Proposed Adopt a Blogger/Adopt a Journalist session

Ooh. We’re getting close now. Just a few short days and we’ll be in the thick of the planning for BarCamp Portland—the unplanned unequaled unconference for discussing all things, tech or otherwise.

Even though the conference structure is deliberately unscheduled, it’s no secret that a lot of folks spend some time thinking up cool sessions that they can propose.

Which brings us to today’s post…

One day, not so long ago—it was a day that I learned something cool from a journalist or happened to see something that made me wish a journalist had a little more social media savvy or something—I half-jokingly mentioned on Twitter that bloggers and journalists should find a way to adopt one another:

Adopt a Blogger Adopt a Journalist

The problem with that joke? As usual, it wasn’t that funny. The upside? There was the kernel of a good idea there. And some people who I really respect thought there was something there.

Shock of shocks, I’m not a journalist. Nor do I claim to be. But, I almost was—after a truly inspiring high-school newspaper experience and an interesting internship at The Times-News.

Suffice it to say, I’ve got a lot of ignorance, but it’s tempered by a great deal of respect for the craft. My fanboi adoration of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson notwithstanding.

Then, a few weeks later, I happened to go to a City Club of Portland presentation on journalism, democracy, and the fourth estate.

And it shocked me how much of the speakers’ insights about the changing world of news media seemed to stem from a patent fear of social media and its potential within the world of traditional journalism.

Suffice it to say, when journalists—and journalism professors—are talking about Digg, Google News, and blogs as being “parasitic” and “taking our content,” they’re revealing a dangerous misunderstanding of the potential of the medium.

Unless of course they were referring to symbiotic parasitic relationships. But I didn’t get the feeling that they were.

But where was I? Oh yes. Anyway, it wasn’t all doom and gloom. And the one strikingly positive thing it did do was this: it reinforced my respect for those journalists who had taken the time to understand and embrace social media.

When we started talking about this on Twitter, Aaron Hockley resurfaced the idea of blogger-journalist mentoring and suddenly it dawned on me: this is a perfect BarCamp Portland session topic.

See? You knew I would get back around to BarCamp, didn’t you?

Aaron put up an awesome post entitled “Journalism and Media: Let’s Discuss Changes at BarCampPortland” and it’s far more eloquent than anything I could write, so I’m going to steal borrow heavily from what he wrote (see “symbiotic parasitic relationships” above):

As the news industry faces radical changes and many traditional news operations face financial peril, it is obvious that journalists need to adapt or die. I think the distinction between the work of journalists and the method of delivery needs to be recognized… journalism and newspapers (or TV) are two separate things, and the failure of the delivery mechanism does not mean that journalism itself is a failure.

While there are many folks in the media that “get” the internet, RSS, Twitter, and the like, there are many that still don’t. Fortunately there are a lot of folks in the digital world interested in helping journalists understand the new media.

Rick and I would like to lead a discussion to bring together bloggers and journalists at BarCampPortland to talk about journalism, media, and change. I think that traditional journalists can learn a few things from bloggers, and bloggers have a lot to learn about the practice of journalism. Let’s get some of the bright folks from both groups together and talk.

So this weekend at BarCamp Portland, I’m hoping to see some of my favorite hybrid journalists—those who are both journalistically trained and social media fluent—like Lizzy Caston, Aliza Earnshaw, Abraham Hyatt, Betsy Richter, Mike Rogoway, Steph Stricklen (in absentia), Aaron Weiss, Brian Westbrook, Steve Woodward… the list could go on and on.

But we’re also hoping to see some folks from the mainstream media who might not know social media from a hole in the ground. Journalists who are curious about social media. Or journalists who would like to teach bloggers a thing or two. Even journalists who just want to vent their spleen—but are interested in continuing the conversation.

Long story short, journalists and bloggers have a great deal to learn from one another, so why don’t we?

We’re going to work to get our session on the schedule the morning of May 2, between 9 AM and noon. (We can’t guarantee anything.) So if it sounds interesting to you, we’d love to see you at BarCamp Portland.

[UPDATE] The “Adopt a Blogger / Adopt a Journalist” session will be held at 10 AM, immediately followed by ” You run a daily newspaper. How do you escape the carnage?” att 11 AM. For more sessions, see the complete BarCamp Portland schedule.

Which reminds me: Portland Media Lab

Maybe you can’t make BarCamp Portland. Or maybe you’re not quite sure you’re ready to make the leap into the whole social media thing.

Well, I’ve got something else that might interest you.

Last week, I got the chance to catch up with Ryan Fish, who has recently begun interviewing a bunch of interesting Portland folks—and other interesting folks, as well. (Apparently, he hit a little gap in his calendar of “interesting” folks, because he wanted to talk to me.)

During our conversation, he mentioned an interview he had just completed with Cornelius Swart of The Portland Sentinel.

Seems Cornelius is pursuing something very complementary to the BarCamp Portland session proposed above. It’s called Portland Media Lab.

Our mission is to teach, bloggers citizen and community journalists the skills, techniques and disciplines of professional reporting through a localized news wire service made up of professional and citizen journalists.

Kismet! Or just Portland being Portland. Either way.

I haven’t had a chance to check out the project yet, but it seems like the perfect venue to continue the BarCamp discussion.

In any case, I’m really looking forward to seeing you at BarCamp this weekend and eager to learn more about—and potentially get involved with—Portland Media Lab.



  1. Francesco Hlavka February 3, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    Devastated. I did not miss a show, wherever I was, for my entire childhood. That was where we SHONE. Almost every other dance show since was just trying to keep up.

  2. Update: Adopt a blogger/journalist session will be held at 10 AM, followed by a newspaper discussion at 11 #bcp3 http://is.gd/vtcl

  3. Again: The “Adopt a Blogger / Adopt a Journalist” session will be held at 10 AM, immediately followed by ” You run a daily newspaper. How do you escape the carnage?” att 11 AM. For more sessions, see the complete BarCamp Portland schedule: http://2009.barcampportland.com/

  4. @Daniel Once we have the schedule figured out tonight, I’ll post the time for this particular session. I know last year they worked into the wee small hours to get the schedule online.

  5. […] That’s right. After the Slate grand opening and Beer and Blog festivities, all of us will be heading over to CubeSpace to start the BarCamp Portland planning activities. Where we’ll fill up that clean slate of a BarCamp schedule with all sorts of interesting sessions. […]

  6. When the schedule for the BarCamp is established, will it be online anywhere? Thanks!

  7. RT @siliconflorist In bloom: @barcampportland: Proposed Adopt a Blogger / Adopt a Journalist session + Portland Media Lab: http://is.gd/vtcl

  8. RT @siliconfloristIn bloom: @barcampportland: Proposed Adopt a Blogger / Adopt a Journalist session + Portland Media Lab: http://is.gd/vtcl

  9. In bloom: @barcampportland: Proposed Adopt a Blogger / Adopt a Journalist session + Portland Media Lab: http://is.gd/vtcl

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