Bibliobooks blog post

Summarize your conversation using these questions, or whatever questions seem
appropriate to you:
1. What meaning did you take from the conversation?
2. Share a standout story or quote for each of you.
3. What surprised, challenged, inspired, and/or delighted you about the
conversation?

Jacob Caggiano and Jack Brighton mashed up this blog post from several email
exchanges and a long phone conversation. We felt it would flow better as a jointly
authored piece, or at least give us a chance to speak more clearly. Peggy’s questions
provide a helpful framework, so we’ll go ahead and hang our answers on them…so
to speak.

1. What meaning did you take from the conversation?

We began the conversation by discussing the idea that journalism has arrived at a
transitional moment. Jacob started describing what is obvious to him: the shift from
one-to-many media, to a many-to-many system. “Basically I’m part of this hybrid
generation, where I grew up with old media, then transitioned to new media while
becoming an adult,” said Jacob. “When I was 13, AOL was really popular, and I was
connecting with people across the universe. The premise is that we’re not just a
one-way or two-way medium, but a multifaceted system where anyone can be a
publisher, or a celebrity, and the barriers of entry have been reduced and there’s no
gatekeeper.” I think Jacob is in that perfect spot to understand the previous media
system, without being locked into its habits of thought. This could be an advantage
for him over the kids I see going through J School who have no concept of a pre-
Internet world. But that’s a big topic for another time.

Jack began his journalism career in 1987 as a public radio producer and host. “So
before Mosaic, before Gopher, and before the Newsgroups if you remember what
I’m talking about. Radio, TV, and newspapers were it,” he said. “When the web
came along, I was lacking in whatever brain chemical induces people to freak out
about change. I loved the complete feeling of freedom it gave people to express
themselves in ways they never could, to engage in conversations without barriers
or gatekeepers, and to tell stories to a growing global audience.” So while the idea
of many-to-many media appealed to Jack from the get-go, we both reflected on how
difficult this shift is for so many people.

We also discussed the trade-offs we’re all experiencing as we use the array of social
media tools, e.g. connectivity versus privacy. When we push those little ‘like’ buttons
we now find all over the web, we’re helping Facebook know more and more about

us in the aggregate, but for us that information quickly disappears below the fold of
our status page. We’re uploading our social media content (pictures, video) to the
cloud, but who owns the cloud and where does our stuff go? Will our content persist
and be findable in the future? We should think about these things, even though we
don’t.

We found ourselves in agreement that this moment of transition has some great
opportunities, but we need to address some of the pitfalls and no one has perfect
answers yet to issues like privacy, security, and openness.

2. Share a standout story or quote for each of you.

Jacob: “I’ve been very interested in broadening the definition of who is a journalist,
but does that restrict you from having an opinion? It seems like people are starting
to accept that there’s no such thing as objectivity, and that pretending to be
objective is really hiding your point of view. Have a point of view but have it with
integrity.”

Jack: “The tension is between reporting and advocacy or activism. I’ve arrived at
a place where think much of this concern is exaggerated. Historically, journalism
made a difference: if you reported on corruption, unfair laws, or problems within
communities, things changed. For most of its history professional journalism had
a real impact. Of course this can go too far, and there is such a thing as becoming
a political partisan. I think a journalist can take a stance for objectivity while still
arriving at clear and reasonable judgments. But in recent decades the profession
has adopted a notion of objectivity which suspends all possibility of judgment. The
result is a sort of blind and bland stenography that supplies facts but no impact.
Then we wonder why people don’t pay attention.”

Jacob: “I think everybody coming to this conference agrees that there’s a great
match between journalists and librarians. A journalist has to be ready to go report
on the fly, where as a librarian is engaged in more long-term organization. Let
journalists be the storyteller, and librarians be the organizer and archivist. Sort of
like Batman and Albert…though I don’t want to restrict roles, I like the dynamic
between the two, where one handles the tech and maintains the headquarters,
and the other hits the streets and interfaces with the public.”

“I would like to see citizens comfortable know that if there is a story worth telling
they can tell it. And if there’s a story worth finding, they can find it. And it would
be up to them to decide if they want to do these things. My vision, there would be
standards for storing, classifying, and cataloging information as it’s published. The
mission is straightforward, it’s a matter of ironing out the kinks on the technology
side, and then funding and support from the community, and participation.”

Jack: “The center-margin structure of the familiar media system is way too slow

for the Internet age. Like it or not, we now have a many-to-many media system and
everyone can play a part. What is the role of the “traditional” media organization
employing professional journalists? We have not answered this question very well
as yet, but have instead dug in our heels and refused to recognize how technology
has added new dimensions to the media universe. And we’re no longer at the center.
“I think journalism by 2016 must be deeply engaged in community conversations
to truly understand what issues and concerns need to be addressed, and by
whom. In 2016, citizens will play the largest part in telling the stories of their own
communities, histories, and interests. Established media entities will facilitate a
conversation about civic life that has a positive impact where it needs to. The result
is we build knowledge upon knowledge that everyone can successfully use. Libraries
and librarians will be integrated with journalism at the DNA level, and we will no
longer think of them as foreign territories. IT will be part of this model as well.”

3. What surprised, challenged, inspired, and/or delighted you about the
conversation?

Jack: “It didn’t really surprise me to find that Jacob is a smart, focused person who
thinks about these issues on a daily basis. It does inspire me that while he’s working
several jobs doing journalism and media production, he’s also participating in
Journalism That Matters and every other opportunity to meet with other people
trying to find the way forward. Jacob mentioned the phrase “public space” several
times, and it’s clear that he is committed to the idea of the public sphere. I think
many of us are likewise committed, but we don’t speak out about it enough in
conversation and professional practice. Jacob impressed me greatly in speaking to
the role of journalists and librarians in the public sphere.”

Jacob: “Jack told me that although he’s a bit older, he doesn’t feel like an old timer. I love interacting with media veterans like him who are embracing the rapid changes and are here to help usher the younger generations along. I’m also grateful that he’s put so much thought and energy into handling the massively complex task of standardizing the archiving process with his work on the PBCore system. One thing I mentioned to him was my utmost respect for people like him who are getting their hands dirty with the heavy tech that the rest of us consider too dry or complicated to deal with. I can’t wait to meet him and the others in person, I just wish we had more time!”