About those panel discussions

Last night I attended Who Needs Ink?, a panel discussion on the Future of Newspapers.

This wasn’t the first Commonwealth Club panel I’d been to, and the format left me just as unsatisfied as the event I went to last year around this time. I don’t get that much out of hearing four speakers bat around the obvious questions, but then again, I had heard Ceppos speak a few times over the last month or so, and I’m familiar with Gillmor’s point of view, so there wasn’t much news-to-me discussed last night. But I did hear agreement and disagreement rumbling from the (too small) crowd, which is probably a good sign.

What I’m really waiting for is an unconference, where the audience is as engaged in the discussion as the leaders, and everyone gets to riff together on the issues, more like a jam session (if I can sound like I came from some other decade for a second) than a lecture. But then again, I haven’t even made it to a standard convention yet, so perhaps I should just bide my time and twiddle my thumbs, continuing to treat the blogosphere as the unconference.

I didn’t even bother to walk up to any of the panel members after the talk, although it might have been wise to re-introduce myself to a couple folks, but why? Just to feed my ego? If they were in a position to hire me to do something I want to do, I’m sure I would feel differently about it. So when does the conference of online editors come to town? Hmm, I think I might have missed that one. Maybe I’ll catch a panel discussion or three at the AEJMC convention this summer in San Francisco. (What I should really do is submit a paper, but I doubt I’ll have one ready by, uh, tomorrow. Eh, maybe I’ll send a few off anyway, for the reviewer comments if nothing else.)

Oh, and I do notice how much less satisfying it was to just transcribe/paraphrase last night’s event than it has been to write articles about certain speakers this semester for the Spartan Daily. When I write a story for the Daily, I talk to a few people involved with the event, a few attendees, and I take great notes of the actual presentation/talk/discussion, then I write it all up into a story, adding context where necessary, defining terms, and creating a line of dialogue with reactions from students, faculty, etc. mixed into the speaker’s storyline. What I did last night was far less entertaining. (For me, and you, dear readers — both of you all 580 of you. Thanks Jim.)