Meet the Media Logo

Last Friday, April 25th, I joined several other local media professionals in Kingsport for a panel discussion promoted as “Meet the Media” at Eastman’s Employee Center. Sponsored by The Kingsport Chamber of Commerce and produced by The Corporate Image in Bristol, VA, this business luncheon featured several media folks from the region and I admit, I was surprised by an invitation to be on this panel.It’s actually the first time I recall a local ad/pr agency actually inviting the “Internet guys” as part of “The Media” and although I was flattered to sit next to the local pros which included Neil Boling, the new news director for WJHL, Sara Diamond (my luck was a seat right next to this anchorwoman with the million-dollar smile), Duane Nelson with Holston Valley Broadcasting and Rachel Horton from the Business Journal. Hank Hayes also joined me on the panel and had some of the best sound bytes of the day.

Neil is a newbie to WJHL and worked with my brother in Tampa, FL at WFLA. We had plenty to talk about and I’ve already mentioned Sara.

It was a pleasure to meet Rachael Horton too. She’s dating Jacob Cain, a former colleague of ours here at GoTriCities (now with Tombras ) and I’ve heard plenty about her, but I’m more impressed with her quality of work and the fine publications she continues to spear-head including Generation NEXT along with her work at The Business Journal.

The folks with Corporate Image had produced an opening presentation for the crowd of 30 or so in attendance. Although the slides and information were helpful as a review, I couldn’t help but observe as most of their perceptions about traditional media haven’t changed that much – when in fact, it’s morphing itself every day. They introduced the newspaper like it was 1980 working on print products that only happen once a day and they also saw radio and newspapers as small groups with little or no similarites. Truth is – even the media’s perception of themselves is still a work in progress.

Nevertheless, all of the panelists agreed that the rate of change and the effort to do more with less is a common phenomenon. I felt like the bad guy in the room because it seemed that everyone seemed to point to the Internet as the agency of change across the board.

Hank Haye’s with the Times-News journalism staff made the statement that this new media is “the tail that’s waggin’ the dog.” There’s been a lot of new technologies over the years that have been slow-cooking all mass media for a while, but there’s no doubt the Internet is the medium of change.

There was a small but receptive audience last week and it seemed we were offering some helpful advice to the folks in the room. There were about 25 or 30 folks ranging from non-profits, financial, government and real estate within the room, including my friend Diane Hills with Town and County, Kira Dykstra with Move 2 Kingsport and few other friends whom I haven’t seen in a while.

One of the obvious ways the tables have turned was when everyone compared the best way to get news and information to the press.

Most everyone had a rule, a deadline and edit policies. Leave it to me to be the buzz-kill too because when it came to my answer I had to remind everyone that the only rule was that you publish it.

Our online processes do not have deadlines and although we have a few edit policies in place, it was comfortable for me to liberate the old school by telling them they could publish all they want, with photos and feel free to place as many as you want – whenever you want. Now that’s a revolution.

A bit dramatic perhaps, but it was still fun. Other than my off-hand comment the fact that 1 out of 5 American workers browse porn at work, I enjoyed my participation on the panel and hope to have made some new friends – or at least developed a new critic.

Thanks to Corporate Image and Kingsport Chamber of Commerce and most important – kudos to 12 Bones. I’m hungry now!