KRON blogger gathering

KRON boss

I spent the afternoon at KRON-TV with about 100 other bloggers as part of a hosted meetup. In attendance was a diverse crowd of bloggers covering food, photography, travel, technology, and local news. General Manager Mark Antonitis (pictured above) hosted the event.

KRON is a television station struggling to survive after being separated from NBC a few years and they differentiate themselves from the market by airing many programs with a local focus such as full coverage of parades or a weekly show about exploring the lesser-known parts of the San Francisco Bay Area.

I arrived at KRON’s television studios not really knowing what to expect. I commend KRON for putting on the event and starting the conversation. KRON plans to have its own local news aggregator on its website with staff responsible for reading the weblogs of over 500 bloggers they have already identified in the bay area. I spoke with some of the staff about Creative Commons licenses and the willingness of bloggers to share their content in exchange for no more than proper attribution. KRON is considering opening up some of its video content for bloggers to use in and remix.

Overall I came away disappointed with the event, possibly because I had set my expectations a bit too high. There was no question and answer period and no discussion forum, just a one way message from mainstream media. KRON was airing infomercials during our visit to the station. Some tips for KRON and other media outlets who would like to engage bloggers:

  • I want to learn what you are all about and what makes you different than the next media outlet and what may be your unique perspective on news or covering community events.
  • Many bloggers wish they could learn how to be better at their hobby by learning from professionals. Provide a learning experience in exchange for licensed content.
  • Treat bloggers as peers. No one likes to be talked down to or feel like you’ve changed your lingo to be more hip.

7 replies on “KRON blogger gathering”

  1. There was some Q & A, but it was more of a one-on-one thing before and after. I heard two messages from them. One was that they just wanted to host a meet-up and facilitate the blogging community, the other was that they wanted to hear from us. It was as if one hand didn’t know what the other was doing.

    The evite simply proposed a meet-up, with no hidden agenda, and in that regard I thought it was fun and successful. I got to meet other bloggers (including yourself), and got to tour the newsroom (surprisingly photogenic!).

    I kept expecting them to poll us on our opinions as a group, but they never did as a group. Perhaps they weren’t expecting such a turnout and didn’t think it would work with such large numbers.

    What made it seem like there was a hidden agenda is that they plan to add blogging features to their web site next week. So they’re saying on the one hand that they just wanted to host a meet-up, just wanted to listen to us (and then didn’t), but on the other hand they already had all these plans in place and used this occasion to promote their agenda.

    All that being said, they were good hosts, with good food (free!), and it worked quite well as a meat-up. :)

  2. Niall,

    I’m sorry you were disappointed. I advised the station not to do a Q&A forum and to stick with just a social event this go-round, so you can blame me for that. We’re very aware of the friction between the MSM and bloggers, and we wanted to show that we’re serious about being supportive. Hence, no formal program.

    There will be other events, and I suspect we might get more formal at that point. The listening we want to do right now is to what you’re saying day in and day out. KRON4 executives spent a lot of time in conversations with people at the event, so there was more give and take than you might think.

    Your recommendations are solid, and I appreciate that. Keep ’em coming.

    I enjoyed meeting you and look forward to getting together again sometime. You got the best position in the group shots. Way to go.


  3. Niall:

    Thanks a lot for coming to the event. I’m sorry that you walked away disappointed but let me just say a few things about the purpose of the meet-up.

    First, this is the start of what we know will be a long process that we’re committed to at KRON. Saturday’s event was designed to be an introductory session, a chance to get to meet each other.

    Second, we are very aware of the need not to try to be MSM talking “top-down” to bloggers. We tried to emphasize a message that we want to use our resources as a television station to lift up the local blogging communities.

    That’s why I’m so disappointed you saw this as a “one-way message from Mainstream Media.” We purposely chose not to have a large discussion forum so that we could mingle around the room and listen to what this community of people was saying.

    Yes, we want your feedback, but we thought it best to get it directly from you by reading your blogs as opposed to having you fill out a form.

    If you have more specific ideas, post them here or e-mail me or call me. I really do want to listen to you.

    Thanks for the suggestions at the end of the post. I think they are valid and we are working on each of those issues. Brief answers from me:

    1. Wanting to know what we’re about. Again this was an inaugural meet-up and get to know each other session. Frankly we’re still developing what we’re about what it comes to joining the personal media revolution. You were there to help us formulate the ultimate framework.

    2. Helping bloggers be good at their hobby. Excellent idea. Our second meet-up will include a session to help you shoot better video with your home video camera.

    3. Talked down to. I apologize if you felt talked down to. I consider myself one of your “peers”. I’ve been doing this since the BBS days with my first 300 baud modem. Terry Heaton is a recognized expert in the relationship between the Internet and broadcasting. And my boss Mark Antonitis admits he doesn’t get it all… but unlike a lot of people who don’t get it all he’s open to the idea and letting us run with it.

    Anyway, I’ll shut up… and listen. Thanks again for coming and I hope you will continue to be a part of our enterprise in the future.

    Brian Shields
    Online News Manager

  4. Thanks for the write-up Niall — I was busy working for, like, money. Otherwise, as you know, the pull of free anything is stronger than gravity with me.

    Terry and Brian’s comments are great. It will be nice to have them lurking around the blogosphere. As someone who’s trying to make a go of this whole ‘blogging’ thing as kind of a profession, it will be interesting to me to see if KRON can help steer readers and advertisers our way.

    With SFist, for instance, I feel like it’s a bit of a struggle to win over non-bloggers to the format (I have a friend who complains that there’s no email digest, for instance, and others who want more of an NYTimes/SFGate layout to the homepage). If KRON can help with that, then I’ll be happy to help them back any way I can!

  5. Just to be clear, I was disappointed due to high expectations and wanted to contribute some pointers for future engagements whether it is from KRON or another MSM outlet.

    I observed some business-driven conversations in the hall with KRON personnel. If there was a discussion in the room the talk would not have been about what a company could do for KRON, but how individual bloggers could benefit from a two way exchange.

  6. For what it’s worth, that term “MSM” is used by a good number of weblogs, but I don’t recall much use of that term in the San Francisco Bay Area.

    That “MSM” term seems to come up in discussions where people ask “Why do they talk so much on Abu Ghraib now, instead of when it was actually bad?” and “Why so much Michael Jackson, yet no Anthony Pellicano?” and such. There’s a chance SF-area bloggers may start using a similar label, for issues like “How come nobody ever ever mentions that memo someone wrote in the UK?”, but for a San Francisco television station, your audience may not think of “MSM” as much as in other regions.

    (Y’know, the more I think about it, the participation of Terry & Brian in this particular conversation may be the more significant trend… it’s one thing “to blog” as the magazines tell us to, but another thing entirely to just join in the existing conversations on appropriate subject matter. Glad you’re here. 8)

    John Dowdell
    Macromedia Support

  7. I have to say that I thought the meet-up was anticlimactic as well. Although I have to give kudos to KRON for even reaching out a hand to bloggers in general. I did fall in love with the term “citizens’ media,” and I’m going to use it instead of that darn “blog” word from now on. :D

    Truthfully though, I am looking forward to more two-way communication between KRON and bloggers. I also urge KRON to not bow to the status quo we see so often in the MSM. Good move on reaching out to bloggers. Be fearless. More importantly, be journalists – in the true sense of the word.

    I was also disappointed that Gary Radnich didn’t show, even though he said “yes” on the RSVP. Heh heh.

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