Oakland Tribune Outtakes

Notes from Oakland, Berkeley and in between

Oakland’s bloggerati last night

By awoodall
Thursday, December 18th, 2008 at 10:16 am in Night Owl.

The official vehicle of the blogosphere would be a Segway scooter, I decided last night erstwhile when Nancy Nadel challenger Sean Sullivan rolled up to the Washington Inn last night. The downtown business darling showed up at the Oakland Blogger Get-Together. The blogoyalty were there — such as the event’s organizer “Becks” of Living in the O, Future Oakland/The DTO’s Jonathan Bair and ”V Smoothe” of A Better Oakland.  So were Oakland’s citerati:  Oakland Events, Dowtown Lake Merritt Neighborhood Group, Tina “Tamale” Ramos (The big cheese over at La Borinquena Mex-icatessen who’s living in a tamale world cuz she’s a tamale girl). Lots of readers and numerous genuinely engaged residents who had lots to say about people trashing their town, the popping entertainment scene and transit.  It was the first blogger party I’ve ever been to or heard of. I was half expecting to find a bunch of freaks and geeks to be tapping away at their laptops. Just kidding. No way Oakland’s urban bloggerati would be doing anything but looking fabulous drinking their cocktails. Anyway, I appreciated being there but felt a little strange as the only reporter. The next year is going to be a watershed time in how journalism and blogging evolve. I mean, I was a baby reporter covering the 2004 elections from DC when bloggers made their big appearance as either critics of “mainstream media” (oh boy) or mortar that filled some of the cracks in the media house that has been crumbling for years. Now critics are analyzing blogs in the same way bloggers did journalists and there’s a project underway to put pens in the hands of writers who want to cover issues journalistically but have no reporting training or experience (aka “citizen journalism” which is a catchword likely to set the eyes rolling among most reporters.) I try to ignore the snark on both sides and listen to the merit of the ideas and whether in fact, as often is claimed, ”no one” has written about the proposed story or whether the person just didn’t read it or wanted a different angle. You never know these days esp with the way managers are running news organizations into the ground. Don’t believe a word of the old BS — profits are plummeting so we’re laying more reporters off (way to go: compromise quality so people will read less), or the Internet and blogs are killing traditional media. The industry is plagued by little-minded people with money on their mind who didn’t have the creativity or will to react years ago to the changing scene. And papers are still wildly profitable compared to other industries. Yes, this is a sore topic for me and I’m not sure how I digressed so far. I do know that there’s plenty of room for everyone to serve the public by reporting (not just expressing opinions) about this city, the good, the bad and the ugly. In the immortal words of RK: Can’t we all just get along? Or at least have a drink together?

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7 Responses to “Oakland’s bloggerati last night”

  1. Luke Says:

    As a frequent reader of our great Oakland blogs and the Trib, I have to say that the blog writers are kicking some Oakland booty (Angela is a great notable exception with her great Night Owl work). The fact is I just can’t get the detailed and thoughtful writing about Oakland from any other sources. V Smoothe in particular is amazing and prolific and my hat’s off to her. I really don’t know how she does it. Frankly, I want to know what’s going on in the city and not just crime. There are a million great things happening everywhere and there are plans in the works that I want detailed information on. You know how I find out about this mainly? The blogs! I want to know when the Lake construction is gonna start, what it’s going to look like, what it’s gonna cost…and I want frequent updates. I want to know that there’s someone holding the city’s feet to the fire to pave the streets and fix the sidewalks. I really want to know that there’s gonna be landscaping, beautification of our city, and development. New restaurants and shops opening? Companies starting up or moving to Oakland? Get me names and details (the Trib often skimps on the details and depth) and often. WHY? The pride of a city is foundational to it’s health. We have to learn to respect and care for our home and it starts with our news and conversations. We don’t neglect all the horrible negative parts at all, but there has to be a balance and focus on the positive. We need constant reminders of the good things, otherwise the bad things start to define our reality. Think of it as the broken window theory writ large.

  2. V Smoothe Says:

    Thanks for coming to the party, Angela. FYI, I sent invites to all the Oakland reporters who have blogs, but you were the only one who was able to make it.

  3. Angela Woodall Says:

    Many thanks again. I had fun and it was lovely to meet so many new people. As far as the Trib goes, I say Amen, brother. I’m with you. On that note, the company is changing the blog format. The Night Owl will be under the “East Bay Outtakes” along with several other avenues. I won’t even go into the reasons why it’s EBO, which I think is a terrible idea (lumping together Oakland and Berkeley and “everything in between”).Goes under the category of WTF.
    So, about journalism (a topic I LOOOOVE talking about), the paper should focus on those stories that readers will say, “Wow. I’m glad the Trib was on that one.” But we are made to revert to the no-crime-story-is-too-small mode, even though it costs a lot of time that could be devoted to something more significant. Part of the prob too among a lot of reporters is that they don’t get out of the office enough, whereas bloggers are coming and going as part of their normal workday and daily routine. Maybe reporters have to change the way we write stories, too, because people are used to the conversational style in blogs etc. My dream (fantasy?) is to start a news site with my boyfriend that would do Oakland justice. We’d plunk it down in the Trib Tower.

  4. Jessica Says:

    Thanks for keeping the word alive about Oakland’s indie blogs!

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  6. Genie Says:

    It was a really fun event — nice to meet some new Oakland blogger faces and be part of the group!

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