Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Best Of The Drifts - An Accessory

Originally Published February 24, 2009

An Accessory

It is time to talk plainly.

There comes a time in many relationships when one side must accept the fact the other side simply does not care. It is painful. It is undesirable. But it is a crystalline threshold which must be passed.

I do not speak of the Atlanta Journal Constitution or Creative Loafing. They were casual friends at best. Even as they stumbled online and dwindled on paper, they were always upfront that they never really considered us potential partners.

I speak of the new guys arriving at the dance.

A little over a year ago, I was approached by a quasi-traditional media company who wanted to create a nationwide network of blogs to cover the Presidential campaign. It was an exciting idea but there was barely any time and the idea was nebulous at best.

However, the players seemed sincere about melding "old" and "new" media and there was the small hope a real hybrid would emerge.

Using my knowledge of the online world and small reputation, I began recruiting bloggers across the nation. It was the usual promise of exposure and more traffic - the Tree of Knowledge fruit which lures us so easily. I dutifully submitted my lists of contacts and then waited for the next step which never came.

Soon, I realized the entire project was nothing more than a vanity vehicle and the dreams of something new and better had been cast aside for a shiny new toy.

At least they paid.

A few months ago, I was approached again.

Instead of an old company playing with new toys, this venture was a new company starting fresh. Hope kindled in the fact that not only had this new entity acquired an astounding array of talent but those in charge previously showed an understanding of new media. Their proposal was nothing less than blowing up then replacing the traditional distribution model for journalistic content.

And from the beginning they spoke of integrating new media voices.

Simply sitting in a room with generations of journalism experience and hearing them discuss publishing in terms developed, tweaked and pushed in previous blog conversations, panel discussions and fiery arguments was intoxicating. There was enough hope for a realization of an idea that I rushed home and immediately typed up all my thoughts, philosophies and weird ideas on how new and old could be blended.

It was received by the powers that be with much praise.

Then nothing.

Weeks passed. A follow-up was ignored. When this new organization stepped out into the limelight by breaking one of the fundamental rules of online life, I politely contacted them to explain the error. Still nothing.

There was no break-up letter. Not even the polite corporate-like "we've decided to go in another direction" missive. Just nothing.

The threshold was passed and the painful reality realized.

Those in the traditional media see us like a new leather jacket or new boots they acquire to blend in while venturing to the new hip part of town. Once they return home, the pajamas and slippers slide back on and the new duds are tossed in the back of the closet - perhaps never seen again.

The reality is they have never accepted us and they never will.

Each of us will confront this fact in our usual individual ways but my confrontation has passed and my own conclusion reached.

I will never be an accessory again.

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