In the 1960s, a small number of absurdly gifted writers began to change the definition of journalism. Using literary techniques found more frequently in novels than the New York Times. Tom Wolfe, Norman Mailer, Dick Schaap, Jimmy Breslin, Hunter Thompson and George Plimpton were at the forefront of what quickly became called "New Journalism." "Participatory Journalism" was a key element of New Journalism, and it developed in two forms out of the minds and typewriters of Plimpton and Schaap: Plimpton was the author turned participant, who wrote about his often humbling experiences in magazine articles and books like "Paper Lion" and "Out of My League," while Schaap turned participants into authors, in books like "Instant Replay," which he co-wrote with the Green Bay Packers Jerry Kramer. Both Plimpton and Schaap brought readers inside the locker room, the huddle and, at their best, into the mind of the athlete. The result was "Up Close and Personal" in print, before Roone brought it to television. Big Media & the "New Participatory Journalism" Today, in the era of DIY media, where everyone has a camera and iMovie, and is publicly living their lives online, media companies can leverage their scale and resources to enable large numbers of participants at events to participate in their event coverage.
Rather than just have a single "special guest contributor" — which is Big Media's style and something that, if it isn't already, will soon feel like a quaint concept — media companies should be opening up their event coverage to as many participants as possible. For example, prior to the SxSW Music Festival, at Blender.com we contacted bands and musicians and asked them to video their experiences and then submit their own reports for our Event Blog. The result was a collection of video snapshots and reports from these participants that provides a better picture of the lives of indie bands at their musical Super Bowl than anything else I've seen or read. EXHIBIT-A: this tremendous, short video report created by the band, "Produce O."
We received dozens of videos, all snapshots filed by the bands and musicians attending the SxSW Festival.
And, get this: those band-made videos were viewed over 15-million times. (That's not a typo.)
(Again) Think Quilt, Not Blanket . . . and Sell It Event coverage for Big Media is no longer about blanket coverage, instead it's about putting together quilted coverage from it's own and from outside soruces: It's about stitching together moments, fragments, video snapshots and commentary — creating an evolving scrapbook for an audience that doesn't just tolerate but has an appetite for low production values (the left-hand side of The Curve) and incomplete productions — and publishing them in real time for an audience that isn't looking for the whole story in a single narrative.
It's an audience that with regard to video is happy with fragments in the form of quick scenes, and in print online with pictures, short comments and links. And it's an audience that loves new media's New Participatory Journalism. Which means advertisers will like it, too.