Culture of Participation
September 26, 2006, 3:48 pm
Filed under: media, radio, TV

When does the culture of participation go too far?
We have all experienced participatory entertainment (American Idol, etc.) and participatory journalism (all the fine and not so fine blogs out there…), hey we even have particpatory heckling on such fine institutions as WEEI radio’s Whiner Line and its like, but does every supposed news program really need to have audience participation? If we are going to invite listeners to call in or send e-mail on almost every news program of note, how much news goes uncovered. This all started (my elders may correct me if I’m not going back far enough) with 60 Minutes, which in its earliest days began reading comments and questions from its viewers…. this stuff is not news people! Of course the institution should rightfully be credited to a much older media,…periodicals and newspapers where letters to the editor allow the ultimate form of audience participations…one which can also be ignored

I don’t want to spend 30 seconds much less the 5 minutes or more some “news” programs devote to listener/viewer participation. Mainstream media is increadingly incorporating viewer participation into its programs to emulate the qualities of blogs and other citizen media, but TV and Radio are simply not structured for it…you can’t escape when some idiot rants for 3 minutes about his own ignorance. The result is increasingly irritating mainstream news programming, instead of compelling content.

TV and radio producers – stick to your media’s strengths. Provide high quality journalism. Do your homework. Don’t invite every opionated windbag to fill programming for you with little or no editorial control. The beauty of blogs and especially the comments sections of great blogs is simple; the audience controls the flow. Viewer/listener participation in mainstream TV/Radio has the opposite effect, the listener is powerless…except to change the channel. Enough call-in segments already.