Thursday, August 20, 2009

Local bloggers meet at Berkeley J-School (YouTube video)

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Last night, Wednesday, August 19th at 6 PM (well, I got there ay 6:38 PM) Paul Grabowicz, the Associate Dean and New Media Program Director at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, hosted the second meetup of local bloggers in the school's library. It was a great event.

The idea of these meetings is, as the email put it, ...

"so people can get together to socialize, share ideas, solve common problems and explore ways we might collaborate.

We also want to find out what kind of training people might be interested in through the UC Berkeley J-School's Knight Digital Media Center"

And really that's what happened. The meeting itself, which I did not video as some people don't want to be on camera, started with the idea of breaking into groups around "editorial" concerns and "business" issues, but that was jettisoned because the free-flowing conversation the group established was going really well.

The meetings drew about 25 people, including such luminaries as Scott Rosenberg, who wrote the book "Say Anything" about the history of blogging (and which I'm reading now), Mark Haas who's partner in business is the legendary Dave Winer (also featured in Scott's book), Dave Cohn of which raises money for stories that journalists and bloggers want to cover, and Martha Ross who has a blog called Crazy In Suburbia, and George Kelly from the blog "All About George".

There were a large number of ideas thrown out during our talk session. One of them was a kind of Bay Area Advertising Network, which was Susan Mernit's concept for a way to tie together local bloggers into one "place" online that can draw better ad dollars. The other was a directory of news and blogging tools, to which Grabowicz directed us to the website

(A momentary aside here. features new business models for news and is a kind of online think tank created by the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. It's worth a visit. What are some of those "new models"? The "hyperlocal" blog site - like Oakland Focus or Oakland North - the new news organization, publicly supported journalism like, and "the ecosystems framework" which brings together individuals to join as one, which is something like what Susan's proposing.)

The talk part of the meeting ended with in all about 20 different ideas. Teaching workshops are one of them, and something I want to do as few people know about vlogging (I was the only vlogger in the room). Another one that was talked about at length was just getting more people to these events. Kwan Booth said that there were about 175 bloggers in Oakland and only a handful of them were there: about six. So we resolved to reach out and tell you all about these meetings; Booth wants to twist arms to get more people there. Seriously.

(But don't worry about having your arm broken. The next meeting is to be determined in September and then we're planning another gathering in Oakland in October.)

Then the meet-and-greet restarted and I took out the Flip Video Camera to get the impressions of the attendees (well, those who didn't mind talking to me with my camera on). In general, everyone was very happy.

I agree with Paul Grabowicz who said that he felt as if he was at the ground level beginning of something big. Media is going through a massive upheaval as more sites come online, ad revenues are spread around, and large media companies are being cut down to size, and all of this is really fun to be a part of for me.

But in all of this change, it's foolish for anyone to go it alone, even those with large media companies. (Er, heck, especially them!) Being a part of a group like ours - well, join our group - is the way to go. I went to meet other bloggers and just listen and it was cool to meet the other African American bloggers in this area. It was a lot of fun.

If you want more information, contact Paul Grabowicz at 510-642-3892 or