Berry Tramel is not the most popular guy today in the digital world. In a scuffle that began with a sports message board, he has concluded that anyone who participates in message boards is as guilty as someone who visits porn sites.
I’ve been asked at OKC Talk about this, and basically, my answer is this: I’ve done my best to embrace what many call “new media” and I’ve done so for several years. I recall all the way back in 1995 just as AOL hit 250,000 members, I was pressing to do a series of stories about the rise of the Internet. My editors were skeptical and questioned whether the World Wide Web wasn’t just another soon to be doomed fad akin to the news scroll channels that popped up on cable back in the early 1980s.
Quietly, without anyone at work knowing, I joined a police bulletin board (this is old school internet to be sure) to get ideas for when I was on the cop beat. Then, as I moved to covering City Hall and downtown development, I “lurked” message boards run by the city, then briefly by The Oklahoman. I came out, very carefully, and joined OKC Talk in 2004. Because of the uncertainty about such boards, I was very, very cautious on posting anything, though I did offer some harmless clarifications or answers about projects when such questions were posed to me.
Last year everything changed. Our online folks were beginning to have some luck explaining the importance of “new media.” And I was approached repeatedly about launching this blog. I was reluctant at first, not because I fear going online, but as to whether I could commit the time to creating an extra outlet for my writing and reporting. You can be the judge as to whether I’ve pulled it off.
I was also encouraged to increase my participation at OKC Talk and OKMet, though it was made clear to me that I’m out here, without a net (editors) representing The Oklahoman. Oh yeah, no pressure there.
And in this increased role, my work has been beaten up and flattered with praise. And that’s OK. And I’ve learned a lot more about what readers are interested in, and I’ve discovered new ways of reporting on stories – all because of these message boards.
So the question is, do I agree with Berry? I’ll let my continued involvement at OKC Talk answer that question.