18th May 2005

Blog :: Star Wars Premiere and Local Coverage

Not to beat a dead horse, but I have one more bone to pick with the Bee's coverage of the Sith premiere.  I know I ripped the Bee for its coverage of the celebrities at the premiere.  On the other hand... This was a big deal for Modesto.  Expensive tickets ($250) going to benefit the Gallo Performing Arts Center with the Modesto "elite" (Marie Gallo, Kate Nyegaard (George's sister) etc) in attendance and yes, some celebrities.

So this is the perfect story for the Bee to cover to give me (a print subscriber) value that I can't get elsewhere.  I'm not going to read about this in the SF Chron, right?  Additionally, covering this is good for Modesto.   I'm sure that some of the people who went to the VIP premiere went because they are hard core star wars fans, but in general people went to see and be seen.  The more Bee coverage, the better value that ticket is, right?  The more images of *Celebrities* (hey, I said I'd give you Mark Hamill) signing autographs, locals sipping champagne, and people in general enjoying themselves, the more likely this  sort of fundraiser is to come off well in the future.

So the Bee does a decent story, quoting a variety of local residents about the movie and the experience.  It has several pictures (the link above has 4 pics, I can't remember if they were all in the print addition) of the festivities and generally does a standard newspaper story about the event.

It's not enough.  This is the internet age, after all, and I want at least images of the people who were there, the costumes worn by the fan club, and the celebrities in normal clothes signing autographs (don't you think Mark Hamill should always wear black with one black leather glove?)  Ideally I want video of the event.  How hard can it be right?  Too hard for the Bee's website, apparently.  Four photos (small resolution no less) of people who don't need the publicity.  This isn't exactly in-depth local coverage.  In fact, a xanga site has better multimedia of the premiere than the Bee does.

Why is that?  I'm sure the Bee photographer(s) who attended took literally hundreds of photos.  Why not show em to the world, or at least the paid subscribers?  In this sense the Bee typifies MSM organizations in that its procedures are superb... for the 1980s.   The website is a copy of the print version, erasing almost all the advantages of digital media.

This is where I suspect the blogosphere could come into it's own.  Granted, on large issues the blogosphere is doing far more media criticism than original reporting.  On local issues, however, one blogger with a digital camera just served as a better online suplement to the printed Bee report than the Bee's own website did.

The difficulty, of course, is that I had to find this blog post to see the pictures.  While technorati/bloglines etc make that somewhat possible, look at the entry.  No tags.  No description.  No way of knowing (except that I know him personally) that this was a certain event at a certain place at a certain time.  Obviously there is a need for infrastructure that allows for geographically based blog aggregation.   All sorts of software could be (and will, count on it) written to address this problem.  What you really need though, is a trusted geographically local name that could serve as a central collation point for geographically local stories.  It would even help if there were some human sorting, arranging and even editing going on of the potentially vast streams of local content bloggers could churn out.  Hmm.  Who already is providing local news and has the resources to tackle a project like this?  Sounds like the sort of thing a smart media company could do to enhance their local media coverage.  For the price of one staffer (cheap for a company that employs hundreds), online storage space and bandwidth (very cheap) the Bee (or any local paper) could amplify its news efforts.  How about trackback links for news stories.  User created media galleries?  Ideally, an interesting story on the front page of the print section might have multiple pieces of content (local blog posts, uploaded pics/movies/sounds, followups from later on) attached in the online version.  The paper, then serves as a teaser for the website and the media company rides the blogging wave rather than fighting it.

Posted on May 18th 2005, 12:52 AM