The Tech Journalism landscape is covered with partisans and homers. It isn’t very often when one comes about with the trusted demeanor of one of the stallworths of the golden age of broadcast journalism. Too often would-be news presenters take shortcuts in their reporting and confuse strong personalities with good journalism. It’s like everyone wants to be Rush Limbaugh. When I first found tech news podcasts the best one was C/NET’s Buzz Out Loud. It was a great mix of the latest stories and good banter. Tom Merritt, Molly Wood and a wide variety of co-hosts explored the stories. As is always the case with new media, Tom left C/NET to join Leo Laporte and began the Tech News Today daily podcast. For me Buzz Out Loud lost a lot of its journalistic integrity and became too much about the personalities because there was no one left to reign in Molly’s rants. I fear that Leo’s decision to drop Tom is a case of history repeating itself.
Who knows what if anything is happening behind the scenes, but requiring the news director to be local (as in the Bay Area) seems to be more than an unfortunate decision. My experience with working remotely is that it is really is a huge pain in the ass and does require a lot of extra effort to support the remote member of the team. I would think having Tom on the team would be worth it. We’ll see who picks Tom up and how that changes to tech news scene.
The decision to replace Tom with Mike Elgan greatly worries me because he’s willing to air his opinion, one hopes in the interest of promoting interesting dialog (the recent “Apple Blacklist” for example), but it comes off as too much punditry and not enough real objective news reporting. It’s an interesting problem that new media and news-info-tainment has these days. We want to identify with those we follow online and have a much closer “relationship” with them than the sterile facade of traditional news/journalism. But too often when adding some “personality” to their stories, they include too much of themselves in the story and fill in the gaps with their own experiences too much. I appreciated how Tom ran the TNT news show because he knew when to reveal his personal take, how to work with and get the best from others on the team and where to stop when it was becoming too much conjecture and not journalism. We’ll see if Elgan can pull it off without putting too much of his experience into the “news” show. I’m willing to be surprised but am fearful that TWiT dropped the wrong anchor.
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