Half Open Public Eye

The CBS News blog ‘Public Eye’ opened it’s eye for the first time today. So far, it ain’t nothing big. Yeah, sure…today was the first day, but Vaughn Ververs (oy vey, that name!) already has me yawning. Why? Because of stuff like this:

“In the weeks since Public Eye’s announcement, the most difficult task I’ve faced has been simply explaining it. The questions, asked over and over again, in many ways still seem unanswered. What is it? Why is it a blog? How often are you going to update it? What are you going to write about? How is this thing going to work?

All seemingly easy questions, yet in launching something so new and unique, I quickly realized the challenges of answering them. In many instances, I don’t have the answers. There is no model to follow here, no formula, no directions for assembly. It will evolve, change and develop over time.”

No model? No formula? If you’re gonna call it a blog, then there certainly is a model and a formula. Go look at any one of the tens of thousands of blogs already in existence. Most are updated daily, with the current date and the top, and titles with articles underneath. Seems pretty formulaic to me.

I’m betting Vaughn will quickly get tired of having to submit something (let alone multiple posts) on a daily basis. Keeping the description of ‘Public Eye’ loose helps him cover his caboose. (Hey, I rhymed!)

In a reference to the blogosphere:

“In ways, this proliferation of media critique can be viewed as illuminating and even performing the service of keeping the Fourth Estate on its toes. But, all too often, it’s confusing and ponderous, as with arguments over the coverage of the Katrina catastrophe, with the press accused both of unfairly blaming the administration and covering up for its performance.

We hope that Public Eye will help CBS News join and improve this big, new conversation about journalism in a way that is honest, open and even idealistic.”

Blogs are confusing and ponderous? Yes Vaughn, they are…but that is what makes them unique. Blogging is a different medium (still in its infancy) and it shouldn’t be compared to anything else. If you’re going to be a real blogger, you have to understand and accept that. We’re not about trying to be the New York Times. We’re the ‘anti-New York Times’. And I don’t think ‘Public Eye’ will change that.

Vaughn goes on to describe the kind of content his blog-non-blog will contain:

“Who decides what makes the ‘Evening News’ and what doesn’t? What are the factors that go into that decision? Why was a particular expert interviewed on a given topic? What did they say that wasn’t included? How difficult is it to put together a package that runs just one minute and 30 seconds? Why wasn’t a certain piece of information mentioned? Those are but a few examples.

Sounds just like the Broadcast News 355 class I took in college. It wasn’t riveting then, and it doesn’t jack me up now.

How open and transparent will ‘Public Eye’ really be?

“We won’t always get the answers we want and, at times, we’ll get no answers at all. But you’ll be the first to know when that happens and why, to the best of our ability. There are legitimate reasons for CBS News to hold some things back, be they legal, competitive or business related. We’ll try to spell those out for you to understand.”

Ah-ha! There it is. It’s their “Get Out of Jail Free” card.

Want to accuse ‘Public Eye’ of not being forthcoming on a news item? “Nope, lawyers say we can’t.” Want to know why CBS only reported half of a story? “Nope, for competitive reasons we can’t tell you about what we may or may not broadcast.”

Yawn.

“In the end, our success will be determined by you, the audience. We will make our best efforts to gain your trust by being honest, accurate and fair. We will try to provide informative details along with critical assessments of CBS. We will do our utmost to answer the questions you have and those we ask ourselves.”

Yes Vaughn, the success of ‘Public Eye’ will be determined by us (bloggers) and them (the reading, non-bloggers). We’ll only need to read a few of your articles to know where you’re coming from, and you won’t have a lot of time to prove yourself.

The honeymoon will be short. Just ask Arianna. I’m sure she’ll agree.

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