We met many smart, interesting people and the consensus, at least among those we spent time with, was that "new media," i.e. the web, blogs, podcasts, videocasts, web 2.0 etc., was a big barge that you better get on -- to paraphrase the completely brilliant Jay Rosen. This Rosen post, "The People Formerly Known as the Audience," which ran on Huffington Post, beautifully sums up a lot of what was discussed, and debated, at MGP2006.
We sat on a panel with Jon Donley, the esteemed, Pulitzer prize-winning editor of NOLA.com. The three of us talked about Katrina, Jon's experience covering the disaster from a bunker in New Orleans, and our experience of creating the Been There Clearinghouse. The title of our talk was "How Katrina Changed the News Ecology."
According to Bill Densmore, the organizer of the conference (which was superbly done,) the conference itself was centered, in part, on the question: are the motivations of a journalist like Jon to do what he does any different than the motivations of bloggers like us to do what we do? Jon said he entered journalism to do what he can to make the world a better place. I think Em and I would answer the same, especially when it comes to the Clearinghouse.
(BTW, fellow mom blogger Meredith O'Brien was there! Emily and I got to have breakfast with her, and she is even more fun, smart and cool than I imagined!)
The conference filmed the session, and, for those of you who have, say, a spare 90 minutes, click here.
Emily, Jon and me:
Can't you see that "Been There" love for Jon! He is a very special man and I hope our paths cross again some day.
What an amazing experience.
I think the most important point we tried to make was that with a couple of computers and an internet connection we were able to help so many - starting within just a few hours of that initial post requesting in-kind donations from our readers. It is quite surprising that we went from mommy bloggers to directors of a relief agency in less than a day. But, the fact is, despite a government and relief institutions that screwed up in the most devastating way, the blogging community was not stopped. Mom bloggers "took the hill," as Emily said, and made the Clearinghouse work.
Two moms (with six kids between us) and a network of bloggers and other people online made a lot happen with the Clearinghouse. That means right now, any one, in any place can use the internet do the same -- to help people in need, raise awareness of an issue or motivate people to seek social change. No matter what the circumstances are, what kind of government is in place or what the "authority figures" tell us about how things are "usually" done, there is no doubt, whatsoever, in our minds that one by one, through the internet, we can do significant and important things to make the world a better place.
One more photo - here is Emily talking with Helen Thomas: