I thought I was attending this Tweetup to cover the shuttle launch. But I've found a better story: the real-time collision of traditional and social media spheres. Consider that we've got 101 Tweeters in their own media tent right next to the CBS and NBC buildings. There's a FOX News van parked outside. Journalists and twitterers are both eating the same gross hot dogs at the roach coach; no velvet line separating the two.
Some reporters have popped in to do segments, and the neat thing is we're doing segments on THEM, as they do segments on US! We're a spectacle, they're spectacle, and whichever flavor the audience -- all of you out there -- want, can be had with a click.
I've interviewed four journalists and six tweeps so far today and learned two things:
1. Journos are clearly nervous about the state of journalism, but they don't see social channels as a threat. Rather, they want in on what WE'RE doing. They love the enthusiasm; one clearly wished she could adopt our pro-romantic approach instead of sticking to the ethically required staid style. Another fully believes social coverage enhances interest in the topics that they're covering in different ways.
2. In the new media ecosystem, trust is the coin of the realm. That trust can be achieved BOTH by professional journalists, who follow an ethical code of non-bias, bring wisdom and perspective to events, and have a track record of not distributing bad information. Subject matter experts can also build up and bank trust, either because they've studied something for a while or because they have real-time access (like the protesters in Iran). There will always be a market for valuable information, and trusted sources are an irreplaceable part of that market. So there's an economically sound argument for the co-existence of traditional and social. Of course, as Murdoch once noted, it'll probably take a painful decade to fully work itself out.
Ok, back to the shuttle launch. You didn't forget, did you? There's 500,000 pounds of liquid hydrogen and oxygen that's about to ignite and send six people into space!