9News launches ambitious new "Facebook Day:" OMG WTF?

Somebody's got a bad case of the Mondays.

Denver's KUSA, better known as 9News, regularly lauds itself as Colorado's news leader, and if ratings are the only inspiration for broadcast puffery, then sure, we'll have to give it to them. But a news item posted at last week, complete with links to a three-package traditional TV report, raises an interesting question: Just where is 9News trying to lead us?

Last Monday, these humble leaders announced their latest pet project: "Facebook Day," which if they hold true to their words, will also occur throughout the day today.

Now, before you toss the laptop (or iPhone) and tear apart your living room to find that -- oh, what's it called? -- clicker thingy, for the love of God just click here so you don't pad their ratings any more.

At any rate, now the day associated with the dreadful start of the work week is also devoted to new media -- through a traditional format so far anchored by TV veterans Kyle Dyer and Gregg Moss. As a morphing industry, journalism has come a long way to end up right back where it started.

Check out this epic installment from a week ago:

I remember the first time I heard about a weird little website called "Faceplace" -- or at least that's how the concept was introduced to me. I was a freshman in college, and I was in the middle of crafting my first big story for Westword, which hardly had an Internet presence in the fall of 2005.

A dorm neighbor gave me the skinny. "It's really cool. You just sign up and make friends and can write on their walls. Oh, walls are kinda like their message board or something," she told me. My first reaction was something like: "Only nerds and creepers will use that. I have real friends." This Faceplace thing had to be a fad.

Holy web turds, was I wrong.

I went on about my merry little way, filing my story via Yahoo! legacy mail -- and I couldn't wait to drive to Denver to pick up the copy of the newspaper. A real newspaper I could hold in my hand. I was published, which meant, of course, that I was a legitimate journalist, or at least a one-hit journo. That's how things used to be.

But then everything changed. As I went through my journalism curriculum, eventually concentrating on this thing called "computer mediated communication," I found that Facebook, the subsequentTwitter and all the other social media have a profound impact on my desired profession. In fact, I soon learned I better get comfortable with freeze-dried noodles and driving a Hyundai, because the social media was killing the industry's cash flow. Just ask the people who used to work at the Rocky Mountain News. We were told we'd better figure out a new way -- that we had to adapt to survive.

And here I am, blogging for Westword every weekday. Bloggidy, blog, blog. Whatever that means for the quality of journalism and its role in society (I'll get back to you about that in ten years), its been a quick transition. It's a transition we're still trying to wrap our typing fingers around -- and apparently it's an even bigger zinger if you're Colorado's news leader.

On its face, there are some legitimate subjects surrounding the Facebook phenomenon, which in its first day 9News valiantly took on: Fraud, Facebooking in the work place and technology obsession. And that's day one. Oh, boy, I can't wait to find out was day two has in store.

But every Monday? It sounds like the most enterprising part of this new endeavor is coming up with anything at all to talk about on TV because, well, it's already on Facebook. Duh.

It reminds me of a little project KCNC, or CBS4, launched while I was working with the investigative team there. It was just one of a larger re-branding effort the station had devised to combat, you guessed it, 9News. They called it "Tough Questions" with Alan Gionet. I helped a little with few of the packages here and there, and it was a cool little project. But I remember thinking, "How many tough questions can we actually answer?"

Shortly thereafter, this project was re-branded "Good Question," which you can still watch if you ever dig up that clicker. In this case, it seems there are just more good questions than there are tough questions... at least if you have to produce it all for TV, which requires more technology -- and just a little more make up.

My guess is that "Facebook Day" will go the way of "Tough Question." It seems like a dry and fruitless attempt to address a medium used by a younger demographic that gets most of its news from Facebook and the Internet to an the older, morning TV news demographic that probably still thinks it's called "Faceplace."

But forget what the academics say. Really, it's just not the medium for a comprehensive look at social media. Try -- that's right, you media savvy blog reader, you -- Facebook. They're Colorado's -- and everywhere's for that matter -- Facebook news leader.

As far as new media goes, It seems 9News, at least in this case, jumped balls first onto the band wagon. But the station forgot that Gannett, their evil parent company, cemented their legs to the floor. Because TV is still TV, even if it's covering Facebook.

Whatever they're thinking, it will be at least interesting to see how many Mondays they can fill up. Today marks two.

In the meantime, for more of your convergent media consuming pleasure and pain, here's...

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J. David McSwane
Contact: J. David McSwane