In her response to my recent post about the discussion of Bedlam Theatre’s forthcoming footprint in Lowertown, Robyn Hendrix expressed some confusion about the purpose of that post.
“I’m left wondering: okay, umm, cute, you follow all of my multiple internet personalities, I follow all of yours, we operate in the same social media sphere, and everybody we know is saying happy words about Bedlam. So you are cataloguing them and making an article out of them. I don’t really count that as ‘journalism’ and am tempted to just say ‘whoop de doo.’ What’s the point? It feels a bit like reaching for an angle that just isn’t there. The questions posed at the end about the future of the project also kind of make me go ‘Yeah, duh. Opening any kind of business is a risk. Opening an art performance related business, even more so. So what?'”
Here’s the point. Recently at the Daily Planet, we’ve been having a series of discussions about how we can increase our effectiveness at helping Twin Cities residents connect with one another to discuss issues of importance to our communities. One way we do that is through reported and edited news stories by citizen journalists. We’ve published thousands of those stories since our launch in 2006, and we don’t intend to stop.
We remain committed to publishing reported news stories about issues and events of importance to our communities, but our executive director Jeremy Iggers has encouraged Daily Planet editor Mary Turck and me to think about whether there are other strategies we might pursue—in addition to reported news stories—to encourage and facilitate discussion of important issues. Together we brainstormed many ideas, and in coming weeks you’ll be seeing us trying some experiments.
My “buzz” post about Bedlam was one such experiment. I wondered whether there might be value in going and seeing what social media conversations people were having about the Bedlam announcement, recapping those conversations in one convenient place, and inviting people to weigh in with their thoughts.
In this particular case, I found that people were almost invariably ecstatic, and so that’s what I reported. I wasn’t surprised that people were happy about the exciting news—and for the record, I’m excited too—but I was a little surprised that no one was saying anything about the significance of Bedlam’s decision to venture far from its longtime West Bank stronghold.
Of course it’s impossible to know what will happen in the future, but there must have been many months of intense discussions at Bedlam over this move. What are the pros and cons of this decision? I suspected others were also thinking about that question, and I thought I’d see whether anyone cared to weigh in.
I’m glad that Robyn did weigh in, and I will update my post with an excerpt and link to Robyn’s long and thoughtful response. I hope you read it…and respond with your own thoughts! I’d also welcome your feedback on the idea of a “buzz” post. Would you like to see more posts like that? If not, what would you like to see in the Daily Planet? Like Bedlam Theatre, we’re dipping our toes into some new but exciting territory, and we’ll be listening closely to your feedback as we do so.