Thursday, September 17, 2009

He Walked the Walk, Now Can He Talk the Talk?

I'm not much of a talker. Anyone who knows me well will tell you that. I'll be the first to admit it; I sound better on paper.

So, it is with some trepidation that I accepted an invitation from the Humanists Society of Santa Barbara to give a talk this Saturday.

An hour plus talk I might add.

Talk for an hour! Not even I want to listen to myself for that long.

If you look at history you will find that none of the world's most memorable speeches were anywhere near that lengthy. Lincoln's Gettysburg address was a mere 246 words. Sally Field accepting her Oscar for best actress, was seven words: "You like me! You really like me!" We all remember that.

Compare Sally's speech to the one given by Fidel Castro. I'm talking about the one that lasted 32 hours. Of course, the only thing anyone remembers from that speech was the phrase, "and in conclusion." And that reportedly came at the 28 hour mark.

Right now they're taking bets in Vegas on whether I can break the 20 minute barrier.

So, what to talk about to fill all of that time?

Some topics that might be obvious for me to discuss are going to be off limits. After all, if I say I'm going to talk about Santa Barbara News-Press owner Wendy McCaw, the meeting room will be filled with her posse of lawyers and none of the regular folks will be able to get in. Well, at least that would insure that I would draw a good size crowd. And one that's being handsomely compensated to be there.

But, I'll take a small friendly crowd over a large hostile one any day.

Anyway, the topic I've settled on will be the demise of the old media and rise of the new media. Before any of you chastise me for being too quick to bury old media, let me point out that I'm hardly alone. Filmmaker Michael Moore recently predicted that, "One year or two years from now we are not going to have daily newspapers."

I'm not sure that I would go that far, but then how many of you would be willing to bet that two years from now the News-Press will still be around?

If you're reading this, then you probably have a horse in the new media vs. old media race. One of the big issues that I see is that the rise of new media is threatening to make the professional journalist obsolete.

It may surprise you, but I think that's a tragedy. The possibility that trained, experienced and dedicated writers and reporters will be run off of the planet by a rag-tag bunch of amateurs, hobbyists and dilettantes. In other words, people like me.

Will this be any way to get your news and information? Can the amateurs, hobbyists and dilettantes be counted on to fill the void? Time will only tell and in the end, we may not have a choice. But I have hope. As someone once pointed out, "A lone amateur built the ark. A team of professionals built the Titanic."

Come early for socializing which starts at 2:30 pm Saturday. My presentation will start at 3 pm and will be followed by a Q & A. Location is the Patio Room at Vista del Monte, 3775 Modoc Road, (Las Positas exit off Hwy. 101)
© 2009 by Craig Smith and