If you can’t beat ’em, CNN ’em.

Broadway CNNI’m not sure if you noticed, but the internet is owned by individuals.  The web is where anyone with a blog, a Twitter, or an oft used Yelp account, can help make or break a business . . . or even a government.

That kind of power was previously wielded by a very small group of news providers.  First it was “the papes,” and then it was radio, and then television.  But now the power has gone to the people and the democratized internet, where anyone can be an Authority, from Arianna Huffington to Perez Hilton to . . . you.

This “anyone-with-a-computer-can-rise-to-power” ability scared the bejeesus out of those traditional media outlets, including so many of us in our industry.

“What will happen to criticism?”

“Can we trust the people to define art?  That’s our job!”

“They can’t report the news!  They won’t be accurate!  We have rules!”

All valid points . . . but trying to fight this phenomenon is as futile as trying raise money for a revival of Dance of The Vampires. 

So, as I often propose . . . when two sides are so at odds, maybe the answer isn’t to go to war, it’s to join forces.

Take CNN . . .

CNN was the first big box TV network to embrace the user, and validate him/her, as an important part of their news operation by devoting an entire section of their site to . . . iReporters.  Who are iReporters?  

You.  Me.  iReporters are everyone out there who wants to tell their story.  Maybe it’s the people who were at LAX over the weekend.  Maybe it’s the people in yesterday’s NYC marathon.  Or maybe it’s people at an opening night party?  Hmmmm???

The news is for the people, why not give the people a platform (that’s actually in your control) where they can help tell it?

The theater is for the audience . . . so why not do the same thing?

While I’m sure there was a mini revolt by the actual CNN reporters when viewers who submit stories were handed their “reporter” title, the iReporter branding was a genius move on behalf of the CNN execs.  By labeling them “reporters” they gave respect to their viewers, and instilled them with a responsibility that came along with the moniker.  “You’re a reporter now.  Handle yourself appropriately.”

So what if Broadway had iReporters?  Or iReviewers?  Could the League sponsor them?  Or the NY Times?  Or Playbill.com?

The truth is, these folks already exist, they are just hidden in the dark corners of theater chat sites, instead of being embraced by our “big network” news/reviews providers (“Jesse21” on TalkinBroadway.com comes to mind . . . and btw, his skills could give any reviewer in town a run for his/her money).

But the way the world-wide-web is headed, if we continue to treat our audience like their voices aren’t worthy, they’ll either talk even more smack than they already do . . . or worse . . . they’ll stop talking about us altogether.

 

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