BitDepth 708 - December 01

The media takes a hammering at TATT's ICT Open Forum, I return the favour.
Media 2.0: Telling your story

The content of TATT's own newsletter is nowhere to be found on its website.

Last week, I caught the last hour's worth of questions and answers at the Telecommunication Authority's most recent ICT Open Forum, said to be exploring the subject: "Challenges faced in implementing and improving access to ICT's in Trinidad and Tobago in an era of economic uncertainty."
I was taken by surprise by the media bashing coming from Ronald Hinds, CEO of Teleios. The gist of his irritation seemed to come from some level of dissatisfaction with reporting of matters of concern to him.
Hinds is entitled to decide that the reporting he reads coming out of other islands is superior to the reporting in Trinidad and Tobago. He may also have a point in noting that in day to day reporting, there is a tendency in local media to assume prior knowledge of the background of a story, skipping the kind of restatement of background material that enriches reports for a first time reader.

But this misconception of the media's role as being bound to the imperatives of an event's agenda now runs so deep and is reiterated so often by the political leadership of this country that it's worth debunking everytime it rears its head.
Simply put, the news is the news. Your story is the story you need to take responsibility for telling. If a meeting of technocrats goes on for hours and results in no clear, readily stated outcomes and a minister of government talks to the media for two minutes afterward and drops a nugget that hogs your entire show, then that should tell the event's organisers something.
The learning shouldn't be that the media is lazy and disinterested in the "real news." It's that an event's outcomes need to be packaged for public consumption in a readily digestible format and that politicians tend to be pretty savvy about what needs to be said to get in the news pages of tomorrow's paper.
What's startling about this is the continuing inability of technologically capable people to take advantages of the fundamental changes in the way information is being distributed today.

Eating your own dog food
Sticking with the ICT Open Forum, I put a follow up inquiry to the folks at TATT about the extensive recording that had been done during the talks and ensuing discussion.
Rawle Harvey, TATT's Consumer Affairs Representative assured me that the hours of footage would be edited into a 15 minute television special and that the presentation slides of National Chief Information Officer Cleveland Thomas might need to be edited (after being presented publicly), before they could be forwarded to me.
Let's put this in context. TATT has a useful, agreeably barebones website on which they post PDFs of their policy documents. This is an eminently useful site but nowhere will the telecoms curious find audio downloads or transcripts of past forums or even digital copies of the authority's unfortunately named newsletter, TATT Bytes. This is odd, given that TATT's audience, which is to say the people likely to be interested in TATT's publications and broadcasts, are exactly the kind of people who would visit the website and download such material.

Harvey told me that the current site will be replaced soon by a new design that's in development. One can only hope that it retains the basic utility of the current site while amplifying the distribution of more of TATT's material.
Had I been of a mind to challenge Ronald Hinds, I would have been asking why technologically savvy people persistently fail to make use of common tools to share talks, policy statements and other background resources that only benefit from open circulation.
I've been keeping an eye on what UTC has been up to with their Twitter feeds, Facebook presence and liberal use of YouTube and Flickr to create information channels for their audience, both for the purposes of updating their customers and wooing attention.

This is exactly the sort of thing that organisations need to be doing with their information in 2009, sharing it with the same enthusiasm that their children have for posting camera phone videos of domestic altercations helpfully scored with Mavado's music.
Right now, digital channels like Vimeo, Facebook and YouTube are as likely to provide an attentive audience for the messages of public and private sector organisations as any newspaper, television channel or radio newscast.
Time to stop moaning and start moving. In the case of TATT and yes, Teleios, there needs to be more obvious faith in the medium they champion.
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