EDIT: Something went VERY weird with my links here (good for Silkcharm though 🙂 ) I’ll have to find the articles and re-edit – sorry! -Rob)
Back Story: Sarah Lacy is a writer for BusinessWeek who conducted an interview at South by Southwest (SXSW). She didn’t do a good job, in fact, she did a really bad job and there are a number of dissections of her interview (including this very good one) and the flood of Twitters which occurred during and after the interview. There is some video, some good quality – but incomplete and some bad quality.
And now you’re up to speed… on with the post.
I feel almost sorry for Ms Lacy, indeed I would feel sorry for her if (from the video) she had actually appeared to care about what her interviewee was saying (watch for the body language and lack of eye contact). She got a hard time from the crowd and ended up losing it, but her major failing has been that she still hasn’t been able to admit that she handled things badly and went so far as to tweet back to the Twittering community from her account “seriously screw all you guys. I did my best to ask a range of things” along with a few other tweets where she appears to think the interview was a success and what a rough day she’s had, but how she will soldier on.
What I find most interesting about this incident is the amount of comment and how the community generated content (like this post interview chat to Sarah) has filled out the story – something the traditional media cannot deliver. In terms of impact – I don’t think there will be much from the mainstream – there was a similar incident at Defcon 2007 where a reporter, ended up being outed, and chased from the premises – and I don’t recall much, if any reporting on that.
Perhaps the 1:1 ‘interview’ should be relegated back to the mainstream with events such as this taking feedback and questions from the floor and acting more as a moderator and facilitator for the discussion. Robert Scoble took this approach in a panel he ran later in the day letting people know that he would expect feedback and even heckling during the event. I know that when I’ve spoken at conferences, it’s been difficult to get questions from the floor, and a few well placed leading comments or questions have started some really good discussions both at the podium and after the event. People want to communicate, perhaps the interviewers should change tactics and become enablers for discussion rather than drivers of a set agenda. What do you think?