Friday, February 13, 2009

Is it the right thing to do?

With the tragic plane crash in Buffalo, New York Thursday evening, I've been thinking about the growth of participatory journalism. No matter how many trained journalists there are, nothing can beat a local who is already at the scene as it happens before their eyes. Time is of the essence and journalists can only get to the scene so fast. The question is, "Where do you draw the line?"

On, they have iReport submissions where people took photos or recorded video right when the Buffalo plane crash happened. One particular video includes a woman screaming, frantic and wanting to know if her family was all right in a house near the crash site. I first saw this on CNN and I felt uncomfortable, almost guilty for viewing a very emotional and tragic scene.

True, it is interesting to see live, eyewitness video versus reporters telling the story after the fact. But there is a point where the interest for watching the video makes way to "why am I watching this in the first place?" Sometimes, too much information is too much information.

Now I'm all for online journalism because of the opportunity to do more rather than writing a story and maybe a color photo (if the newspaper has the money for it) along with it. The chance to do an in-depth photo essay - in full color - or adding video to attach the names in the written story to faces allows for news to be presented in more colorful, interesting ways. Black and white print isn't what it used to be.

And traditional print media can't compete with the interactivity of online journalism through the ability for viewers to comment on a story, video or photo. Reading one comment on the previously mentioned plane crash video, I had hope that some people are able to step back and say what we all should be thinking...

[viewer comment to video posting below]

Why is this out for public viewing? I understand the freedom's of press, but this is a very personal glimpse of a tragic moment for people who haven't even had a moment to think about or reflect on what just happened to them. Is their no common decency left in America, or are we all just gore addicts?


Even so, there's just something about having a camera or camcorder to document an event as it occurs. Unexpected things happen all the time and while it may not be a plane crash right in your backyard, the need to know is relentless. As iReport shows, it's not just journalists who have that need to know - it's any one of us, however much we deny it. Celebrity gossip is popular for a reason after all.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Valentine's Day Oak Park Style

Some consider Oak Park to be a mini-downtown Chicago. The rich history and community of this suburb attracts many new and returning visitors. The diverse and trendy restaurant scene of Oak Park offers great opportunities to try a wide assortment of different cuisines.

With Valentine's Day only two days away, take advantage of one of many Oak Park restaurants. If you and your special someone (or close group of friends) have a preference for American, Italian, Mexican, Greek, Asian, Indian and even South American flavors, make a reservation at an Oak Park restaurant. Click here to get a complete list of restaurants, phone numbers and even customer reviews.

In this video, I visited Oak Park's Sushi House, Papaspiros Greek Tavern and Cucina Paradiso (some of my favorite OP restaurants) to hear about their plans for Valentine's Day.

Check out my video and let me know how dinner at one of these fine restaurants was.