Yesterday Robert Feder Opened His Mouth to Change His Feet
This content originally appeared on my former Chicagosphere online-media blog, hosted on the Chicago Tribune‘s ChicagoNow network.
This week, former Chicago Sun-Times TV columnist Robert Feder (@robertfeder) managed to stick his foot in his mouth while sticking his tongue in his cheek. The usually scrappy Feder slapped down ChicagoNow’s new WGN-AM Radio weekly show from the pulpit of his own new blog at the web-centric Vocalo Radio. Boy, could I say something about that. But fellow blogger Alexander Russo, the nationally prominent scribe of the popular District 299 Chicago Public Schools watchdog blog, got there first.
To set the scene, Feder voluntarily left the Sun-Times under a buyout in late 2008 and joined Vocalo, a community content, broadcast-broadband hybrid project of Chicago Public Radio. He became a blogger there last month after a suitable year of rest. (Feder is even older than I am, so I totally understand the long break–he probably naps in the afternoon, too.) As his former print competition, the Chicago Tribune‘s Phil Rosenthal, noted, Feder christened his blog in an initial post saying:
“In my new role, I look forward to redefining my old broadcast beat, while expanding the scope of my reporting to include print, the Internet and whatever else comes along.”
So he’s no idiot (we hope–although far be it from us to speak for our fellow bloggers.) He knew what he was getting himself into. He was becoming a blogger at a crowd-sourced, experimental, heavily New Media-flavored (oh-and-by-the-way-we’re-also-a) radio station. So his comments on his new (ahem, what is that scratchy thing in my throat? Oh yeah, it must be a) blog yesterday seemed a bit ironic. Feder wrote:
“Oh, great. Just what we needed: Four hours of radio consisting of bloggers no one knows about yapping about blogs no one cares about. OK, maybe that’s too harsh. But I know I’m not the only one who reacted that way when Tribune Co.-owned WGN-AM (720) announced a new weekly radio show based on the Tribune Co.-owned blog site ChicagoNow.com…That’s not to say there aren’t some decent contributors to ChicagoNow.com among the crazy quilt of 126 bloggers who hold forth there…But turning over four hours of peak radio time on a 50,000-watt powerhouse to this menagerie of free-lancers and hobbyists strikes me as a colossal waste of time.”
Boy, did that, uh, ruffle some feathers on this network. Our colleagues at Chicagoist immediately chimed in, noting that ChicagoNow bloggers cover “every possible niche you could imagine” and already regularly make headlines in Chicago (and nationally too, we might add.)
“Am extremely amused by the idea that bloggers could be annoyed that someone sort of bashed them. Think about that for a moment.” (@AnnaTarkov, 5:00 PM Nov. 12, 2009)
That’s a good point. Bloggers can’t be debate starters without occasionally becoming subjects of debate, too. Besides, I’ve never know Feder to say anything that wasn’t at least as snarky an opinionated as, well, something I would say. I tend to take him with a grain of salt.
But my favorite response is Russo’s. Posted yesterday on District 299 and reposted here with permission in its brief but glorious entirety:
“It took media reporter Roger Robert Feder about a week of being back on the beat to take a swipe at ChicagoNow, whose offerings he derides as a “menagerie of free-lancers and hobbyists.” My reaction? Finally. You know you’ve arrived when an old newspaper guy like Feder comes after you. And it’s especially delicious that Feder does so perched at Vocalo.org, which (a) relies on a menagerie of freelancers and hobbyists and (b) makes ChicagoNow look like something of a media giant. I’m friends and colleagues with several people at Vocalo and WBEZ. I generally admire what they do. I get what Feder is talking about. I just think that maybe he should look around his new surroundings before he gets all high and mighty. It’s a new world out there, Robert, and you’re in it.”
I agree. Feder sure as hell is in it now. Welcome to the blogosphere, Robert.
Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?