So, I've just filed my article about the premiere of the "Harold & Kumar" sequel at the South by Southwest Film Festival. It will appear in Sunday's paper.
Thought you might like to know some of the basic details about reporting from a festival. I've been singularly focused on seeing this one film, so all my comments relate to it.
* Both South by Southwest's film and interactive festivals are running concurrently, and I've never seen so many laptops, video cameras and iPhones in one building (outside of any building in San Francisco). Virtually ever reporter has all three and uses them effortlessly. The hot topic of discussion is social networking tools (like Facebook.com and Myspace.com and Kyte.com and Twitter.com) and how journalists and companies are leveraging these tools in their coverage. A lot of the conversation is interesting, but there is still one aspect of this style of reporting I'm not entirely comfortable with: inserting oneself into the story. Of course, that's what a blog is about, and I think it's the perfect medium for it. I hear a lot of journalists talking about their vlogs and blogs, but my main question is this: would I be comfortable if social networking tools were my only tools for reporting? What if, for instance, I only reported news on my blog and not for the paper? Would you find me less credible? More credible? Why has "putting a face" to coverage become so important to newspaper reporting? How does this influence perceptions of objectivity? In pop media reporting, does the question of objectivity really matter as much as it did 10 years ago? Is it the reporter's duty to be an entertainer first, reporter second? I don't have any clearcut answers for that yet.
* Though this festival is incredibly efficient -- how they get this many people to show up in the right place is an organizational wonder -- covering these things does entail quite a bit of waiting. All morning, for instance, I was trying to blog about what I was hearing at the panels, especially on one about the writers' strike. The tool I use for blogging (Blogger.com), however, had crashed. I couldn't satisfy the need for immediacy, and that was frustrating. How fast do you want your news in a festival environment? If it's three hours old, it feels completely dated at this festival.
* Austin has some wonderful venues for seeing movies, including the Alamo Drafthouse cinemas. I've been to these "brew and view" type venues before where you can eat and drink during the feature. The Robinson Film Center will have a modified version of this, and I wonder how long it will take Shreveport patrons to get comfortable with the idea that they can drink beer and wine and upgraded snacks inside the movie theater.
* That's it for now. Off to the Paramount Theatre to get in line for the "HK2" premiere. I saw the flick last night and am eager to see if it's brand of humor hits home with a 1,200-seat house. My guess? I'm in Austin. I'm gonna go for "yup."