Thursday, June 07, 2007

The disheartening end of Brittney Gilbert in the media

Because everyone else and their brother (and sister) seems to have written over the last 24 hours about the departure from WKRN-TV in Nashville of blogger Brittney Gilbert, I wasn't going to discuss it here. I thought the topic had been well exhausted. The truth of the matter is, though, that I couldn't get the whole situation out of my mind.

Brittney had a job that a lot of us in the blogging community would kill for. It wasn't just that she blogged for pay-she did it eight hours a day for a major media operation. Further, she did it while enjoying the editorial freedom to speak her peace. For the most part, she could say what she wanted and not worry that saying what she wanted to say could cost Brittney her job. Brittney did a blogging report for WKRN that was unlike anything I have ever seen on television news. It brought exposure of the blogosphere to the evening news, and publicised the views of Tennessee bloggers for the world to see. Brittney's work brought Tennessee's talented and diverse political blogosphere to the attention of the State and the nation.

To say that I disagreed with or did not like Brittney Gilbert's politics would be a major understatement. It wasn't just that she was a liberal-I have plenty of liberal friends in the blogging world-but there were times that I thought that Brittney was uppity and brash. I must confess that from time to time I felt that her tone said "I work for a TV station, and I am better than you." It may be, though, that I thoroughly misjudged Brittney's tone and intent-after the events of the last 24 hours, I think it is apparent that a lot of people did.

Because Brittney worked for a television station in the State Capital, she became the face that the wider community in Tennessee often associated with the blogosphere. This was probably a pretty unfair association, since Michael Silence and Jack Lail have done as much work as Brittney has to bring the attention of the mainstream press to the blogosphere, but they work for a newspaper. Brittney did bring A.C. Kleinheider (and I hope he doesn't mind me calling him a friend) to Channel 2 and exposed his talents to a much wider audience-and provided the conservative balance to her own views. Brittney became a liberal punching-bag for the frustrations of certain people, and not just conservatives.

People (including many liberals) would often misconstrue something that she wrote on the blog Nashville is Talking. It was the miscontruction of a rabid liberal that would push Brittney Gilbert to the breaking point. Many will now say that Brittney had been tired of her old gig for awhile now and that this could be seen in her writing-that regardless of how it happened, the day of her departure is at hand. While that may be true, I find the entire episode disheartening. Politics aside, Brittney Gilbert is a fine blogger and a fine writer. She will be sorely missed as a liason between the mainstream press and the blogosphere.

I did not have the pleasure of knowing Brittney personally. I had hoped that I would have the opportunity to meet and interact with her when I was in Nashville at the Capitol back in March for Bloggers' Day On the Hill. Unfortunately, Brittney was not there and we didn't have that opportunity.

Most disturbing of all at this point is that Brittney Gilbert's departure raises the larger question: Who will perform this function now that Brittney Gilbert is gone?

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