I was in Washington, D.C. Friday for some meetings, and had to settle for a last-row middle seat in order to get on an earlier afternoon shuttle back to New York. I hate middle seats, but I didn’t mind during this trip because Senator Chuck Schumer was assigned to the seat next to me. I thanked him for maintaining scrutiny over President Bush, and noted how I missed living in Park Slope, Brooklyn (I lived a few blocks down from him on Prospect Park West). I also complemented him on a very reassuring and inspiring, off-the-cuff speech he gave at Congregation Beth Elohim on September 12, 2001.
Given my line of work, I had to ask Senator Schumer his point of view on how consumer-generated media — the ability for anyone to publish their ideas in the public forum — were impacting his world. He said it’s primarily the blogs which are having the highest impact. He underscored they are a great venue for expressing and exposing ideas, but there’s a tendency for small groups of passionate voices to unite and lure disproportionate attention. I asked what he thought of the fact that mainstream journalists love to use Google for researching, and that Google often gives disproportionate top shelf space to bloggers and other consumer-expression venues. He agreed that happens, but noted that journalists don’t necessarily need Google to discover key bloggers anymore; journalists already know who they are, love them and go straight to them.
I was going to ask Senator Schumer for a picture with me (via my Treo) to supplement this inevitable post, but I decided not to. (I reminded myself that a news cameraman documenting the chaos at Reagan airport that afternoon had asked me for a man-on-the-street interview; after a long day, I was annoyed and impatiently shrugged him off.)