Thoughts about 2009?

2008-2009So, AOA Greg is going to be on this panel with a bunch of other media people this coming Thursday. But little did he know that appearing on the panel would involve... homework.

Homework! Maybe you can help.

The people organizing the event are looking for the panel to talk about the top three stories of 2008 -- and what the top three stories of 2009 will be.

We're guessing (hoping) you might have some thoughts on that topic. And we'd love to hear 'em. We'll totally give you credit on Thursday.

To get things started, here's what Greg sent along to the moderator this week...

(Questions from the moderator are in italics.)

I'd like to hear from each of you re what you thought the 3 top stories of 2008 were. I'm assuming Spitzer's dalliances and Obama's election will be among them, but would appreciate hearing your individual takes on those stories.

It's funny how long ago the whole Spitzer affair seems now. Obviously, it was a big story in its own right, but also in that it pushed David Paterson forward. He probably never would have become governor via the normal route, so it's interesting watching him in the job.

I don't think Obama was a huge story locally. About 20,000 fewer people turned out to vote this time around compared to four years ago. And Obama's vote total here just barely edged out that of Kerry from the last cycle. New York was probably always in the bag for Obama (or, really, any Democrat) and we were treated that way. We might want to play a little harder to get next time.

Added after the email: People certainly seemed interested yesterday. And the local Twitterati certainly had plenty to say.

Ditto for what you think will be the three top stories in 2009.

Keeping this confined to the local/regional:

-How the state deals with the budget gap and the consequences of that.

-The Albany mayoral election -- the city has real problems and people might be willing to make a change, but will a solid alternative candidate step forward? And if so, can that person beat the machine?

-Infrastructure. You name it, it's probably pretty old in this area. Chances are something's going to fail.

Added after the email: it'd be great to hear from people about non-political/government type stories. What about cultural or social topics?

I'd also like each of you to consider whether the changes in the media is itself a story for both 2008-2009. The impact of declining readership, viewership, and advertising revenue. The multiplicity of blogs, RSS feeds, cable channels, etc. We talked a bit about this last year and in previous years and things certainly haven't stayed static.

I think it is. If anything, the evolution of media is changing notions of what it means to be an authority. I think we're moving from an era in which there were only a few "voices" of authority into an era where there will be many. That probably won't be good for the people who have gotten accustomed to -- and profited from -- the old arrangement.


On the social story aspect for 2009...I think gay marriage will become an even more prominent topic of discussion in New York. With the passing of Proposition 8 in California and the national reaction, I think it will become more of an issue locally. New York has kind of sat back and watched and tried not to talk about it. I think it will be interesting to see how what happens in CA affects NY.

If the scope of the question is locally, then my votes would be:

1) Spitzer
2) Kathina Thomas
3) The Ice Storm

The economy is a big one, but it's hard to pin that down to one story/event. As for 2009? That's hard to say, the big stories for 2008 were kind of shockers, I don't think you can even take an educated guess as to what the big events of 2009 will be.

I think the overpopulation of crows is going to reach a boiling point. I think there will be more violent incidences at Albany High, people will be outraged, but nothing will change. I think Jennings will be re-elected and continue his long standing reign of mediocrity. I think traditional news outlets will continue to falter, but will be replaced by local blogs.I think local businesses will refuse to serve me, because I'm so good looking it makes the other patrons uncomfortable. Just my two cents. Good luck Greg!

Oh, so now we're doing your homework for you too, eh? What's next, picking us last for the kickball game during recess? :-)

Seriously, predictions are easy to make but impossible to get right. The temptation is to predict wild occurrences whereas only the most meager changes will surface.

The Obama presidency will be the top story of 2009. The sky won't fill with unicorns and rainbows overnight. But Obama will bring a sobriety to Washington, and things will get done. However, I predict there will be at least one major row between Obama and the Democratic leadership in Congress. The popularity of Obama as president will lead to a minor resurgence in volunteerism and political action.

The financial crisis will be the second big story of 2009. At most one of the American automakers will fail, but probably none of them. Nationally, employment will continue to rise but will level out around the third quarter. There will be one or two more bailouts but Obama will make the industr(y/ies) asking for them beg.

The third big story will be something entirely unpredictable, either a political scandal, horrific crime, or natural disaster.

Locally, crime and gangs in Albany will continue unchecked to the detriment of all. There will be another high-profile crime of some kind, possibly at Albany High School.

There will be some kind of organized battle against one or more Catholic church closings. Bishop Hubbard will do fewer public appearances because of the vitriol.

I think the troubles in the mainstream media will continue. (No-brainer there.) The shrinking subscriber base of newspapers and the increasing quality and accuracy of blogs will continue to change where people get their news.

Newspaper-affiliated blogs will earn column-inches in print editions in order to cut costs on reporters.

With the Obama administration in the White House, right-wing talk radio will be more rabid and cry foul about the "liberal" media. Liberals choose inexpensive blogs over the high-barrier-to-entry television and radio, and will ramp up their content in return. The idea of an unbiased media, even if theoretically attainable, will be abandoned in 2009 (or thereafter) because most people won't believe it to be possible. This will damage the mainstream media even further.

I predict that one or more high-profile "real journalists" will either resign or be fired from their regular assignment and take up blogging full time.

As you state, citizen journalism will begin to be realized on a large scale. This will include blogs, audio and video podcasts, and even Wikipedia. CNN's iReport is a laughable attempt, but it's not far from where we're going.

Finally, digital-rights management (essentially, copy protection) for music will die or be mortally wounded in 2009. This is ironic, because 2009 is the same year that television will go digital, accommodating the "broadcast flag" to effectively subject television programs to DRM.

The RIAA will slow down their legal battles against file-sharers as they realize they're fighting a losing battle.

My final prediction is that at least half of the above predictions will be shown to be false by the end of 2009.

1. Heritage Park will be revamped and attempt to woo an MLS expansion team
2. The Exit 6 SPUI will be finished early and under budget
2. Kristi Gustafson will get a new job at a big-time fashion/whatever magazine (please!?)

The top stories of 2008

1. Spitzer/Patterson
2. Obama
3. Katrina Thomas
4. The economy
5. My new lawn mower

The top stories of 2009

1. Obama
2. Peace breaking out all over the world
3. An end to partisian polictics (except for those damn Republicans!)
4. Jerry Jennings appointed NY Senator and national media reports that he is African-American
5. AOA becomes a national blog and changes its name to All Over America

I'd add Bruno to the list from 2008 too - the continuation of the investigation of "Troopergate," his sudden resignation and all the rest.

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