A joke is journalism

We’ve all heard the cliche “journalism is a joke.” In a sort of dog bites man story, a joke is developing into journalism.

What began as a parody of “the real” Shel Israel featuring a sock puppet has actually started to develop in an interview series that serves up news, according to Mashable’s Mark “Rizzn” Hopkins.

The interviews, featuring a puppet purporting to be Shel Israel interview Tech glitterati, are done by Loren Feldman, president of 1938 Media. Above it is an interview with Digg’s Kevin Rose. You can see more examples here and here.

Hopkins says:

Interviews are a hard thing to do in an innovative way.  The most innovative approach in the last ten years or so has been the rise in the raw or naked conversation (probably talked about the most by Shel Israel and Robert Scoble), but performed avidly by folks like Rob Walch with his Podcast411 show, or even in Old Media shows like Inside the Actors Studio. Even the Mashable Conversations show takes on this format.  There are certain advantages and appeals to the format like lowered production time and the ability to really explore the meat of the subject matter in a way that the most hardcore of fans for that subject can enjoy.

The problem is, as Loren has talked about again and again, is that folks not passionately interested in the subject will get bored very quickly. He’s been very vocally opposed for sometime to the style, but before inspiration struck, hadn’t put his money where his mouth is in coming up with a viable alternative.

This method of interview is interesting, entertaining and informative.  It’s something to keep your eye on, particularly if you’re a rich media content producer, as an emerging style and trend in digital video. What started out as a joke is turning out to beat the original at his own game.

Would a mainstream media outlet be this innovative? The New York Times sock puppet analysis? Wolf Blitzer interviews Candy Crowley and a sock puppet on the White House lawn? I’m not expecting it, but it might be a better idea than it sounds to aghast serious journalists. And it smacks of innovation.

artbuchwald.jpgFeldman’s Shel Israel interviews, which might be called “talking head shows go warm and fuzzy with attitude,” are just out there enough that they hold the viewer with their entertainment values — even if you’re not particularly stoked by the interviewee. Feldman’s an entertainer and actor, and doesn’t describe himself as a journalist, but it’s an era in which Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert are primary sources of news for many. Art Buchwald is somewhere smiling at this.

Is dull a prerequisite for serious news?