I’m proud to share the recollections of Michael King, with whom I interacted online over three decades ago. He’s not only an accomplished journalist — he’s a gentleman. Mike
By Michael King
I virtually stumbled into the world of online networking. I was looking for part-time work while in school and ended up working for The Source in McLean while being a student in DC. I initially saw “Parti on the Source” (POTS) as a fantastic tool for authors and wanna-be authors like myself to create, curate and solicit criticism of my work. “Parti” was short for “Participate.”
One thing I loved was that it was truly colorblind. At the time, I was very aware of who I was, as an African-American male, and the sorts of differences I had with so many people. But since I never spoke about race, it never came up. Back then, I was still a wide-eyed idealist, and nowhere near the joyful cynic I was destined to become in later years.
I reveled in the realization that this online medium was going to become the future of communication and how knowledge would be disseminated in the years to come. I relished considering myself among the first to discover and use it. But I had no idea that online interactions would grow so far, so fast.
I found joy in the friendships I developed online. I was grateful for the opportunities to share knowledge with others, people with whom I felt on common ground. Also to learn from those whose knowledge and experiences outstripped mine. In my mind, I was just a guy from Gary, Indiana who had stumbled into a mystical world that no one else seemed to know about or understand. Like Alice falling down the rabbit hole and discovering an invisible online Wonderland.
When I quit school to go to work in this emerging mysterious world, my family was quite perplexed. My new employer was NWI, an innovative supplier of online information and communication services in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. My then-new-wife tried to understand, but at least she was content that I had found a pursuit that excited me and that I enjoyed.
In later years, those experiences served to shape my vision of how things were pulling together within the fledgling world of online journalism – and boy, did that help me when I joined CNN Interactive and CNNSI in the mid 90s.
These days? I’m a dinosaur and a unique bird – one who has experience as a “mainstream” journalist as well as one who has a unique understanding of the digital medium. For the past eight years, I’ve worked with some of the best local journalists in the country at WXIA-TV (“11 Alive”) the NBC affiliate in Atlanta. As executive web producer here, I get to create and craft the news each and every day, using tools that can trace their very existence back to some of the things we used and created those decades ago.
The one thing I can never say enough is… thank you. Thank you to Sherwin Levinson, Mike Greenly, Dawn Debbe, Peggy Berk, Phil Moore, Harry Stevens and so many others who taught me, helped me and worked with me over those early years. Thanks to everyone who touched my life in those early days. Those long-ago experiences helped shape my perceptions and insights, and contributed to knowledge that I continue to work with and develop each and every day as part of 21st Century media.
Michael King is an Emmy and Edward R. Murrow-winning journalist, who crafts news as executive web producer for NBC’s Atlanta station, WXIA. Michael was an online pioneer for firms within the web communications industry, including Networking and World Information (NWI) and CNN Interactive. As a commentator, Michael has provided testimony to Congressional subcommittees. He has appeared regularly on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity & Colmes” and “The O’Reilly Factor.”
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