Objective Points

With a side of liberal anger and partisanship.


Chicago, Illinois, USA
March 07
I am a 17-year-old high school graduate with no job and no car living in her mother's house just off the highway. I rarely see light, as all my shades are drawn at all times. I bathe once a month before I menstruate.


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FEBRUARY 10, 2009 5:49PM

The Case for Social Journalism

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As I write this, it is currently 4:37 AM in Chicago, and I have not gone to sleep. Just after midnight Central Time today, a low-speed car chase began in L.A. when the police (and hoards of paparazzi and news cameras) pursued a white Bentley with Illinois license plates. As soon as the news broke online, the Twitterverse was abuzz. A live feed of coverage was up on L.A.'s ABC7 news site, and the FOX11 site shortly after. Twitter users took to the series of tubes and did their part to speculate and spread the information. Paparazzis and reporters tweeted from the scene, and their tweets were retweeted almost virally. News channels got information from Twitter, and Twitter got information from the news channels. Comments, speculation and raw information were flowing freely between the medias instantaneously.

This isn't unheard of. During the Mumbai bombings, hostages and eyewitnesses tweeted from the scene while emergency responders tweeted about how to stay safe and get out of the situation. The transfer of information about Mumbai attacks was praised by social media advocates as a shining moment for the field. In a world with Google Sync and Google Latitude, a world with smartphones and endless wifi, a world where the news tickers follow us in our cities, a world where the expectation for information is instantaneous, instantaneous journalism has found it's place in the new and old media realm with the advent of "tweetlism."

CNN's Rick Sanchez and Don Lemon regularly tweet from the prep meetings for their shows as well as while they are on air. Mr. Sanchez takes orders from twitterers about what to put in his daily show, whereas Mr. Lemon opens up his air-waves for live commentary. Because of the restrictions of Twitter, each tweet is limited to 140 characters. Tweets can be brilliantly simple and direct or engagingly vague. Unlike Facebook status updates, tweets are much more a form of microblogging in the sense that up-to-the-minute updates, thoughts, pictures and links are encouraged and gobbled up by media-hungry users.

The future of journalism--if the old media is not to blind to see--lies in this open-source journalism in the style of microblogging and, consequentially, microreporting. The life of media is profoundly cyclical; from emails was borne instant messaging and texting and from blogging comes services such as Twitter. We are dealing with a large amount of media every day, so anything new will entice us. Perhaps, with so much media flowing through our consciousness, the best thing for our attention span is to allow a few seconds to read 140-character morsels of information. Who really has the time to bother reading a newspaper or watching the news these days when one can learn all they need to know via this method, and why would a journalist invest time in making his reporting artistic and worthy when tweetlism is an equally lucrative and viable option? BNO News is a breaking news wire that operates exclusively on Twitter and breaks stories side-by-side with organizations like AP, and has even sold some of it's information to Rueters. BNO has over 24,000 followers and posts several individual news stories an hour--all in under 140 characters. 

Twitter alone can not bring down the old media, but if they know what's best for them the old media will throw on a sideways hat and get with the program. Tribune Co.'s Red Eye (published in Chicago) is a free newspaper with short, syndicated stories and columns in a fast-paced and easy-to-read format aimed at the internet-savvy Millennials and GenX-ers. Red Eye also tweets all day long, capitalizing on this vast and fruitful marketing opportunity. People may want to relax over a coffee and a newspaper in the morning, but in the age of social media a news organization cannot simply rely on paper to sustain it's reader base. Many marketing opportunities lie in the twitterverse. A newspaper-by-day-Twitter-by-night mix such as the one operated by Red Eye is the perfect way to engage and maintain the the reader base's attention and keep them involved, invested and thinking about the newspaper.

Red Eye is a prime example of the overlooked opportunities that lie in the social media world that old media has so damned for so long. Newspapers and broadcast news programs can save themselves with just an easy personal touch. This is journalism 2.0, and whether the media likes it or not the future of journalism will be short, cute and 140-characters long.

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It is nice to know that the future of media will be so superficial. And, that complex stories can be told in 140 characters.
So much of what goes down on the planet is just a sysytem of excuses to socialize with those with whom I want to do so.
Most of it is shit about the shit which I don't give.
Although there are a few issues about which I WILL invest some of my shit into giving, those are far and few between.
When I was in my teens, Naperville was a little burg out in the sticks with a quarry that the town made into the town swimming pool.
I lived the song "Maybelline" with my flathead Mercury(actually a disguised Ford) convertible and my redheaded GF who drove Daddy's Caddy. She was MY "Cargirl" and, she could really drive that Caddy.
We'd race out 31st St to way past York Rd, south to Ogden and down to Naperville.
My car used to overheat just like in the song and, so did my GF.
There used to be forest preserves which were those days' no tell motels and, they were free.
Now, it's concrete from Lk Michigan to the Quad cities.

I enjoy hijacking someone's thread who lives where I used to enjoy some of my days in REAL & FREE America.
My REAL & FREE America has been stolen from me.
It is much simpler and less stressful to not give a fuck than to allow myself to be sucked in by the "activists" although, I still do have some shit to give.
I'm independent, RAGING libertarian, own guns, a house, a business, believe that those who would control your right to your body ought to have theirs taken away and have LEARNED disrespect for cops because of THEIR actions.
I'm a Blackhawks/White Sox fan who used to skate Salt Creek from No Riverside all the way to Fullersburg and back.
It didn't stink so much when it was frozen.
I say global warming is BULLSHIT FOR MONEY.
Check out the weather in WI. It's fucking cold.
I want to take my XJS out of the garage, put the top down and go fly it out in the country.
Won't happen for a while. FUCK!!

Thanks for the escape, CG.
Can it be a trade if no one can earn a living at it?
Cgrl: Cn u boil this down 2 140? +! "media" = plrl n. Gotta go! No tm!
it appears that homo superior will have an implant connecting it to the world wide hive mind. i wonder what thoughts it will think...
TWEET: I'm reading Cargirl's excellent entry "The Case for Social Journalism."
My problem with open-source journalism is that all to often the tweets are written by twits. At least when a newspaper journalist wrote something stupid, he/she was accountable to management, if not the readers. In the heyday of print journalism, a reporter was trained in news-gathering; who is training the current generation? How can you expect credibility or even simple accuracy when anybody can call him/herself a journalist?
mhellman: I don't buy your argument. Credibility and simple accuracy lacks from even professional journalists, writing for print and television news.
If you really think Twitter is the future of journalism, I'm surprised you could write a piece this long. If you're right, just shoot me now....
Jon Henner:

It didn't used to be that way. I grew up with Cronkite, I knew about Murrow even if he was before my time, and I've personally known plenty of print journalists, including one who retired after a solid 40 years with the same big-city daily paper. Compare their records and accomplishments to a soi-disant 'citizen journalist' and I know who I'd rather read.

Simple example: a journalist for my local paper who recently moved to DC forwarded a tweet from a friend of his who claimed that Facebook was censoring posts that contained the word 'Twitter." I then typed "Twitter Twitter Twitter" and posted it to the journalist's wall on Facebook-- it showed up just fine, and neither of these hard-hitting investigative reporters thought of this simple expedient to prove the assertion.

When any idiot can command the same amount of attention as somebody who has devoted their life to reporting the news, I'll do my best to find a way to separate the wheat from the chaff. Sturgeon's Law states that 90% of everything is crap, but social journalism has raised the percentage to something like 99%.
The day is only 24 hours long, and after doing other things that I need to do, there is only limited time that I can devote to communication with an outside world, be it passive (reading, watching or listening) or active, like this forum for example.

If I devote all this time to random twitting and to watching flashy car chases, on the market place I will lose to someone who will find a formula to pull from media the information that would allow him or her better understanding of the world around us.

The satisfaction from being on the top of the car chase or enjoying witty comments on Twitter is a quick fix, like a narcotic that next day morning leaves us with an hangover as our IQ dropped slightly in the result, so did our chances to be successful in life.
I would guess maybe local papers will survive to serve communities, and national news will go to the internet.
Maybe with printable versions so people can still read it on the can.
So "journalists" will take orders from random Twitterers with no regard for fact, balance, accuracy or anything else that defines real reporting. Frankly, I'd rather sell pencils on a street corner that sink to that low. And 140 words for a story? Yeah, that about sums up the mindset of people who think "journalism" is about pandering to the dumbest of the dumb instead of raising the bar to encourage critical thinking and REAL understanding of the issues the world/nation/community faces. I am so glad I got out of daily journalism before this travesty.

Digital media should enhance journalism, not debase it.
Complex ideas and all perspectives cannot fit into 140 words. It takes long form journalism.