Anyone who has regularly watched television over the past few years has definitely noticed an increased presence of social media, especially Twitter. You can hardly find a TV without a hashtag on it. You can’t even watch the news without hearing broadcast journalists talking about Twitter. And that is a huge problem.
If you take a nice long read, you can find that there is only one profession that is specifically protected by the United States Constitution. That profession is journalism. The once sacred institution has been dragged into a world that is filled with so much pettiness and ignorance. Journalism is supposed to properly educate the public about what is going on in current events, it is supposed to deliver substance to every story, it is supposed to be the opposite of an update communicated in 140 characters or less. But it’s too late, we’ve entered a new world where journalism has become intertwined with Twitter. I call it #journalism.
Let’s take a trip back to November, 2012. President Obama and Governor Romney are in a heated race, with no clear-cut favorite, to see who will lead the free world for the next four years. Let’s take a look at this…
2 days until Election Day, and we’re talking about which events got the most tweets per minute. Not health care, not foreign policy, not the budget, not taxes, instead we’re getting tweets per minute information. WHO CARES?!?!?! The President of the United States will be decided in 2 days. Any election year, this is the biggest news story there is. Any four-year period, this is usually the biggest news story there is. But even then, the news cannot escape its unholy love affair with Twitter.
Remember when broadcast journalism was real? I don’t. I’m just barely too young to remember. But I know enough about real broadcast journalism to know that Edward R. Murrow would not care about how many mentions FDR got that week. I know enough that Walter Cronkite would never appear on a screen that said “#MOONLANDING” on it. Like I said, I’m just barely too young to remember. As a kid I remember Tom Brokaw, and Peter Jennings, and Dan Rather, but I was just a kid so I can’t fully appreciate them. But I do respect the way that those guys, and everyone before them competed to be the most trusted source in America.
Do you know who the most trusted person in broadcast journalism is today? Neither do I! It was Brian Williams until a couple of weeks ago, but then he was proven to be a big fat fraud. That’s just the era that we’re living in. The media has sold out the idea of integrity long ago, in favor of ratings. Sensationalism has taken precedence over accuracy, and the idea of impartial reporting is long out the door. Of course this isn’t all Twitter’s fault, there are much bigger factors that led to the decline in the quality of the country’s broadcast journalism.
For anyone who is defending the use of Twitter in broadcast journalism, I would just like to say that I respectfully disagree. Is it nice that viewers get to see their voice heard on their favorite news programs? Sure, it’s nice, but it’s not real journalism, and what in the world qualifies a random Twitter user to have their voice heard on a national news broadcast. Yes, notable announcements do get first made on Twitter, but the substance required for true journalism is far greater than 140 characters. Covering Twitter is simply rehashing what anyone already on Twitter could have found out on their own. Maybe I should start calling it rehash-tag journalism.
So there is my two cents on the issue. Journalism has been in sharp decline for most of my life. Twitter is not the culprit for this decline. Twitter is just one more shot into the metaphorical dead horse that is modern American journalism.