By ADAM BUCKMAN
NEW YORK, March 19, 2014 — You call this news?
That’s the way I’ve been reacting lately whenever I encounter a “news” story on a TV newscast about Twitter, YouTube, Facebook or any other smartphone- or “new media”-related topic.
Though some might disagree (particularly the news producers and their anchors who are reporting this “news”), my own answer to the question is a resounding no. Then, my inner dialogue advances to this thought: I eagerly await the day when Twitter reactions and videos going viral are no longer considered “news.”
These so-called “stories” are much too prevalent. You know the type — the “story” about some topic (usually an instance of celebrity misbehavior) “lighting up” Twitter. “OMG!” a breathless, grinning anchorperson will exclaim, followed by his or her “report” that “[insert topic] is lighting up Twitter!” Then will come the inevitable “examples” of these reactions that are “lighting up” the “Twitterverse!”
And this is where these “stories” really lose me. The highlighted tweets are usually so banal (not to mention bordering on illiterate and lacking in real insight) that you wonder why or how this subject became a “story” worth wasting valuable airtime on. “OMG,” a Twitterer will exclaim in a typical example, “I cant b leave she [or he] did that! WAJ! [what a jerk]”
I get the same feeling that I’m being had whenever a story is introduced with words to this effect: “It’s the video that going viral today — watch these kittens who seem like they’re dancing the macarena!”
Or, a video-of-the-day may be a clip culled from security-camera footage of a hold-up at a convenience store, or footage from a trooper’s dashboard cam of a particularly difficult arrest in the shoulder of a highway. Often, these are promoted in such a way on the local newscasts here in New York City that you think the clips were derived locally. Then, after waiting for almost the entire newscast to see them, you learn they’re from some other state or, worse, some other country.
In New York, the greatest offender of this resort to stories about, and found on, the Internet is the Fox-owned station, Ch. 5. The station’s 10 o’clock news is so devoted to (and reliant on) stories and tie-ins to Twitter, Facebook and YouTube that the show ought to be renamed “The 10 O’Clock News about Twitter and Facebook.”
Suffice it to say that clips found on the Internet from other locales — be they clips of kittens or crimes — have no business being categorized as news and then clogging up TV newscasts.
Or, to put it another way: Why have the reactions of ordinary people on social media — people with no involvement whatsoever in the stories themselves — become such a vital part of everyone’s reporting these days? I can’t wait until this particular fad is over.
Contact Adam Buckman: firstname.lastname@example.org