Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Elisberg - news for twits

I have a Twitter account. I use it occasionally, but, frankly, a) have too many other things to do to keep up and b) as here, find most of what I want to say takes more than 140 characters.

So while I tell other journalists that, yes, they should have an account and monitor the beast, there's a secret part of me that agrees with Robert J. Elisberg when he says:

When I'm watching the news, I don't care what the viewers have to say.

If I wanted to hear what others have to say when I'm watching the news, I'd call up my friend Myles Berkowitz and listen to him yell at his TV screen.

And before anyone gets up in arms thinking that's elitist - if I sent my own 140-character Twitter comment into a news show, no one should care about my "Tweet" either.

This is the news. It actually matters. If you are concerned about losing your job, you know it matters. If your home mortgage is on the edge, you know it matters. If you know someone fighting in Iraq, if you don't have health insurance, you know it matters.

When I watch a situation comedy, I don't want it interrupted every few minutes with "Great joke! - CarpetBlogger186" scrolling by. I expect no less from a newscast.

Most stories important enough to get on a national broadcast have many layers and require thoughtful analysis. When you limit opinion to 28 words, you get opinions that are worth only 28 words. Worse, it's 28 instant words, spit out so they R able 2 B the first submitted. Finely-tuned wisdom is the first casualty. ...

Having Twits in the middle of a newscast is like walking through a restaurant and overhearing snatches of conversations from total strangers. You rarely pay attention. At best, after sitting down you say, "You won't believe the stupid thing I just heard."

Yet put those same anonymous snatches on TV during a newscast, and suddenly people think it has deep meaning. Sorry, it still doesn't. It's a pointless distraction.

When I turn on a newscast...I want to hear news.



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