Here’s a question. A serious poser for you. Think long and hard. “When is the news not really news”????
That’s right. When is it that you’re staring blankly at the page/screen in front of you and you’re thinking. What is this? It’s not news. People dying is news. Social or political turmoil is news. Events, discoveries, outcomes…. all of these are news. This is NOT news!
It happens to me all the time. There are probably plenty of answers. The news reports so many non-events that yesterdays Metro ran an article about a woman who had a phobia of tomatoes. But I’ll reserve my bile on the banality of human interest stories for another day. Because at the end of the day it is still news. When I see a picture of someone recoiling in mock fear at the sight of a frikking tomato I at least think “For frikks sake this news is frikking rubbish” rather than “for frikks sake this isn’t frikking news”.
That’s what I think when I see news articles that are entirely driven by twitter updates. THAT is when the news is not news. It CANNOT be news. It is simply a regurgitation of comment that is already in the public arena, known already to anyone who cares, accompanied by some pathetic speculation to justify the pure lazy attitude of a journalist who does NOTHING but check their tweetfeed and speculate on it for the public.
For those who couldn’t care less here is a quick introduction to twitter (in 140 characters):
People write short messages or “tweets”. Other people read them. Celebrities use it to say stuff to fans. Lady Gaga has 9 million followers
Twitter celebrated its 5th birthday this week. Now that MIGHT be news. It might be news that people have spent 5 years slinging their branes in short form into an abyss in the hope of a reply – like throwing stones into a well and waiting for the splash to echo back up.
But the stuff that’s on there? Well you can take or leave it. Anyone who gives a toss about it is already doing it – for frikks sake they’ve had 5 years to get round to it. Anyone who doesn’t give a toss about it doesn’t want to know – they’ve had 5 years to ignore it.
The last thing either of the above would want is some dirty rag washing their faces in twitter. But the press and media LOVE twitter. It enables them to speculate endlessly on nothing – filling their empty column inches and airtime with aimless jawing about this tweet or that tweet. It even gave David Cameron exposure we could have all done without because he said “twat” in a pathetic bid to appear edgy and cool when it came to the whole “twitter debate” (perhaps that should be “twibate”?).
Lets start with the obvious one. Lady Gaga. Right. She’s got 9 million odd “followers”. Now, unless most of these are lazy journo hacks looking for an easy story (I wouldn’t put it past them) I’d guess that most of Lady Gaga’s fans are gonna be in the know about the lady herself. They probably suckle at her tweets like piglets on a sow – mainlining every last 140 character blast with aplomb. The rest of the world (the other 6.766235741 billion of us) are probably better off without knowing what she’s had for breakfast.
So when she releases a picture for the cover of her coming album via twitter is isn’t news. Is it? Well actually it is.
It got picked up by loads of news sources. The daily mail ran a piece about how emaciated she looked. They used this as the basis for the piece EVEN THOUGH the piece went on to explain she’d used prosthetics to alter her appearance for the picture.
But Lady Gaga is one thing. Is there stuff on Twitter the news can report worthily? The short answer is no. This week we’ve had articles on how Charlie Sheen’s tweets are erratic and how he has an attractive new assistant. I follow Charlie Sheen (for no good reason). I’ve SEEN THE TWEETS they’re not even that mental – just a bit boring. I didn’t care when I saw them – if people follow someone, have seen and not cared about what they tweet then what makes them newsworthy to the general public?????
Today the daily mail ran a piece because Mel B from the spice girls FAILED TO MENTION Victoria Beckham in a tweet. The piece featured pictures of both former spice girls, a picture of the offending tweet and a whole bunch of stupid idiotic meaningless drivel-based speculation about how there “might” be a rift. Or maybe (maybe) she just forgot? Or ran out of space? Or anything. Who cares anyway – the spice girls was AGES ago – get over it – get off your frikking fat office chair arse and go outside. The weathers nice. Interview them about that – run a piece on what a nice day it is today with pictures of sunshine and smiley faces – ANYTHING that is NEWS.
Twitter is even moving beyond a medium through which to channel news that isn’t news. It’s actually morphing into news that isn’t news in itself. Like a snake that eats its own tail the media and news thinks that they can generate news from the very fact that there is no news. When NOTHING IS HAPPENING on twitter they somehow scrape together a feature like some sort of news alchemist – but one that creates the fluff you find in your belly button from cyberspace instead of gold from base metal.
So Beyonce Knowles has a million followers on twitter. Right? So what? She’s a famous celebrity. She’s talented, beautiful and she once donated her fees to Haiti after accidentally playing at a party for Gadaffi or something. It’s not news that she has a million followers.
EVEN WORSE it’s not news because she doesn’t even tweet. We have a situation where there is nothing. A vacuum, an absence, a big celebrity shaped black hole that’s sucked in a million fans. And that’s considered news.
Once upon a time journalists had to find stories. They had to do research, they had to interview people. They had to go outside and breath real air, not the refined air conditioning of the Daily Mail newsdesk. Now they just “follow” people on twitter and gleefully think that they’ve discovered a new idea that no-one else has. Chris Brown ranting on morning TV? What does Twitter say? Naked Rihanna shots? What does Twitter say? Iran extending its nuclear capability? What does twitter say?
Where paps would spend weeks camped out looking for shots of a celebrity flashing their bras you now get it all on Twitter – not even twitter – they’re queuing up to get in the papers – ask Janet Jackson. In fact I don’t know why journalists even bother with Twitter. Why don’t they just sit there and wait for celebrities to come into their offices and lie prostrate in front of them begging them to report something anything about them. That would be news.