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Who provides the news: Journalists or Twitter?

I’ve noticed recently that a number of articles in the mainstream media revolve around what people are saying on Twitter.

I settle into any particular article before the journalist announces that “Twitter went into meltdown”, or “it created a Twitter storm”.

Two articles over the weekend (about the only two I read) proved my point.

The first was from the Fremantle versus Hawthorn game on Friday night: a game I cared little about but the headline sounded interesting: Hawthorn vs Fremantle, talking points from AFL preliminary final.

“Worth a look” I thought.

The second paragraph of the article ends with ‘Social media agreed’ before giving us screen shots of a number of tweets from nobody in particular.

A paragraph later – which was about a lout in the crowd – was concluded with ‘The spectator was widely condemned on social media’.

A string of more tweets.

Further down the article we are treated to tweets about the umpiring before this announcement: ‘Even Shane Warne didn’t like what he was seeing’.

No. There was a screenshot of his tweet.

Truly pathetic journalism.

The second article was more up my ally: Is it aliens? NASA sends space fans into frenzy with news of a “major announcement”.

As with the football article it turned out to be little more than collection of tweets from a bunch of nobodies. How’s this one, for example:



Wow! Can’t believe that our mainstream media even bothered with that.

I’ve only picked two articles from the weekend but it’s a trend I’m seeing more and more in the media – even in political articles. Has anybody else noticed?


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  1. Carol Taylor

    Roswell, I’m glad that I’m not the only one asking myself..this is news? A series of Tweets from persons mostly unknown commenting about something of little importance. Clearly the 24hr news cycle is taking its toll on msm journalists whose new way of filling up a column amounts to nothing more than rushing out a 150 word essay and padding out the rest of the blank space with Tweets.

  2. susanai

    They also trawl WordPress etc. Seems journos are a disappearing breed!

  3. mark delmege

    Tweets these days can be anything you want them to be … from downright nasty, silly, informative or for propaganda.

    During the early days of the Cablegate, Wikileaks would tweet links to published articles from around the world and I would cut and past and sometimes comment on them into a Perth Wikileaks forum.

    Around that time US intelligence began pumping money into social media and running tweet disinformation campaigns – and quite effectively during the Libyan operation. And no doubt on many other issues.

    Earlier this week I posted a link to this article

    Who is twitter-luring refugees to Germany?

    As with anything in print on paper or screen beware.

  4. mmc1949

    Roswell: I’ve noticed recently that a number of articles in the mainstream media revolve around what people are saying on Twitter.

    You haven’t read the MSM for some time then, Roswell?
    Articles with substantial twitter content have been around for quite a while.
    No wonder fewer and fewer people are buying newspapers. It’s almost as though the owners want the print media to fail.

  5. Jexpat

    Repeating what others say is easier and “more excitng” than taking the 5 minutes to actually do a meagre bit of research and fact checking…. or worse, making some phone calls and getting an interview from a credible source on the record.

  6. Michael Taylor

    I’ve noticed it too, even more because of something on Media Watch a few months ago when it was put to News Corp that they were largely guilty of this. Naturally News Corp shot back denying that it’s their practise, accompanied with a blurb about their professionalism blah blah blah. They obviously don’t read their own papers.

  7. Anomander

    The art of journalism is now reduced to tiny pockets of highly specialised professionals who conduct relevant interviews, perform in-depth research and analysis, and are able to summarise the information eloquently using language as a tool. Very few of these people work in the MSM any longer.

    It’s a catch-22 situation. As the public attention-span diminishes, the mainstrem media dumbs-down and compresses articles to suit, which then attracts punters to even shorter and shorter articles.

    Pretty soon the media will only broadcast headlines and act as a Twitter aggregation agent.

  8. miriamenglish

    Oh, I must tweet about this!

    Just kidding. 🙂 I don’t have a twitter account, and I don’t expect I ever will. I never really understood the point of twitter. What can anyone say, in the short text allowed, that’s worth saying? Mostly what I’ve seen in articles on the net that include twitter captures revolves around jokes or snark, and while either of those can give some relief from a tedious day, neither is substantial enough that I’d consider it having any great importance. It’s like making your main meal of the day fairy floss (cotton candy) — it might taste attractive at first, but its lack of substance leaves you still empty and dissatisfied, and it isn’t what anybody would call wholesome or nourishing so eating enough of it will just make you sick.

    I wasn’t aware that newspapers had been reporting twitter feeds. It has been a long time since I even looked at a newspaper. Murdoch took everything away from them. He needs to have them taken away from him. One individual should never be allowed that much influence, especially someone so horrible and irresponsible.

    I think the main reason for the decline in journalism is that it has become all about filling up space as quickly and as cheaply as possible. From what I understand newspapers are paying their reporters less while expecting more text more quickly from them. That guarantees that quality will fall. It’s a vicious circle, or as we would say in engineering, a positive feedback loop. The worse the quality becomes, the fewer people buy the papers, so the less money they have to pay their journalists, causing them to fire more of them, pay the remaining ones less and expect them to produce more with less money in less time, meaning quality falls still further… and around and around we go.

    Newspapers were good for a time, when they delivered an actual public service, though they were always prone to being a centrally controlled propaganda source, so I must admit I’m not really sad to see them go. Also all that paper and all the trees cut down, and rivers polluted with paper mill effluent… I’m glad that’s lessening. Personally I’d love to see us move to a nearly completely paperless society. Paper has its place, but only where it’s an appropriate technology. Newspapers are a terrible waste in almost every sense.

    There — try saying all that in a tweet. 🙂

  9. Kaye Lee

    Abacuses and slide rules had their day too. The only time I ever look at a newspaper is if I find one lying around and I do the cryptic crossword or the puzzles.

    I don’t have a twitter account either. Whilst it can contribute to alerting you to breaking news, to find out anything substantive you have to go elsewhere so I would rather wait and hear more detail.

    Too many people seem to tweet when under the influence of alcohol. I think our sportspeople would be wise to avoid it. They get themselves into all sorts of trouble.

    And I have to say that Shane Warne’s opinion on anything other than cricket is of no interest to me.

  10. M-R

    Twitter ? TWITTER ? Why are we even talking about it ? Something like 6% of the Oz population utilises this useless thing; and they are – or used to be – largely the ‘millennials’ (plus reporters). Now it seems that even though so many say they don’t use it, they discuss it.
    Let us forget about it, please ! WHO BLOODY CARES ???! It’s software that was designed for use by academic teams to keep up to date with each other’s activities, and would’ve been wonderful for that. Now it’s been ruined by mindless idiots, it’s fairly mindless to bring up the subject.

  11. David

    Roswell your comment ..”As with the football article it turned out to be little more than collection of tweets from a bunch of nobodies.” …As I am one of the tens of thousands who use twitter to promote the Labor cause and hope in a very small way I contributed to the downfall of Abbott…I am one of the bunch of nobodys who inhabit that branch of social media, Twitter. Have a nice day anyway.

  12. Anomander

    While I do have a twitter account, I use it rarely because it lacks any depth and is like being subjected to the verbal spasms of somebody with severe ADHD.

    There are a tiny number of very clever comments and rapid one-liners, but isolating them in the miasma of pointless comments from ill-informed idiots, is nigh-on impossible.

    The commentary here is far more intelligent, entertaining and educative.

  13. kizhmet

    I confess I haven’t really used Twitter terribly much and do not understand its fascination. I follow F1 teams pit chatter during the races. As an app I find it cumbersome and frustrating.

    @David – your “tweeting” is undoubtedly productive – unlike the sub-standard journalists mentioned in the article. Kudos for using technology in your efforts to reach as many voters as possible.

  14. corvus boreus

    People should really not try to communicate serious thoughts through Twitter until they have mastered the art of clarity within brevity.
    I recommend trying your hand at writing haiku before attempting serious Twitter.

  15. Itsazoosue

    The cheap and nasty habit of using Twitter posts to fill column inches is akin to TV networks splicing together YouTube clips and passing them off as programming.

  16. miriamenglish

    Wow! They do that? I don’t have a TV, and I’m gratified that increasing numbers of people these days don’t — especially among young. Just as people have become impatient with the slanted and unhealthy garbage dished up by most newspapers, they appear to have grown weary of TV.

    I’ve recently become aware of moves by a giant corporation, EIG, to try and consume most of the webhosting industry in USA. They are a shadowy corporation that take over, gut, outsource to India, and consolidate (put all their eggs in one basket) the services of many small, previously successful companies. The companies keep their names, but lose customer responsiveness, and become afflicted with unreliable service, but there are so many now that moving to another webhost means you are more than likely to end up with EIG again. They are closely entangled with Goldman Sachs. Yes, that delightful bunch of sociopaths who, probably more than anybody else, gave us the global financial crisis. Looks like they want to own the internet. Worrying.

    All Endurance International Web Hosting Brands

    Newspapers, radio, and TV have been poisoned. I am a little worried that the internet may be next. I wonder how long it can remain independent.

  17. Itsazoosue

    miriamenglish, thanks for the link. Very interesting read.

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