On September 17th – Dan Lyons of Newsweek published an article that caught my attention at the time, entitled: Don’t Tweet On Me: Twitter shows that stupid stuff sells.
Despite my initial desire to respond, for some reason or another, I never took the time or simply forgot. The article recently resurfaced in a brief flurry of online dialog and once again drew my attention – Why is their so much Twitter Hate, especially amongst journalists at reputable media powerhouses like Newsweek. so I’ve crafted a rebuttal:
Dan – You make some good points, but you’re clearly lacking an understanding of the direction in which our cultural interests are shifting, namely, the increasingly micro-targeted and smaller scale interaction between consumers and producers, niche audiences and publishers of content with such a specific focus that it automatically establishes a relationship between themselves and their readers, as it caters to their individuals desires.
That’s what Twitter does – it allows people to form their own content creation communities. The lines between producer and consumer go from blurred to nonexistent. Celebrities & CEOs once on higher ground, off-limits to the masses, now stand on even footing, interacting as equals, obviating the need for paparazzi and mainstream media, I wonder if your vehement criticism and narrow-minded view of the platform stem from the fact that it will one day (soon) displace you and your journalistic brethren who fail to embrace the medium as not just valuable to ‘Us,’ but essential for you.
The posts on Twitter that you refer to as inane or stupid are publishers and producers relinquishing control of their material to their audiences. After all, their reader/viewership is what gives these individuals value, so the greater the control one can give them over content produced, the more likely that content will be received positively by that audience.
If people want it, who are you to say it’s ‘stupid’ simply because it’s different than what you want? If people can make money or increase their personal brand and value by catering to the wishes or the their audience or population at large, they’d be stupid NOT to do so.
In fact, this concept takes us back to your obsolescence. As a journalist, you are used to answering to yourself and other internal authorities. But at many big brands are learning, control over content is no longer in your hands (if it ever really was), it’s in the hands of the masses. Telling the public what they want to hear that or what they’re saying is stupid won’t change the fact that you are losing control. Sorry to break it to you…but until you embrace the stupidity of twitter and other likeminded platforms, you are destined for a short-lived career.
Personally, the reporter’s, bloggers, and journalists whose work I read on a regular basis are those that converse with me on Twitter. Those who tweet, not just about what story they’re writing, but about eating lunch or hating on a movie – mundane, maybe. But not stupid – and do you know why? Because it humanizes them. It acknowledges that they are just like the rest of us, or, more accurately, that the rest of us are just like them, acquiescing to the degrading boundaries between producer and consumer. That’s why I don’t read the New York Times or Newsweek, cover to cover, but I do read the articles and stories written by media personalities I know, I like, and with whom I relate and identify. Such is the direction in which media is heading – one of niche audiences and targeted content, personal branding, and relationship building. As a reporter whose entire industry is in the throes of upheaval – I’d suggest rethinking your definition of “stupidity”