Note to Leonard Pitts Jr.: If you want to demonstrate the differences
between old-style media and the new, social internet media you might
want to understand what you're talking about first before dashing off a
600-plus word column on it.
Pitts' Herald column today takes Twitter to task, in a fashion that woefully misunderstands the internet phenom.
is supposed to bring interested parties up to date on what you are
doing, seeing, thinking, in that exact moment," Pitts writes.
is, in a sense, correct in that it is how the company pitches Twitter on its home page: "Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co-workers
to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick,
frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?" And, yes that is how some users, like Shaq for example, use it.
Though, to actually get a sense of what Twitter is, Pitts might have actually bothered to log on.
lies beyond the home page is often a quick exchange of information,
ideas, and links -- both of the mundane and the important. The uses are
as numerous as the users themselves.
The power of Twitter, of course, may not be immediately recognizable
for a man who's giving a syndicated soapbox every week, but people do
want to feel connected. Some may want to Tweet that their feet are
cold, as Pitts points out the Ann Curry recently did, but most aim to
share their thoughts. News organizations that figure out how to corral
that will certainly see the benefit.
Look at Rick Sanchez's
successful CNN show. No, Rick and Co, aren't exactly doing the most
hard hitting journalism out there, but mid afternoon cable news shows
were never really known for that. But Sanchez has increased CNN's 3pm
ratings by 134% in the 18-34 demo since taking the reigns in September. That's almost certainly thanks to Sanchez's integration of user Tweets into the show.
Twitter users are often beating old media at their own game. It was a Twitter user after all who brought the world the first image of US
Airways Flight 1549 floating in the Hudson.
But Pitts remains
ignorant to all of that, instead relying on the cliche that Twitter is
only used to broadcast seemingly random occurrences in the
proletariat's mundane life.The traditional news media's greatest
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strength as an information disseminator over the socially sourced web
masses is that they have the time and resources to better understand
their subjects. It's a shame Pitts didn't exercise that strength in