Breaking News

I am a paper snob.
I work at two newspapers, I do not own an e-reader, and I journal in a notebook. However, even I must admit that when it comes to breaking news, despite all my pretentious, old-fashioned instincts, I have become dependent on Twitter.

I marvel at the speed that international news is delivered to the palm of my hand. When legendary sci-fi author Terry Pratchett passed away, I knew within six minutes of the announcement leaking out to the world by, of course, his Twitter account. I was amazed. Just 20 years ago when you died, it would probably take until several hours later or possibly the next day for the public to know, and now, billions of people can know in mere minutes. There are countless online news websites that are updated every minute of the day, and social media can spread news faster than I could even write it down.

As a journalist (and snob), I admit that this radical change of how news is delivered and absorbed is daunting. I am stuck between my love of the smell of newsprint and the thrill of seeing my own words on a page, and the fact that I run three blogs and that my work portfolio for my first job outside of college will be a website, and not a folder of clippings.
I know that online news is not just the way of the future—it’s already the way of the present. The thing is, I still love reading papers, but simply for different reasons than online news appeals to me. Papers are fantastic for profiles, features, and in-depth information on stories you can get in brief articles or 140-character blurbs. Papers have character, unique thought, and a design completely different than a web page. And frankly, there is something very satisfyingly permanent about seeing your name in print, whether in a story or a byline.

I will continue to read and work for print publications until either they or I cease to exist, whichever comes first. But I now accept the internet as my primary breaking news source with open arms. My mind can be at peace knowing that print newspapers and online news sources are not in competition, they are simply two different animals. And I am both a dog and a cat person.

Advertisements

Twitter Escapes Me

I don’t think I will ever feel quite like a normal internet user, because I personally have yet to see the appeal of Twitter, and I also feel like a jerk, because all my attempts to explain my complete and utter apathy towards Twitter just results in more question marks. There are so many social networks, all of which seem to rise and fall in popularity over time as well as in my own personal favor (sorry myspace, I missed the myspace boat entirely). Besides tumblr and facebook, the reason I end up joining a lot of things is because of recommendations (and yes, peer pressure) from friends. Everyone I know has a Twitter. Celebrities have Twitters. Even the Pope tweets. I myself do have an account, but every time I try to use it, I just stare at the screen of my laptop or phone unable to come up with anything witty or meaningful to tweet about.

I’ve heard lectures and testimonies and as Elaine Benes would say, yadda yadda yadda about Twitter time in and time out, but honestly I just do not get the point. There’s already enough blurbs of unnecessary information about people I only half-care about all over facebook, and I feel like twitter is almost promoting the idea of “let’s post every time I tie my shoelace” even more. In one of my classes we learned about how Twitter was  an “essential” part of the Arab Spring, some Egyptians even nicknaming it “The Twitter Revolution.” How? How can a site that’s 99% blurbs of useless and unneeded information be that vital? I understand that it was a fast, easy way to spread information, activist ideas, and even all-too-real videos and photographs about the political atmosphere but..come on. You can literally use almost any other internet platform, the information is spread just as quickly (well, depending on your wifi connection), and guess what, you can write more than your average oldschool text message.

I mean yes, I see the upsides. Short and concise can really be nice. But I feel like most of the tweets out there should be things that never should really even be posted and probably wouldn’t be had the opportunity to quickly spurt it out on a whim in 140 little letters and spaces had not been there. One thing I’ve learned in my short adult life is that you should never post anything public or answer an email when you’re angry. You will no doubt write things out of anger that then will essentially be out there for the rest of your life and beyond. Oops. Then, imagine reading back over all your old spur-of-the-moment, I’m-pissed-at-my-boyfriend or I’m-drunk-let-me-share-the-shape-of-my-excrement tweets (or facebook posts, for that matter. It just seems to happen a lot more on Twitter).

It’s quite surprising the amount of annoying frivolity one can fit into 140 characters.