The revolution will not be televised – at least not on network TV; old media trades news for celebrity worship
Yesterday was a good day to have a broadband connection and several computer monitors, especially if news was what you were after. While CNN became the 24 hour Whitney Houston network, Twitter users were following the events in Greece as the Parliament debated, and eventually voted on, the new bailout agreement.
While teargas filled the air around Syntagma Square, and while Starbucks was being burned, the old media outlets were letting their viewers know what their editors believed was the most important news of the day. Even in Greece, viewers noticed that the major television stations were reluctant to cancel their regular programming – which, by the way, included American Idol.
CNN was not alone in choosing celebrity over news. Tweets from the U.K. reflected on the BBC’s obsession with the BAFTAs – the British equivalent of the Oscars.
As thousands of Greeks gathered in Athens to express their opposition to the latest bailout deal, and the prospects of more austerity, the best way to stay informed was to be chose new digital methods to get the news – Twitter, Facebook, live video streams.
While it might be tempting to blame the media business itself, it should be remembered that these were choices, choices made by supposed journalists.
A good example of these choices is seen with two otherwise good newspapers, the New York Times and The Guardian. Throughout the day, as the crowds battled with police, both papers websites were completely absent any news from Athens (other than stories written the day before).
But the blandness of the home pages – where The Guardian stayed with the Houston story, and the Times reflected a world on vacation – concealed reports their reporters were creating and posting elsewhere online.
Minutes before MPs began to vote on the new package, the NYT finally moved a story it had elsewhere to the home page. The story, written by Niki Kitsantonis, was, and is, fine. But it was like those stories in the Chronicle that tell a reader there was an earthquake. It may be correct, but viewers are hardly unaware of the facts as they pick up their dish shards off the kitchen floor.
As many Twitter writers observed, the media world seemed relieved to have Whitney Houston to write about. Revolution, war and depression can be quite a drag, especially for journalists (or at least their editors).
This is post 2,000 for Talking New Media. Not bad for just over two years of appearing online.
At the beginning it was difficult to get two or three posts up in day. But by the end of the first year of publishing, three to five posts became the norm. TNM today shoots for two to four posts as work has begun on a new, separate website to launch in the summer.
For those who have been here from the beginning, thank you for taking the journey. For TNM’s new readers, whether here on the site, or via the Talking New Media for iPhone app, or those that follow using the RSS or Twitter feeds, thanks for coming, and welcome on board.