Here’s my tribute the the late (and great) Walter Cronkite.
It’s a small “scoop;” maybe just a stone left unturned, but the media seems busy with other things … like parroting Sarah Palin’s talking points without the slightest hint of (even trivial or noodling) scrutiny and investigation.
Let’s get right into it:
Consider this “news” update from the AP (similar stories were in other outlets).
OK, let’s put aside our feelings about if this is news and concentrate on presentation. For better or worse, people want to know about this stuff… so what challenges face our intrepid (and let me remind you again, REAL) reporters & editors?
This is what it looks like they focused on:
VERY important in a story like this (really, it is). When you have twittered word-salad nonsense of the sort that comes from Palin’s feed as source material, it’s good if the people reading it know it’s HER, not YOU. I’m happy to report the editors and reporters ACED this effort, with common-sense constructions like:
Palin’s tweet said, “elected is replaceable; Ak WILL progress! + side benefits10 dys til less politically correct twitters fly frm my fingertps outside State site.”
The governor says in another message that in the meantime, “it’s a pleasure to update interested folks on State biz!”
So far so good, but what’s to come left me wondering if they phoned this one in (or tweeted it).
Looks like the AP, being true professionals, has come up with a style sheet for if and when the annoyingly lower-case brand “twitter” gets the royal treatment. Here’s what our intrepid editors have come up with (it might explain why they didn’t bother with what’s next):
a) Mentions of twitter, alone, as a brand, are upper-case, like this: “Twitter.”
b) “Tweet,” as a noun (“I read Palin’s tweets”), is lower-case.
c) Now with verbs, apparently there are two styles—or they just screwed it up.
Seems that if it’s a verb in a HEADLINE it’s lower-case, as in:
Palin promises to keep on tweeting
BUT, if it’s within the article it gets an oddly jarring UPPER-CASE, as in:
Parnell, whose style is much more low-profile than Palin, isn’t expected to Tweet much…
Perhaps it has something to do with the future tense? I’m sure AP will provide me with their rules.
3. Don’t catch “The Stupid”
This is always a treacherous area for reporters, especially those covering Sarah Palin … and Mary Pemberton, Matthew Daly and thier editors are no strangers to the POWER of “The Stupid”:
She said it would be a “travesty” if lawmaker don’t reform the process.
Yes, after reading and re-reading Palin’s inane tweets, they lost the power to write the simplest of English sentences. It should read lawmakers, with an “s”.
Please don’t catch “The Stupid”!
4. The facts.
It’s all well and good to have a few fussy, hopefully entertaining, observations about the construction of stories like this, but what about the CONTENT? What does this story really provide us with?
Well, if we don’t have twitter (I know, MY style sheet), it tells us what Palin said on hers. It also tells us what twitter is, and that the incoming Governor doesn’t like it as much as her. It presents Palin’s message REGARDING twitter. Hmm… what is missing?
Wouldn’t it be more interesting if the reporters from the AP (and other outlets) discussed the content of the tweets, not just recording them for posterity? Not in an editorial sense, but factually.
The FIRST thing I observed was that Palin seems to be unaware that she can KEEP her twitter account (and its 100,000+ subscribers).
She mistakenly refers to her twitter account as a “State site” when it’s a page on a private company’s web site.
We could go further with our reporting here to suggest that since her replacement doesn’t like to tweet, she isn’t under much obligation to give up her account when she is no longer Governor. Framing our discoveries as a news scoop, we can report quite objectively that:
Palin Is Unaware Twitter Account Can Be Re-Used After Resignation
Now that’s a story I WANNA READ!
We can add great factual information, too. Here’s HOW you can KEEP your twitter feed active, but change the account name! YOU, Joe Public, are more on the ball than Palin and her whole staff! NOW the story has a human-interest angle, “news you can use,” and debunks Palin’s twitter maven status … all with OLD SCHOOL get-the-facts journalism!
Now, since I’m not a REAL reporter, I’ll take this opportunity to SHOW Palin how she can do this, so when her super-exciting “NonPC” tweets start “flying from her fingertips” not a SINGLE one of her followers will lose the precious connection. Here’s all she needs to do:
Here I just type the new account name I want (changing “igotmyreasons” to “SarahsRealTwits”), the system sees if it is available (don’t worry Sarah, I left it for you), and if I want to change it I just enter my password and I’m done.
All my followers are still intact, I can change my graphics to reflect being ex-Governor, and maybe, FINALLY, the press will start to scrutinize what I say in a meaningful way.
RIP Walter Cronkite.*
*In another interesting Palin tweet story, Cronkite’s oft-quoted (out of context) utterance that reporters “need to be liberal” was used by Palin less than two weeks ago to show the media’s “liberal bias.”
She hasn’t mentioned Mr. Cronkite since. It is COMPLETELY objective to point out the obvious right-wing bias in ignoring this great man’s death. CLASSY.
My consulting bill is in the mail.