The Speed of Information

Technology, despite all the tributes, alms, as well as religious devotion delivered via never-ending paeans to its superiority and ability to make us a nation better than ever before, simply enhances our downward drift. Leading the way for the obeisant is social media—Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and who knows what else.

I have a 94-year-old man that I spend two mornings a week with. He suffers from macular degeneration and is legally blind. I read him the Wall Street Journal, and some local news from either the Bangor Daily News, or the Portland Press Herald. I then wrap up my visit with something history-related from a book we’re working our way through.

He was a successful businessman, heading up a company with more than 100 employees for more than 50 years with branches across the U.S. Like many men of his WWII generation, he cultivated a daily habit of reading America’s business paper. I mention all this to say that regularly consulting the WSJ is probably going to flavor an occasional blog post, or two. Like the following story. Or should I say, a hoax, a false flag, about Twitter.

Millennials and Generation X don’t read daily newspapers. They seek out their own personalized oracles, likely programmed on their phones. Even Boomers are clueless when it comes to parsing the news. Perhaps that’s why they continue to be such easy dupes.

Birds once had the market locked up on tweets.

Birds once had the market locked up on tweets.

So from Wednesday’s WSJ, a story about Twitter got floated via social media—mainly on Twitter. Of course, a host of so-called journalists jumped on it, because being first in reporting something is now more important than getting the facts straight. Simply another symptom of our social media-addled culture.

What is increasingly troubling for me is how quick younger journalists are to jump on Twitter, not even bothering to follow-up with phone calls or any other fact-checking. It’s on social media so it must be true. WRONG!!

It’s not just happening on the business side of the news cycle, either. Politics is another place where journalism by Twitter is prevalent. “Gotta’ tweet it out before someone else beats me to it” drives all reporters younger than 30 (or perhaps 40).

So you have a rash of similar stories about Donald Trump, who by the way, is sucking all the political oxygen out of the room right now, leaving the rest of the field gasping for breath. Even right-wing talk radio is divided on The Donald. Beck and “The Golfer” are in the anti-Donald camp (Beck and Limbaugh like Walker), with Mike Gallagher pro-Trump, and even the irascible Michael Savage offering a tepid early endorsement of Trump, “if he’s serious” about running.

This kind of story is typical, clocking in at just over 500 words, probably pecked out while scrolling through his Twitter feed, by a 30-something journalist.

Of course that qualifies as long-form journalism these days, when stacked against the Twitter-style journalism offered by the Washington Post’s political editor, Rebecca Sinderbrand.

Journalism by Twitter, very common these days.

Journalism by Twitter, very common these days.

Culled from this “stellar” article at The Weekly Standard (Hillary beats Trump!!) I realize that to most journalists these days, Twitter snark is superior to anything investigative—basically, 140 characters trumps 2,000+ words. Since when did laziness become a primary skill set for journalists, even those working for one of America’s leading dailies?

Another shining example of what America’s finest universities are churning out.

And yet, you manage to marvel about the state of the nation and that Americans know absolutely nothing about government, business, or pretty much anything else, save Caitlyn Jenner, and their mob rule responses to flags and symbols.