I’m a fan of social media, which is as obvious as saying Tim Tebow can’t throw. I think it does so many things for us. Helps reconnect old friends, allows you to keep tabs on family and friends, it’s a great way for businesses to communicate with their customers, it’s often my first source for news and an even greater source for entertainment. The sky is the limit, or the cloud is.
That said, I’m sick of watching a news program where they solicit Tweets, Facebook or Google+ comments. You report the news, I’ll decide when I want to add my two cents, and where I’ll add it. I, for one, am not looking for interactive TV when I watch the news. If the situation calls for it, send your interns out to find out what the public is saying online about a specific issue. Okay, so do a little leg work. A little, I don’t know, reporting. That’s what journalists do. I get it, times are changing and they want to be current.
Using the public tweets is on par with using their bumper stickers. Only the bumper stickers usually have better grammar and at least a driver can been seen, it’s not AS anonymous as a tweet. I’ve long felt this way, but when I heard a few months back that CNN had actually laid-off professionals in favor of going with more of their iReporters, it just made me sick. Obviously, the iReporters are doing more than just tweeting, and I think they occasionally get something interesting from the public, or at the very least, there’s more relative video out there to tell the stories. That doesn’t replace a trained professional, just because they are able to capture an event with the camera on their iPhone.
The fact that this trend came along makes perfect sense. There’s a natural curiosity, to see what will come of a newly armed public. But it’s time that this trend dies off. Tell your viewers to follow you online, of course you have to promote your brand and it’s a great place to break stories, and direct the public to your shows and websites for more details than you can cover in 140 characters.
I’ve also been known to get sucked in by a story that gets my juices flowing, and leave some comments on various websites. I think it’s great that a story can spark conversation, but if you’re going to allow comments, I think you need to have someone monitor them. It’s too often, and too easy, for those conversations to be hijacked by a few who are more interested in childish games.