Pitts Has a Vague Idea About Twitter and He Doesn't Like It

Categories: Media Watch
Twitter_ What are you doing?.jpg
Don't ask Leonard Pitts Jr.
Note to Leonard Pitts Jr.: If you want to demonstrate the differences between old-style media and the new, social internet media you might want to understand what you're talking about first before dashing off a 600-plus word column on it.

Pitts' Herald column today takes Twitter to task, in a fashion that woefully misunderstands the internet phenom.

"[Twitter] is supposed to bring interested parties up to date on what you are doing, seeing, thinking, in that exact moment," Pitts writes.

Which is, in a sense, correct in that it is how the company pitches Twitter on its home page: "Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co-workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?" And, yes that is how some users, like Shaq for example, use it.

Though, to actually get a sense of what Twitter is, Pitts might have actually bothered to log on.

What lies beyond the home page is often a quick exchange of information, ideas, and links -- both of the mundane and the important. The uses are as numerous as the users themselves.
The power of Twitter, of course, may not be immediately recognizable for a man who's giving a syndicated soapbox every week, but people do want to feel connected. Some may want to Tweet that their feet are cold, as Pitts points out the Ann Curry recently did, but most aim to share their thoughts. News organizations that figure out how to corral that will certainly see the benefit.

Look at Rick Sanchez's successful CNN show. No, Rick and Co, aren't exactly doing the most hard hitting journalism out there, but mid afternoon cable news shows were never really known for that. But Sanchez has increased CNN's 3pm ratings by 134% in the 18-34 demo since taking the reigns in September. That's almost certainly thanks to Sanchez's integration of user Tweets into the show.

Meanwhile, Twitter users are often beating old media at their own game. It was a Twitter user after all who brought the world the first image of US Airways Flight 1549 floating in the Hudson.

But Pitts remains ignorant to all of that, instead relying on the cliche that Twitter is only used to broadcast seemingly random occurrences in the proletariat's mundane life.The traditional news media's greatest strength as an information disseminator over the socially sourced web masses is that they have the time and resources to better understand their subjects. It's a shame Pitts didn't exercise that strength in this piece.

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