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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The 140-character news cycle

The Twitterati have spoken: the president and his agenda is in trouble.

Hey, let's face facts here. He's overexposed. His television ratings dipped 18 percent from his first press conference, all the way down to 40 million. He is taking on too much and being abandoned by fellow Democrats.

The 40-second sound bite of the 1960s -- which shrank to 10 seconds by the turn of the millennium as the 24-hour news cycle required more and more content to fill the cable TV yak wars -- is down to 140 characters. Now the rise of social media, particularly Twitter, has turned everyone (present bloviator included) into an expert who can make their voices heard.

It sucks.

Instant analysis brings with it demands for instant satisfaction, hence the perverse picture of the punditocracy picking over everything from Barack Obama's Special Olympics gaffe, to his inappropriate laughter to his dissing the mainstream media by not calling on the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and Chicago Tribune Tuesday night.

Heck how come he hasn't been able to rope in Wall Street, fix the economy, put people back to work, pull out of Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo -- or get his girls a dog? He's had more than 60 days!

The trend is troubling. While Twitter may yet prove to be a valuable news gathering tool, it has become the journalist's new plaything -- reporting on everything from Mumbai to David Gregory's bagel preferences. There is no context in 140 characters -- and a lack of context is the single biggest problem facing journalism today.

Oh well. Nothing important at stake. Let's talk about how safe the Obama girls' swing set will be with a dog running around. And characters to spare!

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