The following is a blog post I wrote for a class in response to a post by my professor.
The Internet is a wonderful netwrok of information. It’s also filled with a myriad of storytelling tools that anyone, politicians especially, can access to spread information. But just because a politician uses Twitter to spread information does not mean that journalists should be dissuaded from reporting on that information.
On the contrary, journalists are needed more than ever to filter that information.
The fact that the public can read a press release from a local congressman does not mean that they will just because it is tweeted. To be frank, the larger public doesn’t care, younger people especially. They would much rather watch CollegeHumor than Hillary Clinton speaking on LGBTQ rights.
But, the public does care about topics that the press tells them to care about.
For example, take a tweet by a senator stating her support for a new bill.
Her supporters will see it because they follow her, just like they would see a newsletter or press release she would send out. But, if the Denver Post or Associated Press retweeted it and embedded it in their story thousands more people would see it.
Journalists are paid to pay attention to politician’s tweets. They also pay attention to press releases, appearances, Facebook posts and a number of other things. They wade through the mud and muck to bring the important things to the public’s attention.
The public is overloaded with information as it is. They want someone to tell them what’s important. Journalists can and should play that role in the Internet age.
This is not to say journalists should simply aggregate politician’s tweets and rewrite them into briefs. That’s not journalism. Social media should simply be seen as one more source of information in the course of reporting a larger story.