Social media cannot and will not save or elevate journalism. Twitter might have value to some people, but it is not the place for journalist to communicate anything. Two recent Tweets from journalist (who should damn well know better) illustrate this point.
Jake Silverstein is an editor for the NYT. He re-tweeted a photo from the Obama era of children at a deportation center. Silverstein later stated that he was, “distracted w family on the weekend.”
David Frum is the editor of the Atlantic. The Tweet reads, “Suppose President Trump punched the First Lady in the White House (federal property = federal jurisdiction), then ordered the Secret Service to conceal the assault. POTUS has Article II authority over Secret Service. Is that obstruction? Under Sekulow/Dowd, apparently NO.”
Full disclosure, I subscribe and read both of these publications. I appreciate the dedication to journalism that both institutions embody. Yet statements like these are a pretty good indication that Twitter + Journalism = Not-Journalism.
For Mr. Silverstein, the statement “distracted w family” is particularly jarring. If you are with your family, but the damn phone down and pay attention to your family. He did point out that one should be more careful with rt (re-tweeting). Yes, that is true. That is especially true in an era of post-truth when any such slip-up could cause this kind of distraction.
For Mr. Frum. President Trump not qualified to shine the shoes of Trent Lott. Regardless of how vile one might find the President it is not acceptable to involve the First Lady in this kind of hypothetical situation.
Journalist should concentrate on journalism and being careful with their word choices. However reckless the President, or anyone else, wants to be with communication is beside the point. Journalism has been ravaged since the passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act and the subsequent rise of Internet news. Journalism was key to the success of the early republic and is one of the few hopes to keep democracy functioning.