Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thanks for the info

It's pretty clear from a quick survey of Twitter messages from southeast Louisiana -- as well as from across Alabama and Mississippi -- that there's a severe tornado outbreak afoot.

For example, various tweets from across the southern half of Baton Rouge unequivocally report a tornado strike, with garages destroyed, fences blown apart, roofs ripped off, trees down and windows shattered.

INTERESTING. But how can this be? The local news-talk station is in network programming.

Then again, it is owned by Clear Channel.

Oh wait . . . the news guy just came on with a recorded bit about 40,000 customers being without power. But why would that be? Didn't say.

But let's not single out the evil media consolidator. There's plenty of suck to go around.

This, for example, is what I see when I turn to the web sites of some the ol' hometown's other media outlets. It's 4 a.m.:

NOTHING on the local newspaper's web site. Whoops!

HERE'S A little bit on the Channel 9 website. Very sketchy, no mention of any tornado strike, a listing of area power outages.

AND ON THE Channel 33 website . . . nada.

It's no secret that radio and newspapers are in bad trouble these days. Papers are dropping dead left and right, and American radio is in hospice care.

On a regular basis now, we hear some newspaper executive somewhere -- gasping a last message amid the death rattles -- warn Americans that we'll be sorry when the last of the ink-stained wretches are dead and gone.

They wax eloquent about the joys of newsprint. They tout the wonderfulness of their websites. They even say we ought to pay for their Internet output.

And those blogger people! You can't trust 'em. They're no damn good. Unreliable.

Twitter? Big time waster. People talking about how long they were on the crapper this morning, all in 140 characters or less.

These new media forms just lack professionalism. Resources. Institutional credibility.

Bloggers and tweeters just aren't big time. Not like newspapers . . . or radio and TV.

THERE'S JUST this one problem. There apparently was a significant tornado -- or, at a minimum, something about as bad -- in my hometown early this morning. Tornadoes are dropping all across the Deep South.

And I didn't hear about it from the big-time, "credible" media. I heard it on Twitter.

Down in Baton Rouge, where there are no tornado sirens like we have in the Midwest, I imagine a lot of folks heard about the twister when their roof started to come off. Or when their windows blew out.

Or when they were awakened by the not-so-early warning of that telltale "freight train" roar coming straight at them.

See, here's the thing. When the "old media" start making claims about being far superior to "new media," it might help a lot if the claims are, you know . . . true.

Achieving that isn't difficult. All you have to do is . . . come closer; I want you to hear this.

All you have to do IS YOUR DAMNED JOB.

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