I got a friend request on Facebook yesterday from this asshole newspaper reporter I know. He’s one of these guys who’s covered politics for decades - a fixture in the halls of government as much as any pol or lobbyist. We worked for different news orgs but we covered the same stories pretty often. He never considered a story to be a true story unless he was on it.
I accepted the friend request, because I accept everybody’s, if I actually know the person. Then I clicked through to check out his page.
He just joined Facebook. Yesterday.
This means he’s either been fired or forced to retire, or his editor is making him join the 21st century. Either way, it speaks volumes about him and his ilk, of which there are many in the traditional press corps.
I don’t mean to imply that Facebook is some fabulous thing. I dislike it, in fact - it’s grown too crazy and big to be that useful to me anymore. But it’s an essential part of life for anyone in the 21st century. You gotta do it, and you will get out of it what you put into it.
Journalist friends of mine who adopted social media early have found ways to make money from it. They have a brand presence in online news delivery and truly have a social network going. This required a major change in thinking, however. They had to recognize that the reader mattered - that people out there in the collective had info to share and had the right to offer feedback on whatever the reporter wrote. They also had to recognize that this feedback is more important than whatever they wrote. The reader’s opinions and comprehension ultimately matter most to them.
Asshole reporters like this newbie Facebooker only care about themselves. They love the ego rush of the front-page byline. They think the news isn’t news until they say it is. And technology is finally providing a means for readers to prove them wrong.