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The [Monday] Papers

By Steve Rhodes

Neil Steinberg today writes that he told a curious Sun-Times reporter that he hasn't weighed in on Todd Stroger's latest woes up to now because "I don't traffic in the obvious."


His Stroger piece appeared just beneath the little essay he penned on Twitter that must be the billionth to decry that "fixing on the minutiae of others will replace the attention we used to lavish on actual news and real issues."

What's next, another piece about how Facebook friends aren't "real" friends?

Twitter is a distribution tool. Think of it as a wire service for everyone - to everyone. If they so choose. Nobody is forcing you to pay attention to the minutiae of anyone. You choose who you want to "follow," which is a word in this case akin to "subscribe to."

Is there a lot of crap on Twitter? Sure. There's a lot of crap everywhere. Nobody is forcing you to partake of it.

Twitter is an effective way, though, to reach out and build audiences, also known as "readerships." It has a myriad of business applications. And yes, sometimes it's trivial - and sometimes that's fun.

It's not journalism. Twitter is not replacing journalism. Twitter is a distribution method. It's a tool that is already distributing journalism further than ever just by the magic of the link - and word-of-mouth marketing.

What's so wrong with that?


And can somebody please point me to the world we used to live in when we paid attention to actual news and real issues? I spent 20 years in newspapers and magazines and I could barely find colleagues - editors, I should specify - who were interested in actual news and real issues, much less the public.


CORRECTION: Please note for the next two items; I was fooled today by the Trib tabloid version (I usually read the broadsheet). The confusion strategy is working! A reader provides the URLs, which I have added.


Twit Fit
"Columnist Meghan Daum's 'Do Only Twits Tweet?' (Commentary, April 21) was spot on," Roy Klein of Clarendon Hills writes to the Sun-Times (too hard to find online, if it even exists there; I provided the Daum link, not the S-T) Tribune. "I've yet to convince myself that I should be concerned with the dreary lives of people I don't personally know - what they had for lunch, the movie they saw last night, blah, blah."

You shouldn't be concerned with the dreary lives of people you don't personally know, Roy. But when, say, your daughter has a baby, you could Twitter that to your friends and relatives within seconds instead of having to make all of those phone calls right away. They can even get the news over their cell phone.

Twitter is just another way to keep up with people that you choose to keep up with.

What's so wrong with that?

Print Squint
"I have not so much as twittered, tweeted or e-mailed today and somehow this modern-day dinosaur has survived," Kristin Sabey Bladek of Woodridge writes to the Sun-TimesTribune. "The written word is so important. Let's not let this gift slip away from us because of our modern technology."

You mean like TV and radio?


The last time I looked, the Internet teemed with the written word. Don't look now, but you're reading!


I bet when the telephone was invented, these folks' forefathers complained that no one would "talk" to each other anymore.

Twit Hawk
"But social networking isn't always fun and games," Carol Slezak wrote on Sunday. "For instance, when Patrick Kane couldn't play in Game 3 in Calgary, the Hawks broke the news on Twitter.

'''With Twitter, you don't even need to be on the Web,'' [Hawks new media director Adam] Kempenaar wrote. 'You can just send a text message from your phone. In a flash, all of your followers get the news, and then they're re-tweeting the news to all of their followers . . . and it spreads from there to thousands and thousands of people, all thanks to a simple text.'

"After the Kane update, one follower tweeted back: ''I love that Twitter beat ESPN's Bottom Line. You say Kaner isn't playing. They still say [it's] a game-time decision.''

"Many fans crave this kind of inside information. And no news organization could compete with the Hawks on that particular scoop. As Kempenaar noted, ''ESPN is everywhere, but they aren't on the team bus'."

Facebook Factoids
* Once a friend started posting Beachwood links on his Facebook page, I watched Facebook become one of our top referrers.

Again, it's a distribution system - but one with the built-in filter of recommendations from people you know. So it has a marketing overlay. Perfect.

* Facebook friends are aggregators. I've been turned on to several important news stories - mostly about media, but that depends on who your friends are - via links Facebook friends have posted. Without them, I would have missed those stories.

People are swimming in a sea of information these days. Distribution devices that also do some of the curating for you only help.

* There's no evidence that people who used to pay attention to news now pay attention to trivial tweets. If anything, the opposite is possible; literally for decades newspapers struggled to reach young readers and failed miserably. These new tools offer new avenues to reach those and other readers, if even one story at a time. I could never figure out why newspapers thought that the occasional story about a "youth topic" (always lame, but that's another story) could attract young readers. If they weren't reading the paper, how would they even know the story existed? Now they can because you can push the story to them.

And of course, these new tools are hardly just for young people. But to them they are - or will be - second nature, possibly even a habit just like the newspaper habit of their elders. And those elders didn't necessarily start reading papers for the news. I started with the sports section, like so many others I know.

If some folks start with celebrity tweets or the tweets of their favorite athletes, how is that any less valid an entry point than the entry points newspaper readers used?

From Ebertfest
Our very own Marilyn Ferdinand was there. A sampling.

Beachwood Sports
* Ben Gordon's Crotch. In SportsMonday.

* The Cubs are like Marty's baby. In The Cub Factor.

* Introducing The Cub Snub. In The White Sox Report.

Political Warfare
* Lisa Madigan Is Running For Governor. She doesn't have to make an "official" announcement for it to be true.

* Luis's Payday? The payday lending industry has softened - or is that hardened - his heart.

* The Long And Winding Reform Road Trip. Report due Tuesday.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Short and winding.


Posted on April 27, 2009

MUSIC - Millions Of New Guitar Players.
TV - "One America News" is AT&T.
POLITICS - When Wall Street Came To My Mobile Home Park.
SPORTS - Tonyball, Bears On The Run, Eyes On The Sky & More!

BOOKS - China Holding Swedish Publisher.


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