Briefly

Yesterday in a small community outside my hometown of Laurel, Mississippi, something horrible happened. A man held his daughter, her husband, his ex-wife, and two children hostage. The children were let go, the man killed his daughter, wounded the two other adults and a law enforcement officer. There was a standoff lasting about 18 hours that eventually led to the gunman killing himself. In addition to local and neighboring law enforcement, the Mississippi Highway Patrol was called in. It was a terrible thing for the community to hear about on a Sunday night.

Oh, hang on.

The community probably didn’t hear about it Sunday night because the Laurel/Hattiesburg NBC affiliate did a pre-recorded late newscast. Because of the Olympics. And the local newspaper website is snuggled safely behind a paywall. What that newspaper, The Chronicle, did was post updates throughout the night and into this morning on its Facebook page. I agree with my friend Desmond who said their use of social media was about the best of any news outlet anywhere. They nailed it. The coverage was timely and completely professional. They did not editorialize or sensationalize. WDAM, the local television station, said they were short staffed and didn’t use Facebook for actual news. On its Facebook feed this morning, WDAM posted the following:

Remember: Facebook is not our website. This is just where we share stuff and talk to our audience. Our website is www.wdam.com and its children – our mobile apps, and our mobile site. We don’t post all of our coverage here, and we don’t necessarily post news here as it happens.

Right. Because what a waste of time and energy THAT would be.

Could it really be there are still traditional media outlets out there that don’t understand if it didn’t happen on social media, it didn’t happen? Appears so. What The Chronicle appears to understand is that social media gets the story out there now. The internet gets the story out there now.  And that allows the print edition to do what we’re always complaining news doesn’t do anymore: Analyze, educate, and supply context. Obviously not everyone uses Facebook and Twitter. I get that. There are thousands of people in Jones County without internet access. That’s why WDAM’s fail in reporting (or not reporting) the story last night is so mind boggling to me. Then going on the defensive this morning was just weird. We were understaffed, you guys! Olympics! USA! No one reads this feed for real news!

Traditional media, social media is not making you irrelevant. You are making you irrelevant. Stop making it about competing. Stop worrying about whether or not people use their real names to comment on your website. Who the hell cares? It’s supposed to be about the story. Newspapers and broadcast news outlets can’t compete with social media. So why worry about it? There’s an opportunity to use social media to your advantage. You can be the guy who first broke the story on social media then used your paper or television studio to tell the whole story, or you can be the guy who’s hoping enough coverage of ribbon cutting ceremonies and lost pet announcements will keep you in the black. That’s doing versus hoping. No one ever won a Pulitzer or increased ad sales by hoping.

The Great Casserole Incident

Is EVERYONE having a crappy week so far? It’s hot, the bugs are shaking me down for my milk money, and Chick-fil-a has finally pissed me off enough to back away from their sammiches and kind offers to refresh my beverage. Yesterday was just a wreck of a day, and today is kind of like that nasty skin on pudding. Which reminds me what a travesty it is that Pudding Pops are no longer made. Yeah, I know I can make them, but they’re not the same. Not the same. My heart knows the difference.

Yesterday just seemed to need some levity so I started tweeting about this macaroni and cheese I was making. I kick it old school with the MandC. Oh, I’m not opposed to the blue box, no. But if I’m making it, I’m going to do it up right. Bechemel sauce is involved. Lots of very snooty gourmet cheddar with just enough ‘Merican for smoothness. Making MandC seems to be a good time to use up all the cheese butts we have. Do you guys have lots of cheese butts in your fridge or is that just us? You think it’s not really enough to do anything with and so you buy more in an endless cycle of cheese butt production? No? Okay then. Point being I made a metric fuckton of MandC and thought maybe I could be someone’s Laff Monkey for a while by discussing it at length on the interwebz. It just seemed like we all needed general goofiness.

Here’s the gist of the Big Ass Casserole Discussion:

Right. So the calls, IMs, and texts start coming.

“You still working on getting those meds adjusted?”

” You’re posting like a college kid who has had nothing but Red Bull and coffee for three straight days. It is entertaining, but just wanted to make sure you’re OK.”

“I know you southerners had a different relationship with food and I appreciate that! Just wanted to be sure things were going ok down there.”

“Bizarre behavior on FB is like the new canary in the mineshaft.”

“Oh, kitten.”

“Do you want to talk?”

“Need to talk?”

“Can we talk?”

“Just to remind all of you who know my family, today is one of those days when you can look at me and say, he didn’t turn out so strange after all.”

“What’s for dinner?”

I was simultaneously heartened and horrified by how quickly my friends rushed to make sure I was okay. Well, except two of my closest friends who have SEEN some shit with me, man. I was touched to know people were genuinely concerned for my sanity and slightly glad that seemed like abnormal behavior for me. The thing is if inane blabber about pasta will take someone’s mind off all.the.crap. for a couple of minutes, then stand aside while I tell you about how I was STUNNED at the range of extension cord options at the hardware store.

Dude, I’m serious. I’m posting about extension cords tomorrow.

Of all Al Gore’s inventions, the internet is probably my favorite. The Leftovers button on the microwave is my second favorite one. (HOW DOES IT KNOW?) I love the internet because sometimes you need to create word vomit about cheesy comfort food and some people need to hear it. And you don’t want a steady diet of  macaroni and cheese any more than you want a steady diet of hearing about my bunions. You don’t, do you? I mean, I could make that happen. No, that would be one of those boundary things my husband keeps talking about it. Hearing a PERSON talk about how she might or might not have accidentally flashed the patrons of the Union Ave. Kroger when she bent over to retrieve the grocery list she dropped in the olive bar is much, much different than 4,295 media outlets bombarding you with pictures of The Starlet Of The Moment “accidentally” flashing her very expensive wax job while getting out of a zebra print Hummer.

Go. Read. This.

So, so many things making me stabby and cranky and teary today. Newscoma is one of those things. Stabby and cranky because Coma is so dead on with her piece today. Teary because I know it hurt her to write it, but she did it anyway. She’s brave and awesome and talented and I may just abandon commas altogether.

But, oddly, it’s not about me. Read this. Even if you don’t agree with her, you need to read it.

http://newscoma.com/2012/07/23/we-hear-so-many-loud-and-angry-voices/