Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Social Media and the News

As someone who wrote for my high school newspaper, witnessing the decline of the newspaper in the United States has been disturbing. Chicago is one of the few major cities that still has two daily newspapers. But with all of the forced retirements and buyouts of its journalists and columnists, the quality has declined substantially. However, I still feel that newspapers are important and offer its readers (and citizens of towns everywhere) an important check against corruption in government and business.

With the recent deaths of Ed McMahon, Michael Jackson and Billy Mays and the demonstrations in Iran, social media has quickly emerged as an important tool for news distribution. I've heard many discussions about many people first hearing of Michael Jackson's death on Twitter before it was confirmed on the news. While I learned about Michael Jackson from my local radio station, I learned about the death of Billy Mays on Twitter from an unlikely source: @michaelianblack, a comedian and former cast member of one of my favorite television shows, NBC's Ed. Here's his RT: "Now Billy Mays? Increasingly less famous celebrities are dropping like flies: I could be next!"

I really don't know what is next in the world of journalism and media, but I will continue to embrace these social media tools as best I can. One thing is certain: if you receive a Tweet from me while I am on vacation, it was from an impostor.

I wanted to conclude with a small tribute to Billy Mays. In a previous job as an account executive at a direct response television ad agency, I spent considerable time doing competitive research on other products on the market. Much of this research included watching commercials featuring Billy Mays. While I was never a big fan, I have to admire his energy and ability to sell product. Hopefully, social media won't make the pitchman obsolete. In the meantime, enjoy this You Tube video I found...

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