OMG it mentions the internet so it must be newsworthy

Fuck I hate what the internet has done to news. A story with the most tenuous link to something on the internet – facebook, twitter, games on smartphones – is suddenly newsworthy, regardless of how nothing-y it actually is. Like this one on, ripped straight from mashable: What a score: how Words with Friends saved Aussie’s life.

Wow, what a great story! Did he get tiles that allowed him to spell out that there was an intruder in his house? Did he happen to play words in a particular sequence that is a known indicator of disease? Fuck no. That’s because Words with Friends didn’t save his life. A woman told her friend about her husband’s symptoms. Her friend told her doctor husband. The doctor husband told the man to see a doctor immediately. That is what saved his life. Saying that Words with Friends saved his life makes as much sense as saying Steve Jobs saved his life because he used an iPhone to call 000. You know, we’ve had the internet for a few decades now, it’s probably time to stop breathlessly reporting on it.

Which brings me to Facebook. There are few things the MSM loves more than a “Facebook killer”. If the killer met his/her victim on the bus, journos wouldn’t be putting “bus killer” in the headline. Yes, I understand that having an easily identifiable moniker helps for headlines – so people know who the story is about – but I find a name works pretty well for that.

And while I’m ranting about journalists coming in their pants over the chance to put twitter or Facebook in a headline, we have News Ltd sites dutifully reporting the tweets of Uncle Rupe, on an almost daily basis. Today’s story is about a tweet in which he says Google is a content pirate – something he’s been saying since 2009. Probably earlier. And because News Ltd sites have these stories, Fairfax sites also have them, because everyone has to have the same stories. Honestly, the only way you can tell you’re on and not these days is the boobs. (Oh, ok, the boobs and the typos.)

Now, I’m not trying to make news boring. Boring news is a lack of ability on the part of the journalist to make the topic interesting. But if you need to pretend your story is about a popular game in order to get people to read it, then perhaps you need to think about whether this is the right career for you. There are jobs that pay a lot better than journalism.

20 responses to “OMG it mentions the internet so it must be newsworthy

  1. Your comment about the boobs in the Daily Telegraph reminded me of a day late last year when the front page of had 22 images each containing a clear impression of a well-formed female chest. They were all discreetly covered, but I had to go for a cold shower after reading the entire page. I suspect this strategy is deliberate.

  2. How many points is “arterial blockage” worth?

    Thanks for another great piece. Looking at the standard of work of many mainstream media journalists, I’m not going to be happy if I can’t get a gig when I graduate.

  3. Sometimes it seems that if a journo isn’t freaking out and showing how threatened they are by social media (evidenced by all the “Twitter is pointless” opinion pieces), they’re going to the other extreme of fawning all over silly celebrity tweets (Rupert, Saint Stephen Fry, etc). Is there anyone in the middle who’s actually incorporating social media into their journalism in a meaningful way? None that I can immediately think of.

  4. Top o’ the year KP. Wondering what your take is on The Global Mail:

    • Right back at ya, Hendo. Did you get much surfing in over Christmas or were you building your media empire?

      Will be interesting to see what happens with The Global Mail. My worry is that it will turn into just another website collecting the funny, quirky and not-newsworthy stories from around the world and calling it “news”. I hope hope hope I am wrong.

  5. Lotsa surfing. New baby girl, so no time left over for tycooning. Dunno abt TGM either. Will be watching with interest. When they do launch, they’d better make sure they kick off with an exclusive “stop the cattle export” or “AWB grain for guns”-type yarn. If they don’t come out of the blocks with a massive bang, I fear they’ll struggle to be relevant. Here’s hoping they’ve got the goods.


  7. The bit that gets me most about the ‘ZOMG INTERNETS’ approach to reporting is that it *only* covers the big platforms – Facebook, Twitter, etc. Things that could do with some thoughtful coverage – SOPA, the internet filter, the Convergence Review – are barely mentioned. The priorities there seem excessively tabloid.

    Also, yay! Delurking! Thanks for doing such great analysis, NWN.

    • Yes! This reporting only covers areas that journalists can quickly understand. Convergence reviews and SOPA, well, they require reading and time and who’s got time for that when you can report on what people are saying on twitter? Hannah, thank you for delurking and welcome to the News with Nipples.

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