“Alright, grandad” – Private Eye cartoon has a pop at modern social media journalism
I saw this on Twitter from Private Eye and it irked me so I copied it out and wrote about it.
1) There was never a golden age where everybody rocked straight out of journalism school and immediately got put on Pulitzer-winning investigations. They used to get the crappiest jobs in the newsroom. People leave journalism school and do what their editors tell them.
2) Social media is a vital 21st century tool for journalism, and you need to be taught about how to use it. After every major breaking news story, the first footage and eyewitness accounts now are nearly always on social media. Journalists need to know how to find those, asses them for whether they are authentic and suitable for publication, and make sure they are not infringing copyright.
3) Nobody would be writing these “copied off Twitter/Facebook/Instagram” articles if they weren’t being read. I think the piece I did about the distracted boyfriend meme did over half-a-million page views in the end, about three-quarters of that from people we regard as Guardian regulars, and it had great attention time and an entertaining comment thread under it. I’m certain that if the Guardian publishes 250 articles a day there is space for one of them to be a light-hearted round-up of jokes from the internet. There are plenty of things and formats that do get published by the news industry that struggle to get attention online: single paragraph match reports of lower league games, classical concert reviews, humdrum obituaries. Social media round-ups might struggle for journalistic respect, but they do not struggle for audience attention.
4) The message is delivered in Private Eye via a cartoon. People only started being able to include cartoons in newspapers and magazines due to advances in printing technology. I’m pretty certain, just as with the inclusion of crosswords, the appearance of cartoons in serious publications was greeted with a moral panic as if the sky was falling in. They are now an accepted, and even expected, part of the mix.