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Rocky Mountain News "tweets" dead boy's funeral, now (thankfully) being savaged

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Jersey_Guy, Sep 11, 2008.

  1. Gomer

    Gomer Active Member

    Arm, I'm not trying to defend what the RMN did. I'm saying if you're going to use something like twitter, you'd better find an original, respectful way to do it that nobody's considered because play-by-play of a funeral is not a good idea. I'd further suggest that if it was ever to be done, you'd have to have the family's blessing to do so - that would be a pretty unique situation on its own.

    Prompted to defend that, I've tried to come up with a couple ways in my head. I'm not sure I like them. Just trying to take the discussion in another direction instead of reiterating the sentiment which has been quite well expressed here by other posters.

    Thanks for not crapping on me for having a different viewpoint.
  2. waterytart

    waterytart Active Member

    Re: Rocky Mountain News "tweets" dead boy's funeral, now (thankfully) being sava

    Buckdub, would I have been appalled if it were my grandfather's funeral which was handled this way? Yes, you're absolutely right in that respect.

    But any decent editor or reporter knows that seemingly identical situations may need to be treated differently. A three year-old accident victim is not a 23-year-old gangbanger is not an 83-year-old Alzheimer's patient.

    Would it help if I said instead that a couple of the people with multiple posts here to the effect that "We just need to work out the kinks" sound painfully young?
  3. waterytart

    waterytart Active Member

    Huck, not sure if this was intended for me, but if it was:

    Your opinion, and the heart behind it, has been clear on the thread.

    I fired from the hip. This thread brings out the mama bear in me.

    Oh, shit, another parent reference.

    I will stand by what I said to bw.
  4. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    Re: Rocky Mountain News "tweets" dead boy's funeral, now (thankfully) being sava

    Agreed, on that first graf. A little common sense* news judgment goes a long way, and that was sorely lacking in this entire episode. (*No such thing as common sense, otherwise it would be used more. ;))

    As to the second graf, no, that wouldn't help. I imagine I'm a lot younger than you are, judging by your comment, but my youth isn't an excuse for my stupid opinions, one way or another. Naivete and lack of self-awareness know no age. So, no, it doesn't sound "young;" it sounds "stupid." One does not equal the other.

    I do think there's a generational gap in terms of the technology issues being discussed. But I don't think news judgment is necessarily part of that -- I know a lot of old people in newsrooms who don't have any damn sense, either. It's very likely that it was an old guy who assigned the reporter to Twitter the funeral in the first place.
  5. waterytart

    waterytart Active Member

    Re: Rocky Mountain News "tweets" dead boy's funeral, now (thankfully) being sava

    What the hell, I'm already in the hole, I might as well keep shoveling. :D

    I believe certain prejudices come more easily to men or to women.
    I believe certain prejudices come more easily to Yankees or to Southerners.
    I believe certain prejudices come more easily to Republicans or to Democrats.

    The way it should be? In an ideal world, no. The way it is? Yes.

    And I believe that the sentiment, "We just need to fine-tune it" when applied to tweeting a three-year-old's funeral is more likely to come from a 22-year-old than a 52-year-old. Does that mean any 22-year-old would say it? Obviously not. That's a straw man.

    Was it "an old guy who assigned the reporter"? Very likely. But he hasn't acknowledged posting here.

    The people who have posted here saying variations on, "It just needs more work" sound young to me. Maybe they sound stupid but of indeterminate age to you. That's fair.

    I was trying to avoid specific namecalling with a couple of posters I've never had any interaction with. If by doing that, I tarred others in their demographic, I'm sorry.

    They still sound stupid.
  6. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    Yes, I think we can all agree on "stupid." :D

    Just defending my fellow youngsters, is all. I hate being lumped in with idiots, simply because of when I was born.

    Anyway, carry on with the discussion. Didn't want to sidetrack a good thread.
  7. jps

    jps Active Member

    Re: Rocky Mountain News "tweets" dead boy's funeral, now (thankfully) being sava

    here's a copy/paste of what I heard back from mr. temple. while I think he's wrong, I do respect the fact that he replied to my concerns - basically told him what we've been saying about tact, news judgment, etc., and that dozens of journos from across the country agree with me - but he did come off as a bit ... something.

    (fwiw, they did have permission to be there. also, it seems he is willing to accept that the way it was executed was not all that great. he does believe it was a good idea, however, which I don't get at all.)


    I appreciate you taking the time to express your concerns.

    Look, I don’t have time to answer in great detail, but I think you’re making a mistake in not differentiating between the execution (yes, some of the updates could have been better) and the idea itself. We don’t attend funerals without permission of the family. We wrote a story for the paper about the funeral. The death of that child was a huge local story. It touched many people. Why not connect with them in real time, as long as we’re not disruptive at the funeral, which we weren’t and wouldn’t be? And by the way, I’m the father of three children. And I’ve covered more tragedy than I could ever have imagined, including the Columbine shootings.


    John Temple
  8. imjustagirl

    imjustagirl Active Member

    I just like the use of the term "dead boy's funeral" in the thread title. I suppose that's to separate it from the live boy's funeral that was tweeted without incident.
  9. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    Re: Rocky Mountain News "tweets" dead boy's funeral, now (thankfully) being sava

    Hmm, interesting response. I think he's making a mistake in not differentiating between the idea of live, on-scene reporting -- which is fine, if executed well -- and the specific idea of Twitter updates.

    It IS the idea that's half-baked, along with the shitty execution. There are ways to incorporate multimedia into that particular story without the inanity of, well, live-blog Twittering. It's shows very poor judgment for the subject matter, because coverage of a funeral, in general, has to be handled delicately. Twitter isn't the right medium for that, and never will be.

    He clearly doesn't get that, judging by his response. He seems only interested in adding a technological element to the coverage, without any regard for what tool might be better for the circumstances.

    Shows a complete lack of understanding of those tools, Twitter in particular.
  10. FileNotFound

    FileNotFound Well-Known Member

    Good of Mr. Temple to reply to you. My reply to him: It's hard to differentiate between the idea and the execution. Both sucked.

    Twitter is a fine medium for many things, even news -- hurricane updates, high school scores, maybe even a live concert review ("OMG! They're playing 'Thunder Road!' Broooooooooooooce!").

    But there is NEVER a market for a live-blog of a child's funeral, or, really, any funeral. Not now, not 20 years ago, not 20 years from now, not ever.

    (And for the record, in case watery or anybody else wants to run this through their prejudice filters, I'm a 40-year-old male with three kids. And I have a Twitter account that I probably update five or six times a day.)
  11. FileNotFound

    FileNotFound Well-Known Member

    Better question: WHY connect with them in real time?

    What value does that add to the story? Even if it was well-executed, which I think we all agree it wasn't? (And really, how could it have been?)

    Temple's response, after I reread it, smacks loudly of "We did it because we could."
  12. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    Re: Rocky Mountain News "tweets" dead boy's funeral, now (thankfully) being sava

    Yep. Fundamental lack of understanding of the tools -- and that IS a large part of the generational gap in newsrooms.

    "Ooh, we have a new toy!"

    Baby Boomers, get out of the damn way. [/hi waterytart!] :D :D :D
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