Tag: storytelling

Why #twitter won’t replace journalism

In response to Mic Wright No journalism cannot be replaced by tweets

Thank you for your defense of journalism, an often emotionally exhausting — and physically precarious — undertaking, which involves embedding reporters within a civilian or military combat zone; so, between the exchange of gunfire and the sudden chaos triggered from a sniper’s rifle, in a street fight between police officers and rioters or soldiers and jihadists — in an effort to convey the political and sectarian rivalries between, respectively, law enforcement and neighborhood gangs, or the contest of wills between the U.S. Army and al Qaeda — our knowledge of these events does not spontaneously flash across the screens of our smartphones and tablets without a professional having risked life and limb to write about these stories with detail, context and an understanding of the broader implications for peace and freedom throughout America and the Middle East.

There is no tweet, or series of tweets, that can reduce a great social conflict into a 140-character-count summary about, say, race relations and the struggle for voting rights, civil rights and human rights, or ignore the religious convulsions of a theocratic foe whose stampede across Iraq, Syria and Lebanon is the first foretaste of a bitter cup of hatred and defeat, unless there are journalists able to chronicle this history within the broader milieu of the everlasting war between tyranny and liberty.

Remember the legacy of Edward R. Murrow and his legion of reporters, or consider the contributions of William Shirer, each man a voice of independence and analysis from the eye of a gathering storm of the Nazi onslaught and the rapacious policies of Adolf Hitler.

Recall their meticulous itemization of the Nuremberg Laws and the Third Reich’s persecution of the Jews, in addition to their rooftop reportage during the Luftwaffe’s nighttime bombings of London, while, separated by the vast expanse of the Atlantic and the prolonged neutrality of the New World toward the embattled people of the Old, these journalists deliver their broadcasts about the inferno; a continental conflagration and a genocidal campaign to feed the crematoria with the victims of the most wicked brand of anti-Semitic violence and murder imaginable.

The facts, gruesome though they may be and comprehensive as they must be, should never yield to the inane policies of Twitter.

Would we discard the magisterial prose of Edward Gibbon and the authoritative quality — and the authorial voice — of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, in favor of the brevity of a worthless tweet?

Would we subordinate the Book of Common Prayer and the beauty of the Psalms and sacraments for the brutalist “style” of the Internet in general and the use of of the hashtag (on Twitter) in particular?

Why, then, would we even entertain the idea that Twitter can replace journalism — that it is a form of journalism — when it is nothing more than the principal digital domain of the paranoid, the psychotic, the conspiratorial and the confused?writershattypewriter

Joseph’s Yelp Review of the Wretched Innkeeper

My wife and I are not travelers or tourists, or vacationers or pleasure seekers of any kind.
We are of limited means but boundless hope because of a confluence of circumstances — both heavenly and terrestrial — concerning our recent journey, by foot and mule, to Bethlehem; where, in the course of our nighttime movement along a path lit by the luminescent purity of a northern star, we continue to reflect on the symbolism and literalness of our trip; an experience that remains uplifting, in whole, and disappointing — gravely upsetting — in part, because of the cruelty of the manager and staff of your inn.
By shunning us, and by ignoring the very obvious fact that my wife was in labor and going to give birth to a son in a matter of hours, your workers — and by extension, you and the patrons of your inn — are the antithesis of the hospitality your business claims to offer and the enemies of the comfort your establishment says it provides.
I ask you, sir, how could you deny space for a paying couple so visibly tired and so respectfully attired?
How could you expel us from your entrance, and so forcefully slam and lock your doorway?
How could you not at least help my wife — with the sweat raining from her brow like oversized droplets of anguish and pain, and with one hand placed across her belly and the other pressed against the wall (to maintain her balance) — while you could hear her cries become inconsolable wails of physical torture and her exhalations sound like the last breaths of a dying woman?
How could you treat us like animals by leaving us among animals, with my wife lying upon an earthen bed of soil and straw?
I will not reciprocate your malignity with malice of my own.
I will, however, avoid your inn.
I pray decent men and women will do likewise.


Do you want a writer or a typist creating your content?

There is a profound difference between writing and typing.

The latter is a mass act of mediocrity, a mistaken defense of function — a collective exercise in banging millions of keyboards with buzzwords and catchphrases, and exclamatory statements and overzealous sayings — that treats the reader like a programmable automaton; a corporeal creature with buttons and levers, to be pushed and lowered, and punched and pulled for a specific action — to buy whatever is on sale, whenever and wherever a retailer commands your assistance — without an ounce of thought or hesitation on your part; you exist, exclusively and compliantly, to do something — to spend money — based on the words and sentences, as well as the slogans and directives of some typist; a writer in name only whose rapidity of touch, displayed by the hitting of letters with all the subtlety of a teenager texting friends about a weekend party or the assertiveness of a drunk trying to maintain his balance as he shakes his fist and screams at the televised image of some celebrity or politician; an errand boy unconcerned with the news, provided there is always a supply of something — anything — to shout about, so you can go about sliding and swiping your credit card for the good of a corporation that expels verbal garbage with an intensity equal to its insensitivity toward the beauty of language, the majesty of writing and the sound of so many lyrical epigrams and expressions of eloquence.

We are not, thankfully, slaves to bad advertising and celebrants of that most common denominator of dullness called consensus.

For, to quote that defiant and courageous woman of iron will and bold proclamations, Margaret Thatcher:

What great cause would have been fought and won under the banner ‘I stand for consensus?’

Be a writer of integrity by writing with integrity.

Free of everything but those eternal virtues of justice and liberty, write — and speak — about those self-evident truths.

Together, we can pursue that precious gift of happiness.