This Is Journalism?

I love the news. But lately, the clickbait has driven me toward madness. Scanning CNN.com recently, which may have been mistake number one, I saw a promising headline: “Deion Sanders calls out son.” Click on the above link if you want. I’m going to sum the article up anyway, so you don’t really need to.

You can see the link right there, under “Top Stories”. CNN.com thought this article was as important as “Tesla sales hit new record.”

Yup

I knew Deion’s son played college football, so I was intrigued as to the content of the article. I clicked. Mistake number two.

Essentially, Deion Sanders Jr tweeted about his fondness for “hood doughnuts.” Deion Sanders tweeted at his son to remind him he was a child of privilege, had a trust fund and a clothing line, and to “stop the hood stuff.” Deion Sanders Jr, knowing he’d been pwned, retweeted his father’s tweets.

The first part of the article was a longer version of my summary, mixed with some background information from Deion Sanders Jr’s Wikipedia page, Twitter feed, and Instagram. The second part of the article was just the embedded tweets themselves.

Essentially, this article boils down to “Here’s this conversation that happened on Twitter. Oh, and I Googled the person you might not know. Kbye.” Visually, 30% of the article is a selfie from Twitter of Deion Jr attached to a tweet.

Increasingly, this is Journalism. And not just on CNN.com. Practically the same article appeared on The Washington Post, USA Today, and the NY Daily News.

I understand links are a part of the fabric of the Internet. But, this creating-an-article-from-tweets-and-wikipedia has gone too far. Even newscasters are doing this bullshit. You’ve probably seen the broadcasts. Some generic looking knucklehead says, “Earlier today, Wendy, Ariana Grande tweeted this photo to her followers.” If I wanted to know what Ariana Grande tweeted to her followers, I’d follower her on Twitter, you birdbrain.

“Deion Sanders calls out son” boils down to “Here’s this thing that happened on Twitter. Oh and I Googled some stuff for you.” On top of that, it wasn’t even GOOD Googling. Within one of the tweets, Deion Sanders reminds his son “you’re a Huxtable”. Do most millenials know who the Huxtables are? I’m 30 and I barely remember the Raven-Symoné era. If you’re going to analyze some tweets, at least make it in-depth. Do most Americans even know what “hood doughnuts” are? I didn’t.

That’s web news these days. I see it, I don’t like it, and I certainly can’t change it. So, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

This is also a post about race. I didn’t mention that explicitly until now. The article about Deion Sanders Jr has a racial undertone. I think I caught a glimpse of a Fox News broadcast in which they convened an African-American panel to discuss fatherhood and “hood” culture, as a result of these tweets. I may have imagined that, but I think we can agree that’s the type of broadcast Fox News would do. I can totally envision Bill O’Reilly looking at the camera and saying “Hood or Huxtable? Deion Sanders Jr. spars with his father over Twitter.” Bill O’Reilly is an idiot.

Those “Stop the Hood stuff” articles were evident clickbait. With a title like that, you’re trying to get people to read it. You’re hinting at race. It’s almost subliminal. And yet, the authors don’t come out and mention it. I suppose that’s journalism these days. Consume this re-bundled nugget of TwitShit, don’t think too hard about it, have a momentary emotive response to some underlying racial notions, and move on to the next bit of clickbait.