Newsiness: It’s the new way to do the news

By Oliver Bateman

We read on the Internet that print journalism was in trouble, which probably shouldn’t have… We read on the Internet that print journalism was in trouble, which probably shouldn’t have surprised us because we gather all of our facts while surfing the Web and haven’t purchased a newspaper since “Hey Ya!” ruled the airwaves. However, we earn our daily bread by writing hard-hitting advice columns for The Pitt News, and anything that could slow down this gravy train presents a real danger. We quickly did some additional research and learned that many newspapers are failing because bloggers, Tweeters, shock jocks and fanfiction writers are charging zero money for essentially the same stories. Well, essentially the same except for the abundance of inaccuracies, inflammatory remarks and grammatical errors.

Because there’s a lot of money in coining terms, we’ve decided to call this stuff “newsiness.” If you’re still reading old-fashioned newsprint periodicals like this one, you probably haven’t spent a lot of time with these emerging forms of discourse. However, like Wikipedia, YouTube, and everything else Internet-related, newsiness will change the way we do business. With the same good will that has animated our other dispatches, we’ve decided to prepare a primer on the future of communications.

Twitter: Instead of flipping through a fusty newspaper like The New York Times or trying to finish a tedious nonfiction book, you can use Twitter to get up-to-the-minute access to the deep thoughts of some our top celebrities. For instance, legendary Celtics center Shaquille “Shaq Diesel” O’Neal Tweeted last Wednesday that we should “look in da mirror n retweet afta me.” That’s not the kind of thing that newspapers have access to, and it makes us wonder why we need sports pages at all. Why pay some guy who was probably picked last for his intramural basketball squad to write a full-length report about the “Big Aristotle” when you can get the cold, hard truth straight from the horse’s mouth? Also: People should start calling Twitter “the horse’s mouth.”

Blogs: Blogs are a great way to catch up on what’s going on out there. There are so many problems in this country of ours — not the least of which is that things aren’t as good as they used to be — and billions of bloggers have set to work trying to make a difference. One of the problems with a place like The Pitt News is that we can’t use expletives and ad hominem attacks to let you know how angry we are. In the blogosphere, though, everything is permitted and no crusty editor or college dean can try to stop you. You can go rogue and make your compelling case for ending the Fed, building an impregnable wall along our nation’s southern border, unraveling the Sept. 11 conspiracy or shipping that usurper president back to his Kenyan homeland. The facts that you believe are obviously the facts that are true, and once you get enough fans you can focus your considerable energies on preaching to the choir.

4chan: This is some kind of image-posting website where everything on the Internet gets started. In much the same way that Walter Cronkite leveraged his considerable prestige to legitimize opposition to the Vietnam War, 4chan uses its collective might to make things popular. Ever see that one YouTube video in which the cat plays the keyboard? What about the one in which the chimpanzee molests the frog? And how about Pedobear? The print journalists of the past have only reported the news — 4chan has made it.

Laura Ingraham: Ingraham is a blond bombshell who has built her career on dispensing exciting, tendentious newsiness without regard for any facts that might mollify her hard-edged approach. She’s a slightly more female version of Rush Limbaugh, an early pioneer in the field of newsiness, and it seems she’s got a real ax to grind with this Barack “Hussein” Obama fellow.

Saturday Night Live’s “Really?” segment: Here’s a recipe for great newsiness: Simply restate an event that you see with the full clarity of hindsight and signify your distaste with the repetitive use of “Really?” TV funnyman and cutie pie Seth Meyers has spent years honing this approach — a sort of dumbing down of what passes for humor on the popular newsiness outlet “The Daily Show” — and the belly laughs Meyers receives for doing it tell you all you need to know about its effectiveness. While we’re on the subject, let’s try one: “Really, Olive Garden? Is this really the best your ‘Culinary Institute of Tuscany’-trained chefs can do? Really? Really? We mean, really!”

Even though we know we can’t hope to top a side-splitting joke like that one, we’re going to try our best to conclude this column. As far as we can tell, the great thing about print journalism is that we’re involved in it. The big problem with it is that it’s slow and boring. The theory of natural selection dictates that slow, boring things will eventually get replaced by faster, more explosive things, which is why everybody watches Michael Bay movies, and only a handful of trained scholars can still distinguish Macbeth from MacGyver. If you’re from one of those school districts that condone the teaching of evolution, you’ll understand what we’re talking about.

Oliver Bateman is the newsroom director at the Moustache Current Events Club of America. You can visit the Club at Fellow Club member Nathan Zimmerman also contributed to this report.