Can you call a piece “op-ed” if it’s actually on the editorial page? If it’s the Courant, I guess so. (Damn! I digressed before I even started! Hit me with a rolled-up newspaper.)
OK, let’s start over. Frank Harris, the chairman of the journalism department at SCSU, writes a couple of columns a month for the Courant. I enjoy Frank’s observations, none more so than today. Called “Refusing To Be At E-mail’s Beck And Call,” he bemoaned the impatience and lack of manners of many of the students who e-mail him, and expect an instant response.
We’ve become so impatient. We think we “need to know” right now, this very moment. But, outside of true emergencies, do we really?
I may still marvel at the miracle of e-mail (hell, I still marvel at the cell phone), but the notion struck even me as a bit quaint, given the higher-octane methods of instant communication such as texting and Twittering. I do neither. I will call before I text, and I don’t trust myself to Twitter. (Hey, GB here! Just went to the bathroom. It’s fun and it’s free. Try it yourself!) Besides, the concept of “followers” seems a tad cultish. (Hey, GB here! Try the Kool-Aid!) If you saw “Doonesbury” last week, Trudeau nailed it.
Many web sites, including nbcconnecticut.com, are now tweeting, and I think that’s fine. But I’ve noticed that tweeting is invading some on-air newscasts and cable “news” shows, and I’m not so sure that’s fine.
I respect all responsible viewer opinion, but should it instantly be on the air? A friend sent me an opinion piece written for The Huffington Post. I’d never heard of Robert J. Elisberg before. But I tend to agree with him.
I understand why TV newscasts use Twitterish services. They think it makes them current. They think being “interactive” will build loyalty. But their efforts are backwards. When you interrupt real news, serious news, important news with 28-word, anonymous, empty commentary, you are saying that’s all your news is worth. You are diminishing your own efforts.
Frank Harris began his column with this line: “I have made it a point to cut down on my e-mail time.” Good luck with that, Frank. Let me know how it goes. As a matter of fact, I want to know how it’s going. RIGHT NOW.