Chicago Tribune Columnist: Hey You People Online With Opinions... Get Off My Lawn!

from the that-bad,-huh? dept

Reader Cannen alerts us to yet another column by yet another old school newspaper guy whining about the fact that "the people" now have the ability to have their voices heard. What's funny is that his own column seems to contradict his statements.
Don't get me wrong. I am also an outraged narcissist, but I had to work six-hour shifts in Bakersfield, Calif., to earn my stripes as a communicator. Nowadays, having a Twitter page qualifies a person to give commentary on CNN. I am not interested in the take of @stinky on the Fort Hood shootings or any other current events. I am watching CNN because I expect them to gather the news, not act as a clearinghouse for any bonehead with a computer, a cable modem and a half-baked opinion.
Ah yes, so because today it's easier for people to have a voice, it's bad. Yes, and you used to walk to school uphill both ways in the snow and television was called radio and had no pictures. But the world improves and progress comes along and gives more people a voice and that's bad how exactly?
With the advent of Twitter, Facebook, instant messaging and texting, now almost any fool can set up his or her broadcast hub. Then the likes of CNN, Fox News, Oprah and even the Tribune play right into their hands, giving them instant access to the rest of the world. I beseech the online editors at this paper to turn off the "comments" after each article. If people have opinions about something that they've just read, let them write a letter to the editor.
Yes, but "any fool" doesn't get quite the attention as, say, a fool who blasts the fact that people have a voice in a major national newspaper, right? Who cares that anyone can say what they want. Most people don't see those complaints. You call it a "broadcast hub" but most people's Twitter accounts don't have very many followers. That's not the issue at all. The actual complaint seems to be that CNN and Fox and others have elevated a few of these folks (a tiny percentage of the overall population using these tools), and you don't like it because.... what, exactly? Because they compete with you in being a public "fool"?
Most of my career has been spent in radio, where call-in comments are somewhat encouraged. The main difference is that we can hang up on people.
Ok, let me get this straight. Before you were complaining that CNN and Fox were putting these people on their shows, but then you say at least on radio you could "hang up on people." Do you not sense the contradiction? CNN and Fox can just as easily "hang up" on these people too. So what's the difference?

Basically, it sounds like the guy is pissed off that he's no longer the only person with an opinion getting heard. But, of course, he's missing the point in blaming the new technology. Yes, lots of people have a voice, but most still don't get heard very far. The folks who are getting on TV or are making their voices heard are because they're saying something that resonates, whether it's stupid or not. And, no, maybe they didn't have to practice being a public moron in some small town first, but is that really a necessity?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Call me Al, Nov 17th, 2009 @ 6:52am

    Its a classic sense of entitlement. Because he "served his time" he feels that people owe it to him to listen to his opinion above and beyond all the amateurs. Heaven forbid the amateurs might be smarter, better educated and better writers and communicators then him.

     

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    John Doe, Nov 17th, 2009 @ 7:06am

    This guy is the epitome of what is wrong with newspapers today

    This guy wants to preach his opinion/story/bias to the world and doesn't want to hear any counter opinions. This is old school journalism and we are watching it die a painful death.

    I can only imagine what this guy must be like in person. Probably doesn't have many friends because he never listens to what they have to say.

     

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    Designerfx (profile), Nov 17th, 2009 @ 7:08am

    just wait

    maybe someday papers will realize that not only should they allow comments, but they actually should try replying to some of them to make people feel more involved! what an idea!

     

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    Kazi, Nov 17th, 2009 @ 7:27am

    [quote]
    Most of my career has been spent in radio, where call-in comments are somewhat encouraged. The main difference is that we can hang up on people. This is all part of the town hall meeting mentality sweeping the nation. I've got news for you: The "town hall meeting" was invented by politicians to make you think that your opinion actually counts. It doesn't. A town hall meeting just gives people with too much time on their hands a chance to vent. Beyond that, it's an insult to broadcasters and journalists who have at least taken the time to form an opinion longer than a sentence and have actually done some research. What's the point of doing all of that, when any knucklehead has the same access to the people you brought to the party in the first place?
    [/quote]

    He's basically an old dog that needs to be put out of his misery. Times change and the comment feature provides a great benefit and is going to evolve the "Town Hall" idea further than just people venting and having too much free time. Woohooo! Our opinions might make significant differences!

     

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      Call me Al, Nov 17th, 2009 @ 7:40am

      Re:

      Though the worth of a comment section does depend on the publication. I've seen a few which bear more resemblance to a YouTube commentary then to a discussion of the news article.

      Having said that, if the publication is intelligent and don't patronise their audience then you often end up with some very interesting discussions.

      I suppose not everything can worth my while. If it was then I'd never have any time for anything but reading.

       

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    Reulberg, Nov 17th, 2009 @ 7:38am

    Douglas Adams described something relevant

    There is something to be said for the opinion of someone who comprehends the subject matter. Not all commentary has the same value -- for example my opinion on which football team will win the Stanley Cup this year is valuable (at best) for amusement. John Madden is certainly a better source.

    Douglas Adams referred to this as 'discrepancy of opinion'

     

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      BBT, Nov 17th, 2009 @ 7:49am

      Re: Douglas Adams described something relevant

      I will certainly be highly impressed if a football team manages to win the Stanley Cup this year.

       

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      Dark Helmet (profile), Nov 17th, 2009 @ 9:20am

      Re: Douglas Adams described something relevant

      "for example my opinion on which football team will win the Stanley Cup this year is valuable (at best) for amusement."

      Er, you're not much of a sports fan, are you? Tell you what, consider this an open-ended invitation to my place next Sunday. We'll watch the Bears play whoever they're going to lose to next, we'll eat man-foods like chili and brats, we'll swill cheap lite beer, we'll paint our faces in the colors of our favorite teams, and generally act like animals.

      Then we'll switch the channel over the the Blackhawks to watch them demolish whoever they're going to be playing. I'll offer you the same explanation I offered my girlfriend as to why we don't refer to hockey periods as quarters (Spoiler Alert: There isn't four of them!).

      Once we're good and sauced, not to mention hoarse from screaming obscenities at the grown men chasing around a ball or puck and generally beating the shit out of each other, I'll do a quick Google search on the Stanley Cup and Lombardi Trophies, and thank you for the laugh you provided me by making me picture Brian Urlacher in full Bears gear sliding around on the ice with a stick and randomly whacking people on the head with it.

      You in?

       

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      Hephaestus (profile), Nov 17th, 2009 @ 11:53am

      Re: Douglas Adams described something relevant

      Stanley Cup .... isn't that ice hockey?

       

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      Dementia (profile), Nov 17th, 2009 @ 12:04pm

      Re: Douglas Adams described something relevant

      DH, and the rest of you, while I realize there are no sarcasm tags, I think he might actually know that the Stanley Cup is for hockey, not football. Just a guess on my part, but it certainly sounds like sarcasm to me.

       

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      batch, Nov 17th, 2009 @ 1:06pm

      Re: Douglas Adams described something relevant

      Not sure if we're talking about the same DA, but the author of HHGTG said something else thats also relevant:

      Anything that is in the world when you're born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.

      Anything that's invented between when you're fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.

      Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.

      http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Douglas_Adams

       

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    ervserver (profile), Nov 17th, 2009 @ 7:39am

    boneheads

    This is a big reason why I don't want to pay for a newspaper anymore, junk written by has-been newspaper people

     

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    Doug (profile), Nov 17th, 2009 @ 7:41am

    Dahl is a dullard

    Steve Dahl has not been newsworthy since the infamous Disco Demolition at Comiskey Park in the '70s. He has made millions dulling his listeners to death on the radio, and now is trying to finish the job with newspaper readers.

     

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    Fritz, Nov 17th, 2009 @ 7:53am

    Aw.

    Our elite journalists don't like it when Joe Schlub factchecks their convoluted logic.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2009 @ 7:59am

    "Nowadays, having a Twitter page qualifies a person to give commentary on CNN. "

    People will only pay attention to your views if you can defend them and you still have to go through the work and effort of LEARNING the material you are talking about and DEFENDING your views. For example, Mike Masnick EARNED his credibility, he graduated from a top institution in economics. And scientists who comment on blogs who have credibility have EARNED it by spending YEARS in school studying the subject they talk about. What has this person done in comparison?

    "but I had to work six-hour shifts in Bakersfield, Calif., to earn my stripes as a communicator."

    On the Internet I can easily locate and talk to PH.d's from top universities in all sorts of topics from cryptography to biology and I can get their views on things like vaccines to cryptographic voting systems. I would MUCH rather listen to them, people who have spent YEARS studying a subject and who have earned their knowledge in the field, than some stupid journalist ANY DAY.

    In fact, I see the OPPOSITE as true. The monopoly on communication allows people who know nothing to brainwash the population with their views without competition. They can brainwash the population with views that are self serving but would NEVER stand up to criticism and they can have those views go unchallenged. By having a monopoly on communication and the infrastructure those who get their views on mainstream media have STOLE the attention of others, they have not EARNED it by presenting views that compete in the free marketplace of ideas. Currently, on the Internet your views must EARN credibility in order for people to pay attention to them, you can't simply come here and tell lies and expect people to believe you (like on mainstream media). Also note, mainstream media is a lot more careful now, thanks to the Internet, about telling blatant lies because they know people on the Internet will quickly correct them. Without this open communication the mainstream media would simply go back to telling nothing but lies because they can get away with it. They have NEVER earned their position by having their views compete in the open market of ideas, they STOLE it through lobbying.

    "I am not interested in the take of @stinky on the Fort Hood shootings or any other current events."

    don't don't read his comments.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2009 @ 8:34am

      Re:

      "I am not interested in the take of @stinky on the Fort Hood shootings or any other current events."

      then don't read his comments. No one is forcing you to.

      "Most of my career has been spent in radio, where call-in comments are somewhat encouraged. The main difference is that we can hang up on people. "

      Yes, you can hang up on those who disagree with you and keep the calls from people that agree with you and your self serving agenda (those who present views that favor the American plutocracy). You can simply hang up on the masses because the government isn't here to serve the masses, they're here to serve the rich and the masses should have no voice. Now thanks to the Internet the masses do have a voice and people like you want to take away their voice because you think that only position that agree with the rich should have a voice. You think that only your opinion matters and only opinions that agree with you and opposing views should simply be hung up on.

      At least you tacitly admit that the attempts by the mainstream media and big corporations to stop the Internet isn't about encouraging good journalism but it's about hanging up on the masses and hanging up on the views that disagree with you.

      "With the advent of Twitter, Facebook, instant messaging and texting, now almost any fool can set up his or her broadcast hub."

      With the mainstream media only the fools who support the American plutocracy gets a broadcast hub and the masses get censored. The government SHOULD exist to serve the masses but you admit that you don't want the masses to have a voice. If the government is to serve the masses it should be the masses that have a voice, not just those who agree with you. Otherwise we're better off without a government.

      "If people have opinions about something that they've just read, let them write a letter to the editor. "

      That way if the opinion disagrees with the plutocracy they can simply be ignored. Why should any entity have the power to decide which views get communicated and which views don't? Because their views can't compete with those views that they censor? If their views can compete then why not convince us with arguments instead of trying to brainwash us with censorship of criticisms and opposing views?

       

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    Comboman (profile), Nov 17th, 2009 @ 8:08am

    He does have a point.

    Aside from the technophobic jabbering he does have a point. If I want to read a tweet or blog about some subject, I'll do it directly on the internet. Having a CNN anchor reading tweets and blog comments on the air is not what I tune into CNN for. It's just a lazy way to fill up air time on a slow news day when they should be doing some of that in-depth reporting that supposedly only journalists can do.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2009 @ 8:12am

      Re: He does have a point.

      I agree that CNN spends too much time reading irrelevant tweets, but...that's not really Dahl's (attempted) point.

       

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      Dementia (profile), Nov 17th, 2009 @ 12:07pm

      Re: He does have a point.

      As we saw with some of the issues in Iran, sometimes having someone who is actually there tweeting is actually a good source. Now, does that mean all the tweets they were reading actually came from someone on scene? No, but I think the blanket statement from this "informed journalist" goes farther than necessary and borders on the insulting to millions of people.

       

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    MattP, Nov 17th, 2009 @ 8:09am

    Oh god, not six-hour shifts! He should be commended and praised for the rigors he went through to spread the news.

    (shouldn't be necessary but /s)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2009 @ 10:51am

    I am just a reader of these wonderful comments on the diverse and enormously interesting (and somewhat bizarre)topics that you cover. I would not typically consider posting comments on a dialog (they call it a "thread" nowadays, don't they?) with such learned persons, but I absolutely have to say that Dark Helmet you really, really make my day!

    Even I, an absolute ignoramus when it comes to sports, immediately saw the football/Stanley Cup thing. Your response was priceless and a copy has been placed in my "book of wonderful things"--oops, did I trash your IP rights?

     

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    why so serious, Nov 17th, 2009 @ 11:14am

    irony

    Steve Dahl uses twitter and creats a podcast and is online only. The newspaper is his only old media outlet. it is a toothless rant from last month that this site should pay no mind.

     

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    Hallie, Nov 17th, 2009 @ 1:26pm

    Steve Dahl?!? All of this fuss over a Steve Dahl column? I listened to him when he was on WLUP just long enough to realize that he was just another self-important wannabe shock-jock. I'd thought he'd been put out to pasture a long time ago, and was amazed to see his byline when I clicked through. The Trib must really be hard up for readers if they're giving him a soapbox from which to spew.

     

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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Nov 17th, 2009 @ 1:49pm

    Scared of the deadly boredom

    I'm going to go out on a limb and post my twitter account and let you decide. Am I more interesting than Steve Dahl?

    Read my boringness and be afraid. Be vary afraid.

    Seriously, if he can't compete with someone like me, then he's got more problems then Twitter.

     

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    Katwood, Nov 17th, 2009 @ 3:18pm

    Hypocritcal Pompous Ass Deleted

    The beauty of 21st Century-User Created Content. I guess this arrogant hypocrite thinks the Internet waters down journalism and discredits his experience. Forget about global communication and instant resources for every topic under the sun. This is what happens to people who refuse to embrace technology. They become obsolete and end up talking to themselves.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2009 @ 11:14pm

      Re: Hypocritcal Pompous Ass Deleted

      "This is what happens to people who refuse to embrace technology. They become obsolete and end up talking to themselves."

      No, actually they lobby the government and laws start getting passed in their favor.

       

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    Dan, Nov 17th, 2009 @ 9:20pm

    Old news

    Yes we need professionals to tell us what happened two or three days ago. Because they are the only ones competent to do so? Because they never slant the perspective? Because they are always accurate? Oh I know, they think they have tenure and therefore our rantings don't matter and shouldn't be allowed. Who the hell is Steve Dahl and why have I never heard of him before? But for this article I would never have become aware of Steve Dahl. Maybe he should just cash his check and count his blessings instead of tilting at windmills. Note to Steve: shutup, we don't care what you think, its just like a local tweet on paywall paper.

     

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    Haywood, Nov 18th, 2009 @ 8:25am

    I think most people that have commented here have missed the point I think he was trying to make...
    When did public opinion merit the same amount of airtime as the actual story?
    Tune in to CNN in the afternoons and all they do is read tweets and Facebook comments. People can post all the inane comments they want on Twitter or Facebook, but why does CNN think that is news? Actually, I am sure they don't, its just cheaper to read comments from Twitter than it is to do actual journalism.

     

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    Medina, Nov 9th, 2011 @ 2:12am

    I am not against with those content cause we have different perception in life and i guess that is the most important part.

     

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    Shine (profile), Dec 2nd, 2011 @ 4:57am

    Everybody's entitled to their own opinions.

     

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    Ann, Mar 31st, 2012 @ 2:50am

    Everybody wants to be heard. Who wouldn't? Everybody wants their opinions heard. But some are fortunate to have a venue where their opinion is heard or viewed by the public like in TV, Radio or newspaper. I think the internet is the place where an ordinary person can speak his mind and be heard. Just expect oppositions because like you others want to be heard too.

     

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