For an outsider, Salon‘s Alex Pareene really gets off on knocking Washington’s journalism culture. He usually goes after The Daily Caller‘s Editor-in-Chief Tucker Carlson with a vengeance. But a latest piece in The New Republic has him ripping through a much larger swathe of journalists on Twitter as a “a cult of cleverness” who feels they must be funny to impress their bosses and gain followers to determine their clout (or Klout, as the case may be). Pareene’s primary question: “Why is the political class so obsessed with being funny?”
An excerpt: “Twitter allows even those obliged to adhere to the bone-dry standards of legacy media outlets to show the entire world how witty they are—and maybe even win a pat on the back from the management types who’ve decided that social media represents the newsroom’s future. The result: a cult of cleverness, where a good joke is rewarded with retweets and new followers, the two main metrics of social-media clout. I’m certainly among those spending far too much time attempting to rack up both.”
We like how he admits he’s part of the problem, not the solution.
An interesting subject matter, no doubt. So much so, you’d think Pareene would turn to experts, workplace psychologists, so-called experts or even a wide variety of Tweeters themselves for their thoughts on the matter. You know, actually get out of his own bed head of curls and do some reporting? He quotes only one journalist in his story: Slate‘s Dave Weigel, who, for someone who is embedded in the Twitter bubble, bashes it mercilessly. Weigel, this is terrifying. Are you okay? Furthermore, Pareene, we love Weigel and all, but was absolutely no one else in your myopic inner circle worthy of quoting?
See what Weigel told Pareene…“Midway through the campaign, I grew so utterly convinced that the Twitter news cycle was irrelevant that I tried to bisect it from the rest of the news cycle,” explains Slate political reporter David Weigel (90,000-plus followers). “Much of the political news day was spent on Twitter-friendly crap that might not have gotten to anyone who didn’t have a smart phone. It was a problem, adding to ways in which bubbled-up reporters can’t relate to the people they’re supposed to be covering an election for.”
Full disclosure: Pareene doesn’t care for me too much ever since I wrote a brief profile on him six years ago for The Hill in which I said he seemed like the type of person who liked to dig up worms in Rock Creek Park. Seems he doesn’t like worms?
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