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How Twitter is Like Today’s Journalism…by Aaron Brown

Gail Shister
TVNewser Columnist

Brown_6.24.jpgBrownie don’t tweet.

Aaron Brown said no when the producers of his PBS public-affairs series, “Wide Angle,” asked him to send Twitter bulletins during his recent expedition to Ethiopia and Mozambique.

“They wanted me to Twitter, or is it Tweet, my way across Africa,” says Brown, 60, a CNN exile. “I said, ‘I’m working, guys. This is a long, hard trip. I don’t have time to think up silly, 140-character notes.’”

Season 2 of “Wide Angle” launches tonight. Ten episodes are ordered.

Brown spends most of the year at Arizona State in Tempe, where he’s a full-time professor in the Cronkite School of Journalism. He joined the faculty in 2008, three years after leaving CNN.

When it comes to Journalism with a capital J, Brown is the first to admit he’s old school.

“My students made me open a Twitter account, but I have never Twittered or read a Tweet,” he says. “It’s self-indulgent nonsense. I don’t get it. I’m 60. I’m not sure I’m supposed to get this stuff.”

On the other hand, Brown acknowledges that Twitter “is also leading the Iranian revolution, thank God. Still, somewhere in Iran, Ali is sending a note to somebody that says, ‘It’s 2:45. I’m having two bowls of humus and then I’m going to sleep.’

“In the last two weeks, there have been more Twitter references than Obama references, for crying out loud. Somehow, there seems to be an interest in what you had for breakfast or what you’re doing or thinking at any given moment.”

Lest we forget, rowing against the tide is what Brown does best. Still, even the King of the Long Pause knows when it’s time to pull in the oars.

“I know I’m wrong,” he says. “It was on the cover of Time magazine, so I must be wrong.

“It still seems more self-indulgent than relevant, but oddly, that’s what a lot of journalism is these days.”

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