You Can’t Do That on Television! Or Can You?

I’m sure you can relate to an early point in a newfound relationship where you were both still in that phase where you’re not quite sure things will work out. You may ask feeler questions, such as, “What’s your favorite color,” or if they’re OK with watching “rom-coms.” In the past, I’ve asked, “Where do you get your news,” and then cross my fingers hoping to hear something mildly high-brow like “The BBC” or “PBS NewsHour,” but I was surprised by one particular answer: “Twitter.” I probably exclaimed something along the lines of, “Twitter! Seriously?!” Looking back, that was kind of silly of me. I now know that television, along with film, radio and traditional media as we know it, have actively turned to the new technology of social media to spread their messages, with Twitter and Facebook being the most prevalent options.

Twitter is one of the easiest and fastest ways to divulge the news you want. If you aren’t familiar with the concept, you simply pick and choose which news stations, blogs or publications to follow and then, voila, you’re handed all of the  headlines in one, easy-to-read timeline. “I never watch the news now, because it is always outdated by tweets. Twitter is the new paper, but it’s eco-friendly and more up-to-date,” says the current boyfriend. He continued with, “I follow the Statesman and The Austinist, because they’ll give me my news in 140 characters or less, on my own time.”

Broadcast television has not ignored this rising trend. Many stations try to integrate social media into their programs by plugging their Twitter handles, hash tags of the day, social media campaigns and Facebook urls in their promos and on-air broadcasts (e.g., The Weather Channel’s “Social” promotes viewer pics from around the country). People you’d never imagine talking about social media are jumping all over the trend. “Watching some 65 year-old retired linebacker on ESPN tell his fans to follow him on twitter is a riot.” Yes, you may have to sift through reading about the latest celebrity love story (if you subscribe to TMZ or E!), but Twitter has become a powerful influence on the way real news is delivered.  When the most recent string of wildfires were raging around Central Texas, many individuals of the community, citizens and reporters alike, relied upon alternative methods of broadcast. Times are changing and almost everyone, including television, is trying to keep up with the conversation.


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