Newseum closing and Twitter outage: Media climate not subject to change

Tweet from @Newseum Oct 2, 2019
Image from @Newseum on Twitter Oct. 2, 2019

Breaking news brings word the Newseum in Washington, D.C., is closing at the end of this year. Concurrent with that news, Twitter experienced an outage that seemed to impact different areas of the world and some users freaked. The Twitterverse-down event happened late Tuesday night on US time. Despite the way they’re perceived, both these matters are signs that the media climate is not subject to change.

The Newseum, according to the founding organization The Freedom Forum, defined its mission:

“… to champion the five freedoms of the First Amendment and to increase public awareness about the importance of a free and fair press.”

Some critics thought the Newseum was an effort for media to glorify itself. I felt neutral about the matter, but I think you learn more about media and history by heading to a library and reading content in its original form.

newspaper image by Indie Art South
Image: Indie Art South

I do like the idea of safeguarding the First Amendment, but I also view it a bit differently perhaps than most media. I base my view on the actual language in the First Amendment. That Amendment does not give a single American a single freedom. Instead it limits government powers over the freedoms I believe all humans have at birth. The amendment begins with, “Congress shall make no law…”

That’s pretty clear-cut if you ask me.

There’s so much irony in the scant attention paid by the public to the Newseum—it basically went broke—and attention paid to the Twitterverse glitch. Why?

Twitter is the reservoir for the news, and not only in the US. I’ve often told TV news junkies to not bother with the big screen to learn what news is breaking. Just head over to the left of center messaging site Twitter and you’ll see news breaking in real time. It’s pretty insane, but you get an idea of politics of ‘journalists’ on both left and right by reading timelines there. You may, as I have, come away with the knowledge you don’t have to be very smart to work in national news these days and there is  near total ignorance in most of these media workers when it comes to history.

I do differentiate local news from national news. For one thing, reporters and media presenters in local markets have to live among those who watch their programs. For another, I find local media people to be far more human than some of the talking heads filling screens across the land on various channels each night.

The Newseum couldn’t sell enough tickets to fund its operation.

Twitter’s stock price is at $39.70 as I write this column. Isn’t that bizarre? Twitter creates no content—users create it. Yet the company is public and I suppose profits are important although when it comes to Twitter’s CEO, I think he’s a totally strange duck.

Fact is, without all those Twitterers posting content, Twitter would have nothing to sell.

At this moment, a US senator who is also running in the Democrats’ primary has called for Twitter to ban the US president from the site. That is hilarious.

No one has helped Twitter more than the current president. The last president sent out Tweets too, but those were mostly the kind of politic-speak we’re accustomed to, except for occasional lapses like the ‘Something Fishy’ campaign where the administration asked people to inform on their neighbors or anyone else who bad-mouthed the very expensive and disastrously written health tax legislation passed in 2010. The vast majority of corporate media either didn’t cover that snitch campaign or erased it from archives despite the fact it was very important in terms of the “free press” so many like to praise.

To sum up, the current president is a boon to the Twitterverse and the CEO apparently knows just how big a boon because he hasn’t banned the Oval Office yet. The CEO may like his models and ice baths and detest the president, but money is a powerful incentive.

Americans and people in other countries have vested the majority of news messaging in social media. What will come of that is anyone’s guess, but it’s a for sure the Newseum will close and no one knows how long the Twitterverse will survive because few can peg the futures of most social media.

That the biggest news breaks on a site called Twitter says it all about the state of news in America today. Well, that and the fact that many ‘journalists’ make themselves the story nowadays. We have basically reverted to what journalism was in the Gilded Age—an artifact based on profits and power.

For an interesting read that delves journalism in the Gilded Age, read The Murder of the Century by Paul Collins. History does repeat itself. Today’s national media shenanigans are nothing new although the way the messaging is delivered to us has changed in big ways.

(Kay B. Day/Oct. 2, 2019)

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