WaPo becoming HuffPo

There is a new phenomenon I call “Twitter journalism”, in which people manage to eke out articles by stringing together Twitter “posts”. I myself have been tempted to do this, and sometimes have, though not very often.

But this is a website, and it’s much worse when the tw**t assemblages are disguised as journalism. PuffHo, of course, is the worst offender that I know of (see this list, for instance), and here’s the latest non-piece based on a single tw**t (click on screenshot if you must:

And the “perfect response”? It’s just this, which is lame—and just another demonstration of how PuffHo has been driven literally insane by Trump:

Stay tuned for a piece tomorrow on how PuffHo’s knee-jerk regressive Leftism caused it a huge embarrassment.

But Tw**t Aggregation is worse when the Washington Post, which has long enjoyed a reputation as a decent newspaper, engages in the same shenanigans. Have a gander at this “article” (click on screenshot):

The piece is in fact just a string of tw**ts assembled by reporter Cindy Boren. Is this reporting? I don’t think so. Is it interesting? Hell no! Is it clickbait? Certainly. And here’s the “perfect” response, which at least is slightly humorous.

Things are grim when this kind of stuff on social media becomes fodder for lazy reporters. Get off my lawn!



  1. Posted April 17, 2017 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    The mainstream media is becoming little more than a permanent record of what should be ephemeral brainfarts.

    Reporting tweets is the equivalent of ‘What was written on this cubicle wall will astound you!’

  2. eric
    Posted April 17, 2017 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    WashPo has also (recently?) made their on-line news pay-to-view. I think like the NYT, you get 10 articles per month for free or something like that. Because evidently, generating revenue through sidebar ads like many other internet sources just isn’t enough for them, they want a subscription fee on top of it.

    I like(d) both papers but this turns me off. Congratulations guys, you didn’t cause me to subscribe, what you did is sent my page views (and clicks) to BBC.com and CNN.com.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted April 17, 2017 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

      WaPo used to be 10 articles free. I’m disappointed they’ve changed that. I think it’s the best way to encourage subs. The ones you can’t access at all without a sub like the Wall Street Journal miss out on readers and don’t get many new ones because of that imo.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted April 18, 2017 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

        WaPo used to be 10 articles free. [….] I think it’s the best way to encourage subs.

        I’m dubious on that.

        Since the Indescribablyboring ramped the adverts on its website to the level of rendering it unreadable with AdBlock, I read the Grauniad website much more. Their nag (adding a ‘subscribe’ blurb below the full text) is making me seriously consider committing to the £100ish/yr sub.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted April 18, 2017 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

          Clarification : dubious that this is the BEST way.

    • Posted April 17, 2017 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

      I would have hoped that those who pay for online subs would not be exposed to ads, but maybe I am wrong. I use adblock and seldom (except by choice) see an ad. This could be part of the reason why so many are going the subscription route.

      NYT digital – $195/year; WaPo – $99/yr altho with Amazon Prime you can get it much cheaper. Sorry, but this is too damn expensive. I have a feeling that if every newspaper, society, technical journal, and others who are charging for online content. made it very inexpensive for individuals (say $1/month or $5/yr) the good ones would hugely increase their income.

      I pay for cable (for internet and movies) because I love to watch movies late at night and am otherwise on the internet. I pay a reasonable price for some society memberships ($10 or 15 annually) because I get benefit from their online content. I’d even pay for Spotify if it was $10-15/year instead of $10/month, but with much of my collection on Google Play Music and Youtube, what is my benefit? But I can keep up with the news anywhere, so the cost vs benefit for subscribing just isn’t there.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted April 18, 2017 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

        They haven’t found the price point. (See my comment up thread. )

        One of the main things that holds me back from a (say) £1/wk sub is the “will I be ADFREE? ” question. Somehow, I doubt I’ll be ADFREE.

    • Bruce Gorton
      Posted April 18, 2017 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      It really doesn’t. Online advertising is growing, but it is nowhere near as strong a revenue source as print advertising, and as print is dying, well wallets are getting pinched.

  3. Randy schenck
    Posted April 17, 2017 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Twitter is mostly the public toilet of conversation. The only way journalism becomes a part of this is when they do not know how to do their job or they are not journalist in the first place.

    • Posted April 17, 2017 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      The public toilet of conversation needs a curtesy flush.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted April 18, 2017 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

        curtesy flush

        I am trying to imagine the … geometry of curtsey in AND flushing at the same time.

        No, I wash my mind of such images. [SHUDDER]
        [Picks wax from left ear with right foot.]

    • Posted April 17, 2017 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      Calling Twitter a public toilet is an insult to public toilets. Twitter is mostly the port-o-john of conversation.

      Well, that’s how I feel about Twitter anyway. YMMV.

    • Harrison
      Posted April 17, 2017 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

      I think you could instantly improve Twitter by removing Tweet strings. The format is just not conducive to back-and-forth conversations and never will be. Go back to its intended roots as a one-way broadcasting platform.

  4. Posted April 17, 2017 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Fareed Zakaria said Trump became our president today. Trump had the perfect response to him on tw*tter….

  5. Posted April 17, 2017 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Some comments linking to WEIT have been deleted The Guardian’s post on the Science March.

    Apparently Jerry is now an unperson.

    • BJ
      Posted April 17, 2017 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

      That’s not at all surprising. The Guardian does not like dissent.

  6. Heather Hastie
    Posted April 17, 2017 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    I was watching CNN yesterday (State of the Union) when Jake Tapper interrupted the panel discussion to relay a tweet just made by Trump which appeared to indicate that he was watching the show and didn’t like what he was hearing. Trump was “correcting the record” i.e. presenting the version he wants people to believe.

    On other occasions, there have been screen shots grabbed of tweets that politicians later deny making. That’s sometimes interesting. It’s one thing when they realize they’ve got it wrong – quite another when they’re caught in a lie.

    I had Media-ate (or whatever it’s called) include my anti-Trump tweets (amongst others) a couple of times in pro-Trump stories before the election, which prompted a bit of trolling by Trump fans for a few days. Of course, I doubt they’ve ever been considered good enough to even be in HuffPo’s league let alone anything as normally excellent as WaPo.

    In other words, sometimes there are valid reasons for including tweets, and sometimes there aren’t. I completely agree with Jerry that building a whole article around things like the spelling of someone’s name is lazy journalism and not something I want my WaPo sub wasted on. I took it up because the most powerful man in the world is now Donald Trump, and they’re amongst those best placed to investigate him and his regime.

    • Posted April 17, 2017 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

      Reporting on Trump’s tweets is legitimate: he’s the president and his brainfarts clue us into his decision making.

      What a ‘NFL lineman’ thinks about Trump is irrelevant unless he’s planning to run against Trump in the future.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted April 17, 2017 at 2:18 pm | Permalink


        • Posted April 17, 2017 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

          I’m opposed to promoting celebrities as spokespeople on principle because when you use them to rubber stamp your opinion you are setting them up as authorities in the future.

          This week’s anti-Trump wit is next week’s God-botherer or anti-vaxer.

          • Heather Hastie
            Posted April 17, 2017 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

            Good point. Too often being a top sportsperson, actor etc makes people think someone is automatically an authority on whatever they opine about.

      • eric
        Posted April 17, 2017 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

        I agree.

        The irony of it is that if one wants to regularly know what Joe Thomas thinks about some issue, twitter has a mechanism for that. Recycling celebrity tweets isn’t just uninformative and lazy, it’s also unnecessary and redundant.

        I also agree that the President’s tweets are a different thing altogether. Likewise probably the official tweets of any Department head or cabinet official; I would consider those roughly equivalent to an official press release, because before Trump came along, that’s probably exactly how they were managed.

        • Harrison
          Posted April 17, 2017 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

          I suppose one objective might be to subtly discourage older viewers from signing up for Twitter in the first place by assuring them they’re not missing anything because it’s all going to be republished and rebroadcast.

      • loren russell
        Posted April 17, 2017 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

        The “re-accommodate” jokes are aimed at the president of United Airlines, who coined the term, NOT the president of the US.

        And Newspeak terms like ‘re-accomodate’ are justifiably made the brunt of jokes. Still, the humor is better suited to late night stand-up comedy than serious newspapers..

    • BJ
      Posted April 17, 2017 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

      The real craziness is when we see CNN (and especially MSNBC, which does it quite a bit) display tweets or Facebook posts from random people, then discuss their views, starting the discussion with “some people say…” You found one to five people saying something. It’s not a news story. It’s like watching a Buzzfeed or HuffPo article live.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted April 17, 2017 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

        Fox does this a similar thing. They ask for questions for the panel on a certain topic. You know they’re only going to read the questions they want to ask anyway, but it makes it look like everyone wants to know. It’s probably a good way of making viewers feel included though.

        • BJ
          Posted April 17, 2017 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

          Ah, I wouldn’t even know. I can only stand Fox News for about five seconds before I have to turn it off (I can’t do much longer with MSNBC or even CNN).

  7. BJ
    Posted April 17, 2017 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    “Stay tuned for a piece tomorrow on how PuffHo’s knee-jerk regressive Leftism caused it a huge embarrassment.”

    Ooohh, I assume we’re referring to the recent “white men shouldn’t be allowed to vote for about 20 years because they’re not allowing our progressive values to go forward” craziness. Yup, that will be a fun post to read and comment on. What’s more progressive than disenfranchising masses of people based on race and gender!

    Anyway, WashPo has been steadily steaming down this route for the last few years. I’m not surprised it has come to this.

  8. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted April 17, 2017 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    HuffPo has the problem of a tone of offended indignation pervading too much of its journalism. WashPo IMO seems to be involved in a more authentic desire to really get rid of bad things and motivated by classic American ideals rather than trendy leftism.
    Perhaps newspapers could occasionally run a Twitter section next to the comic strips, without making it news.

  9. Sakebomb
    Posted April 17, 2017 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    I think I stopped watching CNN when they started doing this, showing random people’s tweets in response to some event or news of the day as if their opinions mattered. Who cares what “huggyboy69” thinks about anything.

    • eric
      Posted April 17, 2017 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

      In general, I find print media news to be better than news TV shows. There is not as much pressure to constantly update (although there is some) or create new content every few minutes, so IMO the substance:drivel ratio tends to be a bit better. I tend to avoid video stories for the same reason: I get a very low amount of substance per minute compared to reading text.

      I think this opinion is putting me in the “get off my lawn” group though, as the trend seems to be going away from text and more towards video and other multimedia.

      • Filippo
        Posted April 18, 2017 at 5:00 am | Permalink

        With the print media at least ones doesn’t have to HEAR yammering, snarky, fatuous chattering. Ah, for the days when one could look forward to the soothing, sensible tones of Bob Edwards on NPR.

  10. TJR
    Posted April 18, 2017 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    The mainstream media are getting steadily worse for the just the reasons mentioned in Nick Davies’s book Flat Earth News a few years ago.

    They don’t have enough reporters, so they only have enough time just to pass on what was said in press releases and press conferences, and now tweets as well.

    Most “news” articles say very little about what has happened, they just report what people have said about what has happened.

    Of course, you could argue that in practice what people can make others believe happened is more important than what actually happened…..

  11. Steve Brooks
    Posted April 18, 2017 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    I see the same sort of thing on Facebook. Someone will share a post in which the claim is that “Trump was utterly destroyed by….”
    Then, when I follow the link, the so-called “utter destruction” was nothing of the sort. It’s gotten to the point that when I see obvious click bait, I ignore it.

  12. Bruce Gorton
    Posted April 18, 2017 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Stay tuned for a piece tomorrow on how PuffHo’s knee-jerk regressive Leftism caused it a huge embarrassment.

    You mean the article calling for white men to be disenfranchised?


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