Case Study 7

21 Mar

“I’ll Be Watching You” – Twitter Storytelling

Andy Boyle’s Burger King narrative is compelling in and of itself, but it’s not journalism. In fact, if he’d just shot a video, I’d expect it to appear on YouTube with a title like “STUPID COUPLE BREAKS UP IN BK LOLOLOL!”

The sad part is that I’d also expect such a video to have a view count in the upper hundreds of thousands, at least. We live in a voyeuristic culture nowadays; the increased availability of the internet has led to a lower common denominator of cultural values being prevalent online. Much like the Crane story (or virtually any reality TV show), Boyle’s venture shows that people watch this sort of thing as a natural response to conflict. Like the saying goes, “it’s like a car crash – horrible to watch, but you can’t look away.”

Boyle’s ethics themselves are highly debatable, which gives journalists reason to look at it even though it’s not news. Taking pictures and video without the couple’s consent is just an issue of taste, but this is why news organizations exist – so people can turn to others and say “does this look okay?” before having it vetted by the public. With Twitter, the editing process has evolved to include the period after the initial post. An editor can vet a story to his or her followers, or post a new tweet clarifying a story.

The narrative also illustrates a couple of things that make for interesting Twitter-based news. Apart from the obvious (Twitter requires thoughts to be short, snappy and easily consumable), the foremost thing is investment. Boyle was able to sit at his table and send his tweet barrage because he felt compelled to share this couple’s argument; personally, I would’ve had a hard time not just putting down my phone and listening.

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