I hope this trick is not held up as a shining example of the brave new technological world of journalism. Yesterday the Rocky Mountain News sent a reporter Wednesday to cover — live, via Twitter — the funeral of Marten Kudlis, a toddler killed in a tragic accident last week. Rocky reporter Berny Morson tweeted details such as “the father is sobbing over the casket” and “family members shovel earth into grave.”
News organizations have been using Twitter to provide live coverage of the recent political conventions, as well as other types of news (such as sports). But a funeral? For someone who wasn’t a public figure? Cara Degette took the Rocky to task in this Colorado Independent diatribe, which includes a partial transcript of Morson’s tweets from the funeral.
Paul Schmelzer of the Minnesota Independent also criticized Morson’s Twitter coverage: “The form of Twitter itself — a 140-character limit, which often leads to abbreviated words — is too informal for such an affair. Plus, [the Rocky] didn’t bother to capitalize or punctuate its tweets, adding to the feeling that it was a glib endeavor.”
I have first-hand experience of media insensitivity. My father, a public figure, was brutally murdered. The media intrusion at our home was hard to deal with, but I was able to make sense of the reports because I knew it was newsworthy. His funeral was a closed affair and was respected by the local media.
So in that light, can someone explain the news value of this tweet stream for Rocky Mountain News readers? I think the glitz of technology has taken over common sense.
EDITOR’S NOTE: We contacted Morson for comment but so far have received no response.
(Thanks to Wendy Norris at The Colorado Independent for the tip.)