Wag the dog

If I had any doubts about the increasingly dominating role of new media over traditional media, they were vanquished yesterday while watching ABC’s World News Tonight.

In the A-block of the evening news program (ranked second between NBC and CBS) Anchor David Muir told us a story about a tweet that Donald Trump sent earlier in the day to commemorate Cinco de Mayo.

Perhaps because Trump is the presumptive GOP nominee for the presidency and because his  tasteless Taco Bowl tweet had gone viral, ABC treated it as one of their top new stories.

ABC’s Taco Bowl Tweet story included reporting that Hillary Clinton’s team fired off a response tweet using Trump’s own words to discredit him. The story also mentioned that 81 percent of Hispanic Americans have an unfavorable view of Trump.

ABC was certainly not alone in covering the Taco Bowl incident. The social media gaffe was covered by every other network, including cable news giants CNN and FOX, not to mention the print media, including the Associated Press, USA Today and Reuters.

In each of these stories, something that transpired in the world of new media was being reported by the old media giants in a classic game of react and catch-up.

Trump tweeted his photo some five hours before ABC’s evening news broadcast. How many people had already seen the tweet?

I will not argue the newsworthy merits of Trump’s tweet, but it struck me that the once dominating news giants were again scrambling to keep up with their more nimble counterparts in the world of social media.

Whether it is a political campaign or your business reputation on the line, what you do and say on social media has significant consequences. That’s why I always tell my clients to be very careful and not post anything on social media that you don’t want to see on the front page of tomorrow’s newspaper.

The tables have turned. The rules have changed. You are the media. Take your role seriously.


Randy Seaver is a former newspaper reporter and editor. He also has more than a decade of experience as a strategic communications consultant, helping a wide range of clients overcome challenges in the court of public opinion.  Learn More

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