Word on the Street

Personal essays from a young journalist in the Sunshine State.

The New Yorker’s ‘Satirical’ Obama Illustration

Some people on Twitter have been Twittering about the New Yorker cover illustration of Barack and Michelle Obama. He’s wearing Muslim garb, and she has what looks like an AK 47 strapped around her. In the background is a picture of Osama Bin Laden hanging above an American flag burning in a fireplace. You can find out more about the illustration here.

The New Yorker‘s David Remnick said the illustration was meant to be satirical. Some commentators are saying people need to lighten up and realize that the cover illustration isn’t meant to be taken literally. Others, though, say, it’s not an appropriate time to make such satirical stabs. What’s your reaction to the cover?

Twittering Tweets in an Ever-Growing Twitter World

The infamous Twitter Fail Whale

Twitter’s Fail Whale has been making quite the appearance lately. A picture of the whale appears on Twitter pages when the site is “over capacity,” which seems to happens more often than it used to. My guess is that this is because so many people are joining Twitter. Throughout the past month, I’ve received an increased amount of e-mails letting me know that people are “following” my updates on Twitter.

Last year at this time, I never thought I’d be a Twitterer who Twittered Tweets. I said as much in a two-part series of articles I wrote about news organizations experimenting with Twitter. At the time, people were just starting to use this social networking site. “What’s Twitter?” lots of people would ask. “You answer the question ‘What are you doing?’ Doesn’t that sound a little pretentious?” Now I get asked these questions much less frequently.

Sure, the idea of updating everyone on what you’re doing can seem pretentious, but many Twitterers don’t answer this question literally. They mix up their Tweets with questions that they pose to their followers, or quotes they like, or links to their recent blog posts. More than anything, I use Twitter as a news aggregator. I am “following” about 50 news organizations on Twitter, meaning any time the news organization updates its Twitter page, I receive a Tweet alerting me to the news. Rather than visiting Newyorktimes.com, espn.com, npr.org and cnn.com individually, I can use Twitter as my one-stop news shop.

I’ve shared this use of Twitter with some of my journalism friends, and a few have since joined. I wonder what has caused so many people to join Twitter recently, and if the Fail Whale will keep appearing on my Twitter page when I try to update it. If you’re a new Twitterer, what made you want to join? If you’re not a Twitterer, why haven’t you joined yet?