A rant.

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This morning, as the terrifying and tragic events (prayers for them) at Franklin Regional High School unfolded, my Twitter feed shit the bed.

It didn’t just shit the bed, it shit the bed, puked in it, then left a horse head in it before lighting the bed on fire.

If my Twitter feed this morning was an image, it would have been this:

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If it was a gif, it would have been this:

panicIf it was a cat, it would have been this:

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Events unfolded as every local media outlet began crawling over each other, pushing each other to be first on the scene. First with details. First with pictures.

FIRST!!!!

Each minute ticked by with my feed filling up with dozens and dozens of tweets.

Marty Griffin hashtagged all of his tweets about the tragedy with #getmarty.

One reporter hashtagged his with #schoolshooting

“I’m hearing …”

“We’ve heard …”

“Sources say …”

#WPXI #schoolstabbing

5, 10, 6, 14, 20. (Aren’t these the Lost numbers?)

20 stabbed.

20 injured.

Not life-threatening.

Four are life-threatening.

Seven are life-threatening. 

None are life-threatening. 

Only students.

One teacher. 

“We’re hearing bullying is a factor…”

Outside during a fire drill.

Inside after someone pulled a fire alarm.

All being taken to Forbes.

Five being taken to Children’s.

All being taken to six different hospitals. 

Principal tackled suspect.

Vice-principal tackled suspect.

Assistant principal tackled suspect. 

Reporters retweeting colleagues retweeting other colleagues. Sports and weather reporters tweeting details. Not one single tweet mentioning a source.

MADNESS. Complete and utter clusterfucky online madness that trickled down to on-air madness.

Social media is newish, but it’s not so new that local media outlets shouldn’t have a plan in place for handling developing news like this. The exact same way they have a plan in place for ON-AIR and IN-PRINT developing news stories.

Media folks who want to defend this morning’s mess, you must ask yourselves this question: If this is not okay in the live studio, why is it okay online?

Does your station allow 17 reporters and three anchors to crowd the floor of the live set and start shouting over each other and into the camera like desperate stockbrokers on the trading floor their version of the facts as they’re hearing them? “I’m hearing six! Over to weather! Well, I’m hearing five over here at weather! Over to sports! We’re hearing 10 over at sports! Traffic? My Facebook friend’s mother’s cousin’s sisterwife says 20 but my brother’s concubine says 19! And that guy behind the camera is hearing 4! Wait! Wait! –”

No. They don’t allow that. They manage the information as it comes in and filter it down before allowing the anchor to read it — and even that allows misinformation to fall through the cracks. But they attempt to manage the information.

It seems, however, that they believe social media means no rules, so you’ve got two dozen Twitter-verified reporters from WPXI tweeting and retweeting and 10 from WTAE and 11 from KDKA and add in the radio folks who are tweeting what they’re hearing from the TV folks, and add in the newspaper folks, and the producers and the cameramen and the editors, and the people working in the business offices, and I’m telling you guys, you guys running the media, this is broken.

This is so so broken.

Station managers figure they don’t control social media. Hands off. Everyone out for themselves, even if we’ve made sure you’ve got the blue checkmark next to your name verifying that you’re our representative. Tweet what you find … even if it’s unverified. Even if your source is the lunch lady’s third cousin. Even if you’re just retweeting your colleague who mistakenly hashtagged this story as a school shooting. Even if you’re retweeting your colleague who is claiming bullying is involved while not really knowing if bullying is involved. Even if you’re retweeting your colleague who says 20 were stabbed when 20 were INJURED. We can’t know who everyone is following, and everyone is not following the same two reporters, so we’ll just let every single damn one of you tweet anything you can get your hands on and we’ll feed that straight to the anchors and we’ll let them just run with that shit, amen. 

I’m getting a little punchy, yes. I’m sorry. But I haven’t been writing my shit for here for nine years to make friends. Hell, I’m an introvert; friends are exhausting.

I’m aware it was worse for people like me who follow multiple reporters from multiple outlets (though I went on a nice unfollow spree this morning, as I should have done after the local media basically tweeted a play-by-play on how the McCandless mother drowned her sons), but I’m guessing that even those of you who only follow a few saw exactly what I’m talking about. Insane, intense retweeting. “Follow this person at our station for the facts! No! Follow this person! We realize he’s the sports reporter, but follow him too! And this guy, he’s the producer of a two-hour block of the news, but follow him for ‘facts!’”

No. No no no no no.

This is not how it needs to work and it’s not helping the story, the situation, or the station/paper/outlet. It’s hurting all of those things, even the on-air reporting.

I’m not here to just complain, I’m here to offer a solution to fix this mess because guess what? It can be fixed.

It can be fixed with three words: MANAGE. THE. MESSAGE.

You’re running WPXI? A major breaking news story happens? You get all your best reporters out there on foot and on the phone and on the web to collect information and do their jobs. And you pick one, maybe two of them to be the official tweeter of this particular story, or you have your official verified main account do it. Any other employee on Twitter will then tweet only ONE THING regarding this story: “We’re on top of this story. Follow @name and @name for the official details.” And they will RT ONLY that account or accounts.

That’s it.

Then they shut the hell up and do their jobs and if they’re assigned to this story, they feed their info and their sources to those two people who are now responsible for determining what will be reported on the official social media account.

Manage the message.

You do not allow TWO DOZEN REPORTERS WHO ARE YOUR OFFICIAL BLUE-CHECK-MARKED REPRESENTATIVES TO RUN LIKE STAMPEDING WILDEBEESTS ALL OVER TWITTER GOING FULL-ON TOURETTE’S, SHOUTING MISINFORMATION AT US UNTIL WE SLAM THE UNFOLLOW BUTTON WITH THE FORCE OF THOR’S HAMMER.

Managing the message would increase your followers, you know why? Because you’re not destroying us viewers and readers and listeners with information that may not even be correct. You’re not having reporters crawling all over each other in the name of FIRST! You’re not having mass unfollowings because we the people are fed up with you the breaking news media.

What you end up with are trusting followers who know you’re going to funnel the raw information in some fashion. That you’re going to manage the information put out there by your employees. You’re virtually pulling everyone off the set and leaving your two trusted anchors to talk with the public. You’re Peter Jennings-ing a Jerry Springer fiasco. 

You end up with reporters, no longer obsessed with first!, putting away Twitter and working to get the best possible information from the best possible sources so that they can feed you that CORRECT information and get rewarded.

So instead of the virtual shouting match you’ve allowed your reporters to devolve into … instead of all of us unfollowing all of you for the 4! 3! 6! 20! 10! nonsense, you end up with one account that tweets this and reports this on the news: ”Our reporter @name has confirmed with [source] that the number of injured currently stands at [number].”

“Our reporter @name2 has confirmed with [source] that the number of injured has risen to [number.]”

“Our reporter @name3 has confirmed with [source] that the injured are being transported to [number] hospitals.”

Message. Managed.

Gold star and endless RTs and follows and respect for you.

Unfollows with great Thor-like gusto for everyone else.

#getmarty

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I am dork; hear me snort

Do you know that I am a big giant socially awkward dork? Do you? Do you need me to count the ways?

Perhaps the time I gave David Conrad a ride in my filthy momdorkmobile?

The time I met Mario Lemieux and talked for three minutes straight without inhaling once and then possibly proposed marriage to him like a hopelessly romantic Tourette’s sufferer?

The time this Saturday when I walked around the Children’s Home Shake Your Booties event at Heinz Field for twenty minutes with my blouse awkwardly tucked into my Spanx?

The time I walked around downtown all day with a size sticker strip stuck to the back of my new jeans?

The time I met Sean Casey and he said, “You have leaves in your hair.”

The time I accepted an award from Light of Life with Kennywood wide open?

I am dork. Hear me snort when I laugh.

I’ve got another one to add to the list.

Last night was the Zoo’s first ever Fashion for the Wild event, a fundraiser and fashion show and I was fortunate enough to be invited to check it out. Kiya Tomlin was there showing off her designs. She’s gorgeous. Really.

I got to meet some animals. This is Mr. Cuddlemuffins, as I named him.

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This is Sir Back-The-F–k-Up:

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Snakes. What was God thinking?

Also there were hosts Sally Wiggin and David Conrad, my BFFs:

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There was also fashion, not  modeled just by professional models, but also regular women with interesting stories.

When my sister and I arrived, we were asked if we were guests or models (we said models, of course) and we felt very flattered that we were asked that. We must look super hot and thin, we thought. Then the fashion show started and we understood. Regular Pittsburgh women.

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I took my sister Pens Fan as my plus one because she’s a big David Conrad fan and wanted to meet him.

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Then Dork struck. (That’s the title of my future autobiography, yes?)

A bit later my sister and I were walking up the circular walkway that winds up to the top floor of the aquarium while David happened to be walking down it. We met in the middle to chat at which point I stepped my new skinny heel into a floor grate and got stuck. Not just a little. REALLY stuck. Wedged.

I yelped, “Oh, my God. I’m stuck!”

I tried to yank my shoe out but the entire grate started coming out of the floor. Not even joking. I started to tip over as the totality of my weight was now balancing on a one centimeter-thick heel and I have that inner ear thing that gives me a shit sense of balance.

David was forced to prop me up while my sister reached down and helped me OUT OF MY SHOE at which time she forcibly yanked it out of the grate and handed it to me.

Ta-daaaaaaa!

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[takes a bow]

For my next trick …

Only me, guys. Only. Me.

I bought some cool stuff too! Check out my new coasters featuring three sports stadiums no longer around:

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And I grabbed this too. Would you believe it mentions the Penguins and the Steelers but not the Pirates? I’m kind of aghast.

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At my sister’s insistence, I took a photo with David. But before we took the picture, I said, “You know for as many times as we’ve met, there does not exist a photo of the two of us together and I feel like we should keep it that way.”

He agreed, so we mostly did:

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Honestly, I’m just thankful there’s no Target price-tag hanging down my back.

You should check it out next year. I hope to be there. I’ll be the curly-haired girl wearing WEDGE SHOES.

 





Baseball!

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(Taken by me. Top of the 10th inning. Opening Day 2014. INTENSE SPORTS MOMENT.)

Remember in October when I put the totality of my medical knowledge to the task of understanding why I nearly passed out at the two postseason Buccos games I attended?

I determined that, medically speaking, it was a combination of the noise, an inner ear thing, standing up too fast, not eating enough, screaming too loud, anxiety — all those things all at once = fainting.

Well, at the home opener when Neil Walker hit the walk-off, it was super loud, I jumped out of my seat having eaten nothing yet having imbibed alcohol, I screamed at the top of my lungs and guess what? I was fine. Not one spell of darkness enveloping my vision and pulling me into the abyss.

Therefore, I have now 100% medically determined that it is simply a matter of this: I cannot handle postseason Pirates ball.

That’s it. It’s not the noise or my inner ear or screaming or eating or drinking or jumping.

It’s weakness of constitution. This is an actual medical condition discovered by me and I will be writing a paper about it to appear in the Journal of Totally Fake Medical Discoveries.

That said, I wrote about Opening Day and the miserable behavior of a few fans. 

A snippet:

1. Thou shalt not get to third base on the Kiss Cam.

The Kiss Cam is tradition. A chance to awkwardly high-five your opposite-sex sibling or smooch your honey for all the stadium to see. A chaste peck perhaps. Or a more forward full-on smush. I salute your love with my $25 beer (rounding here). Kiss on. But baseball, more than any sport, is meant to be enjoyed by families. Moms, dads, gramps and kids all in a row. So when you find yourself on the Kiss Cam being urged to lay one on your neighbor, don’t turn it into late-night Cinemax. Don’t shove your tongue down her throat. Don’t, for the love of God, round first base and head sprinting for third as if Nick Leyva is frantically waving you on while thousands of children watch. Get a room. This I command yinz.

Have a read of the other three commandments for watching baseball in Pittsburgh.

A pox on ye if ye disobey them.





A little more help?

First, you’ll notice the Make Room for Kids thermometer is gone and the reason for that is I took it down ALL BY MYSELF using HTML and widgets and microtechythingamabobiggities and I didn’t break anything.

Hashtag Jedi knight.

Second, yesterday I spent a few hours at the Mario Lemieux Foundation offices in an effort to stalk Mario and steal stuff get the shopping done for this year’s Make Room for Kids phase.

We shopped and shopped and bought and made Amazon Prime smoke a little. On and on we went until we totaled it all up and the adding machine displayed ,”JESUS, TAKE THE WHEEL!”

The issue is that we like to do maintenance. That is we go to the cancer kids and the transplant kids and the other units we’ve already outfitted and we say, “How you doin’? What do you need?”

And they responded. They asked for some new games, because keep in mind the transplant kids are using games that are now four years old. That’s  ARCHAIC in technology years. The cancer kids asked for more games that girls would like to play. The adolescent medicine unit was hoping for some specific Lego games and some extra controllers.

We did our best to fulfill all technology requests from every unit, and we did a pretty good job. But we need a few more things.

– Movies. I already personally purchased a box of movies for the units, but we need lots more and I’m hoping you’ll buy one or two. They will be divided between every unit, because I’d like to get some newer movies for the cancer, transplant, and frequent flier kids too.

– The transplant kids requested a Leap Pad 2 for the younger transplant patients. We took care of that. But we need some games for these kiddos to play, so I’ve put those on the Wish List too.

Maybe you couldn’t donate before. Maybe you hate PayPal but worship at the altar of Amazon Prime. If you want to pitch in, just click here to be taken to the Wish List. Your purchases from the Wish List will be shipped directly to the Mario Lemieux Foundation. They’ll unpack ‘em, kiss ‘em, virtually hug you, and then hand them off to the kiddos on install day in April.

Thanks, guys! I can always count on you to help us help our city’s sick kids.

Group hug.





Random n’at

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1. I’ll be taking the thermometer down tomorrow, but you can still donate if you want to be part of this year’s effort to bring gaming to three units within Children’s Hospital.  After tomorrow, I’ll tell Woy, “Hey. I tried to take the thermometer off the sidebar and I think I screwed something up with [fingerquotes] widgets because I accidentally deleted my blog.”

Also, it was reader Brian who won the Pirates prize pack. I’m delivering it to him today!

2. Speaking of the Pirates, they are doing just fantastic this preseason because this is the year, and you’re like, “Last year was the year, Ginny.” And I’m all, “Last year was the year for a winning season. This year is the year for the … WORLD SERIES.”

Let me believe, you dream crusher and spirit squasher and hope hater.

3. Found by the P-G’s fantastic Andrew McGill, Pittsburgh as a Tolkien-esque map print, for sale on Etsy:

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Probably for sure 100% maybe going in this year’s Yinzer Holiday Gift Guide.

4. Also, Andrew pointed out that Bill Peduto had a scheduled 30-minute phone call with Pittsburgh rapper Mac Miller not too long ago.

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Because why not?

5. This happened way back on Christmas and I forgot to post it, but I must. A photo of a driver fleeing a Parkway East crash.

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Men of Earth, pull up your pants.

6. My self-united bestie Matt Lamanna discovered a new dinosaur, called it “the chicken from hell” and the national media is enthralled.

For a Tyrannosaurus rex looking for a snack, nothing might have tasted quite like the “chicken from hell.”

That’s one way Matt Lamanna describes Anzu wyliei, the species of dinosaur that he and fellow paleontologists unveiled Wednesday.

It’s not the only way, though. Feathered demon also works, which is why Anzu — derived from Sumerian mythology — was chosen as a name. Or you could characterize it, as Lamanna also told CNN, as a 600-pound cross between an ostrich and a velociraptor. And it’s “pretty damn close” to looking like the 6-foot-tall turkey a child famously referred to in the movie “Jurassic Park,” except a lot stranger and meaner looking.

Sounds cuddly.

7. Pittsburghers text while driving more than any other city in Pennsylvania, including those bastards suffering their lives away in Philadelphia.

I’m just going to say this to you if you feel you must send a text while driving:

“Siri, send a message to [name].”

“What would you like to say to [name]?”

“I’m on my way be there in five minutes.”

“Would you like me to send the message now?”

“Read it to me.”

“Your message to [name] says, ‘I’m on my way. Be there in five minutes.’ Would you like me to send it?”

“Yes.”

“Okay. I sent your message.”

You honestly never need to look at your phone while driving if you have an iPhone. Just talk to Siri.

Unless you’re my husband, whose accent Siri just cannot figure out.

“Siri, send a message.”

“David, say focus for me.”

8. This is so cool. Reader Zachary discovered that if you do street view on Market Square and then drop yourself right in the center of the Square, Google Maps will go from present day Market Square to the old Market Square when the road went right down the middle.

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I had fun poking around.

9. Here’s another cool pic, sent by Jarrett Rathke, taken by his father Bob Rathke in 1960. Derailed incline:

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STUFF. OF. NIGHTMARES.

10. I wrote a bunch of stuff:

“Five Words We Should Never Use Again. Literally.”

“In fact, a quick search of social media has users describing their coffee, hair and “day at school” as epic. You know what? Unless Barack Obama, Bono and Justin Timberlake were there to lead your trig class in the Funky Chicken before handing out giant bags of cash, I promise your school day wasn’t even in the same hemisphere as epic.”

 ”Shock. Horror. A Few People Accidentally Got Parking Tickets Downtown.”

They used “about half a dozen” to mean five because no one cares about five cars, but you can fool people into caring if it’s “about half a dozen” cars. For the same reason, you’re more likely to pay $19.99 than you are to pay $20 for something. For the same reason you won’t say, “I ate about half a dozen cookies” but will instead say, “I ate only five cookies.” It’s psychology. Or persuasive semantics. Or a sick cookie addiction brought on by those enablers at the Girl Scouts of America.

“The Story Behind Google’s Mysterious Happy Birthday Window.”

Perhaps you recognize it as the corner window from the second story of the old Wallace Building in East Liberty that recently was transformed into residential space. It’s painted with “Happy B-Day, Julia” — a sentiment that remained on the window for almost 10 years and became a sort of a public art display for those who strolled past.

That post. You gotta read the comments. Bunch of people lost their shit. And not in the good way. One chick on Twitter was so unhappy with me, she even posted that she would “stab that bitch.”

Happy reading!






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