Barely more than an hour has passed since the House passed a controversial $700 billion bailout package, and the buzz on Google News,Digg and Twitter (Did Sarah Palin help name these websites?) is billowing faster than I can update.

Keeping up isn’t easy. It is oddly entertaining, if you’re into black humor.

Here are a few of my favorite tweets within the past 30 seconds or so:
•    scholvin: Anyone who pointed to the market collapse last week as evidence we needed a bailout: come to my house for an a__-whipping (I changed that a-word, not the tweeter)
•    bketelsen: Note to all my elected representatives: You are on notice. I hold you responsible for voting YES on this bailout bill. Pork doesn’t fly.
•    dswinney: Dear stock market, with the bailout now in hand, can we now please have at least ONE week without histrionics? Thank you. That is all.

Well, hey: it is a bit less depressing than listening to cable news and at least the tweeters are straight-forward about editorializing. I just checked CNN (on television, not the CNN website) and caught a teaser for House speaker’s pre-vote comments.  The caption under her picture: “Pelosi’s Tune.” I don’t have the heart to check the other channels.

When I went online this afternoon I expected to see mainstream media sites leading the charge with breaking news. I figured the tweeters, diggers, bloggers, vloggers and ploggers would follow with reaction.  They are reacting, but I’ve seen more, too.

I’m pretty sure I saw a congressman reporting his vote on Twitter. (Site moves so fast, though, I’ve lost track of him)  A number of tweeters are reporting on the stock market movement. I saw one who wrote that he’d been trying to check vote counts on the bail out, but can’t get through to the website. This stuff sounds like deadline news reporting to me.

Compared to tweeters, the media sites seem almost glacial. I’m hoping that is because reporters are fact-checking before going to press—uh, I mean screen? If that is the case, I don’t mind. Let the tweeters zoom ahead. Just get it right.

I do mind this: while tweeters are moving into deadline reporting, mainstream media outlets – far too many of them, anyway — are mixing opinion and commentary seamlessly into fact without even nodding toward transitions.

Personally, I enjoy the new media foray into news gathering, and I’m sure those financial writers on mainstream news sites don’t always mind the occasional head up from tweeters and bloggers.

But when people who are supposed to be reporting fact can’t keep their opinions to themselves we might as well get all our news from amateurs. True, we won’t know whether the tweeters and bloggers are reporting or going on a tangent, but at least their lapses will be more forgivable. Talking news heads? Yours aren’t.

OK, cable news folks, can we now please have at least ONE week without histrionics?

Thank you. That is all.

–posted by Karen Blakeman

Originally posted October 5, 2008 at PolicyByBlog

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