Late last night a message from one of my local mom groups trilled on my cell phone. It simply read, "How long until this gets deleted?" Attached to the note was a link to a tweet from our local Fox affiliate newscaster, Joyce Evans.
"Thought "Breaking Bad" was hot last Sunday? @FOX29philly See who's breakin' bad in SW Philly leavin' 6 people SHOT - Tonite at Ten!"
Almost twenty hours later, and not only has Joyce not deleted the tweet but she has defended it, saying, "Last tweet NOT AST [sic] ALL A JOKE. Very real life drama was the point as oppose to one that end on tv. That was my point."
Instantly her shocking and insensitive Breaking Badtweet garnered its own hashtag and a rush of #JoyceEvansTweets started flooding into my Twitter stream. No one is surprised by a reporter giving a tease to the evening news, but I think everyone was blown away that a newscaster could trivialize something as horrifying as six people being shot, and link it to last week's Breaking Bad finale frenzy.
Joyce is an award-winning journalist who has been with Fox 29 since 1996. I have loved her in-depth reports on Alzheimer's. These reports were so well done that they earned her a Mid-Atlantic Emmy Award. She was also named Broadcast Journalist of the Year by the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists in 2008. She is not a bumbling Ron Burgundy-type from a farce like Anchorman.
Related: 10 rules of Facebook etiquette everyone should know
What I think happened here was a complete misunderstanding of social media and what part, if any, pop-culture should play within news events. Being titillating in blurbs to encourage people to tune into the news at eleven is nothing new. Bringing this kind of titillation online is also not new. Anchors from Anderson Cooper on CNN to the entire team at 60 Minutes use social media to encourage followers to tune in.
Where things sour is when there seems to be a complete disregard for the human element behind the story within the news.
Last night 40 to 50 shots were fired in Philadelphia. Six men were shot. One victim died, one victim is still in critical condition in the hospital, and the remaining four victims are stable. Philadelphia Police Capt. George Fuchs shares, "Some were shot in the leg, some were shot in the arm, some were shot in the calf. One guy is shot in the chest. They range in the age from 18 to 23, young males."
This isn't Breaking Bad. This is bad. This is horrible. This is tragic.
Joyce made a mistake with her tweet. I am hoping she has an epiphany and turns this into a teachable moment.
What would you suggest Joyce do next?
Image Credit: My Fox Philly
-By Dresden Shumaker
For 7 things you should NEVER say to your boss, visit Babble!
MORE ON BABBLE
16 common pieces of job advice you shouldn't listen to
11 things you never knew about "Breaking Bad"
7 things you need to avoid saying at work