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The Pope opening a Twitter feed? That's not news

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Nov 29, 2012

If you’ve checked the news recently, on any site other than Catholic World News, you’ve probably read that Pope Benedict is opening a Twitter account. This morning when I plugged “pope” and “twitter” into a Google news search, I received 68,000 results, most of then very recent. The Vatican has called a press conference for December 3 to talk all about the Pope’s tweets.

So why isn’t CWN covering the story? Because it’s not news.

And why isn’t it news? For two reasons. First, the story isn’t new at all; it’s nearly 18 months old. Second, the story isn’t really true.

First, the Pope isn’t going to open a Twitter account. The Vatican news services opened an account in 2011, and the Pope sent his first tweet in June of that year. Within a matter of days the Pope had 50,000 followers on Twitter. That was news at the time, and CWN covered it. During this past Lent, the Vatican used the Pope’s account to send out daily excerpts from his Lenten message. CWN covered that, too.

Second, the Pope himself isn’t going to spend much time tweeting. He’ll now have a personal account, rather than sharing with other Vatican news agencies. But can you really imagine the Holy Father bent over an iPhone, thumbs flying, chuckling to himself as he thinks of a witty reply to his critics? No; the Pope doesn’t even use a computer—he writes longhand—and anyway he has better things to do with his time. The material posted on the Pope’s Twitter account will come the same way those Lenten tweets came: from someone on the Vatican staff, selecting short quotes from statements the Pope has already made public.

There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a good use of the social media—a good way to attract new readers for the Pope’s work. By all means sign up to follow the Pope’s Twitter feed, as soon as the Vatican discloses the “handle” for his personal site. You’re sure to find good material there. Encourage your friends to do the same.

Enjoy the Pope’s Twitter feed. Welcome the Pope’s Twitter feed. Just don’t tell us that the Pope’s Twitter feed is news.

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