Twitter feedback to inapt USA TODAY headline highlights media dynamics

USA TODAY edited a story on the Thor sequel’s victory against The Best Man Holiday, a sequel that received more box office attention than analysts expected, multiple times Sunday after negative Twitter feedback.

USA TODAY possesses a more engaging Twitter following than most due to its interactive habits and today was no exception.

While it is true Hollywood was historically and often still perceived as predominately white, Twitter followers like CNN Political Analyst Marc Lamont Hill immediately responded to explain why the headline was inappropriate.

USA TODAY’s Standards Editor Brent Jones responded to concerns through an email on the concerns.

“From what I’ve learned, the original headlines were an attempt to capture that films with black casts have done exceptionally well at the box office this year. Good intentions here, but, unfortunately, the story’s message didn’t translate well on the Twitter headline, so editors revised it. Readers who saw the original headline had good reason to voice concerns — and there are some valid points noted in the comments conversation.  Thanks again for flagging the issue with me.”

Digital media’s impact on society ever since  the technological change of the linear model of communication to a more interactive or transactional  model is evident. But concerns and debates, as noted by award-winning blogger and stand-up comedian Elon James White, continue to focus on reasons for why the publication grouped Best Man with Fruitvale station and The Butler under a “race-themed” header.

Others like actor Malcolm-Jamal Warner — who probably knows if Cosby is race-themed incidentally since he worked with Bill Cosby in television– and CNN Analyst Jason Johnson contributed to the dialogue not long after Hill’s perspective.

What follows became an interesting, yet sometimes hilarious cultural discussion on media and what can be regarded as blackness, whiteness and — albeit implicitly — the latter’s constructed invisibility or normalcy in media. Reactions vary, but many took shape under twitter hashtags like #USATODAYBREAKINGNEWS, to provide hilarious and even thoughtful commentary.

Journalism is an evolving art in the digital media era, and it shows to possess a strong presence when mistakes occur. This just proves that USA TODAY’s marketing team has done its’ work to reach every demographic. This also pays off for defenders of transparency, who in most cases require the same sort of promises from their peers.

If anything, USA TODAY’s response could resolve any concerns and lead as an example for other news dailies.

As far as coverage of media and race is concerned, perhaps reporters will remember these sentiments in addition to Forbes contributor Scott Mendelson’s reports on the Friday and Weekend Box Office.

The second lesson of the weekend is yet another one that should have been learned by now: Yes, black people go to the movies. We all like to act surprised over and over when Tyler Perry scores again and again or when Kevin Hart’s Laugh At My Pain or Let Me Explain break out in limited release. It’s well-past time we noticed that black audiences like seeing themselves onscreen. More importantly, and this is arguably the key, they really like seeing black characters onscreen in starring roles in films that don’t necessarily revolve around racially-based adversity. When Hollywood bothers to make films like that, African-American audiences generally show up in relatively solid numbers, with periodic blockbuster debuts like this one.

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