The reporter isn't and should almost never be the story. Or try hard not to be, no matter how much "personal brand" work our social media experts tell us is essential to survive the tornado of change that's tearing up our old ideas.
Most journalists know someone who knows someone they could contact if they wanted to hack into phones. I've never hired a hack to hack. But in the British tabloid world, competition for scandalous scoops is much more cutthroat than it is here.
Let's say your spouse sends you a dirty picture. It doesn't matter if you both like it: officially, you're violating the Terms of Service of most software companies, and they can remove the offending image.
Valentine's Day came early last week for flesh-and-blood reporters from U.S. networks, who flung themselves into the joyous mosh pit, soaking in the love like a kindergartner who gets the most V-Day cards in his class.
The more the WikiLeaks info is made public, the more people absorb it into their understanding of how things works. And the less power it will have. The back fence chatter and double-dealing will go on as it always has.
In our hysterically sharing but existentially unsatisfying social world, thousands of "Friends" or a mayor's badge from a local bar can't necessarily answer the bigger contextual questions of your life and where it fits in the grand scheme.
You can't have a Barack Obama without a Sarah Palin. Rachel Maddow, meet the ubiquitous Bill O'Reilly. They're all the spawn of the same dynamic, an expanding new reality where anything is possible and nothing is predictable.
Everyone's a critic in the digital mosh pit. But the venerable magazine Mother Jones was accused last week of "retweeting rape." So what really happened? Is a "rape feed" something we shouldn't do, just because it hasn't been done before?