If you haven’t already heard, pop star Justin Bieber was arrested early Thursday morning in Miami following a drag race with R&B singer Khalil. Bieber also failed a field sobriety test delivered by Miami police officers and was taken back to the Miami Beach police station, according to the Miami Dade-Police spokesman Sgt. Bobby Hernandez. In an interview with WSVN in Southern Florida, Hernandez said that the 19-year old would be transported to Miami-Dade county jail.
So far, this has been one of the morning’s most circulated stories. I completely understand the high profile nature of Bieber and his antics make for easy reporting. The above paragraph, like many of the stories being run, is just a regurgitation of what happened at 4:09 a.m., with the occasional breaking news—Bieber admits to having marijuana, alcohol, and prescription pills in his system at the time of arrest (thanks ABC News!)
Scrolling down my twitter feed over the past two hours, I counted. 22 tweets about the singer’s arrest from news outlets alone, but I also noticed who’s tweeting. I expect the entertainment news reporters to pick up on it, as is their job. But when I re-counted, I realized that 12 of those tweets came from ABC News alone. If you check out ABC’s twitter handle, where they claim followers can “see the whole picture with @ABC News”, since the arrest took place, very few tweets have not been about Bieber.
This must mean that today, the only newsworthy event has been Bieber’s arrest.
Oh wait. That can’t be right, because plenty of other news sources are churning out stories that don’t involve a Canadian teen making poor decisions. Boston.com ran a story on it, but it was an AP piece that was run once, tweeted once, and let be. The New York Times and NPR chose not to even concern themselves with the story, likely because of any thing happening anywhere else in the world is more important that a pop star getting drunk and racing his friend in sports cars while his entourage blocks off the street.
Now, I don’t mean to harp on ABC for their decision to run the story. After all, on their website, the story is tucked away in the entertainment section, popping up in the sidebar as the most popular story on the site at the moment. They just happen to be tweeting it on their news account because they know they will get retweets and hits for it. Entertainment news is entertainment news, and while I may not choose to follow the on-goings of celebrities on my own time, I recognize that apparently most of America does.
But at what point are we taking breaking news—and the Internet—too far? Currently, the Miami Police dept. is live-tweeting the arrest process, including mug shots and the arrest report. Apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks the police dept.’s behavior is distasteful.
Am I excusing Bieber’s behavior? Absolutely not. The kid has been getting into shenanigans every time he turns around and never seems to be held accountable. And the Miami police tweeting mug shots? Well, they would probably have been released to the public anyhow via E! or TMZ.
But the arrest reports are another thing entirely. (I included the tweet, though blocking out Bieber’s address.) As Lauren Cox replied, now both musicians’ home addresses have been leaked onto the internet. Interestingly enough, the Miami Beach police dept. has tweeted arrest reports before, but in the case of clearing up mis-information being spread by TMZ. Similarly, there were several tweets on Feb. 12, 2013 regarding a BOLO for Alberto Morales, following the stabbing of a Miami-Dade police officer. Those included a mugshot, but it made sense since Morales was wanted.
So why make the change for these celebrities? One might defend the police dept.’s actions by claiming to be simply distributing news, but its normal activity includes tweeting about traffic accidents and replying to inquiries. One can assume whomever is tweeting is using the incident as an opportunity to increase their follower count. (Miami-Dade is weighing in at 8,292 followers FYI.) Why else would they have included Khalil and Bieber’s twitter handles?
Look MDPD, I understand we’re all trying to up our twitter game. And Bieber was the first person to ever achieve a perfect Klout score. So, logically, it follows that tweeting about Bieber would increase your influence on the internet, right? Maybe. But why do you even care about the internet? Tweeting his mug shot won’t actually make you a better department, your officers will. So why don’t you stop releasing private information and get back to celebrating the hard work your detectives and officers do every day?