Dropping the f-bomb – spreading the word

Social media has significantly changed the fabric of our society and a recent “slip of the lip” in which the f-bomb was dropped on air by New York news anchor Ernie Anastos provides a great illustration of the power of social media.

In case you hadn’t heard, Ernie coined the phrase, “Keep f#&*ing that chicken” (KFTC) during a live broadcast of local news.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdnXYWSa56w[/youtube]

The video was uploaded to YouTube multiple times and this version has garnered over 2 million views in less than a week.  The new catch phrase “hit” the Urban Dictionary five days later.  You can get it on a T-shirt or a mug -just in time for holiday gift giving. 😉

Within a week of airing, the phrase has officially become part of the American vernacular. My favorite definition:

Expression, 21th century American English

1) An expression to encourage one to continue with an undesirable or menial task.

Steve: I have ton of paperwork to do.

Ernie: Keep f#%&ing that chicken.

Live television has always been fun to watch – because you never know when a slip of the lip may occur. However, Ernie Anastos is not the FIRST television news anchor to drop an f-bomb during a live broadcast.  What makes this “news worthy” is the speed and ease with which this “news” has traveled illustrates the depth and breadth of the impact of social media on our society.

Think about it – if Ernie had uttered that phrase on air even five short years ago – it couldn’t have traveled this fast and this far this easily. Sure, a few Fox news viewers in the local market would have been amused – but the story probably would have ended there.

Think about the difficulty in distributing the video of this “faux paus” even five years ago.  Theoretically, it would have taken a few weeks to reach the likes of Eric Bauman -creator of Ebaum’s World – – one of the first “funny video” sites on the web.   Then, Eric would have uploaded the video to his server and his audience would have viewed it – and it probably would have ended there.  A few thousand views – a few thousand belly laughs- and the phrase would have become an obscure inside joke for a select group.

Fast forward to the “new” world of social media.  A news anchor drops the f-bomb on air and an alert viewer records the slip and uploads the video to YouTube.  Almost immediately, Gawker picks it up.   A day later, the Huffington Post blog “reports” on the slip. The Gothamist calls it an “irresistible catch phrase” and reports that Anastos has not be disciplined for dropping the barnyard based f-bomb.  Two million views on YouTube is just the beginning.  The story is multiplying exponentially online and offline and a catch phrase is being born.

This is the “power” of social media.  Fifteen years ago – television was an all powerful information “gate keeper” as were radio stations and newspapers.  Fifteen years ago – if you weren’t in the NYC area – you would have missed this story.   Fifteen years ago – if you wanted to communicate on a national level – you either had to have a more than a few producers and editors agreeing your message needed to be heard.  If you didn’t have that – you needed to have a LOT of cash to buy air time to distribute your message.

Today – the keys to the information lock have been freely distributed to everyone with internet access.   Got something to say?  Create a video with the web cam built into your laptop.  Then upload it quickly and easily to YouTube – and a couple of hundred of other online video sharing sites while you’re at it.  Tag it and then blog about it and wait to see if it “connects” with people.

The real “magic” is that ANYONE can do this now.  Information distribution is not just the job of geeks and it’s not limited to professional journalists.  Technology has provided the tools so ANYONE can now share information – freely and easily.

There’s something about the KFTC that “connected” with people.  It is naughty (there’s no doubt an FTC fine was levied on the station)- and it’s catchy.   While it’s not telling a customer service story or creating a social media shit storm like Dave Carroll did – it’s still connecting in a powerful way.  The difference between now and then – the traditional information gatekeepers aren’t dictating the path this story is taking – the “everyman” is.

Comments

  1. says

    On the one hand, I agree, this demonstrates the power of social media. On the other hand, this is a juicy piece – so naturally became extremely viral – not so sure milder pieces of info would receive the same exposure.

  2. Kathy says

    Betsy – now you too can fling “KFTC” around at your next networking event and show how “cool” you are! 🙂

    Amelia – thanks for the view from the “other” side of the pond. Let us know if it reaches “civilization” or if it stays confined to the US.

    Mentors – Welcome to the conversation!

    Vered – I agree that this is an “exceptionally” juicy tidbit. Less dramatic pieces so take longer to build up that head of steam. However, it does a GREAT job of illustrating how social media’s ease of use is changing the way information travels.

    Jannie – yes, the look on the co-anchor’s face is priceless! It’s like she’s the only one who realized what just happened!!

  3. says

    Hi Kathy,

    I find it amazing how stuff can travel so fast on social media sites. Just last night I was “watching Twitter” trying to get news on the tsunami and as fast as I could read, new tweets were coming in. It wasn’t until hours later they carried the same news on TV.
    .-= Barbara Swafford´s last blog ..SEO and Blogging – Keeping It Simple =-.

  4. Kathy says

    Twitter’s claim to fame is spreading news instantaneously. The speed of the dissemination of information is probably the most important aspect of social media. I learned about Micheal Jackson’s death via Facebook of all places – hours before it was confirmed by the “traditional” media.

  5. Tom says

    First time visiting this blog, really interesting stuff about Anastos. It seems ironically funny to me that the ‘FTC’ would penalize the broadcaster of the ‘KFTC’ phrase. While I actually think it would be the FCC that levied a fine, the FTC makes for a better story. And I’m sure there’s a place for KFC in there too. What is PETA’s stand on all of this? Poor chicken! Have you ever been called a chicken? Don’t admit it here, we might get the idea Ernie Anastos was talking about you. Gotta run, think my chicken is calling.

  6. Kathy says

    Tom – I think you’re right – I think it should be the FTC. I’m guilty of “repeating” the reporting error. Good thing I don’t call myself a journalist in ANY sense of the word! 🙂

    Too funny about PETA – I’m sure they’ll be in there swinging as well once they catch wind of this!