Archive for the 'People wot get their mugs of the telly' Category

Who wags who?

Martin Moore’s discussion around the death of Ian Tomlinson and the subsequent investigation and unearthing of footage by the Guardian raises some interesting points about the place ‘old media (for want of a better phrase) have today:

“Would the ‘truth’ surrounding Mr Tomlinson’s death have come to light had it not been sought out by journalists, and then published as the lead story in the Guardian? Perhaps, but I don’t think so.”

Then there’s the Damian McBride email scandal that may have broken in the blogosphere but still needed the traditional media to completely take it into the scandal it has now become. Would McBride have resigned if the accusations had just appeared on Guido Fawkes’ blog and nowhere else [1]?

But, by the same token, these stories wouldn’t have become as big had it not been for the work of social media, with videos of Tomlinson and alleged police brutality at the G20 protests circulating around the internet. And in the midst of this, the Guardian showed how a mainstream media’s website spread this using social media tactics.

Then, on a lighter news story, Pete Cashmore muses at Mashable on Ashton Kutcher’s passing of the 1 million Twitter followers mark:

“And yet this assumes that social media needs mainstream media to justify its existence: that without its blessing social media is not confirmed. But mainstream media is increasingly becoming an echo of social media, allowing YouTube’s masses to define what matters (Susan Boyle, the Domino’s Pizza scandal) and mirroring that public sentiment.

For now, Twitter needs mainstream media more than mainstream media needs Twitter. But Ashton has an audience of 1 million at his fingertips: how much longer will the talent need its mainstream middleman?”

Is this a case of the tail wagging the dog or the dog wagging the tail? Or just a case of having a double-headed, double-tailed canine?

Chris Applegate makes an interesting comparion between the coverage of Hillsborough twenty years ago and the coverage of the G20.

Back in the 1980s, it was much easier for the police (with a little help from The Sun) to get out their version, deflecting blame and smearing the innocent. Today, the police’s account of the G20 was quickly contradicted by the wealth of material available. One wonders if the families of the 96 would still be campaigning for justice if Hillsborough had happened today.

At the moment, both social media and traditional media are probably wagging each other. The footage of Ian Tomlinson would probably have gained traction without the Guardian, but the newspaper’s work meant it was disseminated much quicker. McBride’s emails may well have just stuck to the Westminster gossip blogs  if the papers hadn’t run with it [2].

Certainly with significant news stories that originate in niche communities, then it probably does require a helping hand from the traditional press to take it that step further. But the lines are getting increasingly narrow between the two.

If you have an interest in an area, mainstream or niche, you’ll probably hear the news before it makes it to the mainstream media, but it’s also never been easier for journalists to keep tabs on what’s getting the internet buzzing – and if that’s beyond the usual geek or early adopter buzz, there’s a good chance it’s a story that more people will be interested in.

And then you’ve got somebody like Susan Boyle, who was on a primetime show like Britain’s Got Talent and got the traditional media and the social media talking, and social media helped turn Susan Boyle into a global superstar, which, in turn, became a story for traditional media.

My brain hurts.

Both sides still need each other still, but it remains to be seen for how much longer. Journalists are still gatekeepers, sorting the wheat from the chaff in the internet world, albeit with no small amount of help from places like Twitter. And when they do manage to come together, like the Guardian’s excellent work with the Ian Tomlinson story, then it can really take off.

And one final note that’s probably significant in some small way. When news broke that Tomlinson didn’t die of a heart attack, as was originally though, thenews was all over Twitter. But the most retweeted user on this was Krishnan Guru-Murthy, the Channel 4 News anchor.

Like I say, both sides still need each other.

[1] Ok, this is being very simplistic. No blog is an island and that’s one of the joys of the web. If people like what’s blogged or Tweeted, it soon finds its way onto other blogs.

[2] It’s worth remembering that while the likes of Gudio and Iain Dale are seen as influential within Westminster, once you leave this behind, recognition of their names probably diminishes. You can be interested in politics without having heard of either, especially if you don’t spend a great deal of time reading blogs. There is a world beyond the blogs.

Employing your own twit

Literally, ooh, dozens, perhaps handfuls, of people may have gone into shock at the revelation that 50 Cent isn’t keeping it real and has a web person writing his Twitter updates for him.

It does raise an interesting issue though. Many celebs and others – brands, CEOs, etc – are rushing to get onto Twitter (largely, I suspect, because it’s the flavour of the month). It’s a fair bet that more than a few aren’t actually Tweeting themselves but employ somebody to do it.

Does this actually matter? On one hand you could argue that as long as the message is getting out then, then possibly not. It also makes it easier, from a PR point of view, to control said message.

However, I’m not a fan of ghosted Twitter accounts. With brands, it’s a bit easier as you’re speaking as said brand, but it gets trickier when you get into the realms of real people.

If you’re replying as, say, 50 Cent then you’re opening yourself up to having your celebrity misquoted – or rather having words put into their mouth. It also does a disservice to those who follow the official account only to find out it isn’t their hero.

Stephen Fry, Jonathan Ross, Phillip Schofield and many many other celebrities seem to have no problem being themselves on Twitter. If anything, the way they use the service has enhanced their personal brand.

Ultimately, if a celebrity isn’t that keen on the idea of Twitter or doesn’t want to Tweet, it’ll probably do more harm than good if they just pass it over to somebody else. I’d certainly feel uncomfortable in working on a ghosted Twitter account.

As for corporate ‘important people’ Twitter accounts (eg council bosses, company CEOs) ghosted accounts, I’d say, are even more of a no-no. It implies your brand or head honcho or whoever is on Twitter for the sake of being on there and can’t really be bothered.

It’s much like those corporate blogs where the head of the organisation or somebody else in a position of importance either decides they want to blog or get told they should blog. What follows is usually about two posts before they lose interest and make no attempt at engagement. It’s easy to see that being translated onto Twitter.

The only way that this may be acceptable is if the account was set up in the person’s name but it was made clear from the beginning that this was an account for the person’s ‘brand’ rather than the individual themselves.

Transparency, as ever, is the key aspect when you’re dealing with social media.

Ultimately, if whoever it is isn’t into Twittering or blogging or whatever you can’t make them, and it may do more harm to the individual’s brand in the long term that the brief 30 seconds of kudos they’ll get from the online community.

EDIT: Read Write Web ask a similar question.

This may actually be the point I finally shut up about Twitter and journalism

A point, I think, has been reached. Quite where this point sites and what exactly it signifies is perhaps not quite the  issue. But it is a point that has been reached nonetheless.

That point is, as Adam Tinworth says is moving “from something that is used by the social media cognoscenti amongst journalists, to something that is rapidly spreading amongst the more web aware hack.”

Although Twitter’s use as a breaking news source isn’t exactly a new thing [1], with a growing number of users and an increasing number of both journalists and users all over the globe, it’s now reached the point where it’s the first place people are looking when something breaks.

And it’s also now become the norm that newspapers are reporting about the immediacy of breaking news on Twitter, as opposed to treating it as an interesting sideshow. Witness the Telegraph’s very good write up of yesterday’s New York plane crash.

That crash, along with the Mumbai attacks, seems to have convinced sceptical journalists to at least give the service a go. And once journalists try out something new, they’ll write about it, even if only a limited number of people are using it. That’ll then bump up the number of people who give it a go [2].

In the past few days, I’ve seen a serious rise in the number of people I personally know joining Twitter, while the number of people following me has also risen dramatically (I think they’ve nearly doubled already this month), as has our corporate accounts at work.

Having a slew of famous names join as well has also given it credibility. Never mind the sneering articles written about these (although, and I may be along in this, I thought Bryony Gordon’s piece was quite funny), the fact you have such a diverse range of celebs on there shows there’s an appeal across a range of personalities.

Stephen Fry, Robert Llewellyn, Will Carling, and Andy Murray have all helped. And then there’s Jonathan Ross, courting controversy with a few comments, but also quickly becoming the Twitterer’s favourite celebrity.

Ross, will his huge contacts book, has been verifying celebrities as they join Twitter (or don’t), and last night posted photos of him introducing the service to Danny Wallace and Eddie Izzard.

Phillip Schofield, who I think is the first ITV celeb to join, got Tweeting on Monday and has lept straight in, and is already being inundated with plenty of Twitter love. He’s already proving to be a great role model on how to use the service [3].

So, Twitter is finally moving into the mainstream now that it’s moved beyond a curiosity and into a genuinely useful communication tool (not that it wasn’t already). Quite where it goes from here, and how it goes, I have no idea. But it’s going to be fascinating to see how the site develops in the next few months.

And it also means I can probably stop banging on about how and why journalists should use it, because they’re now doing just that. Which will probably come as a relief to everybody.

[1] See the Exeter bomb blast last year.

[2] See also: The Wire. Until a few months ago, the only people I knew who’d actually watched this were Guardian journalists and people who knew Guardian journalists. That sentence hasn’t even been written for comic effect.

[3] And, about half an hour ago, gave me advice on the best organic veg box company to use in London.

Depressingly predictable

The Ahmedinejad Christmas speech caused ‘international offence‘. Granted, he’s not the most tolerant man in the world when it comes to certain sections of society but then neither’s the Pope, and nobody’s stopped him broadcasting his message on Christmas Day.

Funnily enough, those who’ve said this is a cynical grab for ratings probably reckon without the British public’s desire to watch ballroom dancing or Coronation Street as opposed to a somewhat nutty president of a Middle Eastern country.

If it’s been said once it’s been said x number of times, where x probably stands for any number you want it to. Creating a big hoo-hah will give it more publicity than just the initial number of viewers would have done.

You may not agree with him. I don’t. But then I don’t write in and complain every time something I’m not a fan of comes on the TV. Rather than jumping up and down and shouting “Ban it. I don’t like him. Not fair!” why doesn’t somebody actually fire back with a few witty reposites that neatly take apart his arguments. Just a thought, like.

And, as Tim W says, “you’d be hard put to find any Church of England bishop who would disagree with what is said (rather than the man who is saying it or his attitudes or actions outside this particular statement).”

Final word: Sunny from Pickled Politics, who I don’t normally agree with:

“I don’t burn a candle for Ahmedinejad – he is clearly a tyrant and a racist. But there’s two fronts on which I find arguments against this C4 stunt a bit hypocritical.

1) The first is this threat that Channel 4’s funding should be cut or curtailed because of this. BBC News reports:

Conservative MP Mark Pritchard, a member of the all-party media group, said: “Channel Four has given a platform to a man who wants to annihilate Israel and continues to persecute Christians at Christmas time. “This raises serious questions about whether Channel 4 should receive an increased public subsidy for their programmes.”

Criticise Channel 4 all you like, but I find it fundamentally undemocratic that a broadcaster should be threatened financially for doing things the majority don’t like.

I thought these people wanted free speech? After all, MA isn’t saying anything racially inflammatory this time. Should I be burning my license fee in protest everytime the BBC invite Nick Griffin on television?”

Peace on earth and goodwill to all men and all that.

In other news, I got a recipe book for over 400 soups for Christmas. That’s far more exciting.

Hope everybody’s had a safe, happy Christmas. Normal service about where the media’s going and all that jazz, plus a few odds and sods on football teams you’ve never heard of, resumes later.

Perspective

You’re the leader of a country going through an almost unprecedented economic crisis, so naturally the most pressing thing for the Prime Minister to do is let the world know that Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross are “inappropriate and unacceptable”.

Still, it’s nice to know that both Gordon Brown and David Cameron have got their fingers on the pulse of matters of national interest. You know the situation’s gone beyond parody when politicians starts getting involved. Sachsgate would have probably stilled rolled along at a jolly old speed without any ministerial intervention.

Or perhaps I’m the only one who’s just a little bit surprised that an ill-thought out and somewhat puerile, if slightly intermittently amusing, prank call to a pensioner on a radio show that the majority of people who’ve complained probably haven’t actually heard has managed to be front page news for three days.

Like I say, maybe it’s just me.

Does one prank call mean the BBC’s a hotbed of sick and offensive material? Doubtful. Was it funny? Not really. Does it call into question the very existence of the corporation? Probably not. Is there really nothing better to get worked up about? It appears not. We’ve only got a global recession, the US elections, rising fuel bills and other such minor piffles to worry about.

MORE:

(And, given how much I’ve professed to be bored to shit by this all, I feel somewhat ashamed for adding to this post.)

Lucy Mangan, who isn’t usually one of my favourite columnists, actually has a nice explanation of why the prank wasn’t funny. What’s that you say? Sensible analysis? Get outta town.

And Mof’s post at TV Scoop is both funny and sensible analysis? What’s that you say? Fun… oh you get the idea:

“I want to know why this has caused such outrage when everyone merely shrugged or ignored every other telephone prank that’s gone on in the history of TV and radio.

I don’t care how much they’re paid and I don’t care whether anyone likes them or not as those are nothing to do with the matter in hand. Personally, I can take or leave Wossy’s stuff and Russell Brand irritates the shit outta me… but to have them birched in public over some lame-ass prank?

This joke was never meant to be vintage comedy, more, a throwaway segment in a radio show. To judge their entire worth on one piece is like discrediting The Bible because of that part about eating cakes made out of dung.

Should we dig Beadle up and shout at his corpse for all those nasty jokes he played on unsuspecting tax payers?

Fact is, there’s a lot of reactionary bullshit being thrown around and I don’t like it…”

In other news today, at least 160 are dead in an earthquake in Pakistan, while around 50,000 Congolese have now been displaced by the deteriorating internal violence. And the economy’s still fucked.

But hey, that’s now important, just as long as the BBC apologises and sacks the nasty Mr. Ross and Mr. Brand. After that, world peace will break out and the nation’s moral compass will be restored.

Stephen Fry Twitters. Twitter flutters.

This has to be one of the most exciting email titles I’ve ever received: “Stephen Fry is now following you on Twitter.”

Ok, so it may have been an automated email from Twitter, but there’s no doubt that this is the real Stephen Fry following me and, at the last count, 515 others.

After announcing the news on his website earlier today, he’s nearly hit 800 followers as I write this, and has caused a massive stir in the Twitter community. This isn’t just any celebrity – this is Stephen Fry, who has got a devoted online fan following and makes a big effort to interact with his fans.

He’s already had a small impact – anybody who didn’t know he’s on tonight’s Never Mind The Buzzcocks does know and just one small Tweet, with typical self-deprciating humour, has probably boosted viewing figures for the show a bit.

It’s also set the mircoblogging tool buzzing and is currently the topic of conversation, with people equally excited as I was that Stephen Fry is following them. Or begging for him to follow them.

You wonder how many of the fans from his website forum have signed up because he has. And without wanting to sound too hyperbolic, could Stephen Fry be the person responsible for taking Twitter even further into the mainstream? How many will join just to follow him?

Of course Stephen Fry isn’t the only celebrity on Twitter. Andy Murray’s on there as well, providing a small snapshot of his life (which sounds, in all honestly, exactly like you’d expect a young, reasonably level-headed tennis player to sound). There’s probably a few others I don’t know of. But somehow, Stephen Fry really is an A-list celeb on Twitter. And one that will probably interact.

This Tweet from CMRLee probably expresses what many Twitterers are feeling today:

“I’ve never seen anyone joining Twitter to cause as much excitement as @stephenfry. This is my first experience of Twitterstarstrucknes.”

It’ll be interesting to see how his Twitter feed develops. Will it see other celebrities joining? Would it work for other celebrities who’ve got very different personas and fanbases from Stephen Fry?

One thing’s for sure, Stephen Fry can show a lot of other celebrities the way when it comes to using social media online. He could teach a lot of PR people a thing about this as well.

Seesmic and the temple of fandom

Could this be the moment I finally embrace Seesmic to my man boobs? The PR for Indiana Jones have done a bit where Seesmic users could post video questions for Spielberg and the films stars and get an answer. As a marketing tool, it’s a fantastic idea and creates a great buzz from the online community, and more specifically fandom. If, as a teenager, I ever thought there would be a point where I could get to ask Steven Spielberg a question and he’d reply, I’d have been way beyond cloud nine. Probably nearer to cloud 57 or something.

Up to this point, I’d got what Seesmic did and how it could be used, but had no real wish to sign up, partly because this would involve exposing my face to the world and frankly I don’t want to crack anymore computer screens than necessary (I worked in radio for a reason, mmm’kay).

So, as a non-user, I’d only paused to consider how it could be used for PR and journalism purposes and had filed it somewhere in the back of my mind to explore at a later day. This has brought it back firmly to the forefront on my mind (note to self: remember to eat. This shouldn’t be done at the expense of food).

Creating an online buzz is just as important as traditional methods of PR these days and Seesmic could be an important part of this. The fanboy in me would love the chance to get to speak to some of my heroes, even just via video, and as a communication tool it feels a lot more personal than Twitter. Similarly, the chance to put a question direct in video to some of the top bods always quoted in press releases is very tempting, and opens up the company, personalising whatever is being promoted.

Similarly, it’s something any journalist should be looking at with interest. Video blogging is something I’ve always been a little bit skeptical on newspaper sites, but if there’s a conversation going on around a major, or interesting story… now that’s a little more like it. And the fact that many other users are posting comments in their pyjamas may loosen up hacks who’re not used to facing the camera. The potential for engaging directly with your audience is immense and could possibly do more than arbitrary video-for-video’s sake that many traditional media seem so fond of doing online.

Now all I’ve got to do is get beyond my utter dislike (not fear, just an extreme dislike) of seeing my face on screen before I hit the sign-up button.


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Yes, this is my name. And my email. Use it wisely or you're not getting a biscuit with your tea: garyllewellynandrews [at] gmail [dot] com