Extra! Extra! or Twitter?

April 6th, 2009 by Jon Clements


Does Management Today’s editor, Matthew Gwyther, have seriously Luddite tendencies or an incisive point when it comes to Twitter? 

Aside from believing Twitter is a “tedious fad we would do well to pull the plug on”, he was singularly unimpressed with its use by news organisations as way of reporting the G20 shenanigans in the City of London last week. He called it “an unwholesome mess”, yearning for a return to “day-after-the-event” news consumption of a “page of newsprint”. Well, while Management Today lives on in hard copy, the printed news product is under increasing pressure and traditional news sources are looking more and more to the web.

And despite Gwyther’s misgivings, the Guardian’s first real foray into front line reporting via Twitter was felt by Janine Gibson, editor of guardian.co.uk to have been a resounding success, as she recounts in the publication’s latest media podcast. The beauty of using Twitter to report, she mentions, is being able to show the many strands of a story that don’t necessarily evolve in a linear fashion. After all, the G20 protests were no more or less about smashed windows than they were about peaceful demonstration – they were many things at once, and – to steal Gwyther’s phrase – Twitter was able to help convey the messiness of that.

EConsultancy’s Chris Lake, despite being a self-confessed “Internet fiend”, takes a phlegmatic view of Gwyther’s dismissal of Twitter: “Some things just don’t work so well on Twitter, which is obviously limited by 140 characters and is no place to tell a story”. But he draws a useful parallel with the Sky News coverage, which was lo-fi to say the least.

As one of the comments posted on the Management Today blog post points out, Twitter could well be a fad; but the parent that spawned it – social media – seems very much “here to stay”.

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

4 Responses to “Extra! Extra! or Twitter?”

  1. Rob Permeable Says:

    I’ve come across a few journo and (admittedly more scarce) PRO types who seem to be stubbornly rejecting the power of social media / twitter / facebook. And in this year’s PR Week Power Book, Alastair Campbell admits he is a real latecomer to all things social media.

    To me, it seems a little reactionary kick-back to more old old school – and less democratic – forms of communication; and dare I say a little defensiveness on the part of the journalist profession as a whole. It’s understandable as regional and national journos face redundancies and bloggers and ‘citizen journalists’ are encouraged to feed news agencies the ‘real story’, that some journos feel a little prickly about twitter et al kind of encroaching on a discipine that they – after all – have years of experience in.

    But I’d urge them to brush up, and reclaim the tools of their trade – investigative journalism, networking and digging for stories. No room for complacency right now! Take a look at this slide courtesty of Globe & Mail’s Matthew Ingram http://bit.ly/qbeJq which kind of answers the question “why should journalists be using twitter”. It really should be one of the many tools in all out toolboxes, as I discuss here: http://bit.ly/yl1F2


  2. mark harrison Says:

    The wave of Twitter / social media / social networking non believers amongst the journalistic profession seems to be growing. Just like the people who would not believe the Earth was round (and the flat Earth society will never be convinced), their refusal to believe that social media is not only here to stay but that it will become THE communication tool for Generation Y is not only mis-guided but also foolish.

    It appears to me that fear of what they don’t understand is driving their anti-social media stance and the sooner they accept the inevitability of new digital media, the sooner they can adopt, adapt and participate, or get left behind like Betamax.

  3. Jon Clements Says:

    Thanks for your comment.
    PR Media Blog’s friend and journalist at the Manchester Evening News, Sarah Hartley, has some interesting insights into this, and inspired not inconsiderable debate.

    However, I must say my “Journalist” group on Tweetdeck is growing by the day.

  4. Jon Clements Says:

    And here’s the link to Sarah’s post:


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