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”.