Yesterday’s Media Communications Lecture turned out to be the most interesting yet, not least because we all got the distinct feeling that James wasn’t supposed to be taking the lecture, but if that’s the case, he did a terrific job of improvisation.
Another reason it worked was it’s brevity. Probably about 45 minutes long.
But the subject matter helped. As background to ‘Media Studies 2.0’ James taked about the rise of certain social networks.
He took a hand count yesterday, and based on this admittedly imprecise poll surmised that while Facebook has far more users (maybe twenty fold) than Twitter, the latter has far more influence.
It seems that many of the opinion formers (and James quoted Stephen Fry’s response to the repugnant Jan Moir piece on Stephen Gately) prefer to use Twitter over Facebook, and according to his presentation –which I’d love to see supporting or disproving data– it’s because many journalists in particular follow Twitter.
What he hasn’t followed through on to on is why they have embraced Twitter despite Facebook having maybe twenty times as many users; he suggests that journalists have embraced social networking in a desperate attempt to find easy news stories.
He concluded that because journalists tend to use Twitter, part of the reason is the ‘I’m twittering’ becomes a message in itself — so they are creating the story, rather than reporting it.
I agree with that, but his implication that they seem to have picked Twitter almost at random over Facebook falls short of reality.
Given that most old-style journos are reluctant to embrace the new media at all, where they do they tend to stick to one network. With Twitter limiting its character count, it’s much easier to write ‘pieces’ to export from Twitter than to import into it — a url, or title and url don’t have the same impact as a self-contained phrase.
and I suggest that Twitter lends itself more to snappy headlines through the discipline of an upper limit of one hundred and forty characters. This more closely replicates the snappy headlines favoured by tabloid newspapers — and to an extent by our soundbite society….