In Septembers issue of the Monocle magazine Robert Bound wrote an interesting piece on the use of Twitter in the news media profession. The churn going on in the sector is quite interesting as an old guard appear to want to keep some sense of “professionalism” with it’s exclusionary mode whilst struggling to keep up with the clash of new ways of connecting. Monocle is itself caught up in this dilemma with the Editor in Chief Tyler Brule refusing to engage with the Twitter environment.
Channel Four news come out well with Deputy Editor Martin Fewell encouraging journalists to connect with their audience. Jon Snow is quoted as saying that whilst journalists are the ears and eyes for citizens this does not mean they are a neutral observer. But he does suggest that “Opinion is different from emotion.” Ever the dilemma between thinking and feeling, I would suggest that any attempt to imply an opinion as free of emotion is just whistling in the wind.
It is interesting that the free wheeling nature of Twitter set up against the “professional” environment has necessitated the establishment to formulate rules. Channel Four and probably many other organization give some guidance and framework to what is and is not acceptable. That very framing would appear to be a cultural clash between the very formal and informal nature of the two environments. Battle joined.
On a wider perspective the article does note the enormous difficulty for journalists to say anything that might be misconstrued as pro- or anti- any group. Such is the fact that the claim of impartiality noted above for journalistic endeavours seems pretty unlikely.
Moving on to the question of what the consumer/customer wants Robert Bound writes:
“The dialogue-not-the-monologue is what networks think audiences want. It might be truer to say that audiences now expect conversation rather than really want it. But it’s a further nail in the coffin of major news networks if they want to be part of the conversation but won’t enter into it in an authentic way, pulling back their journalists from engaging with critics, not allowing the swirling world of social media to moderate itself, imposing a sliding scale of limits on involvement, not really trusting the people to which they give “editor” status.”
It seems very much the journo’s approach to [still] conclude he knows best what the audience expects. That may well be evidence of “opinion” but my “emotion” (!) says dialogue is here to stay in this field. Additionally how do you deliver in an “authentic” way if you have not understood the moral, social and philosophical dynamics of how you “engage”?
The magazine’s conclusion to a very interesting article was:
“Somethings’s [sic] got to give. Experienced anchors, editors and correspondents with decades of experience from the front line shouldn’t be made to play the same game as early-adopter tech buffs, the PR crowd and kids; a little distance can be a good thing. While social media can be useful as a news input when streamlined and refined, these channels are currently doing the networks more harm than good. Broadcasters should focus on their job: serving their still abundant audiences with breaking news and intelligent analysis rather than following fashion.”
Quite an amusing conclusion given that Monocle is very much a magazine about “fashion” developments whether it is in: Global Affairs, Business, Culture or Design.