How Twitter is SAVING not destroying the mainstream press


Comment at end

Or –

13th June 2011

Is Twitter Killing Journalism?

In 140 characters or less –

NO, NO, NO! Quite the opposite –  #journalism, @johnrentoul


If you’re a politics watcher there is an end-times story to which you may subscribe – that social media is killing the mainstream press and journalism as a profession. After all, goes the thinking, we are all journalists now.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  My draft box – in which sit umpteen unfinished tales of political derring-do and other “opinion”, some even based on fact –  is testament to that. As  a Tweeter my attention, my time, if not in a sinister way my mind has been taken over by the Great Twit Tweet in the Ether.  I am no longer a sort of writer-cum-blogger, but have been transmogrified into something far more useless useful and above all something much more transient, if  a little better informed; some of the time. And to add to my growing impotence as a blogger on a narrative around Tony Blair (the original and ongoing point of this blog) my blog post output has fallen in inverse proportion to my tweeting. That may be partly because I do go on a bit when blogging. Or it may be because I DO have another  life. Perhaps David Cameron had it right.


For the political home-based anorak Twitter and Facebook are actually brakes on home-journalism.  Reading Tweet links is the killer.  Apart from slowing down one’s computer as multiple windows open (to be used later!) there is the simple fact that no-one, not even the ubiquitous and unstoppable Tony Blair, has yet managed to work out how to pack more than 24 hours into a day. Thus the unpaid home journalist runs out of time to do much more than link to those paid for their offerings.

If my computer worked as quickly as my brain – oh no it doesn’t ! – I could develop quite a few news items I find through Twitter. For instance:

The appeasers of Ratko Mladic – Surely in the light of Mladic’s trial at The Hague Douglas Hurd and General Rose, both of whom failed to stop the genocide in Srebrenica and both of whom criticised Tony Blair over his intervention in Iraq even as Cameron intervenes in Libya deserve their tails tweaking? Especially today as Cameron intervenes in Libya as Blair did in Kosovo and yet he seems unwilling to follow through on Syria. A deft kick up the backside? For Hurd, Rose and perhaps even Cameron? Unfortunately I haven’t time for “deft”, nor does deft do hypocrisy justice.

But Twitter does do deft – and it does it well, in a headliney, sound-bitey sort of limited way.

There are several leading journalist who DO do deft, twitter-like and mainstream. Among the leading lights is John Rentoul (recent post here pulls no punches on plots).  If a journalist doesn’t use Twitter he/she is losing out. But no journalist, as far as I know, ONLY does Twitter.  Rentoul, like the rest of the pros, uses his Twitter account to point to his own writings and to those of others – some with whom he agrees, some disagrees. In that way journalists add to their list of followers and readers of their main (paid) source of income. No-one pays anyone for tweeting their own material or links.

Those of us online who do not earn a living through journalism but have a worrying addiction to politics have no wish to re-invent the wheel.  So we “retweet” or “mention” such as John Rentoul, or the Spectator‘s Fraser Nelson.


And of course Twitter gives journalists and politicos a chance to have a go at one another in public, such as here –  twitter@campbellclaret –  in Twitterbanter challenging Piers Morgan on Jonathan Rees and phone hacking.

If two journalists are company three quickly becomes a crowd at a spectator sport –

JohnRentoulJohn Rentoul
Piers Morgan tries to change the subject. Alastair Campbell (@campbellclaret) won’t let him

After a while, usually about two minutes, they all join in, wallowing in the blood sport. Talking about blood sports I’m not going to mention the brothers Miliband. Much. Especially when other Tweeters have already done it so well.

This by Harry Cole at the Commentator opines that the Miliband tendency is destroying the Labour party. Of course we mustn’t be naive about this. Many bloggers, especially but not only those who write as well as Mr Cole, have a political axe to grind and usually political affiliations. In this case Mr Cole is the political editor of the Guido Fawkes blog, so that might indicate something.

Still, Harry Cole seems to be consistent in his tweets in his regard for Tony Blair, a perspective measure that Twitter does  provide over time spent reading tweets.  His is a blood-soaked post, but worth a read if only to remind us of the damage caused by “fratricidal” conflict.


“... the Telegraph did what they do best – a slow, painful and deep political assassination. Everyone knew Miliband, and his current Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, conspired for years to oust Tony Blair, while loyal yes-men to Gordon Brown.

Finally here was a still warm cache of written documents that showed just how vicious and calculating the two men, who are now at the top of the Labour Party, were when they were on their way up. Miliband, to be fair, played a much tamer role than the bullying and thuggish bruiser Ed Balls. But the blood of their most electorally successful leader ever is on both their hands.

How can Miliband and Balls call for loyalty, with a straight face, when evidence has emerged that while Blair and his team were dealing with the fall-out from the 2005 London bombings, in the office next door Brown and the two Eds were in a meeting to discuss knifing the PM?”

So, although I could write several dozen posts instead of reading others’ ideas of newsworthiness, I have the humility to concede that not all of my thoughts are solely my own. They are yours, as well as mine.  But mainly – let’s be blunt about it – yours.

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Recent comments:

I am staggered by all the hate directed towards our former Prime Minister. I believe that Tony Blair made the Iraq decision in good faith and is most certainly NOT a war criminal. If anyone should be tried at the Hague it should be those in the media for totally misrepresenting the information and facts. The media are to blame for fuelling this hatred as it is purely driven by them. (UK)

The greatest and most successful leader the Labour Party has ever had with the courage to fight the Islamist terrorists who really would like to kill us all, and you never hear a good word about him. The herd of independent minds, commentators, activists etc who have never had to make a difficult decision in their lives drown out all debate with their inane chants of war crimes and blood on his hands. Defend him at every chance. I just wish more people would do it. (Glasgow, UK)
Blair was the greatest Labour Prime Minister. It is a disgrace that the party has turned away from his legacy. Shame on Ed Miliband and his so-called ‘new generation’.


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2 Responses to “How Twitter is SAVING not destroying the mainstream press”

  1. systemswrong Says:

    Tony Blair PM He’s the worst prime minister since Harold Macmillan maybe worse.

    • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

      Interesting that your alias is “systemswrong”. In fact most of the country was not against the Iraq war initially. Facts. Get. Right. True that probably a majority turned against it as time went on. That invariably happens in any conflict.

      Tony Blair was the best prime minister or at least one of the best in the whole of the previous century. In my opinion.

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