And the President tweeted...

Twitter, it seems, has risen above the rest of its social media stable mates and taken its place at the top table of newsworthy sources – a fact that’s hammered home every time a reporter opts to quote what somebody tweeted rather than pick up a phone and ask the opinion of someone relevant to the story they’re working on.

This new world order of news sources has its pros, but is littered with so many cons it calls into question the validity of the entire practice.

The pros are that Twitter does provide access to the thoughts and opinions of the previously inaccessible.

Joe or Joanna Bloggs at the Steeton Weekly Sentinel are never going to be able to pick up the phone to ask Donald Trump his view on a particular story, but they can both now quote the President of the U S of A in any article due to his obsessive, and as we’ve seen this week, oft inflammatory Tweeting behaviour.

And the same can be said for an entire galaxy of stars, wannabes and the downright desperate to be famous.

And that’s where the cons of Twitter being used as a find-a-quote resource start to leap out and hug you in an inappropriate fashion.

  • Stories can be moulded any which way the writer wants, because let’s face it, there’s no shortage of opinions on Twitter and it’ll never take too long to find one that fits your particular agenda.
  • Sources being quoted often aren’t worth the couple of bytes of memory they’re typed on. I mean, how often do you read an article where a Tweeter is quoted in a prevalent position, but when you dig a little deeper you find they’ve only got three followers, Tweet twice a year, and up until yesterday had only ever commented on X-Factor and Strictly? (If you’ve yet to come across this particular practice, have a quick trawl through the BBC News website – they have a great weakness for it.)
  • And then there’s the fake (or should that be satirical?) nature of so much Twitter content, which once it’s been quoted by a couple of credible news outlets and retweeted by a blue ticked individual or two has suddenly morphed from made up tosh to hard boiled facts.

But is there a solution? And if so, is there still time to act before Twitter trashes all the others sat around the top table of news sources and claims exclusive access rights to its all new #findaquote service?

Sadly, I don’t believe there is.

The news market is now so fragmented you can pretty much take your pick on which angle you’d like your news reporting to take, and steer well clear of anything that can lay any real claim to being either objective or representative of the opposite point of view.

In fact, it’s getting to the stage now where the only thing you know can trust are good, old fashioned press releases!!

This blog was written in November 2017

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