I don’t want to link to any of the stuff, but there was a kerfuffle over the weekend on Twitter about journalism and ethics. One senior journalist decided to lay into a political party’s press operation, and a more junior journalist criticised this in public, whereupon they were put down by a third (senior) journalist that they hadn’t had any scoops so weren’t worth listening to.
Now, I don’t really want to comment on that particular situation, but all these comments flying about reminded me of two things, and as I keep thinking about it, I’m getting it all down here so as to perhaps stop thinking about it for a while.
I don’t really interact with the big columnist’s Twitter accounts that much anymore because I’m not online when they are as I am at work, and if I do interact with them, in the past I seem to have annoyed them with comments that go against the angle of their article. I think what’s happened is I misunderstood who “should” really be replying to them. I’m not actually “supposed” to reply to these accounts, especially not with criticism, but I think the medium of Twitter lends itself to thinking one is equal with these accounts. I’ve fundamentally misunderstood who they are “talking” to, at some level.
This led me on to considering do I value “scoops” as much as journalists do themselves? I’m not sure I give as much weight to it as they do, perhaps because I’m not a journalist. I value new information of course, but at least on a level with forensic analysis of the subject at hand, plus being able to write and interview a subject well and with sensitivity and a sense of the most important things to discover. I would give equal weight to all of those. To illustrate this, Rachel Sylvester may have changed the course of history with her Andrea Leadsom interview, Janan Ganesh is a must-read about Brexit and Britain’s role in the world, Dan Hodges can get to the heart of a matter very quickly (even when I disagree with him) and Eddie Mair always asks exactly the right question at exactly the right time, elevating him head and shoulders above the rest. Of course, Eddie Mair is a broadcast journalist rather than a print one, but the point still applies.
I do pay for my journalism, I subscribe to the Guardian and use Blendle to access a lot of content that will let me pay a proportionate amount to read one article, rather than pay for a whole newspaper that I won’t have the chance to read properly (marginal utility matching marginal revenue). I don’t want to be advertised too unless it matches my preferences and I think we can achieve that – I think a large amount of advertising falls into an area of lifestyle policing (“Beach Body Ready”) that I am really not here for – but you can advertise Kindle novels and non-fiction books about economics to me all day long…. this really shouldn’t be that hard to achieve.
So, in total, all this leads me to think there is a little bit of a bubble, and some of us who might count as filters between it and the wider population who aren’t on Twitter, might be turned off by a negative approach towards us.