Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Murdoch's Australian Admits Defeat In War On Twitter

How galling it must be for The Australian's editor Chris Mitchell to finally have to admit that the newspaper and its online website cannot survive without Twitter action and attention, links and new readership from social media.

Here's excerpts from The Australian's new ad for a Social Media Editor:

As we approach our 50th birthday, we continue to look for ways to build a wider audience for our journalism.

We seek an experienced professional to lead The Australian into the next stage of our engagement with social media platforms.

Situated at the heart of the newsroom, the Social Media Editor will help drive our news coverage, sourcing stories from social media and engaging with our audience.

You will promote the use of social media throughout the newsroom and keep your colleagues up to date with latest techniques to help develop stories.

Your previous roles will have equipped you to source and develop stories through social media news gathering and build positive and active social communities with consumers of The Australian's journalism on social media.

Chris Mitchell used to think social media, like Twitter, was the worst thing to happen in pretty much the entire history of media:
Like swine influenza, technologies such as Twitter race around the world before spluttering out. And when they do, the news is reported via a technology that is robust and portable, one that is information rich and never crashes - the platform for the online information age you are reading now.

And the story it tells about the latest online fad is always the same.

Like diseases that must mutate to infect ever more hosts, transitory technologies have an enormous impact until people build up resistance - which is what is happening to free social messaging service Twitter now. Certainly Twitter has generated a pandemic of popularity, but it appears many people quickly decide Twitter is tedious, with 60 per cent of new users becoming ex-users in a month.

Anybody who has used it knows why. Twitters in the information industry - journalists, political staffers, publicly funded issues activists - think Twitter is terrific because it allows them to all but instantaneously agree with each other on the issues of the hour. But in their enthusiasm, they confuse the medium for the message.

Twitter's 140-character message format is a content-killer, leaving most tweets with the compelling content of those "I'm on the bus" mobile phone conversations impossible to avoid on public transport.
The same obsession with the instantaneously ordinary occurs in mass market entertainment.

While Twitter may be fun, it is free. Online video site YouTube chews through vast amounts of bandwidth and more money because advertisers understand people do not pay attention to low-involvement media. Nor is there any evidence anybody wants to pay to watch those YouTube staples, videos of garage bands practising.

And the cassandras at website Crikey, who predict the end of print, perhaps because they see it as the only way to attract an audience and advertisers, miss the point about newspapers - they create and maintain communities. 

Now The Australian needs, is all but begging, for a social media enthusiast to maintain an online community for the newspaper, now the print edition can no longer do so.

August 14, 2013: The Australian's Obsession With Twitter Gets Plain Stupid

Andrew Bolt - I Don't Know How Twitter Works, But It's Freedom Scares Me

The Great Twitter Myth - Working Class People Don't Tweet