John Prescott says Twitter holds Press to account
John Prescott, writing in the May edition of Reader’s Digest (there is an extract here, but you need to subscribe for the whole article), has an interesting argument that the Leveson inquiry ought to hear:
Power in the media has shifted dramatically in recent years. Internet tools such as Twitter and Facebook have created a speedy check and balance on our newspapers — a role the Press Complaints Commission has often failed miserably to fulfil — and finally made a handful of hugely influential, but until now largely untouchable, press barons accountable to the people.
He cites the recent case when he took to Twitter to point out that he had not said the words attributed to him by The Sunday Times and received an apology and correction within an hour.
But that is the problem with his claim that “we’re all influential publishers and media watchdogs now”. It is all very well if you are the former deputy leader of the Labour Party, future police commissioner for Humberside and a national institution.
I can tweet a comment or clarification about an ongoing story and, within minutes, it can be breaking news on Sky or the BBC. When Peter Mandelson was attacked with green custard by a protester in March 2009, it looked like the police weren’t going to press charges. So I filmed a video saying they should, uploaded it to YouTube, and it was soon running on all major news channels. Hours later, the protester was charged. Once, journalists would print their stories without contacting me. Now, one Sunday tabloid writer recently told a colleague, “We have to check it with John, otherwise he’ll go on Twitter and kill us.”
But if you are not already famous, demanding a correction on Twitter is not going to have much purchase on publishers and broadcasters, unless it is a really shocking case that gets taken up by lots of people on the internet.
Prescott’s conclusion is right, but let us lovers of Twitter not follow the Murdoch press in overclaiming:
Tagged in: feral beast, john prescott, press, press accountability
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