Posted by: Ciaran | October 19, 2009

Lather, rinse, repeat

Amidst the toxic broth of brouhaha surrounding social internet’s relationship with the media in the last week, there seems to me to be one thing that everyone has missed.

In the days of yore, public outcries were a slow-burner.  Even just last year, perhaps.  One year and one day ago, Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross made that phone call to Andrew Sachs.  But it was not until the following weekend that the Mail on Sunday splashed Miles Goslett’s story all over the front of their paper, and it was only during the following week that the complaints reached their inevitable crescendo and there were resignations, apologies and suspensions to satisfy middle England’s baying mob.

Fast-forward a year – how apt a turn of phrase – and social media means that public protest has accelerated to an almost unstoppable speed.  It is one week since The Guardian announced that it was barred by super-injunction from reporting an MP’s question in Parliament.

Just a year ago, the story would have probably have had the same outcome, but an entirely different process; a steady drip-drip of complaints until the walls of Carter-Ruck caved in and they were forced to retract their super-hyper-mega legal equivalent of a sock in the mouth covered in Gaffa tape.

In 2009, the Twitterati battered down the Carter-Ruck castle in just hours.  Climax reached, there was a sense of triumph (some would say a little self-congratulatory) floating around the internet and the blogosphere, but then it seems that most people lost interest.  Challenge overcome, Trafigura became just, so, like, old. 

And then it was on to Friday, and Jan Moir’s horrendous delineation of Stephen Gately’s death.  The cycle repeated: trending topic, public outrage, complaints aplenty…  This time, though, the Mail’s refusal to cave in quite so quickly has made the situation linger; they’d have done well to just admit their grotesqueness and let everyone get on.  But then maybe they know that in just a matter of days the online battle-cries will be sounded again, and a new cause will be taken up…


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