The unfolding hacking scandal is a great example of how news production, distribution and exchange have fundamentally changed.
Ostensibly about a traditional paper-based newspaper group, it is in fact the whole online arena where the scandal has been predominantly played out, with online newspapers updating their headlines in minutes, and key players like the Guardian running live blogs.
Videos have been shared and secret recordings of internal news international meetings have been passed through social networks. With the editor of the Guardian and other key journalists tweeting, as well as key Labour opposition figures, social media has had a key role to play in shaping the unfolding narrative. And it will continue to do so – imagine
how Murdoch’s testimony to MPs will be distributed and commented upon.
And let’s not forget the role of social media in generating customer complaints to CEOs, demanding that ads be pulled from News of the World. This action was coordinated using social media networks. The key themes of social media are collaboration: see the ad activity mentioned above.
A key theme is openness: we are seeing mounting calls by the day for greater transparency all round, in dealings with the media. Another key principle of social media is integrity: you cannot hide anymore when information is so easily shared and distributed, and it is so easy to expose wrong doing.
If you are in breach of these principles in some deep meaningful way, then you are likely to be in trouble. These themes are being actively played out as part of the new ecosystem of news.
Within this context, you can also see clearly how limited traditional media communications can be. Briefings on the phone could influence key bloggers. However, if you want to have any chance of influencing events then you have to be blogging or tweeting, otherwise you are just not part of the critical discourse.