Jon Trickett

Hemsworth Labour

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Do the media fear their grip on mass communications is failing?

A twitterstorm – actually it was more of a sonic boom – over the weekend saw more than 260,000 actively participate in #CameronMustGo.

And four days on, it was still trending.

It’s a great campaign. It demonstrates that Cameron is out of touch – he says he’s fixed the economy but a recent poll shows eight in ten people have felt little or no impact on their standard of living.

When I first tweeted the hashtag, I was immediately told by a senior and seemingly grand media personality that this was a futile gesture.

But once the full extent of the movement – over a quarter million tweets – became evident the grandees fell silent and the official media suppressed any comment on the whole tsumani of reasons as to why so many want to see the back of the Tories and Lib Dems under the #cameronmustgo hashtag.

You might think that the newspapers would be quite interested in the views of 269,000 people but you won’t have seen anything about it in the mainstream media.

I suspect that there are two reasons why the official media fell silent. In the first place the Twitter storm against Cameron is directly contrary to the narrative which so many of them subscribe to.

But was there a second reason. Was it because the media fear their grip on mass communications is failing?

Is it possible that the press barons and their hired hands fear that their power to control the flow of opinion and information is, daily, slipping away from their hands?

The Tories think that media is their not so secret weapon; that the right wing press will go all out to swing the election for the Tories and UKIP.

But the truth is that the newspapers, although still influential, are declining, their readership is falling and their reach is diminishing.

Also the old vertical world where the rich and powerful could control so much is now receding. And a horizontal era of mass communication is opening up where each of us can make our own voice heard and each of us can choose who we listen to.

It is this changing world which is illustrated by the mass phenomenon of the #cameronmustgo hashtag and its corollary the media silence about this process.

For the truth is that Twitter is a great mobilising tool. The #Cameronmustgo we will have had a collective readership potential of over 5 million in the first 24 hours. More than almost any of the national newspapers can reach.

The media and the Tories can underestimate social media at their peril.

To paraphrase Bob Dylan:

Come all the rich and the powerful throughout the land

don’t criticise what you can’t understand

Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command

And the old order is rapidly changing

For the times they are changing.

The Internet and the twittersphere are raucous, unruly, and insurgent, and they are profoundly egalitarian and democratic.

If I represented the old order, as the Tories and their friends clearly do, I would be quaking in my boots.

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