Twitter v #NOTW: the growing power of social media?

Over on the BBC, Rory Cellan-Jones has some background on an interesting aspect of the News of the World story. For a while now, traditional news outlets have been in competition (of sorts) with social media to feed a developed appetite for rolling news. However, as Cellan-Jones has flagged, this story appears to be bringing the print and broadcast media into conflict rather than competition with social media, particularly Twitter.

A quick click on the current picture on (at 12 pm on 06/07/2011) shows all the main terms trending in London, with #brooks, #murdoch, #milly and #notw also trending in Dublin too (Belfast has @jlsofficial).

Last night Dewi mirrored the growing clamour for a boycott of Murdoch products as a public response. On-line, a battery of tweets were directed at advertisers, since, as @the_Z_factor points out (from the Cellan-Jones piece):

“I don’t know how you’d locate News of the World readers,” she explains,” but anyone can see the advertisers”.

While this campaign may be effective, in the short term, it will be interesting to see if it brings about a genuine behavioural change in the medium or long term. If previous ethics campaigns against multi-nationals are anything to go by, it may only be the beginning, or continuation, of a long struggle (think Naomi Klein’s No Logo). Those campaigns were in a pre-social media era and required effective and considerable organisation and resources.

Now, as Cellan-Jones states at the end of his piece:

It does however look as though a random collection of loosely organised people with no one leader have come together to deal a blow to the finances of a powerful media organisation.

Such an outcome, delivered at such speed, would not have been possible five years ago and is another measure of the growing power of the social media phenomenon.

As Cellan-Jones also notes – campaigns  mounted on Twitter have been typically short and sharp rather than sustained. In this instance, a genuine reaction against the Murdoch empire and its reach may find an extended outlet beyond those traditional media outlets. Arguably it also an issue of scale and demographics: the current Belfast obsession with @jlsofficial may suggest we are a bit away from a major local impact.

The whole piece is worth a read.