Networked News: Is the Only Way Taboo…?

My Twitter stream and news feeds have largely been quiet about it, but my experience of the BBC over the last few days (R4 Today, a repeated ticker on the BBC News channel on a public screen I saw yesterday) has pretty much been goading me into using a particular three word or four word search term (K… M… t… p…) on whatever search engine I prefer to use.

The Observer (which had a price hike today – up 30p to £2.50), was also suggesting a new search phrase for me – the title of a multi-page spread out tomorrow whose headline is being trailed today, which I see as a bit of inspired social media optimisation.

My first memory of publicly acknowledged censorship was Peter Wright’s Spycatcher. Such was life then that the content was tightly bound to localised atoms, which meant you had to be able to get a physical copy of the book in order to read it (easy enough if you or anyone you knew went overseas, but still a major obstacle).

Networked news today means that content readily comes as bits from anywhere in the worlds, and is only ever a search-click away. Even though the press may be barred from covering a story on privacy grounds, it can still cover it by proxy in the form of search term loaded headlines or ledes that mean the reader can quickly (or should that be, clickly?!) get access to the story.

The only way to not engage in the spread of the story is therefore not to talk about it – that is, to invoke a taboo?

Talking publicly about invoking taboo is, of course, taboo…

(I also note: many “tech news” blogs that I’ve stopped subscribing to are just repeaters and/or aggregators, containing summaries (and links to) news stories elsewhere, or crude rehashes of press releases, and that appear to have swapped the publication of substance/real news for volume publishing, presumably in order to get the number of ad impressions up..)

PS Hmm.. thinks: if everyone is sharing links to a story using social media, then why would the media feel the need to report it? As an inclusive act, so that folk not on social media get to hear what the social networks are chattering about?

Author: Tony Hirst

I'm a Senior Lecturer at The Open University, with an interest in #opendata policy and practice, as well as general web tinkering...

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