As I reflect on the Twitter and Blogosphere phenomenon of the last day relating to The Guardian gagging injunction from Carter Ruck to protect their client Trafigura, it flags up a number of interesting thoughts about the role of social media in news and how our existing structures simply can't cater for the disintermediation of mainstream media. Before I look at this, for good insight into the specifics of this case go to the excellent analysis and podcast at CharonQC with Carl Gardner.
Putting aside the legal facts of the case and how an injunction was served on something that was raised in parliament, there was a basic assumption that this could be buried because companies and lawyers have become adept at knowing how to close down mainstream media reporting. Conversely mainstream media has done it's self no favours. There is a prevailing misconception in news media that they are reporting news, this is a flawed concept because news travels at an exponential rate now, much faster than a news agency can deal with. So it's not about news, it's about contextualising the news and this is then where the flaws come in with the approach Carter Ruck took over the Guardian story and the Judge made in awarding the injunction, in a world of social media, my grandmother's old saying prevails "Truth will out". When crowd sourcing news and spreading the conversation can be done at such an exponential rate, the spin doctor angle doesn't work and neither does the injunction. Social Media is word of mouth on steroids. It's time businesses, firms and mainstream media started to actually take this on board rather than dismissing as flights of fancy and irrelevant. How are media lawyers going to advise their clients on how to deal with social media phenomenon, the landscape has changed massively in a short period of time, people will need to start actually exploring what all of it actually means sooner rather than later, here are some useful starter tips etc: