On Sunday 17th January, the Daily Express ran a story on its website with the headline ‘Is the BBC run by a bunch of Twitters’…only you can’t actually see the story any more because it’s been taken down (more on this later), but rest assured, it was there. In fact, one of the journalists behind it, David Stephenson, the Express’s TV critic, even tweeted about it here.
It was co-written by David Jarvis, although quite why, I don’t know, as the story was barely more than a few paragraphs. It basically accused the BBC of wasting taxpayer’s money by its staff using Twitter to send out messages that were seen by very few, if any, people. Its evidence was that the BBC accounts in question had few, if any, followers on Twitter. Had this been true, it would have been a reasonable accusation. Surely a Twitter account run by the BBC should have at least one follower. The problem for the Express journalists David and David was that the accounts in question did have at least one follower. In fact, they had hundreds in one case and thousands in another.
The first claim was aimed at a BBC Radio 2 Twitter account, which on closer inspection is not actually a BBC account at all. And whereas the Express claimed it had ‘no’ followers, it seems it has well over 500. Were they confused between ‘followers’ and ‘following’ as Malcolm Coles asks? The second claim was that a Radio 5 Twitter feed run by Vic Derbyshire has just two followers. Again, it seems the claim was just a tad inaccurate, as whilst Vic Derbyshire follows two people, she is followed by over 3,700 at last count.
So, a few observations about Daily Express journalists based on this evidence:
1) They appear inept at differentiating between the terms ‘followers’ and ‘following’
2) They appear unable to count
3) They don’t appear to be able to use Twitter and yet criticise those who are
4) Oh yes, and David Stephenson appears to have more than a whiff of Section 28 homophobia about him.
For David Stephenson’s benefit, I have taken the liberty of generating his Twitter impact report for him. It is modest to say the least.
Granted, Twitter is not entirely intuitive when you start out using it. But surely the lesson is, quite simply, don’t write about something you clearly don’t understand – let alone criticise others who clearly do!