Ivan Lewis and The Social Media Revolution

by Rachel Small

Ivan Lewis is a Labour Member of Parliament for Bury South, Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport. You probably won’t have heard of him – that is until yesterday. Because yesterday – in a speech at the Labour conference in Liverpool, Ivan Lewis suggested that any journalist who have behaved inappropriately should be struck off.  The obvious and more sinister repercussion of this idea would be that their would have to be a register of journalists in the first place. The interesting thing about the backlash was that it first appeared not in the traditional press but on social media sites.


On twitter journalists, politicians and bloggers attacked the idea.

Guido Fawkes tweeted “Shadow Culture Minister Ivan Lewis wants to have licenced journalists. Isn’t the Lobby tame enough already? “Licenced to Muzzle”.


Louise Mensch – who has great clout on twitter as evidenced by her 38,000 followers – got in on the debate by saying “Has Ivan Lewis MP gone insane? A state registry for journalists? Baby/bathwater”. And the effect of twitter doesn’t just end at the people posting tweets, most of the early tweets were retweeted by an average of 40 people. This is the way in which a story can turn into a buzz.


It’s interesting to note that Ivan Lewis doesn’t seem to have much of an online presence himself. His Facebook page has 201 likes (which is a small percentage of the over 2,000 likes of Ed Milliband’s page) and only 2,000 followers on twitter. All of this means that he does not have the online and of support needed to help turn the tide when the internet turns vicious.


This link http://trendistic.indextank.com/ivan-lewis shows a trend  map of the phrase “Ivan Lewis” for today, you will see that the number of tweets featuring his name is steadily rising. If you search for the phrase “register of journalists” on the same site you will see that the number of tweets on the subject peaked at around 12 noon yesterday – just after his speech. This is the beauty of social media – the effect is immediate. Even as I write this article today the world of twitter has already moved on, the top trending words are completely different from what they were yesterday, even from what they were a few hours ago. The question is can traditional journalism keep up?




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