Notes on #janmoir – don’t ‘blame’ Fry

I’ve seen a few media reports now on yesterday’s unprecedented new media revolt against the Daily Mail.

Of all of them the Huffington Post’s takes the biscuit for ‘worst take’. They reckon it’s about a fight between the Daily Mail and The Guardian. Seriously. I suspect a showbizzy intern selected their quote heavy, googled contribution.

A meme in practically all the reports is the role of Stephen Fry. This has now culminated in a Telegraph piece titled ‘Don’t laugh – Stephen Fry is giving the orders now.’

Those, like Fry, who are “deeply dippy about all things digital”, argue that the internet is the ultimate tool of democracy. But it could just be that historians – if they are so permitted – might look back on this period as the moment when the techno-savvy few seized control of the minds of the many.

The blogger Guido Fawkes seems effectively to run British politics. Ashton Kutcher – actor and tweeter with over three million followers: “life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift” – is our spiritual leader. And Fry? Well, he’s bigger than both of them.

Where to start? Iain Dale has a lot more blog traffic than Guido. Not sure what Kutcher’s in there for save to keep the ‘celeb’s rule’ idea going (and his Twitter following like that of other Hollywood celebs doesn’t seem to translate to followers automatically watching their shows). And as for Fry?

I was actually dipping in-and-out of the #janmoir Twitter stream yesterday and very, very few of the tweets were Fry Retweets. Sure, his numbers are huge but the ‘Twitosphere’ is far, far, far huger. Presumably far too huge for most journalist’s to get their minds around.

By 2010, 26 Million (1 in 7) U.S. Adults Will Use Twitter Monthly.

Edited to add: Thanks to to commentator Ian Hopkinson for pointing to some evidence.

Here’s the trendastic tracking of #janmoir

Showing it peaking at 11am – @stephenfry first tweet on #janmoir was at 12:27pm.

What the ubiquitous Fry mentions in their reports are about is a journalistic laziness and the ever-present need for a celeb mention. A real piece of good work would be to actually track #janmoir all the way from where the first rock was thrown out to the furthest reach of the ripples.

Such as the excellent American analyst Evgeny Morozov‘s tweet:

notes on the new public sphere: Twitter has shrunk the Atlantic and purely local UK scandals are now global news

That’s why HuffPost bothered putting Gately on the front page – #janmoir was number one or two trending topic when they woke up, and it had that celeb angle they love. 

It’s notable that they’ve ignored what it by far the most game-changing event on Twitter this week, #trafigura – something which Gill Hornby in the Telegraph thinks is also down to Mr Fry.

From his palm-top device .. he struck a major blow for press freedom – when the Dutch company Trafigura won an order preventing the press from discussing the impact of its pollutants on the African coast, Fry tweeted the details to his vast audience and the gag was lifted.


78 thoughts on “Notes on #janmoir – don’t ‘blame’ Fry

  1. Nashienet

    Stephen Fry is the glue that holds twitter together. He’s so widely followed that even 1 mention of a hashtag or other tweeter can alert so many followers & very quickly kick off a snowball effect. This is why Moir herself got it so badly wrong when she suggested it was an orchestrated campaign against her.

    I think the 2 twitter trends I’ve contributed to this week – #janmoir and #trafigura – have been brought to my attention from celebrity twitter feeds, Stephen Fry and Derren Brown.

  2. paul canning

    You’re contradicting yourself.

    On the one hand Moir is wrong to say ‘orchestrated’, on the other the ‘snowball’ only gets going because of @stephenfry (or was it @derrenbrown?).

    No one’s denying Fry has a role but it’s lazy and unobservant I think to suggest that it’s dependent on him.

  3. Dan

    The real scandal is the Daily Mail’s shameless endorsement of its writers bigoted views. One could probably forgive Jan Moir, who is after all just one person with an (albeit flawed) opinion. But for Dacre and his editors, the fact they’ve stood by the article in the face of such a backlash, and even pulled advertising from the page surrounding it, is a disgrace.

    It’s link-baiting at its worst! Is the DM being deliberately provocative to raise its profile? Or does it actually endorse these views?

    @Nashienet – That’s a bit of an exaggeration ain’t it? Fry is just a big voice on Twitter whose sensible commentary reflects popular opinion, not the other way round.

  4. Jimmy

    Interesting points about the celeb hooks angle.

    Trafigura was outed by Guido initially, not Fry, and I believe he does have much much larger blog traffic than Dale.

    But still, I believe Fry and Derren Brown were significant on the Jan Moir issue. there were quite a few celebs tweeting that one. It’s a celeb issue in many ways so probably not the best example to make your more general point.

  5. paul canning

    Jimmy – here’s something I quickly found on blog traffic – Dale ran something recently boosting himself on this (go have a look!)

    Also Trafigura was not ‘outed’ initially by Fry – if anyone ‘outed’ them it was Greenpeace! But if we’re talking about the issue at the beginning of the week there were bloggers would found the connections before Guido, something which needs recording for the sake of history! See my live blog of how the day unfolded here

    The point is not that celeb Twitterers are insignificant but that they’re not the whole story.

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  8. BristleKRS

    Re who ‘outed’ Trafigura:

    I think plenty of people deduced it from the Guardian’s original cryptic article, eg Posters on bulletin board Urban75 nailed it (and showed their working) by 10:09pm on 12th October. Plus there were supporting elements (Private Eye) already out there. (correct question on Order paper) (2209hrs) (Trafigura first named) (2148hrs) (whole thread) (started 2140hrs)


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