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How Twitter medownlets

March 6, 2011 Leave a comment

Telegraphese meets Twitter

One of my greatest disappointments with Twitter, as used by media-types when tweeting other media-types, is that it has utterly failed to revive the great legacy of telegraphese when it comes to news alerts.

On the face of it, it is the ideal modern communication mode to do so. The 140-letter limit forces you to be brief, concise and clear, just as the financial restraints did with the telegram. Twitter actively reins in prolixity, unlike emails and blogs. And unlike textspeak, there’s enough room within 140 characters to be inventive, clever and occasionally funny in formulating words.

Alas, that’s not the way media-type Tweetspeak has evolved. Instead, it’s either merely a subset of textspeak, complete with OMGs, LOLs and other abominations, or it’s little more than a cut’n’paste job of prosaic web headlines, complete with the ever-essential keywords all lined up “like cavalry horses answering a bugle”, as Orwell had it in another context.

Of course, media outlets using Twitter to inform their twittering public of the latest headlines have to use concise language which those readers can understand. That’s not what I’m on about. But I think journalists and media commentators whose audience is primarily other journalists and media-types are missing the opportunity to revive a great journalistic telegraphese tradition. And we’re missing out on a great opportunity to add to the gaiety of our profession which, let’s face it could do with as much gaiety it can get these days.

Consider the recent example of Daily Star reporter Richard Peppiatt’s melodramatic “open” resignation letter to Richard Desmond.

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