The bluebird of happiness

Twitter is an obsession that I’ve documented previously. It’s great for connecting with people, & great for building community. Now that twitter and television are combining this can only be a good thing, right?

We all know about the @CatherineDeveny Logies-tweeting scandal of earlier this year. And the @ItsStephRice issue of not so long ago. More recently the @SpidaEveritt debacle (and I do mean debacle – Spida acquitted himself well in the face of some strong media opposition and negativity – he backed himself and stood by what he said, explaining it better in person than in 140 characters). Twitter in the hands of anyone is dangerous; Twitter in the hands of the famous is a powderkeg. Which makes it more and more interesting as more “famous” people join up (I think @JabbaTron put it best on one of the recent @MediaWeekAUS podcasts this week when he called twitter an “AM call-in show where there’s no filter for what goes to air”).

The Nine Network have made no secret of their push to have all their journalists & on-air talent signed up & tweeting. Some are doing well, others lucky to have tweeted 4 times. They are all treading carefully and that’s probably the best approach. Channels Seven, Nine & Ten are now listing the twitter accounts of journalists as a part of the by-line supers (graphics at the bottom of the screen showing the reporters name, etc) during news bulletins, and having varying levels of success in promoting their news service, shows & channel through different promotional accounts. @SunriseOn7 & it’s team of on-air presenters (@kochie_online, @melissadoyle, @natalie_barr, @markberetta & @grantdenyer, led by @adamboland & soon to be @michaelpell) are killing it for breakfast television. ABC is doing it very well in the local radio market too (well done @612Brisbane!). The ability for ‘normal’ people like us to connect with the media is a spectacular thing – story leads, info & ideas for shows, accessibility to the personalities fuelling our attraction to a certain channel or show because we connect with them & respond to us in a somewhat immediate manner. It works because they take the time to reply to those who tweet to them. Compare follower numbers & prove me wrong.

The tweeting community in parallel to shows is also a special change to how we consume our television. @abcqanda are leading the charge, encouraging the tweeters & including as comments throughout the broadcast selected tweets on/off/around/obtuse to the topic being discussed. Watching the #QandA tag during a broadcast with the broadcast is most entertaining. Peter McEvoy (Q and A Executive Producer) is quite encouraging of the twitter community that surrounds the show and has spoken of how the production team are trying to integrate the twitterfeed beter. What will make the whole process even betterer is that with daylight savings kicking in for all eastern states except Queensland, until now Q and A has been delayed to stick with the ABC1 schedule, however from this Monday (25/10/10) the show will be broadcast on ABC News 24 at AEDT – 8:35pm in Qld – so we can all join in again (until then, our only option was to live stream on the web – Ew).

Other shows have tried to emulate the growing success of integrating Twitter into their broadcast. Not very well either (swe are looking at you: Election Debate & the election night coverages of every channel). A number of TV shows are doing a “best of” or “funniest tweets” on a topic retrospectively, and it doesn’t work as well – if we wanted to hear/see what they said, we’d be following them already. Twitter is pretty insular, & on the whole everyone is aware of who the funniest/most interesting/best people to follow in Australia are.

Shows like the #MasterChef franchise, #Survivor, #BeautyGeekAU/#BeautyAndTheGeek & #FourWeddings wouldn’t be the same without the tweetstream. The shows are all good (not for the same reasons), but add in various levels of comments, quotes, snark & shock & you’ve turned TV into a multi-homed group spectator sport. Like watching newsreels at the cinema in the old days when you didn’t mortgage your house to buy popcorn there, or standing in the street watching the News or Pick a Box. A community, deep in discussion of the important things: Does @AaronHarvie ever wash that damn beanie?; Naonka is srsly the worst person in the world; Go #TeamThomas – FTW!; & OMG! You cannot say that about her dress!

So rich, so diverse, so brilliant.

Twitter will not change the face of Australian television. Yet. There is a lot of stuff said in the echo chamber that rings & resounds like the clanging of a large bell, however there is a growing undercurrent of influence. When an unknown but brilliant blogger/tweeter can have influence on the way the ABC are covering the federal election through his blog & tweets, & cause the kerfuffle of the year with his unmasking, either the we’re so deep in the navel gazing we haven’t realised we’re up to our necks in our bellys… or we’re all onto something…