X-Factor? I’m A Celeb? They’re all much better on Twitter

Reality TV is the pop culture people love to hate. Beyond hate.

People revel in performing intellectual snobbery upon its formulaic structure and money-grabbing associations. And yet it’s one of the main reasons behind the readerships of glossy weeklies at this time of the year. More interestingly, the entertainment level of this years’ crop of weekend shows has risen for those who watch with an accompanying laptop: Twitter has made the un-watchable essential viewing.

As a culture, arts or comment journalist, you should already be aware of this networking phenomenon.

Picture courtesy of Shane Chapman

And so much more besides. The secret behind any good comedy quiz show is the banter that surrounds a few irrelevant questions. The same principle applies to Cher Lloyd, Anne Widdecombe, and Stacey Solomon’s antics. What they have in common, beyond the fact they have subjected themselves to the scrutiny of millions of TV viewers is they have also all got hashtags on Twitter (#cher, #widdecombe, #stacey) and are now under the examination of millions of fans, viewers and – essentially – journalists.

The witty tweets about them become more important than what they do on the show.

Because on weekend evenings, these four hours of often underestimated reality TV bring together critics professional and unprofessional alike. With a transatlantic time difference I have been gaining my X Factor experience across the pond by following them since September. Now back in Britain, I spent this past Saturday night in joining the Twittersphere and voicing my opinion, minute by minute, alongside thousands of other 140-character comments.

Wannabe Hacks have posted on the importance of Twitter and yet there are still budding journos out there who refuse to acknowledge its importance within the media. Trying to convince them by suggesting they spend their Saturday nights glued to reality TV is possibly not the effective method.

However, consider this: I was first @tweeted by Neil Henderson, Home Duty Editor of the BBC (@hendopolis) and Columnist of 2010 and all-round-journalist-inspiration Caitlin Moran (@caitlinmoran) whilst butting in on their ‘conversation’ about contentious The Smiths album, Hatful of Hollow. A few DMs were passed about and I’m considerably closer to having a useful contact than I would be otherwise. Think about how this could work when even more journalists are watching their tweet feeds as much as the TV screen, all thinking about the same subject and looking out for the next comment that makes them chuckle.

Im A Celebrity

It’s not even all about the ‘networking’, but by joining the Twittersphere at busy times you can learn a lot about tweet etiquette. Heat Magazine, a.k.a @heatworld is a fantastic example of a Tweeter. They’re perceptive, approachable and laugh-out-loud funny. Furthermore, they know how to make their followers feel special. I @ tweeted them last week – they retweeted me and I got eight new followers. It’s a technique they use a lot, because it keeps their followers old and new interested and builds a platform of @heatworld fans to further their success.

I’m happy to further it – it’s simple things like this which are not only responsible for their high print readership but moves a tweeting journalist should be making themselves to increase traffic to their site or profile.

You know what area of journalism you want to be part of. If you don’t, follow your favourite journalists (I advise, in addition to the above, @sueperkins, @petepaphides and @samwolfson) anyway – it’ll probably become apparent what they have in common. Read, watch and involve yourself in what they’re tweeting about and put your own opinion across.

Hashtags are essential. Tweet ferociously. I don’t have a smart phone (holla if you’ve got one going spare) but I’m addicted. Twitter breaks down boundaries between celebrities, fans and the journalists between them. There’s never been a better opportunity to contact those in the know. Remember, though, it’s meant to be fun. Shameless @tweeting is bad tweet etiquette – be part of the conversation, know your style and engage in the debate, even if it is only over whether Matt Cardle is or is not a babe.

You can follow The Maverick’s news, views and comments on what she last ate here: twitter.com/@alice_emily…

Who are your favourite journo tweeters?

4 Responses to X-Factor? I’m A Celeb? They’re all much better on Twitter

  1. Peter Demain says:

    Is the misnomer ‘reality television’ still in currency?

    I’ve spoke to various people who could hardly be described ‘intellectual’ that dislike reality TV. These see themselves as merely ‘not stupid’. Who’d have guessed?

    I’ll tell you what else is ‘bad tweet etiquette’ – not answering questions. Yet of all the sorts I query, who fail to answer the most? The British journalist. You can count two cottages and £500k a year golden boy Alan Rusbridger in on that. So much for this eh?

    I got a ‘Monte’ on a cheap Virgin Mobile contract. They’re updating the £10 tariff regularly; 30p per day is an as-and-when online charge. However if you use a mobile a lot they’ve pricier contracts which have Internet bunged on. That said I wouldn’t bother getting one until an old phone breaks.

    Just me or is this post slanted heavily towards apparent female habit? What should a male read to get this boon of supposed insight?

    Pete, editor at Dirty Garnet.

  2. The Maverick says:

    Hi Pete,

    Thanks for your comment – the Rubridger link is interesting, as is the info about the ‘Monte’ – I’m more than aware that my three year-old handset needs replacing!

    I’m intrigued by the notion of ‘apparent female habit’. Maybe I’m such a woman I can’t even identify it….are you suggesting that it’s women as well as “merely ‘not stupid'” people who only enjoy these shows? (If Reality TV is outdated, may I ask what you suggest to term it instead?) Presumably the final sentence about Matt Cardle and the presumed gender of Heat Magazine’s readership swayed you, or indeed the referencing of only women contestants in the show? Dare I ask, is it because I myself am female? What do you term ‘apparent female habit’ ? I didn’t even mention in the post that I was giving myself a manicure at the same time….

    To this I counter: on Saturday night, the ratio of men to women I @tweeted during the show was 3:1. The one woman being a journalist, as opposed to a personal friend. @heatworld does not disclose the sex of the journalist currently tweeting, nor does @xfactortweets.

    What I hope a male or female, in equal measure, should gain from this post is how to use twitter as a networking and broadcasting tool and gain an insight (not just a ‘supposed’ one) about how twitter is changing the way critics react to TV via a platform more open than ever before.

    Furthermore, surely this question could be asked of any of the posts – not wanting to stray too much into gender theory here, it never was a favourite – but the Chancer’s post on ‘the big blag’ and ‘big time boxers’ could surely be seen as ‘slanted heavily towards apparent male habit’ ? Funny you didn’t pick up on that one.

    • Peter Demain says:

      By ‘apparent female habit’ I meant the magazine you referenced as opposed to anything grander. Despite that male presence on Saturday you never included much by way of reading recommends for men in the article or this comment.

      A lack of gender in print publication tweet accounts is pretty common. I wouldn’t read much into it. More relevant is the market therein – in Heat‘s case that’s a female audience.

      Twitter is a good outlet for irony: several journalists who piffle on about ‘social media’ do not in practice keep that spirit. The notion of practicing what is preached is ignored. A good thing about Twitter is the lack of censorship. Website comments however I’ve had deleted by journalists several times though they don;t violate rules. Mostly reason isn’t given, commonly tweets and e-mail are ignored thereafter.

      Freedom in the broadest sense is a two-way street. Protecting speech of those one disagrees with or dislikes is necessary else there’s a slippery slope to arbitrary censorship and self-censorship. Individuals who happily grandstand on press freedom censorsing or deleting reasonable comment on their blogs – isn’t something wrong there?

      Boxing is a male-orientated sport though exceptions exist. Hey if women want to become interested in it then they’re welcome. Hopefully Tom’s post proved interesting across the board. Fighting sports do see female participation. Happy to furnish stuff to back this up if you’ve an interest?

      Reality TV however is popular with both sexes, hence my request to know what publication aimed at a male audience deals with it. I do not know of one.

      Lastly, blagging as a male habit? Can’t say I’m convinced of that being the preserve of the male. Would like to see evidence to the contrary.


  3. Ryan GS says:

    We are currently too close to the sun that is ‘Reality Television’. It’s all over the box, and everywhere else, too. That being said, Spice Girls sold, like, a gajillion & a half albums, but can you find that many people willing to own up to it?

    Surely getting caught up in the spectacle of XFactor doesn’t point to a character flaw, no matter how much some people want that to be true. If anything, Twitter is a mask behind which we can safely comment away about socially objectionable things. (Not that I think Reality Television is socially objectionable.)

    The amount of people who have “come out” to me as Big Brother fans is untrue. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve had to listen to “I just can’t tell my family. They’ll never understand” – I’d have quite a few nickels.

    The hate has to stop people.

    Maybe we should start a network of safe houses, where the enjoyment of reality-based and factually questionable television can be watched in peace. A place we no longer fear of killing polite dinner party conversation.

    Can we build such a world? I think we can.

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