What a morning it has been. The phrase “historic moment” is desperately over-used, but it genuinely feels like one just occurred. A very old media process happened – a company got a gagging order on a national newspaper, to try and quash a negative story about them. And a disparate, disaggregated group of individuals were able to work out the basics of what happened, and use Twitter to make the gagging order meaningless.
That was mass, connected journalism at its finest. Here’s the rough sequence of events:
- A court order is sought and obtained, preventing The Guardian reporting any details of a parliamentary question
- They post about this.
- The Spectator breaks traditional media ranks and blogs about it in more detail
- More details are found on Wikileaks
- People start tweeting the link, and adding a hashtag of the name of the company involved
- The hashtag spread virally, and becomes a trending topic on Twitter (see grab, above right)
- The mainstream media start reporting the meta-story – about the trending topic
- Alan Rusbridger tweets that the lawyers have caved.
For those cynics who want to suggest that the sudden attention brought to the company on Twitter had nothing to do with the final outcome, Rusbridger’s opinion might be worth noting.
UPDATE: Useful background on the story over on Journalism.co.uk
UPDATE 2: Fantastic piece of aggregation from Joanne, linking to coverage of Trafigura all over the web.