Archbishop Pontificates On Social Networks

3 08 2009

Is the leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales using his opposition to social networks as a way of building his own profile?  Archbishop Vincent Nichols has argued that MySpace and Facebook are the basis of “transient” friendships and can be a factor in suicide among young people as a result of relationships which have collapsed.  The truth is that young people are vulnerable to relationship issues wherever and however they occur.  

If the Archbishop, who was enthroned just two months ago as successor to the high profile Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor wanted headlines he got them.  He wouldn’t be the first Catholic cleric to capture column inches via Facebook.  Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe of Naples who openly takes a very different stance on social networks opened a Facebook site in November and within a few weeks gained  5,000 ‘friends’.  

A more useful contribution from the cloth came from Giles Fraser, the vicar of Putney who on the BBC Radio Today programme this morning, described social networks as “thin communities” which allow for freedom and social diversity where young people can “keep friendships alive”.  

I think the important issue here is the relevance and importance of the expertise.  When it comes to understanding new technologies and emerging communications channels we simply shouldn’t be turning to religious (or political) leaders for advice.

Grade to Step Down at ITV

23 04 2009

The news this morning that the Executive Chairman of ITV is to step back from his post is further evidence of the changing role of television.

The former BBC Chairman and nephew of Lew Grade a founding father of ITV is part the generation that presided in the golden era of television.   The early sixties through to the early nineties provided the most watched TV shows of all time.   The very idea of a TV channel is under threat with the web providing higher quality and varied means of delivery.  Channels have to be brands to have a role in future models.

In the last year ITV has shed 1600 jobs and is a brand that needs to embrace change in the medium if it is to survive.   Whilst the channel struggles to deliver it’s programmes via the web others are innovating.  Last night the BBC’s webcast of the apprentice had a live vote and a chat room attached where viewers could share their opinions about which hopeful would be the next to get the finger from Mr Sugar.   The BBC has also just announceed that the hugely successful iPlayer will go to HD.

ITV still has great products and brand equity.  Its place on the  digital dial is still valuable but unless it finds a new way to embrace the web its time is ebbing away.

We are all in Public

4 02 2009

The BBC has dropped former Carol Thatcher daughter of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher from “The One Show” .  The BBC took the action after she apparently used the word “golliwog” to describe a tennis player.    The comments were allegedly made during a conversation with fellow presenters after filming for the programme had ended.  Carol has appeared on the show as a regular roving reporter for the last three years.

Other presenters reported her off-air remark to senior staff, leading to her sacking by the BBC.  The identity of the tennis player has not been revealed but there are rumours that it might even be Andy Murray. 

The critical issue here is not just the debate as to whether the remarks were racist (intentionally or not) but that the words of public figures are now seldom ever ‘private’.  Carol Thatcher needs to understand that the social web means that they can be published by anyone, anywhere in an instant.   The BBC should recognise this too and reveal the name of the tennis player.  Then we will all be better placed to make a judgement.

%d bloggers like this: