In the days leading up to Brexit Day, Boris Johnson broke “with long-standing tradition” and chose to keep broadcasters from recording his message. Instead, as Jon Williams from Ireland’s national broadcasting service observed above, the PM used social media as his primary channel for sending the message out.
Now, Johnson hasn’t had the friendliest relationship with the UK media. He’s been vocal about changing policies related to the BBC’s funding, for example, and has been reported to have barred “left-wing or critical” journalists from briefings at Downing Street.
Commentators/critics have described this behavior as a way to bypass scrutiny, especially from outlets with rigorous journalistic standards. What’s interesting is that this antagonism towards mainstream media has become sustainable largely because social media has given figures like Johnson an alternative way to communicate with audiences.
It’s worth thinking about which figures or organizations seem to be using this fact as leverage to redefine their relationship with mainstream media.
I’m reminded of the Philippines’ President Duterte, for example, who has been threatening to block the broadcast franchise renewal for ABS-CBN Corporation. ABS-CBN is the country’s biggest media conglomerate and is half of what is essentially a duopoly in Philippine media. Shutting down ABS-CBN might have been too big a loss to consider for anybody with 100M+ citizens to reach, if not for the ubiquity of social media in the Philippines today.
*This is more of a half-baked idea that definitely needs more thought. Future posts in a similar vein will be tagged #jotter. Anyway, I posted this for our class discussion boards today and figured it’s worth saving here.