From Trafigura to live-blogging: The Guardian’s use of Twitter

The Guardian is almost known for its online presence and use of multimedia. This is especially true when you consider that it is the UK’s second most popular newspaper website (with an average of 2.5million daily browsers) and the world’s fifth most popular English-language news site.

The Guardian logo

It is also a master of the live blog, with the website covering events such as the Arab Spring and Cablegate. However, it also covers trends closer to home, like X Factor and Kate Middleton’s recent pregnancy announcement, which some say could have been a bit over the top. But The Guardian’s penchant for a live blog is clear, as Jonathan Haynes, web news editor for the newspaper, said:

“What I would say is I don’t think live blogs would have been so successful pre-Twitter and, more importantly, Facebook. I think the fact Facebook, and later Twitter, trained us as people to consume information in a less linear, more discrete pieces of information, way was pretty important for people being happy to consume news in that way too, which is basically how live blogs present them.”

There have been criticisms to this non-linear format of reporting news, such as in this blog post entitled ‘The Guardian Newsblog and the Death of Journalism’. In it, the author describes the live blog coverage of the Christchurch earthquake in 2011 as a “mish-mash of baffling tweets” and “irrelevant musings from The Guardian’s comments”. But with the hashtag idea of reporting on events/TV shows/people on Twitter, isn’t this the way news is moving forward? The old ‘inverted triangle’ of news works well in print, but online must adapt to stay fresh and interesting – and with the idea of a live blog, the most recent piece of information must go at the top.

Live-blogging aside, on every story that you will find on The Guardian’s website, is a button where you can share the story on Twitter (and Facebook, Google+, Linkedin and email). Clicking on this link will bring up a new window and an already-typed tweet that you can simply click and bingo – you’ve shared the story to all your followers. The tweet will usually contain a link to the story on The Guardian’s website and a ‘via @guardian’ mention that people can click on to take them to the newspaper’s Twitter profile. This is all very standard of an online newspaper in 2012.

The Guardian twitter

Of course, The Guardian’s close relationship with Twitter began in 2009 with the case of Trafigura. The company, along with its lawyers, imposed a super injunction on the press to prevent them reporting on their spilling of toxic waste into the Ivory Coast. MP Alan Farrelly used parliamentary privilege to talk about the case in court, but of course, the gagging order meant that the press could not report on parliament. Alan Rusbridger, editor of The Guardian, tweeted:

“Now Guardian prevented from reporting parliament for unreportable reasons. Did John Wilkes live in vain? http://tinyurl.com/yhjxo38

After this, the super injunction was lifted, but in this case, The Guardian and Twitter played an important part in reporting news and freedom of speech.

I believe that The Guardian, out of all the newspapers, understands Twitter and the online progression of news the most. Many Guardian journalists are on Twitter and never fail to share their articles with readers, sometimes more than once in a day – gaining the website maximum traffic. From Trafigura to live-blogging, they know what their online reader wants and they know how to deliver.

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One thought on “From Trafigura to live-blogging: The Guardian’s use of Twitter

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