Why Tom Watson MP is Only Half Right (or Half Wrong) on TV

This evening at Millbank tower, political blogger and journalist Paul Evans hosted a panel of digitally aware politicians and commentators that included Tom Watson MP, Jeremy Hunt MP and the Evening Standard’s Deputy Political Editor Paul Waugh.  They were there to debate the subject of social media and the election.  Given that’s precisely the subject of this blog we felt it was right to be there.

Tom Watson told us that he was going to tell it like it is.  According to Tom how it is, is that this will be the UK’s first TV election rather than the inaugural plebiscite where the plebeians moderate the debate.  Putting aside the fact that this would put us 50 years behind the USA where the Kennedy Nixon run off was regarded as the first TV election, what Tom has missed is what every top TV exec now knows.  Social media has become  a critical component of event television and event television is what is keeping the broadcasters in business.

The concept is known as “two-screen” and the channel of choice is most often twitter.  When Cameron, Clegg and Brown get up in front of the tv cameras it will be one of the biggest ever political tv events and it will be the ‘two-screeners’ who decide whether one or other candidate is too shifty to elect.  The likes of Paul Waugh and other social media savvy scribes will be watching with fascination before they channel the views of the twitterati through the mainstream media.  For a social media trailblazer Watson’s got some catching up to do.

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