For goodness’ sake, turn off the tweets 

5 November 2008

Last night found me glued to the BBC News US Election coverage on the BBC website until I dragged myself away at 3am, with Ohio called for Obama and Virginia undeclared. I was watching both the live TV feed and also reading the auto-updating text under the video window on the “Live text: US Election 08” page.

Most of the text appearing there was from BBC correspondents in the US and elsewhere with commentaries on what was going on, between updates on the actual results and predicted results appearing every few moments – in the early stages of the results process at least. It was incredibly useful stuff, especially as I was helping colleagues on our internet radio station who were driving an Election Night virtual party in Second Life for members of the on-line US Library systems and were interspersing dance music with the latest results.

What I didn’t need was the stupid “tweets” from Twitter – SMS-length text comments from anybody and everybody with nothing but the usual stupid partisan comments you might expect. This kind of thing maybe has its place in some people’s minds, but surely not in pole position on the main page on the BBC’s website carrying headline coverage of an extremely significant event – and probably the most important page on their site last night.

I went to the BBC News web coverage of the US elections for authoritative news and comment – the facts and reasonable projections, what the media across the US and beyond was saying, and live commentary from BBC staff on the ground. I did not need annoying, useless, meaningless partisan comments thrown in every other entry from uninformed amateurs with axes to grind.

Please, please, BBC, don’t do this again. Amateur Hour I am sure has its place for some people [sigh] but can we keep it to designated “Have Your Say” pages and not splatter it over the main news coverage? I come to BBC News for professional news coverage, not background noise.

Thank you and goodnight.

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