The Sun apology, Twitter maturity and Gordon Brown’s popularity

The Sun apologised today for spelling incorrectly the name of Jacqui Janes’, who has just lost her son to the war in Afghanistan. A typo is, of course, just a typo unless hours earlier you have crucified the Prime Minister committing this same error. Then it becomes hypocrisy.

Media hypocrisy is usually a strong narrative, so why was it that when The Sun was forced to issue an apology there wasn’t more of an uproar? Especially as ‘Typogate’ had an intriguing subplot of tabloid exploitation.

One would think that competing media outlets would love to stick the boot into The Sun and run a mocking story about their blunder. Yet only The Guardian has published anything of note.

John Prescott didn’t mention it in his blog today either despite sticking it to The Sun in other ways. This might have been out of respect and not wanting to make political capital out of Jacqui Janes’ situation. This makes sense, although bringing up The Sun’s mistake wouldn’t really be seen as further exploitation of a grieving mum, given the wider circumstances and the scale of the row.

Most notably, those folk on Twitter were comparatively quiet on the subject. Twitter users aren’t known to hold back and the social media site has seen plenty of mob rule recently, what with Jan Moir , AA Gill and all sorts of people receiving a battering at the hands of an angry group of dissenting voices.

OK, so the Tweet on the newspaper’s apology is doing the rounds, but The Sun or Jacqui Janes aren’t even trending on Twitter and haven’t been all day. The apology has hardly registered.

The usual Twitter lobbyists and campaigners aren’t encouraging others to humiliate The Sun and show up their hypocrisy. Could it be that Twitter users are now choosing to use their lynch mob tokens a little more sparingly, given recent criticism of ‘mob rule’? There have been a lot of blogs this week stating that Twitter is maturing, based on the slowing subscription to the service, so maybe this lack of noise is a sign that its users are growing up too? Personally I would have been intrigued to have seen this issue ‘go nuclear’. Old Media versus New. It has been a while since the rabble have been roused.

Or is the abstinence of the Twiterati more a statement on Gordon Brown’s popularity? Maybe Twitter users simply don’t want to defend the PM? I’m not sure this is a major factor.

In any case, The Sun’s apology goes further than being a political issue, and highlights shady tabloid journalistic tactics. For that reason I would have liked to see this story make more of an impact. The Sun is less likely to make an apology than Gordon Brown, and this rare action is worth the headlines.

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