Then there was that extraordinary outburst from Matthew d'Ancona
on Sunday, who dismissed the Commons vote as: "A nauseating, preening and grubby carnival of inaction".
But if these people don't have the first idea of what is happening to them, we can take heart. For, while they preen and clatter, their voices are less influential than they have ever been. Not for nothing have I stopped calling their trade, the Mainstream Media (MSM). That accords them too much weight and authority – they are the minority opinion: "legacy media" is a far better description.
What we can learn from this, though, is not at all clear. For sure, when there is a relatively straightforward message that the public wants to communicate to its representatives, the "social media" works. And when we want to challenge the legacy media, as The Boiling Frog
shows, even twitter has its uses.
An EU referendum, though, is a different matter. There, we are not so much trying to communicate with a limited number – the many talking to the few – so much as trying to convince each other. And we won't have the media to ourselves. There will be strong competition from the europhiles. They have the advantage in the simplicity and directness of their messages, which relies almost entirely on FUD. – a genre ideally suited to the social media.
This should underline to us that there are two elements to communication – the message and the medium. We have the opportunity of fighting a referendum campaign, in which the legacy media monopoly is broken, but that will be of little avail if we cannot get our message right. This is why I've expended so much energy on the Batten nonsense
, but there is still a long way to go.
In the forum
, I write of talk of "illegal treaties" and "traitors" being a turn-off for a great swathe of the population. The essential thing, I write, is to determine what message the unconverted will respond to. Preaching to the converted, with a message they (or some of them) want to hear, can drive away the people we need to win a referendum.
Thus, while we can rejoice in the prospect of being able to reach a wider constituency through the "new media" (a term which I prefer to "social media"), we still have to craft our message. And that is going to be the harder part of our task.