Philippa Thomas Online

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Covering the #Stephenlawrence trial by #Twitter – your thoughts


I’m writing something about covering the Stephen Lawrence trial on Twitter – and would appreciate feedback about the uses and limitations of the twitterstream for those who are following it.   You may have found the notes and quotes useful pointers which supplement longer form coverage online / in the press – or you might point out the problems of  “reducing” complex legal arguments to 140 characters. I’ll reply to your thoughts.  P

Author: philippathomas

I've been a BBC newswoman for 30 years: reporting from around the world. Currently to be seen anchoring BBC World News TV. Main interests - politics, psychology, reading, trekking, and all things American. I began this personal blog as a 2011 Nieman Journalism Fellow at Harvard. You can also find me talking daily news on Twitter at @PhilippaBBC, coaching @positivecoachi3, and life & travel on Instagram at @philippanews. Thanks for reading!

7 thoughts on “Covering the #Stephenlawrence trial by #Twitter – your thoughts

  1. that was a tough one yesterday – was there a little voice saying ‘go on keep it going P, we’ve nothing to give them at this end, that’s it, well done, repetition what repetition …’?
    And of course you did do very well

  2. And what’s very interesting is that Sky News just filled the screen with tweets because it was the only way to get live news from the courtroom… A TV screen full of tweets has now become live TV broadcast news…

  3. Excellent reporting this morning, watched it on BBC America. Not sure I can make any comment on the Stephen Lawrence trial but it was impressive to see you keep the narrative flowing while receiving live smartphone updates and making your own notes. Was it difficult to keep the dialogue flowing for live TV without really knowing how long it would be until the judge announced his verdict?

  4. Phillipa, I have just watched, transfixed, your reporting from outside the Old Bailey as the judge was handing down the sentences in the Lawrence case. First of all I have to say that I thought the Twitter feed(s) you were using really added to the “breaking” feel of the way the piece was delivered. I think that Twitter is no longer optional when it comes to breaking news, I think all that is in doubt is how much you and your colleagues will embrace it. Purely practical considerations I feel, nothing more. Far more important however is that I take this opportunity to commend you for the quality, clarity, speed and accuracy of your reporting. It was really something to behold. You were obviously handling several inputs at one time, processing them all and giving us a relevant, coherent, structured and intelligent picture of everything that was taking place. Truly fantastic. Thank you.

  5. I thought it was a gripping way to show the story unfolding, I was watching/listening you as I read tweets from various other journalists at the same time and felt like I almost could have been in that court room, And yes I though you did an amazing job at connecting all those different views/tweets

  6. I rarely compliment journos. However, today outside the court with pedestrians and traffic you did a remarkable job in concentration. Furthermore giving ,what I presume. your signature,on a number of occassions. Reading feeds directly from court did not in any way phase you. I did have a chuckle when you broke off to wipe your runny nose, not surprising given the cold windy weather. Phillipa you should be very proud of how you handled a most difficult assignment in a caring and profesional manner. Very well done. John E MacGregor

  7. I was able to follow the trial whilst at work. For me the charachter limitation was useful given the pace. The tweets I read were consequently fact – direct quotes and stage directions, omitting comment which in this case would not have been appropriate.
    Useful in that it also made me aware of more up and coming journos rather than the main faces. Content won over poularity.

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