Catch-22by Toby Manhire
How many communications professionals does it take to write a tweet?
• As many politicians – Judith Collins among them – have learnt the hard way, it pays to take a deep breath before posting that tweet. But it’s possible, too, to be overcautious, as in the case of Mitt Romney. During the Republican’s bid for the US presidency in 2012, each of his tweets required, according to a new study, approval from as many as 22people.
“Romney’s digital team had to go through an extensive vetting process for all of its public communications, meaning that the temporal workflow of the campaign did not match the speed of social media,” writes the paper’s author, Daniel Kreiss of the University of North Carolina. One campaign staffer told him, “whether it was a tweet, Facebook post, blog post, photo – anything you could imagine – it had to be sent around to everyone for approval. Towards the end of the campaign, that was 22 individuals who had to approve it.”
Acknowledging it was overkill, Romney’s digital director, Zac Moffatt, told Kreiss they were, at least, “the best tweets ever written by 17 people”.
• The explosive Senate study of the CIA’s “detention and interrogation programme” – better known as the “torture report” – delivers “a portrait of depravity that is hard to comprehend and even harder to stomach”, finds the New York Times in an editorial. It’s only a summary, and “sanitised by the CIA itself” but, still, the document lays bare a “litany of brutality, lawlessness and lack of accountability”.
The New York Times itself has faced censure, however, over its reporting of the subject. It wasn’t until 2014 that the paper rewrote its policy to allow use of the term “torture” to describe what it had been calling “harsh interrogation techniques”, a change urged by the paper’s independent public editor, Margaret Sullivan, and her predecessor.
Of criticisms of reporters working with CIA agents and withholding information at Government request, Sullivan writes: “It’s easy for a bystander to weigh in – harder when real harm to US troops or operations has to be considered. In general, though, the default position must be to publish, not to defer, and to push back, not to play ball. I think … the Times has been too accepting of the Government’s arguments.”
• Stonehenge is a magnificent edifice, but a disappointment up close, writes Economist travel blogger, Gulliver. For all the impressive rock-lugging of the Neolithic people and the “folklore and the spiritualism”, it’s also right beside a major highway. “All those backed-up articulated lorries and camper vans belching exhaust fumes somewhat spoil the mood.” It is, Gulliver regrets, “one of those places for which the reality is much more disappointing than the myth”.
Other examples of “world famous tourist attractions that are underwhelming up close”? The pyramids at Giza: “What the postcards don’t reveal is that they are really in the suburbs of Cairo, and one of the best views of them is from the local Pizza Hut.” The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen: “it does say little, but it really is tiny”. The Mona Lisa: “small, behind glass and a long way away”. And Checkpoint Charlie: “Since the Wall came down, just a small shed in the middle of the road.”
• Some tourists are will never be happy, however. The Daily Telegraph has trawled the website TripAdvisor for the grumpiest reviews of the most famous destinations. On the Grand Canyon, for example: “Went there from Vegas for a few hours – nothing special.” On a Paris landmark: “More like the Awful Tower.” Niagara Falls? “Lame and boring. The place was packed with foreigners who always walked into our pictures.” The Statue of Liberty, according to one survivor, was “like a Third-World country”, while the Sydney Opera House inspired this critique: “Nothing special, looks better on TV.”
Also in Telegraph Travel recently, its annual reader-survey results. Top destination, for the third year running, is New Zealand – worth a visit “to sample Marlborough’s winelands, for the rubgy, or to experience Mauri traditions”.
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