Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

Twitter drives the national conversation in the theatrum mundi

By Richard Stanton - posted Tuesday, 30 August 2011

"Twitter is on fire this morning. Some fantastic articles coming through" - @jboyded

The Prime Minister Julia Gillard says we need (sometime in the future) to have national conversations about the big issues – carbon tax, immigration, mining, etc.

She misses the point. The conversations are already ignited and fired up.


Like the conversations about rioting and cleaning up in London that are happening in the Twitterverse.

Twitter has replaced the letters pages and call back radio because it's without intervention – no seven second delay, no sub-editor cutting your best par.

Citizens can participate in the 'national conversation' without going out in the rain and without being subjected to the rants of the professional political classes.

A democracy is a democracy when it is subject to the ongoing rigorous participation of its citizens.

For most of the 20th century newspaper pages devoted to letters submitted by ordinary citizens played a vital role in the democratic process.

Citizens were eligible to write about anything and everything – namely issues to which they felt some emotional or rational attachment.


(It was less so in earlier centuries when the literacy rates in the western world were themselves the issue.)

If the issue happened to coincide with the agenda-setting focus of the newspaper itself, so much the better, it had a greater chance of being published.

The letters to the editor pages was an instrument that provided an insight into ordinary political argumentation – letters pages offered perspectives on hot button issues that sidestepped the rhetoric of the elected representative and the political party.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. All

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

2 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Richard Stanton is a political communication writer and media critic. His most recent book is Do What They Like: The Media In The Australian Election Campaign 2010.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Richard Stanton

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Article Tools
Comment 2 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy