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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Tweet is a long time in politics

We are at the broadsheet Sunday Tribune in Dublin this week where the dominant story is a fascinating mix of old and new media - spiced up with a bit of sex and politics. It goes like this. Weekly newspaper the Limerick Leader interviews defence minister Willie O'Dea who falsely accuses a rival of running a brothel. He then denies saying such a thing in court. The Leader releases the transcript of the interview - and O'Dea is done up like a kipper. Remarkably he survives a vote of no confidence. But then the Government's coalition partners change their mind. How do we know? Their leader, Dan Boyle, sends out a Tweet, after the vote, which says: "As regards to Minister O'Dea I don't have confidence in him. His situation is compromised. Probably be a few chapters in this story yet." O'Dea resigns 24 hours later.
The story wouldn't have broken at all if it wasn't for traditional reporting by Limerick journalist Mike Dwane. And if it wasn't for the spontaneous reaction on Twitter, O'Dea may still be in office. It all serves as a reminder of why journalists need to use social media - there is a lot being said out there. But more importantly, it is a reminder why newspapers need to continue to invest in good reporting backed up by full transcripts (be they shorthand or digital).
Social media footnote: There is now a campaign on Facebook - mainly supported by women - to have the dashing O'Dea appointed the next President of Ireland. So far there are 424 followers.

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