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Journalists who took a tweet too far

20 Aug

By Sophie Lane

Mosts journalists these days know twitter is a go-to goldmine for networking and investigating, but it can also hinder hard-earned successes. These journalists famously typed one character too many and found themselves jobless due their troublesome tweets. Perhaps it’s Twitter’s friendly interface that makes it easy to forget you’re publishing those thoughts the world, or maybe that journalistic integrity happened to be on vacation?

Catherine Deveny @CatherineDeveny
Deveny was sacked from her position as columnist for The Age in 2010 for tweeting defamatory comments about celebrities during an awards ceremony at Melbourne’s Crown Casino. One of her last lines included “I do so hope Bindi Irwin gets laid”.

“We are appreciative of the columns Catherine has written for The Age over several years but the views she has expressed recently on Twitter are not in keeping with the standards we set at The Age,” The Age’s editor-In-chief at the time, Paul Ramadge said at the time.

Jill Singer @snooplady

Singer’s 15 year stint as columnist at The Herald Sun ended abruptly in March of this year after the journalist received a letter from the newspaper stating that her column was no longer needed. Many attribute the sudden-sack to fiery tweet arguments Singer had with Herald Sun cooworker Andrew Bolt.

Gavin Miller @gavdanmiller (account no longer active)

Gavin Miller was originally hired for Perth 96FM‘s ‘Classic Cafe’ show as a replacement for announcer Steve Fitton, who had been fired for breaching the radio station’s media policy. Miller however, followed in his predecessor’s footsteps and got fired himself for publicly shaming head of the Australian Christian Lobby, Jim Wallace via Twitter. “Turd” was the lightest of terms used, with others too offensive for publication.

Who else has taken to twitter and lived to regret their actions? Let us know!



About half of your brand’s followers are likely fake

12 Jun

So your brand is on Twitter and you want more followers… but how useful are they to you if nearly half of them turn out to be bots?

A study by Marco Camisani Calzolari
, a corporate communication and digital languages professor in Milan, into 39 brands on Twitter showed up to 46 per cent of followers were likely to be automated bots.

He used an algorithm to determine the behaviour of followers, based on key indicators of what was likely a bot.

The academic analyzed feeds of 39 international and Italian brands, including @DellOutlet, @BlackBerry, @CocaCola, @IKEAITALIA and @VodafoneIT.

While the study sample was relatively small it raises some questions about brands obsessions (and individuals too) with numbers of followers, especially when nearly half of them are fake. One wonders if brands are deliberately gaming the system to give the illusion of bigger followings.

As one observer pointed out:

Twitter should be able to crack down on this a lot more than they already are. If a professor can singlehandedly come up with an algorithm to detect bot accounts, why can’t Twitter do the same and remove these accounts? Unless, of course, they can and they’re afraid of what might happen if they open Pandora’s Box.

Twitter, news and #auspol

28 May

It’s getting harder to know where tweeting ends and where news begins, or even that there is a difference. As politicians take to tweeting to let their views be known and journalists continue to break news on the social news site, the function of traditional media is constantly under threat.

One of the value propositions put forward by news organisations is their ability to confirm, with authority, that which social media can’t.

It was interesting then to see AAP copy run across Fairfax and New Limited sites, which began:

LIBERAL MP Kelly O’Dwyer has suggested Australian-born citizens should get priority to become parliamentarians – apparently forgetting her own leader was born overseas.

The story was based on a tweet by O’Dwyer, in response to the outrage over Gina Rinehart receiving Government approval to use 1700 foreign workers for a mining project in WA.

The tweet read “Sen. Cameron says we should prioritise Australian workers before bringing in foreigners. Does this also apply to Senators?”

The tweet is really open to a number of interpretations, and some quite the opposite of others. It seems odd then that a rather large assumption was made about its meaning and run with, without seeking any confirmation from O’Dwyer as to what she actually meant.

The AAP copy was picked up, largely unchanged, and ran across Fairfax and News Limited sites without any further question.

Later, O’Dwyer  responded to a tweet by Matthew Lesh (@matthewlesh) which said that “@KellyODwyer‘s misunderstood point: Cameron is hypocritical when speaking against overseas born workers in Oz, as he is one himself. #auspol,” with “Finally someone understands the irony.#auspol”.

Politics aside,  the irony is that the tweet’s meaning was clarified on Twitter, but not until news organizations had spread a rather inaccurate version of it, based on nothing but speculation.

It’s not the first time, and it won’t be the last, that twitter has led the political news cycle.

Government whip Joel Fitzgibbon took to twitter to quell media rumours of him canvassing votes for Rudd.

Asked by ABC’s Latika Bourke on Twitter if he had “any comments on reports you are gathering numbers against the PM?” Fitzgibbon replied “I thank my colleagues for the publicity but no one does more to support the PM and the Government than me!”

Prime Minister Julia Gillard was apparently satisfied with words of support from Fitzgibbon on Twitter.

According to the AAP piece, asked whether Mr Fitzgibbon’s tweet was enough to settle the issue, Gillard said: “I think his words are clear.”

“It’s not the vehicle as to how they’ve been disseminated but what they say.”

And with that the PM very nicely summarised the problem facing the media.