Hone Harawira applied for a judicial recount in Te Tai Tokerau following the release of the final results on Saturday. The result came out today. I suspect the result wasn’t what Hone was hoping for. Kelvin Davis’s majority increased by 4. Made up of 2 more votes for him and two less for Hone. However, what I want to talk about is how the media have covered the story. Or more precisely how they have worded their tweets about it.
Tweeting links to new content is a key part of any online news organisations marketing system. I know that there are plenty of articles that I come across from following the accounts of news organisations, or people retweeting content from them. It is the modern version of standing at the water cooler and asking co-workers if they had read something in this mornings paper. Now obviously they are going to be space limited in their tweets, especially if they are going to include a link and an image. But that does not excuse sloppy headline/tweet writing.
I have seen four tweets about the result of the recount, RadioLive, NewsTalkZB, The Herald and Stuff.
Now I don’t normally have an issue with the language chosen by media organisations, especially in articles. But there is something a little dancing on gravesish about some of the content in these tweets. The use of “backfires” grates with me. It is well known that I am not Hone’s biggest fan, but he had every right to request a judicial recount of the result in Te Tai Tokerau. I suspect he knew, right from the moment he filed the forms, that there was little chance that the result would be changed because of the recount. So I don’t think there is anything that “backfired”. The job of the media is to report the news. If they had been quoting someone as saying it “backfired”, that would be fine. However it is their content that has introduced the word “backfired”. These tweets, and headlines, will be being spread around with all the connotations that the word “backfired” implies.
The thing that really sums up the issue I have with the words they have chosen is the fact that even David Farrar, at Kiwiblog, has taken a pretty neutral tone with his blog title:
Now I know this isn’t STRICTLY related to social media and politics, but it is something that is making me feel a bit uneasy. Using social media to push articles does force editors and headline writers to be succinct, which can lead to underlying views and slants to come through.