Sunday, August 15, 2010

Journalist twitters invent an anti-Abbott joke. Newspaper changes story to include false "fact" #ausvotes #boatphone

I saw this happening myself last night on Twitter. Indeed, I tweeted at Samantha Maiden and SBS's Karen Middleton complaining that their comments ran counter to the actual substance of the story, because unlike so many others, I'd bothered to follow the link and read the bloody thing.

All it said was that as prime minister Abbott would make the final decision about boats following advice from the navy. there was nothing about a "boatphone" or a "hotline."
Phillip Hudson tweeted the following at 12.17am; no “special boatphone” mentioned in my story. Perhaps people should read it first…
Disgraceful and unprofessional journalism. But the fact that the Daily Telegraph changed its story later to incorporate the false boatphone element is especially disturbing.

I wonder how many people voting against Tony Abbott this coming Saturday will be voting against not the real man, but rather the cartoon cutout caricature created by biased and unfair media reporting like this?

Want a lesson on how the media can twist a perfectly sane proposal from Tony Abbott into an invitation to ridicule?

Here, first, is what Herald Sun political reporter Phillip Hudson wrote after an interview with the Opposition Leader:

“In the end, it would be a prime ministerial decision,” he told the Herald Sun.

“It would be the government’s call, based on the advice of the naval commander on the spot.”

Mr Abbott said the phone call from sea would come to him, and it would be his call whether to turn a boat back, if it was safe to do so.
Reader Matthew explains what happened next:
#boatphone went crazy on twitter a bit before 11pm aest… after about 90mins of every journo in the country trying to appear clever on twitter by making jokes about it, they quietly withdrew when phillip hudson’s piece went online at the hun and the daily tele about midnight, showing no mention of any such thing.

Interestingly though, at about 12.40am, the daily tele piece suddenly had the twitter initiated term ‘boatphone’ inserted into the article, complete with a new headline including, ‘holy smoke asylum seekers, its boatman...’ - another circulated ‘joke’ on twitter. see here…

While i personally have issues with such a policy, my concern for now is how easily/readily a story is manipulated to cater for the ramblings of twitter users.

Phillip Hudson tweeted the following at 12.17am; no “special boatphone” mentioned in my story. Perhaps people should read it first… Yet about 20mins later, the daily tele (or even hudson perhaps) had inserted the #boatphone reference, changed the headline and added a pic on the mainpage of abbott as a superhero ‘boatman.’anyway,

I just find myself a bit uneasy about the whole thing. annabel crabb, samantha maiden etc all piled in to the issue before the story was released, which caused a twitter meltdown, then suddenly the story is changed to reflect something other than was in the original.
The Twitter page of the ABC’s Crabb shows the joke becoming the story, despite Hudson’s attempts to defend the facts:
News breaking in newsltd tabloids: Abbott says he will have a special phone with which to turn back boats via navy
about 7 hours ago via TweetDeck

last tweet was not a joke by the way. Oh my stars.
about 7 hours ago via TweetDeck .

Here is the daily tele version: to the boat mobiles!
about 5 hours ago via TweetDeck .

RT @PhillipMHudson: Abbott never mentioned a special boatphone. Accurate version of my story is on Herald Sun website.
about 5 hours ago via TweetDeck
Jen_Bennett @annabelcrabb A Boat Phone? Will there also be a special spotlight that beams the silhouette of a pair of speedos into the night sky?
about 8 hours ago via web in reply to annabelcrabb

mpbowers @annabelcrabb gives a whole new meaning to phoney Tony
about 7 hours ago via web in reply to annabelcrabb

domknight The only way Abbott’s #Boatphone could be more ridiculous is if it was answered by a Citizen’s Assembly.
about 7 hours ago via web

sabinewolff Can we please get #boatphone trending? I feel it’s important that it does.
about 7 hours ago via Tweetie for Mac

And, indeed, the facts were changed to suit the Twitter joke. Here is the Daily Telegraph rewrite:
Holy asylum seekers! Tony Abbott to take charge of boat people hotline

TONY Abbott will personally make any decision to turn around boats carrying asylum seekers if he becomes prime minister…

Mr Abbott said the phonecall from sea would come to him - on the boatphone - and it would be his choice whether or not to turn a boat back if it was safe to do so.
AAP grabs the invented hotline with both hands:
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says he will personally decide whether to turn around boats carrying asylum seekers if the coalition wins the election.

Mr Abbott has pledged to set up a hotline for Australia’s border patrol forces so they could call him to ask if they’re allowed to turn the boats back, News Ltd reported on Monday.
No, Abbott has not pledged to set up any such hotline. Pure invention, and by journalists who are the first to protest they are in the truth business.

I’m told that Maiden, for one, was re-tweeting comments on the Daily Telegraph ”hotline" angle already inserted in its country edition, rather than making presumptions on Hudson’s report.

Posted via email from Garth's posterous

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