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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

News judgment

Does anyone truly think Deval Patrick would announce for a third term at a routine appearance in the middle of a Wednesday?

Yet that's exactly what an unnamed NECN staffer thought -- and prompted tweeted -- to thousands of followers. The resulting firestorm reinforces the wisdom of the old journalism rule "if your mother says she loves you, check it out."

In one sense it was understandable: Patrick is not known for his humor, at least when media is around.

So when he told at audience at UMass-Boston that "Thank you very much for the warm welcome and for hosting us today and for the setup to the announcement that I’ve come here to make, which is that I intend to run for a third term as your Governor" it seemed real enough to at least one person.

In the old days, that would have triggered a run for the phones, calling editors who would exercise the appropriate skepticism over a statement from a man who says he promised his wife he would only run for two terms.

Instead, the smartphone-toting journalist opened his Twitter feed and repeated the (lame) joke that launched a short-term #mapoli frenzy.

Let's be honest here. If Patrick was going to reverse himself, was this the venue, away from Statehouse reporters who in my day, considered the Parker House a long way to go for a story?

No. They would have a formally staged event at a hotel with plenty of warning offered to media that something big was coming and they shouldn't ignore the event. More than likely that heads-up would have taken the form of a leaked exclusive to the Globe.

Twitter has proven to be a marvelous tool for staying informed -- as long as the tweeps are responsible. You learn who is and isn't by trial and error, and NECN has dinged its brand as a result of the unfiltered reaction.

And they also struck a blow for editors everywhere.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, Twitter is a marvelous tool for staying informed, if it is used responsibly. Unfortunately, it's also a tool for any tool to irresponsibly disseminate every scattered thought they might have. Just because you can, doesn't mean that you should, or even that we're interested.

March 21, 2013 10:53 AM  

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