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The Audacity of Twitter

It's hardly unusual for journalists to tout their own stories on Twitter. I've done it myself. And I appreciate seeing links to provocative pieces I may have missed.

But what happens when you write what you think is an important story, and no one much cares? That's happened to just about everyone in the business. But Fast Company's Adam Penenberg decided to do something about it.

He tweeted. And kept on tweeting.

Penenberg had reported on a legal proceeding involving baseball prospect Brian Cole, who was killed when his SUV rolled over. This did not generate many headlines. He began venting on Twitter:

"So you have a $131 million verdict against a major corporation by a jury that found that one of its most popular (and profitable vehicles) was essentially defective, a future NY Mets star whose life was tragically cut short, a top litigator, and no media coverage?...

"So I got on Twitter, dashing off a two-hour burst of tweets about the case and why it was big news. I told the horrific tales of rollover accident victims and shared some of my reporting on the Ford Explorer, which Ford's own internal documents showed was dangerously unstable. I offered context for the verdict, linked to previous articles on two earlier trials that had ended in hung juries, and berated journalists for not getting on the story....

"Partway through my Tweetapoolaza, the first news story--a tiny article--appeared on a local Mississippi newspaper site. Then came an Associated Press piece and a post on ESPN. The New York Daily News tweeted me back, promising me they were on the case. The next day, though, there was only a brief three-sentence mention of the case and muted coverage of it elsewhere. Most of it was of the 'he said, she said' sort of journalism....

"None of them explained what the real problem was: The Ford Explorer...You won't find many publications willing to go there. Perhaps they are fearful of losing Ford advertising dollars."

Whether that theory has any validity or not, Penenberg got a second wave of attention, however modest, for his reporting. Which is why I'm now writing about it.

(Hat tip: Mediaite)

By Howard Kurtz  |  September 7, 2010; 9:00 PM ET
Categories:  Top story  
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Comments

jack, If you've been injured due to the negligence of another, you may be compensated for certain losses. We're here to protect your rights and see that you receive a just settlement, contact at http://bit.ly/9be1LW or 877-738-0690


Posted by: bettyhadley9 | September 10, 2010 6:31 AM | Report abuse

I actually provided some real analysis of Penenberg's tweets and how the mainstream media responded.

Anyone interested in this topic should read: http://www.billdoskoch.ca/2010/09/06/twitter-penenberg-ford-rollover-verdict/

Bottom line? It took AP about as much time to spit out a rel. complete wire story as it did for Penenberg to blast off his tweets. I would note most of his tweets were background and not news.

Perspective, people.

BTW, I sent a link to Kurtz via an @ reply on Twitter (I'm at @billdiTO), but never heard back.

Posted by: BillDoskoch | September 12, 2010 7:15 PM | Report abuse

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