Was he drunk, hungover, tired, hoarse or all of the above? The question seems irrelevant now as the media storm has taken off and developed a life of it’s own. What I am referring to is a slightly slurred interview by our very own Taoiseach Brian Cowen on Tuesday’s Morning Ireland. Cowen did sound like he had a hangover that would kill an elephant but being a nation of alcohol enthusiasts we would forgive him, wouldn’t we? Apparently not, minutes after the interview Simon Coveney, A Fine Gael frontbench spokesman, started the media domino effect by Tweeting that the Taoiseach “sounded half way between drunk and hung-over”. Coveney’s Tweet was soon picked up across the media and the story spread like, I know it’s a cliché but seriously, a wild fire!
Media analyst Stephen O’Leary studied the coverage of this story from over 128,000 news sources in over 200 countries. In the 15 hours from the interview 457 articles were published in 26 countries. 108 of these were in Ireland, 197 in the US and 51 in the UK. The story was also published in countries across western Europe, in China, India and Australia.
Twitter played a central role is starting this avalanche of media interest. It is the instant nature of Twitter that makes it effective. One Tweet can be circulated to thousands of followers in an instant and this empowers the Tweeters.
So who are the winners in this story? Definitely Twitter. In every news clip I have seen or news story that I have read the story begins with Simon Coveney's Tweet. This is great free advertisement for Twitter. Is shows the power of Twitter and I can envisage the CEO of Twitter sitting back and reading this story with a smile.