Friday, July 16, 2010

Election 2010: Beware the early word

So here’s Dennis Shanahan yesterday:

Bookies defied, poll pushed back
AN election is highly unlikely to be called this weekend after Julia Gillard's first full election strategy meeting on Tuesday night.

The meeting looked at all the options for a federal election date from this weekend until December.

Despite frenzied media speculation and heavy betting with bookmakers targeting August 21, an election is most likely either the following Saturday or in mid-September, even perhaps as late as mid-October, according to a report in The Australian.

(nice work Dennis, nailing down the possible election date to one of three months)

Today of course very quickly the talk became that Julia would in fact be calling an election this weekend for either August 28 or August 21.

Emma Rodgers of the ABC was first in with the news that the election would definitely be called tomorrow, and also that it would definitely be the 28th:

Gillard tipped to call election tomorrow

By online political correspondent Emma Rodgers

Prime Minister Julia Gillard is likely to visit Governor General Quentin Bryce tomorrow to set an August 28 election date, the ABC understands.

SBS’s Karen Middleton soon after was writing on twitter:

Expecting PM to head to Government House tomorrow. She'll delay issue of writs til mid-week (GG o/s Sat-Wed) & have poll on Aug 28. My view!

But as the day moved on soon talk was shifting to August 21. For example there was Andrew Green of the ABC on twitter:

2 Senior Labor sources say Julia G to visit G-G at ten thirty tomorrow morning to request an August 21 poll

And then Sky’s David Speers:

August 21 almost certain for election date. Gillard will announce tomorrow

To the point where Karen Middleton tweeted:

May have to revise my Aug 28 prediction. Now being told Aug 21 more likely. Bring on tomorrow...

Now this is not to have a go at Middleton or Rodgers because journos have to trust their sources, and if you’ve been told it’s the 28th, you’d be a bit silly not to run with it (though you’d want to use a few caveats) (and Middleton’s perhaps was more of a hunch). But it is a bit of a lesson for us in the age of twitter to remember that getting in first is not always best – especially if you are wrong. And that just because something is tweeted does not make it fact.

Those who are twitter addicts know this, but during an election, where no doubt journalists on the campaign trail will have their iphones surgically attached to their hands, we should remember that a rumour is a rumour even if it is tweeted.

Personally the one journo who I find is generally most accurate on twitter is David Speers. He doesn’t tweet often, but when he does he is pretty much on the money (and we’ll see tomorrow if the date is indeed Aug 21). Others are good to follow for gossip and political hubbub – and some of the better ones will actually engage in conversation – but twitter is often electronic Chinese Whispers.

It will be interesting to see this election how many tweets get corrected (and for politicians how many will be deleted?).

And so tomorrow will be election Day 1. Stock the fridge, strap yourselves in, it’s going to be a long five weeks.

1 comment:

Zac Spitzer / Fastmovingtarget said...

As the liberals have been calling for three debates, Gillard could completely nail the election by agreeing with the proviso of one or more deputy debates.. Swan versus Bishop would be very entertaining and a death knell for the Liberals chances... Swan is in form and there ain't enough hair spray in the world that to save Julie from complete collapse