By now, most people are familiar with the basic concept that what goes up on the net, stays on the net. This fact should be reason enough for a few deep breaths before sharing your true feelings with the whole world. Not so, apparently, for a Canadian technology journalist whose recent Twitter exchange just turned into a cautionary tale for the rest of us.
It’s not all that unusual for reporters and PR execs to get grumpy with each other. It’s a symbiotic relationship that often leaves both parties feeling like they’re sleeping with the enemy.
Most of the time, the balancing act is cordial. Sometimes things get ugly. For Financial National Post technology reporter David George-Cosh and PR exec April Dunford, it became especially ugly – and public – when they took what should have been a phone conversation online in the form of a Twitter exchange. Not long after, Ian Capstick at MediaStyle.ca took notice and well… we’ll get to that.
For those who have yet to use the tool, Twitter lets you “microblog” or broadcast your every thought in the form of short text messages, which are sent directly to anyone who has chosen to “follow” your “tweets”. Of course, anyone else can find these tweets too, with a simple search. It’s a powerful tool which, when used correctly can even help people in emergencies, but when treated carelessly can also land them in sticky situations.
George-Cosh and Dunford’s tweet session apparently got rolling after Dunford decided to share her thoughts about George-Cosh’s recent harsh reaction to her slow return of his phone call.
Though her initial tweet
“Reporter to me “When the media calls you, you jump, OK!?” Why, when you called me and I’m not selling? Newspapers will get what they deserve”
was fairly innocent and didn’t mention any names, David George-Cosh or ‘SirDavid’ as he’s known on Twitter, decided to respond to the taunt.
What ensued was a classic case of letting one’s emotions run away with you. I won’t repost the whole exchange – you can check out Ian’s excellent coverage for that – but suffice it to say, SirDavid’s tweets contained enough bile and four-letter words to make him look like someone who’s barely keeping things together. The kind of thing you might expect from a prima-donna actor, not an objective observer of technology.
Many of the comments in Ian’s blog commend April Dunford for keeping her cool in the face of George-Cosh’s onslaught and indeed, she was certainly professional. Yet others have pointed out that SirDavid’s Christian Bale-style tirade was at least in part deserved given Dunford’s attitude toward the press as expressed in her first tweet.
Regardless who you feel was right or wrong in this sad yet strangely compelling tweetcident, we should all take careful note of the result. Though David George-Cosh’s career is far from over, the net has a long memory, with nearly perfect recall and his words will haunt him for a long time.