Scarborough Subway Confirmation: CP24 Coverage – Official Website vs. Twitter Feed

On Monday, September 23rd, the development of a new Scarborough subway line was confirmed when the federal government pledged to give $660 million to the project. With all levels of government coming together and a live press conference, this story was covered by all major news networks in Toronto and some national networks as well. The story was covered on various mediums, including newspapers and their corresponding websites, TV, live streams, Twitter, etc.

I want to look at the differences between the coverage on an official news station’s website and their Twitter news coverage. More specifically, I want to look at how the CP24’s website coverage was different from their  Twitter coverage on September 23rd only.

CP24 started out and is known for its TV news coverage of the Greater Toronto Area. Seen as how it did not start out as an online brand, it is interesting to see how they are differentiating between their online extentions. While they are both online in nature, an official website of a TV station and a Twitter feed are quite different mediums. As the consumer, we expect different things from each source and interact differently with the stories depending on where we read them. Analyzing the coverage from the writer’s perspective, you can clearly see how the writing and implied audience changes between these two companies and mediums.

CP24 published a total of 7 posts on there website and 18 tweets (below) relating to the Scarborough Subway on September 23rd. It’s interesting to note that 6 of the 7 posts on the website  were strictly video links. This is possibly because of CP24’s roots in television. All videos posted online were at on their television broadcast at some point. The first 2 posts are live stream videos of the conference on Monday where premiere Kathleen Wynne and Rob Ford reacted to finance minister, Jim Flaherty’s announcement about the feds getting on board with the subway. ]

The next 3 posts are uncut videos with TTC CEO Andy Byford and TTC Chair Karen Stintz both saying the council-approved subway plan is the best way to go, and Ontario Transportation Minister Glen Murray providing the only form of criticism in CP24’s coverage. He is grateful the feds are giving money, but realizes that they are only paying for less than 4% of the whole cost while the province covers the rest.

The last two posts are first, a written article recapping everything that happened on that day, and second, a cut video recap of everything that had happened and the addition of talking to the public.

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CP24 Twitter was treated very differently that day. The photo below shows the entire string of tweets about the subway that day with the oldest at the bottom and the most recent at the top. 3 of the 18 tweets were direct links or promotions for the live coverage CP24 had of the conference, thus guiding people towards the TV-video coverage they have. More interestingly though, 13 of the 18 tweets are short quotes of the most important or the most shock-worthy things Kathleen Wynne, Jim Flaherty, Rob Ford and Doug Ford said at the conference.

“‘The nice  things about the Government of Canada is that we actually have the money’ says Flaherty” is an example of a tweet that stands out. You go to twitter to read the abbreviated versions of what happened at the conference. This quote tells you that Flaherty is quite confident that the federal government will deliver. It almost sounds a little smug as a stand-alone quote, but we go to twitter to get the “Reader’s Digest” version. We want short and meaningful; something that tells us what’s going on and gives us something to quote when talking about it with others. It allows us to get the gist without having to watch the entire live news conference.

Let us also note that while the website’s posts were staggered throughout the day – as the conference or an interview finished – the Tweets were happening live at the conference as it happened. This reinforces the fact that twitter is expected to be a realtime medium with access at the click of a mouse (or touch of smartphone screen). Sure, we can watch the full video later, but the tweets allow us to remain knowledgeable on-the-go.

Donald Matheson talked about news as a vehicle for subtext. He also talked about how news reinforces the democratic process. These ideas jumped to the forefront of my mind when Rob Ford so conveniently pointed out on in the conference (covered on both the website and the Twitter) that he had been fighting for this and when the people of Scarborough said they didn’t want an LRT, he kept fighting. In his words “Another promise made, and that’s another promise kept.” Rob Ford is using this news forum as a way to remind the voters of his subtext – that he’s the right person for the job. Jim Flaherty reminded viewers that the Conservatives have a majority government so they will definitely have the money. In both cases, the men are in fact reinforcing the democratic process. They are getting people to “be on their side” and hints that the public must have wanted this because they voted. wanted this.

On the website coverage, Karen Stintz, reminds  people that the TTC council’s plan was a better idea and that’s why they went with it. Glen Murray also happens to mention various times that it’s actually the Provincial Government paying for 90% of the bill for these transit projects.

It’s clear to see that all levels of government are using this conference and the news to further their political agendas. CP24 seems to be a medium for the government to reach the people. Furthermore, CP24 chooses exactly what parts to post and what parts to leave out thus telling the public what should be considered important. The twitter feed is a perfect example of that reporter deciding what the public should know right away and what can wait until later.

These are just a few of my observations, but I welcome any other ideas in the comment section.

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