Yesterday I received a tip-off there was an evacuation at News Corp after an “anthrax-like” substance was delivered.
Instinctively, I soon tweeted about the evacuation using the hashtag #NewsCorp.
Within minutes, my Twitter blew up with dozens of replies, retweets and shares.
In a normal working week I’d write anywhere between one to three stories on News Corp, but in my two years at AdNews I’ve never read such angry, vile and defamatory comments about any company.
#NewsCorp in Surry Hills has been evacuated. Police/ambulances on the scene. Chemical hazard team on the scene. I've asked News Corp what's going on - waiting for response.— Lindsay Bennett (@lindsaybennett) January 8, 2018
While I’m aware that there are those that dislike News Corp due to its right-wing approach (and Fairfax for its left-wing approach), I never expected the explosion of hatred I received.
Below is just a sample of some of the tweets that flooded in:
“A chemical spill at News Corp is hardly surprising when they produce industrial quantities of bile.”
“Let’s hope someone made Rupert swallow some anthrax.”
“The odious stench of their lies and misrepresentations obviously got too much for them.”
“Toxic columnists finally explode.”
While there were a few concerned citizens, the majority revelled in the fact the Murdoch-owned business was under a possible attack.
It’s a constant downfall of our industry, and maybe our society, that negative stories garner more attention than the positive.
Looking at the top 10 most read news stories on AdNews this year, I was disappointed that stories about The Biggest Loser being cancelled, backlash against a Dove’s breastfeeding campaign and Netflix being criticised for bad product placement rated higher than investigative pieces into Facebook’s inflated metrics and the Australian brands impacted by YouTube’s brand safety saga.
It’s common knowledge in the media industry that negative news attracts more clicks, with my negative tweet drawing the most engagement I’ve ever had on Twitter being case in point.
It’s been a deliberate decision from the AdNews leadership to move away from click-grabbing criticism and towards a constructive approach to our news agenda. The same can’t be said for some of our competitors.
I’ve read multiple articles about how Twitter propagates hatred and the presence of social media trolls doesn’t come as a shock in this online era. I’ve also heard of multiple journalists, prominently female, receiving death threats and constant bullying, but I had never experienced it for myself.
While trolls and negative comments are nothing new, for me, seeing how a simple tweet can spiral into a sinkhole of negativity is a stark reminder of the fierce and fiery social media waters that brands and publishers are navigating every day.
Yesterday was the first time I encountered the full force of the dark side of social media. Unfortunately, I doubt it will be the last.
News Corp confirmed to AdNews it wasn’t anthrax and was a false alarm.
UPDATE: #NewsCorp has just confirmed with me that the building has been cleared as the “anthrax resembling” substance has been found not to be harmful.— Lindsay Bennett (@lindsaybennett) January 8, 2018