Monday 18 December 2017

Digital media goes into overdrive at BOD news

Stephen O'Leary

When Warren Gatland made the announcement that Brian O'Driscoll was being dropped, not just from the starting 15 but from the squad of 23, for the decisive final Lions Test match against Australia, few could have predicted the response of the media and fans online.

The story captured the interest of not only an Irish and Australian audience; it was covered in detail across the globe.

In the 48 hours following the announcement, more than 2,300 articles were published by some 600 news sources across 30 countries.

The UK and Australian media lead the way in terms of volume of coverage, with New Zealand, Ireland and the US completing the top five.

It should be noted that the media reaction has not been universally against the decision, with some lauding Gatland's decision as brave.

However, the majority of editorial coverage has questioned the choice of the Lions selectors.

To put the levels of coverage in context, when Declan Kidney announced in January that Jamie Heaslip was taking over as captain of the Irish rugby team, it was a talking point for the media and fans alike, but on the day of the announcement, fewer than 200 articles were published online in relation to the story.

It was another captaincy-related story that led to the biggest spike in editorial coverage for O'Driscoll in 2013, prior to Wednesday's news.

On June 9, when he was named as captain for the second time in a week on tour, he was mentioned in more than 900 articles online.

Neither story, however, came close to matching the coverage of Gatland's decision this week.

Despite the high volume of online news media coverage, it was social media where the most vocal reaction was heard. At 1pm on Wednesday, July 3, a Justice for BOD Facebook page was set up. Within 48 hours, it had over 125,000 likes.

O'Driscoll took to Twitter to comment on the decision: "Obviously totally gutted at being left out for deciding Test but all efforts go into preparing the boys to see it through. #seaofred"

It has been retweeted over 5,500 times.

Dan Carter, the All Blacks out-half and arguably one of the most recognisable players in the world, tweeted to say: "There must be some angry Irish out there waking up to see @BrianODriscoll not playing this weekend. #ShouldBeTheCaptain"

His tweet was retweeted over 10,000 times, and favourited by almost 3,000 people.

Stephen O'Leary is an online media analyst

Irish Independent

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