Qantas CEO blames Twitter for share price collapse, forgets own errors
In a radio interview in Australia, after the airline revealed the cost of the incident had run to around AUS $80 million, Joyce claimed mixed reports about the incident coming via Twitter caused the share price to tumble.
Here is the segment of the interview, starting with ABC interviewer Peter Ryan:
“It must have been a very confusing time given that there were reports on Twitter that the plane had actually crashed. Just how important were cool heads at that time?”
“We first knew it was a problem when our share price started to collapse. And that was because these reports coming out of Twitter that were reported by one mainstream media outlet on the basis of the Twitter reports that the aircraft had crashed in Indonesia started obviously causing a problem with the share price.
“When we found out immediately that that wasn’t an issue, the aircraft was still in the air, we went out there and immediately wrote a press release making it very clear that the aircraft was still flying.
“What also I think is important is that the major media outlets don’t pick up on Twitter commentary and report it as fact, which is what happened in this case. And I think that was a bit disappointing. But it needs us to be very proactive to ensure that doesn’t happen in the future.”
Joyce raises a number of good points about the reliance of mainstream media on Twitter to report events as factual.
But there are number of issues that have not been raised, such as why Qantas did not use its somewhat flimsy Twitter presence at the time (it has since launched a number of new accounts) to at least head-off the rumours that were swirling around in the immediate aftermath of the incident, especially as fragments of the engine were being found by locals in Indonesia and images posted on the web.
And, more importantly, rather than solely blaming Twitter for the misreporting, some might suggest perhaps the incident management team at the airline itself should shoulder some of blame, too.
Many saw the report on the Reuters wire (and picked up in mainstream media everywhere) stating the following message:
This is the type of information – from Qantas officials, no less – that would’ve been working its way around the web (note the sharing buttons alongside the story).
Blaming social media is clearly only part of the story here.
Interestingly, as this chart below indicates, Qantas did indeed see its share price fall on the day of the incident (4 November) but it recovered within seven days.
The Qantas stock, over the following three months, has tumbled away, in part due to a row with engine maker Rolls Royce and the grounding of the aircraft – two factors not influenced by Twitter, presumably.
Kevin May is a senior editor and one of the co-founders at Tnooz. He was previously editor of UK-based magazine Travolution and web editor of Media Week UK from 2003 to 2005.
He has worked in regional newspapers (Essex Enquirer) and started his career in journalism at the Police Gazette at New Scotland Yard in London. He has a degree in criminology, a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism and will be publishing his first book - a biography about electronic band, Depeche Mode - soon.