The curious incident of the text in the nighttime

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign has been razzed for getting scooped on the announcement that Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) would be Obama's running mate.

The campaign told supporters they would be the first to know of the vice presidential choice if they signed up to receive a text message of the announcement. A lot of people did, providing cell phone numbers and/or e-mail addresses. It was a thoroughly modern approach and a first in the annals of politics. But it wasn't first with the news.

The old, reliable leak tipped off the media about Obama's selection of Biden about two hours before the campaign's text messages went out, perhaps proof that loose lips are still faster than the Internet.

But was the whole exercise pointless? The campaign aimed to beat the media by sending its text messages in the dead of night, starting at 3 a.m. EDT. News organizations got the information out at about 1 a.m. So most people got to sleep through the news two hours earlier.

If a text message arrives in a cell phone or a news story appears on Web site and nobody is awake to read it, does it really matter which one was first? We bet the dog didn't even bark.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.

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