TV reporter on right track after tweeting first class story

By Samantha Hepworth

rach townsend

A television reporter described the power of Twitter as “unbelievable” after her scoop on the George Osborne ticket scandal generated over 12,000 retweets – and a media frenzy.

Rachel Townsend, 34, was travelling to London when she saw the chancellor arrive on the train at Wilmslow.

Ms Townsend, a correspondent for ITV’s regional news programme Granada Reports, was standing close by when a person she believed to be his aide talked to the ticket collector.

She said: “He said Mr Osborne was in first class, but was in possession of a standard ticket.”

The ticket inspector said if he wanted to stay in first class he needed to pay an extra £160, but Mr
Osborne was not willing to pay this.

And after checking out the facts, she decided to Tweet the situation to her followers and ITV
Granada.

What Ms Townsend could not believe, was how powerful her tweet was and said: “It was incredible how quickly the news can develop on it.”

Within an hour of the incident happening, her Twitter page had over 200,000 hits, with over 12,000
retweets.

rach townsend with students

Ms Townsend, one of the speakers at Leeds Trinity’s Journalism Week, talked about the importance of always checking the facts are correct, before putting out a story, especially on Twitter.

From this tweet, The Telegraph newspaper, Sky TV and CNN all phoned her asking for a photograph
of Mr Osborne.

By this time George Osborne had paid the extra amount for a ticket and was busy eating free food in
first class.

She checked the facts with the ticket inspector, and then went into first class to take a photo of him,
she said: “I was pretending to be texting, walking past, and then took the photo.”

Although she could have sold her photograph to the highest bidder, ITV asked her not to place it
on Twitter, so they could keep the exclusive. She added she would have felt uncomfortable making money, given the nature of the story.

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