THE last general election in 2016 was when social media really came into its own, so this year, up-to-the-minute news alerts were second nature to both reporters relaying the information, and the public consuming it.
In fact, the public appears to have an insatiable appetite for election news, as the Southern Star team noted when covering the three counts which involve the West Cork area.
With reporters in Clonakilty (Cork South West), Mallow (Cork North West) and Nemo in Cork city (Cork South Central), our website blog was constantly being updated from even before the boxes were opened at 9am on Sunday.
The main operations hub was, as ever, in the Community Hall in Clonakilty.
While we have become very familiar with this massive school hall in recent years, the press corp are no closer to falling in love with it. The lack of wi-fi, combined with poor phone reception and very primitive facilities made it a rather inhospitable location for reporters who were just four hours short of working a 24-hour shift last weekend.
Scrambling for sockets and even desk space challenged the most generous-spirited amongst us, as newspaper rivalries went out the damp windows and a spriit of congeniality took over.
The ever-organised Southern Star team shared wi-fi dongles, table tops and even chairs with our newspaper and radio colleagues and our legendary ‘election picnic’ was much appreciated as we approached the early hours of Monday morning.
But, by 4am, all our hard work had paid off when Facebook views of our videos and updates rolled past the 200,000 mark, with over 68,000 views on our Twitter page and 7,000 views on our Instagram.
The live blog on southernstar.ie, which was packed with video interviews, photos and results, welcomed over 30,000 unique visitors, all well up on the 2016 figures.
A big thank you to everyone who dropped in, brought provisions (including a blanket and a very welcome heater), lent us dongles, and did the coffee runs when we couldn’t leave our desks, and to deputy returning officer Jerome O’Sullivan for his enduring patience, and his helpful advice on the complex PR transfer system.
The one thought on everyone’s minds as we left the venue at 4.30am was … ‘please let the next government last as long as possible!’