Savita story resonates around the world

 

I:How the Savita story spread around the globe so rapidly

How the news of the circumstances of Savita Halappanavar’s death in an Irish hospital spread across the globe was unprecedented in its speed and volume. Online and off, coverage of her story was relentless, as international outlets wrote reports and social media disseminated information. Within hours, news of Savita Halappanavar’s death went global.

It began when front pages of The Irish Times and Irish Independent were shown on Tonight With Vincent Browne on TV3 on Tuesday night, a programme with a busy hashtag: #vinb. Twitter perked up as Irish users burst into conversation, a conversation united in shock. Images of the front pages were tweeted and re-tweeted and the news spread rapidly.

Overnight the conversation continued as the Guardian published a story online, “Scandal in Ireland as woman dies in Galway ‘after being denied abortion’.” Prominent UK media figures including Caitlin Moran and India Knight began tweeting the news to tens of thousands of followers. In the US, online media coverage began with Jezebel.composting “Woman denied abortion dies in agony at hospital” prompting a barrage of comments. The BBC published a story online, the UK outpost of the Huffington Post blogged a report.

Early on Wednesday, as the gravity of the story became clear, news outlets across the world rushed to cover it, and the issue almost monopolised Irish Twitter traffic and conversations on Facebook. The Telegraph, the Mirror, the Daily Mail, the Independent and more published their own reports online. Sky News reported it. Agency copy kicked in, and opinion pieces followed. As the US woke up, the story went transatlantic.

Simultaneously, the ferocious velocity of the dissemination of information created momentum for offline events. In just a few hours protests were organised in Dublin, Limerick, Cork, Galway, Belfast and at the Irish Embassy in London. Time magazine wrote “Death of a pregnant woman prompts soul-searching”. Euronews posted video from the protest in Dublin. CNN, the New York Times, ABC, the LA Times, the Washington Post all covered it.Fox News carried a strong opinion piece. The Hindu and the Hindustan Times carried the story with quotes from Ms Halappanavar’s parents.

The initial story published on Wednesday by Kitty Holland and Paul Cullen titled “Woman ‘denied a termination’ dies in hospital” now has over 700,000 impressions, easily the most read article in The Irish Times’ online history.