When tragedy strikes America, Twitter remembers bad reporting.
Think back to Newtown. Within hours of the massacre in Connecticut that claimed the lives of 20 elementary school children and six adults, the news media had passed along a full story’s worth of erroneous information. We heard conflicting stories about whether the shooter, Adam Lanza, had entered Sandy Hook Elementary School by force or whether he was buzzed in. We heard that his mother, Nancy Lanza, was a teacher at the school. We also heard that Ryan Lanza, not his brother, Adam, was the shooter.
Around 3 p.m. today, a pair of explosions, within seconds of each other, went off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. As of this writing, it’s unclear exactly what happened here, though a participant in the race speculated about “shrapnel” coming from one of the blasts. (The latest developments are being reported on the Early Lead blog.)
As if the media needed any reminder not to jump to conclusions about what was happening on the ground in Boston, Twitter came to the rescue, with numerous folks pleading for caution. Have a look:
Personally, I find it an act of respect to those implicated in the Boston explosions to avoid throwing out speculation and conspiracies.— DanzaDragon (@DanzaDragon) April 15, 2013
It’s worth noting that news from the Boston Marathon is still in the breaking stage. Try to avoid speculation. Much is unconfirmed — Social Media Club DC (@SMCDC) April 15, 2013
What we truly know right now is this is horrible. But be careful about retweeting things people think they know. — Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) April 15, 2013
I will not be RTing graphic photos. I will try to be judicious in RTing in general. Sorry if I am relatively quiet then… — Ana Marie Cox (@anamariecox) April 15, 2013
Dear people reporting on news: “news” consists not of posting links to bloody scenes but of thoughtful sorting of what really happened. — emptywheel (@emptywheel) April 15, 2013
There’s a lot more of this stuff out there, setting up an interesting social-media juxtaposition: The platform that’s most effective at churning out breaking news has become a place that preaches caution in breaking-news scenarios. Just in case editors and reporters need any reminders.