Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Media Hunts for School Shooting Info, Interviews on Twitter to Mixed Results

Posted By on Tue, Feb 28, 2012 at 2:09 PM

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You know the old dig at the media? That when the blood's sticky on the pavement and the siren ring is still knocking around everyone's eardrums, they're we're always jamming microphones and cameras into the victims' faces, looking for comment, tell us how it felt, tell us tellustellustellustellus? Fortunately, we didn't see a lot of that kind of behavior out of the Fourth Estate when it came to the Chardon High school shooting. In part, everyone seemed to respect the sensitive situation. That doesn't mean there weren't a lot of pushy news folk jonesing for an exclusive. They just took to Twitter to sniff out info.

We're hearing a lot of noise about how social media played a leading roll in all this. Twitter, sure, it's a great way to pass along info (not always correct info, as we, and 19ActionNews, now know). And sure, this is a good way to connect with people involved. But the medium just doesn't put the outside world within reach, it puts the outside world in your family room and pours it a drink — and if you're a kid who just witnessed the murder of schoolmates, do you really need news people pestering you directly for the details?

Yeah, we get that most of these journalist are just doing their jobs, been there, but what happened to the ol' knocking on doors, asking questions, verifying the answers bit? Crowd sourcing info just churns rumor. Most of these kids are probably too brain-numb and confused right now to feel like their privacy is being ransacked, much less able to judge whether the information they know is accurate or speculative. Maybe we should ask it like this: If you were a parent of a Chardon High School student, would you want a CNN or CBS News producer blowing up your kid's Twitter feed right now?

Not to pick on these news people in particular, but they seemed to come up a lot. Here's @katywithawhy, the Twitter handle for Katy Conrad, a producer with CBS:

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Tonju Francois, or @TONJUCNN, a producer with CNN:

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And Emily Hislop, @emh021, also with CBS.

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Before we let you go, we've got an example for why you don't want to go crowd sourcing info from Twitter. @KonwayTweety, a West Nashville guy, is skilled in the dark arts of trolling, as anyone bothering to check out his past feeds can see (for example, his pleasant answer to an innocuous question shot out by a local TV station). So, we're likely not talking about a reliable source here, which, if anyone read his past feed, might have put some perspective on his announcement yesterday that TJ Lane was his cousin. The Twitterverse replied, usually just begging for more info. But Newsnet 5's Jenn Strathman went so far as to message this over: “Will you talk about him or do you have any pix of him?”

@KonwayTweety was more than willing to respond: “This is the only pic I have of him.”

Heads up, that's really, really NSFW.

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