Sign of the times

Accuracy be damned: With Twitter and Facebook, media feels free to report incorrect information

Accuracy be damned: With Twitter and Facebook, media feels free to report incorrect information

There are many lessons to be learned from the horrific events that took place at the Connecticut massacre. Debate on gun control, dealing with people who suffer from mental health issues and how, we as society cope with what can only be described as unimaginable, are all being talked about around water coolers and dinner tables.

There’s another part to this tragedy that we can’t overlook; the way the media is covering breaking news stories.

In an effort to “get it first,”they threw out misinformation with reckless abandonment. The best of the worst was identifying the shooter as Ryan Lanza, 24, and tweeting his Facebook profile picture around cyberspace.

 In a world where instant gratification is quickly becoming the norm, perhaps a little more homework and a little less rush to be first would be one lesson we could learn this horrible tragedy. 

The news outlets had to correct themselves when it turned out that the shooter was 20-year-old Adam Lanza, his brother.  (Ryan ended up posting “Fuck You CNN, it wasn’t me” on his Facebook wall in an attempt to help clear up the confusion)

There were also reports early on incorrectly reporting that Lanza's mother taught at the Newtown elementary school, which, again, proved to be flat out wrong, and massive confusion as to what, and how many, weapons had been used.

And, even before the dust had settled, there was a statement attributed to actor Morgan Freeman in the wake of the shooting that spread faster than nude photos of Kate Middleton that spoke of how the media is making these psychopaths into super heroes. 

The problem?  He did not write it, nor had no idea where it came from.  It doesn’t matter though, because it’s still being shared on Facebook and tweeted at warp speed.

All of this is misinformation is leading us down a very slippery slope. Why is anyone going to pay attention, and much less believe anything, the media reports from the scene of breaking news, when so much of it turns out to be wrong?  

It has become such common practice that most outlets don’t even bother to acknowledge their mistakes any more, but simply remove the page from their website in the hopes no one will remember and then let some PR flak try to explain it away.

Can you imagine what it must have felt like if you had a child in that school, or knew somebody who worked there and you were trying to find out what happened? In a world where instant gratification is quickly becoming the norm, perhaps a little more homework and a little less rush to be first would be one lesson we could learn this horrible tragedy.

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In the rush to be first, the news media has been quick to report incorrect information posted on Twitter and Facebook.
Sandy Hook, shooting, angels, December 2012
Reputable news media sources reported all sorts of incorrect information about the Connecticut shootings. Imgace.com