The Sandy Hook shooting was not only a tragedy, but it quickly became a lesson in social media journalism. Quite a few news organizations reported incorrect facts while trying to break the story, such as the name of the shooter. According Craig Silverman with Poynter, “As is often said, people remember who got it wrong, not who got it right. Or who held back.” A lot of the organizations did write an apology and corrected their mistakes. But as these articles were published online, comments came rolling in and so did the negative opinions toward modern day journalism.
Jeff Jarvis’s article not only stated he made a mistake by incorrectly naming the shooter, but he said what he should have done instead. He repeated many times in the article that he doesn’t, and can’t, blame Twitter for the mistake he made. Even though Jarvis admitted fault, apologized and even made a point not to state the name of the actual shooter, people were fixated on the fact that he was wrong. One comment referred to Jarvis, and other journalists, as a “commie.” Another ended their comment with “sleep well,” which will be interpreted with a high sense of sarcasm.
Mathew Ingram also received a couple of criticizing comments regarding an article he wrote. Ingram didn’t write about a specific mistake, but more of explaining to the public how the news world works now. Even though others did, he doesn’t blame social media but describes why it’s the reporter’s fault. He says that reporting articles in real time through social media makes the process of newsgathering transparent and chaotic, but that’s what the world of news is now.
Ben Smith of Buzzfeed also wrote on real-time reporting saying “That’s confusing and messy, and many thousands of people were led to believe that the wrong man was the suspect in a horrific crime.” Smith focused a lot on Buzzfeed being a new company and still learning the ropes of real time reporting. A commenter acknowledged the point that the problem is not about old media versus new media but relearning the process of fact checking. Every article also mentions the importance of taking time and waiting for an accurate report, even though it’s difficult in breaking news situations.
Margaret Sullivan of the New York Times wrote an opinion piece for an apology in regards to the NYT also reporting incorrect facts. She mentioned even companies like the one she works for makes mistakes and it’s about recovering from them. A comment on the article says “I would never trust news from a social media platform. That’s why I turn to an established professional media outlet like the NYTimes for the actual coverage, but I was a little disappointed by some factual errors that were unnecessary.” The commenter clearly didn’t understand the point of the column.
While reading these articles, it becomes clear to me that people forget that reporters are the ones behind the social media accounts. As with the comment in regards to the NYT column, the commenter appeared ill informed because she was blaming social media and not the NYT. Social media has brought on a different side of news reporting, one that is indeed chaotic, fast-paced and competitive. But what journalists can’t forget is that waiting for facts is more important than reporting false facts. Silverman also mentioned that if a news organizations is remaining reserved in a breaking news instance, explain to followers why, which is something I feel would be beneficial and could potentially help with news organizations reportin