I didn’t get to bed until 5:00 AM. Most of the night was spent watching screens. WCVB’s streaming video was full screen on one computer monitor. A second screen scoured text based sites like Boston.com, NYTimes.com, Twitter.com and Reddit.com. A TV across the way grazed between MSNBC, CNN and Fox.
Reddit was particularly interesting because of a feeding frenzy surrounding their discovery of the identity of the two suspects in the Patriots’ Day bombing. Reddit’s discovery was made without police or help from old line media. It was an air tight discovery, supported by statements from people who had gone to school with one of the suspects.
Unfortunately, it was wrong. It was totally wrong. It was cruelly wrong.
Reddit fingered a missing Brown University student named Sunil Tripathi.
Imagine the grief this wildly speculative and vindictive coverage caused the Tripathi family, already wondering where their son was.
Journalists aren’t perfect. CNN’s John King can teach a graduate level course on that.
Traditional media doesn’t get a pass, but normally shows restraint–much of which you never see. Restraint was evident in every newsroom I worked in. We always ‘knew’ more than we said. We always waited to be sure. Someone was always there to say, “Not yet.”
I’m a Reddit fan. I go there many times every day. I consider it a great tech source. However, what went down on Reddit was no better than a 21st Century lynch mob!
In this instant info world we need to be extra diligent. Diligence is in short supply with self edited social media.
We need more caution. There are real people and families behind these names.