Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Columns

April 23, 2013

We need to be careful where we get our news

(Continued)

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Many news organizations picked up on that and used Twitter as a source of information, saying that the details came from Boston police, which Boston PD denies.

The timing was odd as just a week prior a local bank was robbed and the name of the suspect went out over the police scanner. Later that evening we got a press release from the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office about the robbery but they didn’t list the name of the suspect that had gone out over the scanner so we didn’t print it. The decision was made that it was better to be a day late on getting this person’s name out than to have the wrong name published and tarnish someone’s reputation without cause.

As it turns out, the name that went over the scanner was the same as the name of the woman they eventually arrested. But I would still make that same decision again. From my perspective, being right outweighs being first. Every time.

The 24-hour news cycle, coupled with social media has made a mess of the news.

Facebook and Twitter are certainly useful means of communication. But they’re unfiltered and should be taken with a proverbial grain of salt. They shouldn’t be used as sources for media. And they shouldn’t be confused with being vetted media. To be clear, I’m not saying that having access to the most up-to-date news is a bad thing. Not at all. But I am saying that we need to be careful to distinguish between news and supposition.

And by “we” I mean readers and reporters alike. If the mainstream media starts acting like a bunch of bloggers, that’s how we’re all going to end up.

Scott Leffler considers himself a writer with a full-time job editing. He also blogs, Facebooks, Instagrams and tweets @scottleffler.

Scott Leffler considers himself a writer with a full-time job editing. He also blogs, Facebooks, Instagrams and tweets @scottleffler.

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