On the Media: The Breaking News Consumer’s Handbook

On December 14, 2012, I was walking to class when a line of ambulances lead by police cars pulled into the hospital across the street from my school.  Right away I went to my twitter feeds to see if I could find out what had happened.  In today’s media environment, mediums such as social networks give the opportunity for everyone to report. Before the media coverage started, my twitter feed blew up classmates tweeting about my school being on lockdown for a potential shooter on campus.  This information was soon correct by there was a minivan full of men dressed as nuns driving around the Danbury, CT area.  This information was then updated to be that there was just one man in a minivan dressed as a nun, who was involved in a shooting at an Elementary School in nearby Newtown, CT.  The incorrect twitter updates continued until local news coverage began, where the unconfirmed news coverage persevered.

Breaking news stories have an unfortunate tendency to create chaos and confusion. December 14, 2012 was the day of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.  I live in the town right next to Newtown, Connecticut and attended school 15 miles away, right across the street from the hospital the victim were brought to.

This is was example of how in the face of breaking news; the news media (i.e. social media, television and radio broadcasting, and so on) chose to broadcast false information about this unfortunate event.  Being a person who was caught in the middle of conflicting reports, it an alarming situation.  But from experiencing that fear and uncertainty, I’ve learned to not believe the breaking news story updates until they have been confirmed by an official, and not by a broadcaster.  Most American haven’t been in a situation such as that and it seem almost impossible to prevent people from broadcasting false information, especially with Twitter right at their finger tips.

One comment

  1. Wow! It must have been really alarming to be right in the middle of such a terrible crisis. More information can seem like a good thing but in a situation like this it makes it extremely difficult to decipher what is valid and what information could be potentially dangerous.

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