The news that never truly was, get the facts straight

The Society of Professional Journalists ran a thread of tweets yesterday in regards to the incorrect reporting that was done yesterday on the supposed arrest/custody of a Boston Bombing suspect. 

After reports were actually confirmed that was in fact, no suspect or any arrests, this led to some backlash against many news agencies such as CNN and AP.

This prompted the SPJ to tweets quotes as well as links to their ethics code about breaking news reporting among other topics.


Testing Accuracy:

And my personal favorite:

The reporting was erroneous enough to prompt the FBI into treading the rare terrain of media criticism.

“Contrary to widespread reporting, no arrest has been made in connection with the Boston Marathon attack. Over the past day and a half, there have been a number of press reports based on information from unofficial sources that has been inaccurate. Since these stories often have unintended consequences, we ask the media, particularly at this early stage of the investigation, to exercise caution and attempt to verify information through appropriate official channels before reporting.”

Whoops. The AP explained that they had used a source who provided information under the condition of anonymity, which at times, can be a shot in the dark for reporters.

Apparently the anonymous official had stood by the information even after it was disputed which prompted the AP to report the details.

I’d have to say my favorite reaction was from the likes of Jon Stewart, who just tore into CNN.

These sort of mistakes have seem to become too common. I wrote before about this topic during the Sandy Hook tragedy. And like I said in the post before, you can delete or retract tweets and statuses all you want but when you put something on the internet, you should expect that it will stay out there. And it will be seen.

And it will be perpetuated. I made the mistake of doing this on Facebook yesterday by sharing this incorrect information with my 700 friends. Luckily I was able to quickly follow about the incorrect reporting and apologized.

Only hours after that, another tragedy happened. A fertilizer plant in Texas exploded– dealing incredible amounts of damage.

And almost immediately after the initial reports of the explosion, the conflicting reports of casualties unfolded on twitter.

Within maybe 20 minutes of those original tweets, CNN was getting on the scene coverage from affiliate saying there were at least 2 confirmed dead.

Hours later AP reported that between 5 and 15 people were killed in the blast:

And right now that’s where the reports stand. They aren’t precise and they aren’t exactly confirmed.

As SPJ puts it, journalists should show good taste… and shouldn’t

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Boston Marathon blasts, what is known and not known

Two blasts tore through runners and bystanders Monday at the Boston Marathon leaving at least three people dead and more than 140 injured.

The two blasts only being seconds apart spewed smoke about 20 feet into the air. After the smoke cleared, dozens could be seen injured, some laying unconscious and some with dismembered limbs.

An 8 year-old boy was confirmed to be among one of the three dead.

The street was covered in debris and blood after the blasts occurred around 2:50 p.m. ET.

As it currently stands, there are no primary suspects. Although there was one “person of interest” questioned. They are not in  law enforcement custody.

The Associated Press recently reported police that are investigation the explosions are searching an apartment.

Journalists, politicians and law enforcement have been careful and cautious not to jump to conclusions on possible groups or individuals.

The FBI has taken charge of this incident as a criminal investigation. The agency has set up a phone line for members of the public to call with information about the explosions. The call-in number is 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324), prompt (hash)3.

Shortly after the explosions, reports started coming out stating that the JFK Library had also been hit with an explosion. It was later ruled out as a fire but wether it was related to the two explosions is not verifiable yet.

Major cities around the US had heightened security after news of the bombings had spread across the nation, including Seattle and New York.

Around 6:10 p.m., President Obama gave an address vowing, “We still do not know who did this or why, and people shouldn’t jump to conclusions before we have all the facts, but make no mistake, we will get to the bottom of this, and we will find out who did this.”

It has been confirmed that as many as two unexploded bombs have been found by law enforcement near the end of the course, but were safely disarmed.

UPDATE: Governor Patrick said at a press meeting this morning that there was 2 devices that exploded and no other bombs or devices were found.

The Boston Marathon is one of Massachusetts oldest and most prestigious events and is held on Patriot’s Day, which commemorates the first battles of the American Revolution, at Concord and Lexington in 1775.