Crowdsourcing… is it apart of a journalist job?
The Boston Marathon bombing situation was a very scary one for many people throughout America. For me personally, it was extra scary when authorities made the decision to shut down Boston and surrounding communities. My hometown of Waltham was one of those that was placed on lockdown and as my mother says “everyone was scared s***less.”
If I was apart of a news crew covering the Boston bombing situation I am really not sure how I would have handled it. Obviously I want to say that i would not tweet anything without getting verification first but in a time like that, especially right aftet the explosions, so many ideas were flying around that no one knew what was right and what was wrong. I can think of an example when a reddit post was started saying that “Sunil Tripathi” was suspected of the bombings. This spread like wildfire and shortly after being posted, 300 twitter users retweeted the original post. A huge reason that this innocent man’s name was spread to so many people was that Perez Hilton, a television personality with six million followers tweeted it out.
So if I was to say I would have verified everything that came across my feed before running with I would probably be lying to you. But I can tell you that now after reading and hearing about all of the horror stories of journalists pretty much misleading readers because of “laziness”, I will most definitely be verifying things that come across me in a time of dire need like that in the future.
As many of the journalists did during the bombing, crowdsourcing was as easy as a click of the button.. literally. If a “journo” heard something come across the grapevines all they would need to do at the time was type it into the twitter search bar and see how many people were tweeting or talking about it. I’m absolutely positive this could lead to some awful sources of information and if a “journo” is to crowdsource then they need to be extra careful when checking what they have found. One of the bad things about crowdsourcing is that these days the people that spend so much time on the internet could easily manipulate what comes across other peoples feeds. As a respected journalist I think that crowdsourcing should definitely make a journalist factcheck the info they were given even more then they would have had it been a random person on the street. If they follow this one simple extra step then crowdsourcing could actually be a good wya to gather information to report as long as it is actually checks out.
One example of someone reaching out on social media and having their story amplified is a recent one I saw. Hingham mass native and Unites States marine Christopher Orlando was killed in a training exercise in Hawaii. The Hingham police force asked the public to gather along the route that the soldiers body would be brought home on. A few local news stations picked up on the story and were able to get residents to gather along the route to honor the fallen marine.
Another example I know of someone reaching out on social media and having their story amplified is another recent one. A woman in florida was caught on camera assaulting an uber driver. The attack that was caught by a bystander brought to light the identity of the attacker who was later found out to be a doctor. The media got a hold of this story and eventually the doctor was brought on “Good morning america.” She told her side of the story and in the process apologized to the driver and stated “I am ashamed.”