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Glenn Halbrooks

The Role of Social Media in Connecticut School Shooting Massacre

By December 17, 2012

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Now that the initial shock of the school shooting massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, has given way to grief and outrage, people in news media should pause to consider how the horrifying news was reported. Once again, social media played a big role in spreading information.

A photo of the scene of the school shooting massacre in Newtown, Connecticut
Social media tools are useful in getting out the word of a tragic event, but trained journalists are still needed to tell the complete story.
Photo © Getty Images
In another example of citizen journalism, people on the scene used Twitter and Facebook to relay the first raw facts that something terrible was taking place. That's the time when social media is the most valuable, but it takes a journalism pro to piece together the complicated, unfolding story.

That's because in a crisis, an untrained person can unknowingly report rumor or speculation as fact. Others may purposely plant misinformation to see how far it spreads. Even with the demand for instant information, a journalist must confirm information before posting it on social media, in the same way it has to be verified before its printed or put on the air.

News media managers should make sure their breaking news plan contains guidelines about using social media. Reporters can't simply use Twitter or Facebook to gossip or vent their frustrations, especially when a company's logo is attached.

In a tragedy like the Connecticut school shootings, sensitivity is also important. Check out what ESPN told its staff about how to reference the shootings and what to avoid saying on social media.

People in news media respond to unspeakably bad news with the same emotions as anyone else. But like police officers and other first responders, we have the responsibility to do our jobs by sticking to the same standards and ethics as we would any other day.

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Comments

February 26, 2013 at 5:08 am
(1) MatthewLawson says:

yes media get a news. They spread is at very fast way this is done by media. Media is very important. With out media no one can not know what is happening in their city.

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