A change in the way we report some news
Friday, November 01, 2013 11:00 AM
The explosion of social media has changed how traditional newspapers report the news.
We saw an example of that Thursday.
It used to be that most newspapers avoided reporting bomb threats because it was believed that those making the threats enjoyed reading about the havoc they created.
On Thursday, only minutes after students were removed from Madison Consolidated High School after a threat was discovered written on a bathroom wall, The Courier's Facebook site began to overload with messages - some accurate, some outlandish, some unfounded.
Some of the entries were from parents who received calls or text messages from their high school children who were being evacuated to the nearby junior high school.
Understandably, when our children are thought to be in danger, we want information right now so that we can respond.
But the instant information overload overshadowed the fact that police and school officials were doing what they needed to do first - stabilize the situation.
We were criticized by a few for not reporting the story immediately.
Unlike "citizen journalists" we require confirmation of information before we make it public. Once we got word from the school administration and police, we posted their official statements.
As more information became available we updated our reporting.
All of this happened just as the presses were beginning to print Thursday's paper.
We had the advantage of getting the information out through our Facebook and Twitter venues. A few years ago, we would have lost an entire news cycle before we could report the story.
Today's paper has up-to-date information on what happened and what is going to be done to address the problem.
We embrace the concept of "citizen journalists." The more people paying attention to what's happening in our world, the better informed we all will be.
But understand, responsible news operations will not print unconfirmed information that is sometimes inaccurate.
Accuracy must never be compromised for speed.