In December, people look forward to the holidays, which are supposed to be full of joy and quality family time, but no one at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colorado expected their holidays to start off with such a dark turn of events. On December 13, the students of Arapahoe High School never expected a gunman, much less a fellow classmate, to come into school and open fire. Karl Pierson, 18, was that gunman and student of Arapahoe High School.
Blogs and other social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter allow citizens to contribute their own thoughts and opinions about issues at hand. They sometimes offer first-person information or visuals about the issue before the broadcasting news is able to report about the event. Facebook (link) allowed the students, staff, families, and other people to reach out and contribute their thoughts and feelings to those involved in the shooting. Even more recently, the same Facebook page was used to provide support to students involved in a shooting at Berrendo Middle School in New Mexico. On a cite called Twitchy, news reporters and other more seemingly reliable sources contributed to the thread, updating the public about the shooting.
The traditional news outlets gave people people the basic information that they want to hear. But the reporting of the same event by citizen journalists may have less reliable information. To gatekeepers, the news reports to the audience what they think is relevant and what they think the audience wants to hear. The more tragic the story, the more newsworthy it is. People always want to know who the victims and instigator are, when the event happened, why it happened, how something like this could happen, and what the events were that lead up to the tragedy.
From this event, the gatekeepers have told us who the shooter was: Karl Pierson, who his intended target was: librarian and debate coach Tracy Murphy, the victims: the student body of Arapahoe High School and Claire Davis who later passed away, why he did it: for “revenge” or other reasons against Tracy Murphy. Even though we hope to find that the information given to us by “the gatekeepers” to be true, I found that the details about this event were not always reliable. The Huffington Post said that a “15-year-old female student remains in critical condition.” link, but according to other reports the female student in critical condition was 17-years-old link. Another website even got the target’s name wrong, calling Tracy Murphy, Tracy Martin link.
Citizen journalists can post whatever they deem to be true or false and the audience can accept it either way, but just because that citizen journalist is reporting his or her opinion or story does not make it valid reporting and reliable. But not all of the information that is found on these other seemingly reliable websites is completely reliable either. Both methods of obtaining information and/or reporting information can have it’s flaws and unreliability. If we want reliable information, then the best way to get it is to look for it ourselves, but in our society controlled by media, who knows what is and what isn’t true anymore.