On April 15th 2014, Boston was hit with a horrifying bombing during the Boston Marathon. The news of this bombing traveled extremely quickly with simple bystanders live tweeting and updating the happenings. This social media explosion (sorry for the inappropriate pun) greatly affected the reporting and investigation of the bombing.
With social medias step up with expediency against the reporters and broadcast media, the information gets out a lot quicker. However, at times it can be loose or just down right false. Especially with the Boston Bombings, tweets started flooding in seconds after the explosion. Its what happened after the initial shock that made the idea of citizen journalism look bad.
According to Chris Measures post “The Rise of Citizen Journalism”, Reddits coverage of the Boston marathon led to citizen journalists wrongly accusing people for the bombings. This actually led to the families of the accused being harassed and defiantly didn’t help with the actual police investigation of the bombings. The problem with it is that Reddit is an unpoliced platform for people to post on. Which means no gatekeeping, just people deciding to put what they qualify as news on this website.
Social media is fast and people want the fast and easy news. As you can tell by the image above, the news one gets from twitter and various other social medias is the fastest but it also has less volume, meaning that there is not as much information. You can’t really fit all the information of a bombing in a 140 characters and also more information is revealed over time. With that broadcast media is obviously more reliable and can put out the most important information because they take the time to collect it and make the news story.
The challenge with this struggle between citizen journalism and the broadcast media is that people sometimes believed some of the false information being tweeted by the public. In the case of the Boston bombing of course twitter and other social medias let people know the basics of the event and it was the quickest way to know. However, since broadcast media took the time to collect the information and decide what they want to publish through gatekeeping, they had a trustworthier story even when it’s jumbled up with the false and confusing social media coverage.