Now that the suspects of the Boston attacks have been identified, it is now fair to to grade the media on the quality of their coverage.
Many journalism institutions and social media sites such as the New York Post and Reddit received a lot of criticism last week for publishing false reports.
The New York Post published a cover photo of two men carrying bags and identified them as potential suspects. Identifying them as “BAG MEN,” the two reported suspects ended up being innocent and had no involvement in the attacks.
Reddit users compiled a spreadsheet of potential suspects that led to the rumor of missing student Sunil Tripathi as one of the Boston bombers. Tripathi’s family could only stand by and watch as the Internet exploded with false accusations that put their family in danger.
Before we even begin our sequence area at MU, the first thing we learn as aspiring journalists is to double check our sources and only report factual, verified information. However, coverage of the Boston attacks is filled with inaccuracies that are a result of re-circulating mis-information and jumping to conclusions.
With the growth of social media sites such as Twitter and Reddit, media institutions now have competition to be the first to report the news. However, journalists are forgetting that their responsibility is to report the truth. It’s our jobs to sort through the mis-information on these sites and discover the what really happened.
Unfortunately, many media institutions in Boston had to learn this lesson the hard way. Although it’s nice to be the first to publish a story, it means nothing if the information reported is false or unverified.