Real-Time Social Media Reporitng

Real-Time Reporting and Social Media During A Crisis

By Staff Writer
In April 25, 2013

With the recent events that took place in Boston, I started thinking about what role social media and real-time reporting play during a crisis or national news event. The week of April 14th my Twitter stream was filled with so many inaccurate reports, not only from Twitter friends, but major news outlets, as well. I looked at this as the new age version of the old stories that would begin with “a friend of a friend…”

While social media can indeed be helpful, which we’ve seen over and over again with missing children and wanted criminals, it can also prove to be a vehicle of misinformation, uncensored graphic images (many of which are fake) and a danger to those in law enforcement.

Within minutes of news breaking regarding the Boston Marathon, social media blew up with everyone saying they had the right information. Reddit suddenly became a news source for many, including major news outlets, all looking for immediate information. Some posts were accurate, most were not. Chuck and Beans from depicted this well.

Real-Time Reporting Chuck and Beans Reddit Cartoon

Reddit recently apologized for information that was released which ultimately named the wrong suspect in a case: “This crisis (the Boston bombings) has reminded us of the fragility of people’s lives and the importance of our communities, online as well as offline. This week showed the best and worst of Reddit’s potential.”

Public Safety and Social Media

Boston PD had to tweet to those online not to share location information of law enforcement that they may have been hearing on police scanners. One would think that sensitive information like this would be common sense not to share, but in an age of social sharing, it seems everyone wants to scoop everyone else, to be the first among their community to have and share the hottest information.


Case in point: A picture taken by a local in the Boston area showing law enforcement perched on the roof of a home:


The Boston PD, however, was using real-time reporting and their social media account correctly. They took the time to monitor as many posts as they could regarding incorrect information and tried their best to make sure the public was kept abreast of the correct facts. They maintained this “social” presence right up to the end of this entire situation, when they posted the following, which to me was the most credible media source during this time.


What are your thoughts? Do you feel real-time reporting and the use of social media has led us to be a world of need to know right now, whether or not the information is correct? Do you think we sometimes share too much information via social media?

Staff Writer

So who is this mysterious staff writer? Could be anyone really, as long as they meet our very strict criteria. 1) Worked with us in one capacity or another. 2) Have something pretty interesting to say. 3) Want to use our blog to say it. See? Told ya they were strict!