So yeah, I sat up till 2AM (Pacific, 5AM in Boston), fascinated by the situation in Cambridge and Watertown. I listened to the police radio online, watched a few live Twitter feeds, and had a couple Google Maps windows zoomed in on streets that I’d never heard of but now know where they are: Hazel, Dexter, Laurel. The professional news media knew less than I (3 timezones away) did, but said more; somewhere between nauseating and just silly.

I tried a few live-TV streams but the inconsequential arm-waving and flow of bloviation-with-good-hair-on-top was unbearable. And clearly they weren’t listening to the scanner or watching the right Twitterers.

One little example: After the big Watertown shootout, some police official said something like “Two suspects accounted for, we are searching for more.” And instantly the so-called news professionals began speculating about not just two guys, but larger gangs and wider plots. If you’d been following the primary sources, you knew perfectly well that there’d been two guys, one was dead or in custody after the shootout at Dexter & Laurel, the other’s location was unknown. There were lots more like this.

This morning, when I got up, the good papers (NYT, WSJ) had well-reported stories about the Tsarnaev brothers and the night’s mayhem, which corresponded well to what I’d heard in real-time. So maybe there’s hope for journalism; but just not in real-time.

Thanks to Danny Sullivan for an excellent curated Twitter feed, and whoever it was at RadioReference that put up the nice robust police-scanner stream.



Contributions

Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Nelson (Apr 19 2013, at 09:28)

OTOH, if you followed some other real-time feeds on the Internet you were convinced that some unfortunate missing college student from Brown was the suspect. The Internet doesn't get the story right either.

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From: Saul Tannenbaum (Apr 19 2013, at 10:38)

There were good journalists from mainstream organizations on the ground tweeting information as it developed. The Boston Globe had a large number of people in Cambridge and then Watertown. Someone at the Globe kept tweeting out who to follow as their reporters moved around and went in and out of the information flow. And their reporters tweeted things out, not worrying about keeping things back for publication. I don't know how a mainstream news organization performs better under stress in the modern environment.

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From: Ian Rae (Apr 19 2013, at 10:56)

http://live.reuters.com/Event/Watertown

This live news feed was great during Fukushima disaster as well.

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From: Bill Seitz (Apr 19 2013, at 14:57)

It's hard to maintain restraint when you're on the air filling a RealTime NewsHole.

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From: Matěj Cepl (Apr 20 2013, at 05:02)

It was obvious rhat Boston is not like a random other city. Sitting in Prague, Czechia, I found ecen more convenient two Freenode IRC channels one with transcripts of press conferences etc., rhe other with rhe police scanner. Rhat was really exciting ... way better than our local TV hopelessly commenting on top of hopeless comments of CBS.

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From: Nelson (Apr 20 2013, at 07:49)

Here's an excellent article on how the wrong names for the suspects got spread on Thursday night. http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/04/it-wasnt-sunil-tripathi-the-anatomy-of-a-misinformation-disaster/275155/

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