I sit here with a heavy heart. Our community lost three beautiful souls taken from this world too early.
I, like many, first heard of the shooting through Twitter. This was followed by an email from Alert Carolina confirming the incident. I, like many, first learned of the victims’ names through Twitter, as well as the name of the shooter. This was followed by confirmation via the Daily Tar Heel’s Twitter page. Kudos to the DTH for their timely information regarding this tragedy.
Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha and Razan Abu-Salha were shot and killed by Craig Stephen Hicks. That we know.
People from across the world took to Twitter Tuesday night to call out the mainstream media for their lack of coverage on the event. As John Robinson, our professor for this course, points out in his post:
A news event happens outside the major media markets. People — journalists and citizens — on the scene tweet what they know and see. (Yes, some people tweet what they don’t know but guess. Deal with it.) In a city without a TV station or daily newspaper, news reports from traditional sources emerge more slowly.
The event happens in the evening and details — details that form the substance of reports for major media outlets — leak out in the darkest hours of the late night. 2 a.m.? I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing that few reporters or editors are working at 2 a.m. Overnight crews at newspapers and TV networks might see them. But it’s tough to get confirmation from official sources at 2 or 3 a.m.
There’s a balance between getting it first and getting it right. That balance is made even more challenging by the effects of social media. A news organization cannot run with a story with reports found only on social media. The main stream media had to wait for the police and/or reliable sources willing to go on the record with information pertaining to the incident. And while this time Twitter got it right — in regards to the names, I still see a need for major news organizations to verify this information for the rest of us.
With that being said, I do wonder if this story would have been picked up by the mainstream media had thousands of individuals across the world not tweeted about it. Before anything was officially released by the Chapel Hill Police Department, #ChapelHillShooting was trending in locations across the globe. The names of the individuals killed were made public, along with information from their social media pages and stories from friends and family who knew them well.
I don’t necessarily fault the media because like Prof. Robinson says, Chapel Hill is a small market news location. We’re not Paris. News organizations are naturally going to be slower to respond to situations that take place in a town such as this. However, I can’t help but ponder if the extensive coverage we have seen over the course of today by the mainstream media would have still occurred without the push by social media. I hope that it would have. Because Muslim lives matter. All lives matter.